Motorcycle vs Scooter: Main Differences, Pros & Cons


In a world where vehicles are essential there are a lot of options to choose from. Some prefer light vehicles so that they can avoid traffic and spend less overall. That would be the scooter fans and practical folks in general.

Adrenaline seekers are more likely to enjoy riding a motorcycle, despite of higher maintenance demands, fuel expenditure and safety concerns. What both groups of people have in common is a desire to find an optimal two-wheeler for their needs. By the end of this article you will know exactly in which of these two groups you belong.

Motorcycle: Pros, Cons

Pros

Masculine and Aesthetic

Motorcycles have been an iconic vehicle to ride from the start, a mechanical horse that is even swifter than its biological predecessor. It shows the manliness of the person riding it, gives off a sense of fearlessness.

From various movies and TV shows, the motorcycle has been regarded as cool. Terminator anyone? The vanity aspect of the motorcycle is unmatched by other vehicles of this type. For anyone who wants a badass vehicle, you can’t go wrong with a motorcycle.

It can outshine even the most extravagant cars short of Lamborghinis & Ferraris. If you want admiration and attention while staying on a budget, this is your ticket. It screams high testosterone, while paired with a leather jacket and a full helmet one can be stealthy as well. If you’re a woman you already know you’re desirable, but a babe on a motorcycle is straight-up trouble.

Speed & Agility

Motorcycles, especially the high end ones, can reach speeds topping at 250km/h e.g. Kawasaki Ninja. Motorcycles are very quick to get to places, avoiding traffic along the way. They generally have a stronger engine than scooters.

Scooter engines are much smaller and less powerful than motorcycle engines. A typical scooter engine size ranges from 50cc to 150cc, but the smallest motorcycle engine usually starts at 250cc. (source)

The speed factor of a motorcycle makes it very appealing for people who cannot afford cars. Think about using local buses and trains compared to a motorcycle. It would be quite slow and a lot of time is wasted waiting around for the next train/bus. Instead you can hop on a motorcycle, get to where you need to be without wasting any precious time. Time is money, so a motorcycle saves you both, which is a total plus.

Enjoyable & Versatile Riding Experience

When traveling across the country there is a certain satisfaction doing it on a motorcycle. The wind hitting your body, the little bumps that you feel riding the tarmac or dirt road. Such a sensation is hard to describe in words but can only be felt on a motorcycle. You can cover quite a bit of distance when riding a motorcycle, Ed March navigated the entire globe on a Honda C90.

Motorcycles have the advantage of being allowed on most roads as well. Unlike a scooter, motorcycles can reach the designated speeds to be allowed on highways and freeways. Because of the gyro effect of the wheels, motorcycles retain more stability than scooters.

Racing on a motorcycle is another thrill to be mentioned too as enthusiasts often race their motorcycles. Ever since the Moto GP was introduced, motorcycle races hold just as much significance as the F1, NASCAR, etc.

Cons

Small Storage Space

There is limited space under the seat of a motorcycle, you cannot fit much except for some paperwork and phone accessories. Most people use the storage compartment of a motorcycle to store their insurance papers, wallet, etc.

Underseat storage space on Honda SH300i

Saddlebags can be added for extra storage space. Saddlebags are almost a necessity if you plan a larger trip and need to bring clothes and other necessities that can’t be fitted into a backpack.

Expensive to Maintain

Motorcycles exponentially increase in maintenance and fuel costs over the years. Motorcycles can reach far greater speeds than a scooter but this is a cause for more wear and tear to its parts.

Regular maintenance (oil changes, chain maintenance etc.) should be done every 5,000 to 20,000 miles depending on the motorcycle, and typically costs at least $1,000 a year. (source)

A motorcycle also spends more fuel than any other light vehicle. There is also a higher chance of theft of a motorcycle because they are often more expensive. Since the resale value is retained for most branded motorcycles, theft often happens to those models. So, investing in a proper bike-lock is another added expense.

High safety risks

Motorcycles have a high probability of being involved in an accident than any other vehicle and 4 times more likely to end up in a fatality than a passenger car. Anyone alive after a motorcycle accident should be grateful. Friends and family become twice as concerned about losing their loved ones.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done for improving safety on a motorcycle, besides being alert, driving within speed limit and wearing a sturdy helmet. There is no space for a seatbelt so impact can send you flying off the motorcycle.

