Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Why Not Scooters?

Blog Date 05 May 2021

Thanks to Ian Soady for the inspiration. 

I consider myself both a motorcyclist and a biker. You will have your own interpretations of these 2 words, here are mine. 

A "biker" is a person who rides a motorcycle but the word conjures thoughts of leather, long scraggly hair, rock music, petunia oil and dirty hands. The word "motorcyclist" brings forth a notion of textile suits, well maintained clean motorcycles, smart appearance and a professional demeanour. 

Ren smiling next to his bike ready to catch a ferry
Biker, motorcyclist, both or none... Idiot, definitely an idiot.

I am of course applying vast quantities of cliché here. Bikers and/or motorcyclists come in all ages, styles, races, wage brackets, cultures and levels of personal hygiene. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound - talking in clichés then scooterists are either Parker jacket wearing hoodlums that look for fights with bikers or young commuters who can't afford a car yet.

It's all a load of poop innit. There are as many personalities that ride either motorcycles or scooters as there are personalities in the world. Our choice of transport is personal, we choose what suits our needs and (for better and for worse) what suits our style.

Read above - "motorcycles or scooters". Why do we even define a difference between the two? We do tend to categorise things as a species. Adventure motorcycles are quite different to sports motorcycles but they are both considered motorcycles. Is there not simply a scooter motorcycle category rather than an entire schism, a dichotomy? Scooters are merely a different style of motorcycle rather than a different genus altogether.

I'd like to think BAT readers do their best not to be racist or sexist. I ashamedly have to admit I've been (and still have lingering issues) scooterist. Scooterist as in harbouring bad notions towards scooters rather than being a scooter enthusiast. I am trying to become a better person and to overcome my misguided beliefs.

Let me start out by looking logically at scooter type motorcycles. 

The biggest and most obvious difference is the step-through section. Getting aboard the massive adventure bikes is akin to getting on a horse without the aid of stirrups and a pommel. It's like rock climbing in restrictive bike gear. Try getting on a regular motorcycle with a case of sciatica or hip or back issues. Mounting a scooter is considerably easier, merely step through the gap and you're on. It's a no-brainer this, scoots win hands down.

2 scooters on a ferry carrying full luggage
Adventure Scoots. Who needs a GS1250 anyway?

That gap where the tank and engine should be has other advantages. If perchance you drop the vehicle while riding your legs are not squished betwixt the tank or frame or engine (I fractured my knee doing this in 1999). In fact the foot area, front shroud and rear engine covers will protect your lower limbs. This also applies if a car should run into the side of you and your steed. 

Depending on the style scoots offer many more options as to where you place your feet and how you sit. With footpegs you might move from your instep to the ball of your foot, maybe even the heel. With a scoot's footboard you could put your feet forwards or flat, maybe both to one side for a stretch. 

With your legs and feet inboard there's much greater chance of keeping your toesies warm and dry too. They're out of the wind and the rain plus they're out of the splash area of the front wheel's spray. Rather than costly GoreTex boots a set of regular bike boots should be more than enough to deflect any moisture that blows around the edges of the panels.

We've seen the leg cover shrouds you can get for scoots. While there are similar systems for regular bikes these shrouds are best suited to scoots. These provide the ultimate in warmth and dryness.

A 300cc scooter with full leg shrouds to keep the wind and rain out
Bogger's 300 sports the ultimate in weather protection for your legs.

The engine is typically under the seat. This can cause access issues but other modern machines with fairings and supercomputers under the tank this applies to motorcycles too (my CB500X for example). Otherwise being under the seat has the advantage of keeping the motor covered. This protects it from the weather and perhaps the fiddling fingers of unwanted attention. There should be a lot less water flowing around the delicate electronics if designed well.

Many scooters also come with varying degrees of underseat storage - most regular motorcycles might offer space for a tiny toolkit and if you're lucky a set of tiny waterproof pants.

Back int' day scooters were 2 stroke abominations with wobbly little wheels and god-awful wrist-wrenching gearshifts. Today most are CVT with easy to replace, reliable and quite cheap belt and flyweight systems. There are now auto/semi auto options too. They also come with larger wheels, effective braking systems, reliable 4 stroke engines and modern efi/ignition.

Suzuki's Burgman and Honda's Silver Wing lead the way. Today we can opt for a cheap and cheerful Chinese 50cc rev-n-rip right through to the ABS, EFI, quasi-off-road, 750cc, auto/semi auto DCT, LED, TFT, USB charger X-ADV. 

3 wheeled Piaggio scooters in a shop
...or with 2 front wheels if that's your thing.

