CHOOSING A SCOOTER OR MOTORCYCLE FOR THE FIRST TIME CAN BE QUITE A DAUNTING PROSPECT, ESPECIALLY WITH SUCH A WIDE RANGE OF MACHINES AVAILABLE
Why two wheels?
With road congestion worsening and fuel costs spiralling upwards, it’s easier than ever to justify buying a scooter or motorcycle. Fuel economy figures can be as high as 120mpg, road tax starts at just £17 a year and insurance costs can be a tenth of those for cars – a 17 year-old on a KYMCO 125 can expect to pay between £250 and £300 a year, on average. These figures represent massive financial savings as well as reducing demand on our precious natural resources, and with KYMCO’s prices starting at just £1199 you can own a new scooter for less than the cost of a railway season ticket!
Scooters and motorcycles are about saving time and money as well as the planet, with carbon emissions at a fraction of the output of even a small city car. In typical city commuting there is no faster form of door-to-door transport, with rush hour journeys often taking an astonishing one third of the time the same trip takes by car! No need to speed, just ease through the traffic. But the time saved is only a part of the appeal; it’s the sheer dependability of journey times that attracts many two-wheeler riders. With no more hanging around for late buses or cancelled trains and no fear of traffic jams, you can accurately predict when you’ll arrive at work or an appointment. No need to set off far too early just in case there’s an especially bad jam, and when you do get there, parking is usually free and easy!
In one independent survey, commuters who’d converted to scooters from public transport showed lower levels of stress, had fewer days off sick and their managers reported 10 per cent better productivity. They found their lives became healthier as they had more time to spend with their families, eating better and taking exercise.
But there’s a lot more to two-wheelers than saving money and speeding up journey times... as if these weren’t enough! In a survey of London commuters by the AA, two out of three two-wheeler riders said they actively enjoyed their journey to work! As you can imagine, the percentage of public transport users who said the same was tiny, and car drivers didn’t fare much better. Put simply, bikes and scooters not only make sense, they’re fun too, so much so you’ll be out on yours at weekends and in the evenings for no other reason than it makes you feel good – how many times have you taken a bus trip just for the fun of it? Many scooter riders find they’re visiting their friends more often simply because it’s so cheap, easy and convenient, and then start using their machines for weekends away and for longer holidays too, getting even more value out of their wheels!
What’s stopping you?
Safety is the biggest concern preventing people from taking to two wheels. But it needn’t be; the figures are nowhere near as bad as some people think, and when you take into account all aspects of safety, bikes and scooters can look a whole lot better than public transport or even cycling!
Modern riding equipment is a great boon to safety too, with excellent protection offered by the latest bike clothing and helmets, and with good training, the right attitude and a decent quality two wheeler, such as a KYMCO, safety doesn’t need to be an issue.
How do you get a licence?
At first glance the route to a scooter and motorcycle licence looks horribly complicated, but take a look at the following link and you can see the steps to two-wheeler freedom aren’t so daunting after all. The details depend on your age, your current licence details, what you want to end up riding and even how fast you want to progress, but follow the flow diagram and you’ll find there are only a few basic steps. Any KYMCO dealer can help you too, while the Yellow Pages is full of motorcycle and scooter training schools.
What’s the right machine for you?
There are many different types of scooter and motorcycles too, and we list the basic groups below. Style and image are something for you to decide, but you also need to know what sort of use you’ll be putting your two-wheeler to so you can make sure you get one that’s suitable and which will cope. If you want nothing more than an urban commuter for regular short trips, up to five miles or so, then anything with a 50cc engine is adequate and very economical. The top speed is restricted to 30mph so dual carriageways are ruled out and motorways aren’t allowed, but it’s light and easy to manage and very cheap to run too.
Up to 125cc gives you 60mph or more, just about enough for occasional dual carriageway use and plenty for commuting up to 15 miles or so, although lots of riders travel further than that quite happily.
For longer journeys, regular motorway or dual carriageway use, riding with a passenger and so on you’ll really need a bigger engine. 250cc is just about sufficient but has little in reserve; to maintain the pace of the fastest traffic you’ll need 300cc or more.
Scooter or motorcycle?
Scooters are easiest to ride: the automatic transmission means you simply turn the twistgrip and the scooter moves forward. No clutch, no daunting foot-operated gearchange, and the brakes are the same as those on a bicycle, one at each handlebar. Weather protection usually is good, although generally you do need waterproof gear as well. Scooters usually have plenty of storage space, especially under the seat, and it’s well worth noting how you’re helping the environment as well as your finances, as most scooters offer excellent economy figures and while most of those on sale in the UK pass our strict emissions laws, better quality ones such as KYMCO’s often do so by impressive margins. The right scooter could easily take you four times as far as your car would on the same amount of fuel!
Scooters are more convenient than motorcycles as you can throw some things under the seat, jump on and go without feeling you have to dress the part, and that automatic transmission does make a big difference to the ease of riding, especially in town.
Motorcycles can be more rewarding to ride for the two-wheel enthusiast, with better handling, brakes and performance, and once gear changing is conquered, they’re usually more fun. But to carry extras you’ll often need a rear box or panniers.
Types of Scooter
Standard: a typical scooter will have storage space beneath the seat, usually large enough to accommodate a helmet and possibly a cubby hole or two in the bodywork for additional storage.
Wheel size should also be considered, as the larger the wheel, the more stable the scoot.
We recommend a minimum of 12 inches as smaller ones can feel rather nervous.
Sports: less bodywork so weather protection is not so good, but performance, brakes and handling are better. Storage space is usually less than a standard scooter.
Executive: more extensive bodywork, increased storage space and high levels of equipment. These tend to be heavier and not quite so easy to manoeuvre when parking, although they generally have larger wheels for improved stability and comfort.
Types of Motorcycle
Street or naked: the standard motorcycle to many people, with no or little bodywork, an exposed engine and a fairly upright riding position. Can be anything from very sporty to commuter use, although tiring for continuous high speed riding as there’s little wind protection.
Cruiser/custom: American-inspired styling with plenty of chrome, high bars, forward footrests and a laid back riding position. Bought mostly for their cool looks and image, but still fine for commuting and other duties. Note the wide bars can make slipping through traffic more difficult at times and they often have small fuel tanks that limit the riding range.
Sports: the highest performance bikes in their capacity groups, from 50cc machines to superbikes capable of 180mph! Fine for commuting, okay for touring although comfort isn’t always good, but mainly for thrills. Great handling and performance.
Sports tourers: basically softer versions of sports bikes with improved comfort, aimed at all round use.
Adventure/trail bikes: machines with off road looks, and sometimes off road ability too, which make surprisingly good road bikes. The high riding position helps see well in traffic and comfort is good where the seat isn’t too narrow, although less good for higher speeds unless there’s additional bodywork. Can make excellent commuter machines, although usually best suited to taller riders.
Touring: usually with big capacity engines, these have bulky bodywork for the best weather protection and very often a box and panniers for carrying luggage. Unwieldy for commuting, but still much better than public transport or a car!