If a car were to hit you while you are on a motorcycle, chances are you will get seriously injured. There are self-balancing motorcycles in the market but those cost an arm. Currently, the scooter is definitely the safest two-wheel transport. The low speed makes it a more viable option than a sports bike. Although, it is a debatable issue whether the buyers of motorcycles actually care about safety that much.

Final Verdict on Motorcycles

Built for the machismo and grace of a stallion, the motorcycle truly is a beast of its own kind. The appeal, sleek finishes and sporty details make it a hot mode of transport. Free-roaming spirits that need no destination, just hop on and ride till the fuel needs refilling.

There is a totally different culture when it comes to motorcycles, for a good reason too. The people who ride low-rider motorcycles such as Harley Davidson motorcycles almost consider it a religion.

On the other hand, there are obvious disadvantages to riding a motorcycle rather than a scooter. The safety issue is the number one concern for buyers. Fatality being a certainty does not sound like a good selling point.

The fact of the matter is, you should know what you are getting into.  An experienced motorcycle rider and a regular commuter are very different. On the one hand, it is about passion, on the other, it is about practicality. If you need something sustainable and cheap, go for a scooter. If you are however, an outlaw, looking to roam the open road, get a motorcycle.

From what this article elaborates on, it is clear there are valid reasons to buy motorcycles. The best part is that motorcycles are super-fast and can look amazing. At the same time, insurance, maintenance, and fuel add up very quickly, especially if you drive it often.

Scooters: Pros, Cons

Pros

Easy to ride

Scooters have been a very easy ride to get into as they are quite nimble. Unlike some motorcycle ignitions, which require a step starter, scooters require only a key turn. They do not need manual changing to transmission; it’s automatic.

A scooter is also distinguished by the step through design. Anyone from a mile away can know whether a two-wheeler is a motorcycle or a scooter from the design.

The automatic transmission is the most useful aspect of a scooter. It is quite a headache for people who do not usually deal with manual transmission. This aspect of a scooter makes it ideal for everyone.

The transition for someone from a car to a scooter is much easier than car to a motorcycle. The center of gravity is low for scooters. This is because of the position of the engine. It is mounted in the rear, low in position and the drivetrain is located there as well.

Ideal for heavy traffic AND sight-seeing/exploration

There is a sense of going very fast on a scooter but the reality differs a lot. In reality, you may just be going at a mere 40mph but feel like it is double that. This illusion gives riders a safer experience since the reality is much more manageable. You can go full throttle and not ever have to worry about getting a speeding ticket.

Navigating around urban areas such as cities is a dream. Sure you get stuck in occasional traffic but most of it you can skim. Skip through all kinds of traffic and go over roads that cars can never use. This is why they’re the preferred mode of transportation in crowded cities across Asia.

The small size but big function of a scooter is unrivaled by any other bike. If one were to rent out a scooter in a European city, they can see all the sights. In a French vineyard, you can see the entire field on a vespa. Ask anyone who has rented a scooter to roam around, they will always give you a positive review.

Storage capacity

Most conventional scooters have amazing storage built into the chassis. The cushy saddles open up to reveal a storage space under the seat. They usually open in alligator mouth style. The seat goes up in a diagonal fashion and the storage capacity is quite large.

You can put in a couple of bags of groceries, your backpack, jacket, helmet, accessories, paperwork, chargers, etc. If you can figure out a combination of items to store, it can be very efficient.

Compared to motorcycles, which hardly have any storage space, scooters are the king of storage. For people who have a lot of things to carry, they can carry all their essentials.

An example of this can be the story of a wall-street worker. They can carry their documents, lunch, backpack, and anything else they need in the scooter. On top of that, most scooters have the option to add a storage container on the back.

Cheap To Maintain, Easy To Sustain

A scooter is several magnitudes easier to maintain than a motorcycle. From the insurance to any tune-up and repair costs, it does not cost an arm and a leg.