Here in Blighty and I suspect the US of A, scooters are often looked down upon by "bikers" and "motorcyclists". Spend any time in the warmer environs of Europe and the damn things are everywhere. You only need to see footage of the streets in places like Vietnam to see scoots are de-rigour. This has lead to a great deal of development and improvements we in Blighty have not really noticed. Scooters have become great motorcycles.

So, errrr, will I be replacing the knackered old CBF125 with a lightly used SH125i? There really REALLY is no reason not to. An SH125i would offer all the advantages listed above. They are really REALLY easy to ride. Super economical. Reliable. Comfortable. 

And yet. And yet my prejudices kick in. Prejudice here matters not because the SH125i doesn't have feelings, dreams and desires. I find myself asking though. What other prejudices do I subconsciously harbour and how do I overcome them to be a better person?

Also see Bogger's take on this - Scooters Are Better Than Bikes.

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Reader's Comments

Bigngreen said :-
"Real men have something between their legs"

"Scooters, motorcycles for real men who like to feel the wind in their vagina".

Let the slagging commence.
05/05/2021 18:30:55 UTC
Bogger said :-
Yup scooters are absolutely crap. They are far inferior to proper bikes in every single way. If you ride a scooter you are definitely 'batting for the other side'.

They are slow, useless and no fun what so ever.

But, they aren't are they. They are brilliant. Every time I ride one I smirk to myself, because, I've 'got it'. No not got possession of a scooter (I have by the way). But got the concept of the whole thing. I love my bikes but I love my scooters just as much.

Most of my mates own scooters and bikes and all are as enthusiastic as me, about both.

If you think they're crap? you've not ridden one.

In fact I'm going to buy another one. A mighty 125 no less and I'll be riding around with a big smug grin on me face.
And I don't care how much wind blows up me chuff.

05/05/2021 19:51:40 UTC
Bob said :-
I owned a Honda SCV100 Lead and it was brilliant.
Great fun and so easy to ride.
It wasn't perfect for me ergonomically though, at 6'2" with a 34" inseam on tight corners it was necessary to stick my knee out so that I could turn the handlebars!
I've often thought of getting another scooter, but it wouldn't do anything that a KLX250 could do better.
05/05/2021 22:05:05 UTC
Bogger said :-
Mr Ed. I've had a really brilliant thought!

You can buy my SH300 (cheap of course) and you can then sample the delights of owning a premium scooter.

Bogger...never one to miss an opportunity
06/05/2021 13:38:04 UTC
John Scotcher said :-
I have a Honda Forza 300, bought new in 2014, and can honestly say that it was money well spent. I have toured Scotland on it, returning about 80-85mpg and cruising on motorways at 70mph (on the speedo). I would always recommend anyone who is contemplating buying a scooter, to try a Forza 300, and you won't regret it if you buy one.
06/05/2021 16:03:37 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's good to hear the love of the scooter motorcycle.

Bob - luckily I'm of a diminutive stature barely scraping in at 5 foot 8 (depends on which leg I'm standing on) so I should fit between the bars and the seat just fine. I did suggest a scoot to the hobbit that is Sharon because even if it's too tall she can drop into the gap when stopping. It did take quite a while for my injuries to heal afterwards.

Bogger - SH300 you say? Tempting but a) My CBF125 is still going and there ain't no room in the shed yet b) Far too big and powerful for a man such as I. Tell ya what though, might be in touch soon regarding polishing Sharon's headlight. No... no that is not a euphemism.
07/05/2021 19:05:42 UTC
Bogger said :-
Sounds about right. Doesn't want to part with any cash. But will take me up on the offer of a freebie. Should've known really. Ah well.
Just let me know when you would like the headlamp sorting.

I suppose I'll have to come and collect it.....and return it to you. Ah well.

Bogger... the the down trodden trudge

07/05/2021 20:25:10 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Yes you're quite right - tighter than a submarine's hatch at 300 metres. Fear not though - for in an act of uncharacteristic selflessness I can bring said illuminatory device to you. The downside being... I'll know where you live. You're kind of, sort of, indirectly en-route to Her Worshipful Majesty's residence. Are you north, south, east or west Warringtoooon?
07/05/2021 20:48:42 UTC
Bogger said :-
Lowton. Posh end.

07/05/2021 22:10:56 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Lawks-a-mercy Bogger I come through that way all the bleeding time. I have customers in Runcorn and Knowsley as well as Sharon in Halewood. 'Snice Lowton too, kinda manages to be a small town yet surrounded by Warrington, Wigan, St Helens with access to Liverpool n Manchester. I'll email ya and we'll suss summat out.
08/05/2021 10:19:57 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Tell you what Bogger I'll swap your SH300 for my Francis Barnett. Let you get the benefit of a "classic".....
08/05/2021 16:27:37 UTC
Bogger said :-
Ok Mr Ed. Ian thanks for your kind offer. But I need to sell the Sh300 to buy another SH for the back of the Motorhome. It's all very confusing LOL.