The fuel cost is a reason most people consider getting a scooter rather than a motorcycle. A gallon can sometimes get you over 70 miles, which is amazing. Some of the conventional repairs can be done DIY. All you need are some screwdrivers and some extra tools. That way you save even more money taking it to a proper motor shop.

The insurance for scooters is almost a negligible issue as it is quite cheap. In some states, you do not need a license to ride one, but that varies. Parking is a dream when it comes to scooters because they are allowed almost everywhere.

Cons

Less Cool and Lacks Machismo

The social image of a scooter is tame and timid, just like its outlook. It is approachable and friendly, but it is that same fact that makes it less cool. There is almost zero intimidation when it comes to a scooter compared to that of a motorcycle.

There is hardly any way to make a scooter feel or look as badass as a bike. A motorcycle has the appeal of a supercar at a fraction of the cost. A scooter no matter how expensive will always be a second best option if you are considering between the two for this particular purpose.

Less Stable, Not Allowed on All Roads

There is a reason why there are things such as dirt bikes and not dirt scooters. A motorcycle has more stability because of the gyro effect on bigger wheels.

On a scooter’s smaller wheels, the gyro effect is much less prominent. It’s unstable on rocky/bumpy surfaces and practically not an option to ride. Only in cityscapes, urban areas, even roads, and light dirt roads are suitable for a scooter. A tourist may just get a car if a scooter seems less viable as they may want to get around.

Another disadvantage of a scooter is it is not allowed on high-speed roads. Some roads lead to an end destination faster, but a scooter won’t have access to it. Highways and freeways that cap at 80mph do not allow scooters to travel on them. This is mainly for safety reasons as other cars and bikes might hit them by accident.

Resale Value Is Less Than Motorcycles

A scooter has way less of a resale value than a motorcycle as they lose value quickly. If you have a VESPA, then great, you are set for resale. Otherwise, you are out of luck.

The resale value is like that of a non-apple phone, lackluster resale value. A Kawasaki Ninja and a Honda Super Cub will pale in comparison to each other’s resale value. Brand-wise, you may get more or less.

One thing’s for sure though: you aren’t buying a scooter to sell it off. This is why people who have a car rent a scooter when they go overseas, because of the easy transition.

Steering Leaves More To Be Desired

Since the drivetrains are located in the lower rear side of a scooter along with the engine, the front feels light. Too light which in turn, leaves you feeling hardly any steering and feedback.

Scooters on roads with curves feel less swift than a motorbike, but the safety feature kicks in at that point. Depending on what kind of rider you are, you might try to make a scooter feel like a motorbike. That will leave more of a bad taste in your mouth than accomplish anything of value.

Final Verdict on Scooters

They are cute and safer; people approach them with more open minds. Scooters are like Mcdonalds, they get the job done, and everyone loves them. Function-wise, a scooter makes more sense if you are a commuter or a tourist. It is great just to get around so that you can see some sights or do small tasks. They have their own culture as well because there are people who are avid scooter-lovers.

The plug and play function of a scooter is only beaten by a bicycle. A scooter needs only two steps before you can get underway. It is also very comfortable because of the through-step and rest design. That aesthetic has left people with more comfortable legs than those of bikers. One can easily ride a scooter for several hours without feeling very tired or fatigued. The cushioned seat is often made from very thick and comfy materials.

The insurance, maintenance, and fuel consumption are otherworldly in their own right. Not only do you get more miles by the gallon, you spend less on the other stuff too. Maintenance should also be considered. Just like how you maintain yourself, you must also maintain your motorcycle or scooter. Good thing for you, a scooter’s maintenance falls on the cheaper side of things. The insurance is a total sneeze, just pay annually and you’re good to go.

Last but not least, the safety of a scooter is something to regard highly. Not only does a scooter travel an average of 50mph slower than a motorcycle, fatalities are less too. On a motorbike, you are almost assured some serious injuries if an accident occurs. On a scooter, not so much of a red flag is raised even in the event of an accident.

So is a motorcycle better than a scooter, or vice-versa? That decision, ladies and gentlemen, ultimately falls on your shoulders. Are you a rough and tough adrenaline seeker, or are you a practical person that values safety, comfort and greater storage options above speed and aesthetics? I leave that answer to you.

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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