08/05/2021 17:50:20 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
But the mighty Fanny-B would be ideal for the back of your MH. Or ot would be if I could get the grit out of the forks.....
09/05/2021 13:47:04 UTC
Uppo said :-
I have recently purchased a 2009 Honda SH300 to see if it was more comfortable than my VFR750. I am getting on a bit (69 years) and have arthritis in knees and elbows. Well it ain't a VFR and it obviously lacks its power and turn of speed but it took only a short while to get used to it. For my old bones it's like my favourite armchair and the CVT gearing seems like magic. Since I've had the SH the poor old Viffer has been left sulking in the garage. For nipping to the shops and for warm evening country rides it is great. Not sure I would want to your on it though and it does bang and crash over bumps. I can honestly say I have missed a trick by ignoring scooters most of my biking life.
09/05/2021 20:02:15 UTC
nab301 said :-
Nothing against scooters per se although the ergonomics even on the bigger Yamaha T max that I tried didn't suit. In general I like gears and manual clutches although maybe I could meet in the middle and run a step through motorcycle (Honda Cub )?
09/05/2021 21:59:50 UTC
Steve B said :-
I've got a 2012 Sh300 as well as the bikes and I prefer it for tootling around the peak district. Building up courage to take it on a long motorway run. We will see about the distance effect it has on me. I tend to suffer physically on long distance trips on the bike so hopefully scooter is kinder to the old bones.
10/05/2021 21:26:12 UTC
Stuart said :-
I first went to a scooter some time ago after being a long time biker. It was taking an hour on the bus to travel 5 miles to work. £450 for a well used 50cc Piaggio zip and the journey time was down to 15 minutes. It could do an indicated 50 mph so 1 mph per cc never has a bike like that.

Some time later I got a Honda @125. 19 years old with 3000 miles on the clock for £450. Rode that for a couple of years and put 7k miles on it and part exchanged it for £750 for a 125 Super Cub which isn't a scooter or real bike.
11/05/2021 06:52:52 UTC
RobEll said :-
I considered getting an MP3 scooters from Yamaha & very nearly did until my wife suggested I do my bike test or leave the house. It appeals to my practical side, easy to operate, if not dry then at least slightly more protected from the elements, and in the event of an off. I really still do like the idea of a second front wheel for wet weather stability and suchlike. Maybe there'll be room at the back of the garage for one yet...
13/05/2021 21:35:25 UTC
said :-

30/05/2021 13:40:11 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Well I've got one. Chopped in the Fanny-B and a few quid for this. A Yamaha YP250 X-Max. Seems a decent bike but have yet to ride it......
Posted Image
14/06/2021 15:54:09 UTC
Bogger said :-
I'm sure you'll love it, it's a scooter.

14/06/2021 16:52:40 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
look at the size of that seat! It'll be like riding your favourite armchair. Splendid, I look forward to hearing your opinions.
14/06/2021 21:07:00 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
How rude, Ian's seat is his business and no one else.
How very rude.
Congrats on the.....I can't say it.....Scoot Ian.
I know this is probably just me, it normally is, but the seat and riding position look like a chiropractors appointment waiting to happen.
Enjoy young man and if you ride it to Northumberland the kettle's on and there's a chiropractor in the village. You can't miss it, all the.....Scoots.....are parked there.
15/06/2021 13:27:07 UTC
ROD said :-
Enjoy the new ride Ian.
I too would be interested in your opinions on the X-MAX.
15/06/2021 16:19:25 UTC
nab301 said :-
Very nice Ian but I think I'd prefer the Fanny-B...
15/06/2021 19:46:57 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
I don't think you would really nab..

When my hip improves I will indeed provide some riding impressions. It's going to be weird with nothing to occupy my feet and a brake instead of clutch which I'm sure will catch me out on occasion.

I have sat on it and although from pictures the riding position looks odd in practice it's not much different to a conventional bike except more upright. Think concert pianist - maybe in time I'll graduate to Jerry Lee Lewis and steer with my feet.
16/06/2021 10:09:06 UTC
ROD said :-
Ian, be careful when steering with your feet. We don't want a Whole lotta shakin going on!
16/06/2021 15:58:25 UTC
nab301 said :-
As mentioned before I was blipping the throttle and pulling the rear brake when approaching junctions the last time I tried a scooter...
16/06/2021 19:15:08 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
When I was training I moved a few scoots around for customers to take their CBTs. "Right Ren, remember remember REMEMBER the clutch is the rear brake OK!". 30 seconds later I'm headbutting the clocks trying to find 2nd. However when I stopped doing that traffic work is so very much more relaxing, easy and hassle free. I, well yes, I do like my geared motorcycles but CVT (or otherwise automated transmission) vehicles (both cars and bikes) just remove that up-down-up-down-up-down clutch-in-clutch-out work of slow moving lanes.

Will I go auto? Not yet, but sooner or later with EVs it's doubtful it'll even be a question.
18/06/2021 17:07:52 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Ed, I was only thinkin about that the other day. The driving test is going to be a little different when you have only got two pedals and you can't stall it. I wonder how driving instructors will keep the cars charged. Strange times. I wonder if you can take your test in an electric car already?
Ian will know.
18/06/2021 17:57:45 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I would imagine you could take your car text in an EV - but without gears and a clutch you would end up with an "Automatic" licence - ie you can only drive automatic transmission vehicles rather than clutch operation geared vehicles.
18/06/2021 19:10:40 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
"Ian will know. " - afraid not, but very interesting question. Of course as Ren says there is a separate automatic only test and I suspect that is what would be applied. But what about self-driving / autonomous vehicles?

I first bought aa automatic car 10 years ago (an earlier arthritis episode but knee that time) and after a couple of hundred miles was completely sold, especially as said for traffic. Mine does have the manual gear selection option but I've used it once or twice only.

Still struggling with hip but hope to get the mighty(?) x-max out next week. It's a shame they didn't give the option of a foot pedal for the back brake and leave the left bar naked like the old Honda 50s.
19/06/2021 10:23:05 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Well, just been out on the first (brief 20 mile) run on the X-Max. Also my first time on a bike since last summer so I was a little nervous. How was it? Not bad at all although nothing like the grunt of the Norton. Oddly, the suspension also seems bouncier and clunkier than the antique plungers on the Norton which are like a magic carpet in comparison.

It needs a very conscious effort not to treat the rear brake as a clutch (failed a couple of times) and it’s very odd having nothing to do with my feet. Slow corners were a bit threepenny-bit but it was fine on the sweeping bends of the A4189 out to Henley and back. It ran up to an indicated 70 fairly readily and with no fuss. I even got a nod from a kitted-up GS rider coming the other way.

All in all I’m very pleased I went for it. Getting on was OK but getting off again when I got home was a bit of a struggle as I had to use my right (defective) leg to hold it up while I searched for the prop stand which is lurking under the side fairing. An extension may help. Or maybe training wheels. I’m looking forward to some longer runs….
01/07/2021 11:48:39 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's good to read you've managed to get out Ian. I believe you drive automatic cars so adjusting to the scoot won't take long at all. Are there any plans to get the dodgy hip replaced? I know there's long long waiting times with the NHS at present, just wondering if you've at least gotten the ball rolling.
01/07/2021 15:57:00 UTC
Bogger said :-
Converted. Job done.

01/07/2021 17:54:54 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
What I find really odd is that if I'm on a pushbike I can happily feather the back brake but it seems more difficult on the scoot, yet it's exactly the same control layout. It's a bit similar to left foot braking in an (auto) car - I find it hard not to stamp on the pedal as if it was a clutch whereas I can be quite delicate with the left side rear brake on my Norton. Something odd going on in my head which is knowing what sort of vehicle I'm on/in and applying different rules. I have no doubt things will become easier.
03/07/2021 10:34:17 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Have you ever tried to operate the throttle with your left hand? While riding? I mean it's already cumbersome reaching across yourself and the tank but there's no inbuilt muscle memory on what to do and how to do it delicately.

Please note. DO NOT try to operate the right handed throttle control of a motorcycle with your left hand on the public roads. It's is dangerous on many levels. Don't ask me how I know.
05/07/2021 08:50:42 UTC
Bill said :-
My Yamaha scoot has combined braking so the left lever works both front disc and rear drum so you tend to only use the left to stop, the right is front only. The grabbing it as a clutch never really bothered me because I'm already using it to stop. When I first had a Honda SH300 I did it a couple of times but that was separate front and rear brakes with abs.
06/07/2021 12:02:22 UTC
Mp3 said :-
Nice to be back again here.while read the posts i discover this thread.scoots or bikes ?
Both are good. I sold my honda cb500f and my scoot bmw c400x and i take something that combines both. Honda forza 750 2021. But in the city is not ideal . I wait now the honda adv 350 for my city rides.
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08/01/2022 03:12:00 UTC

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