Scooters vs. Motorcycles: Which is right for you?

The decision to decide between buying a motorcycle or scooter can be a difficult one. There are so many factors to consider and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choice. As someone who has ridden both, I would like to share my opinions on both to help you make an informed decision.

Buy a scooter if you’re a short trip, city commuter, but if you’re after long highway rides or something fun to ride, buy a motorcycle. Scooters are much easier to ride with an automatic transmission and are fantastic for cities, whilst motorcycles are almost always manual transmission and are able to travel at highway speeds.

Whilst scooters have a lot of similarities to motorcycles, there are some key differences that might make one more beneficial than the other. Let’s break down the similarities and differences to help you make a decision.

Difficulty of operation On Scooter vs. Motorcycle

BrakingFront and Rear Joined with a Single LeverFront Brake and Rear Brake Separate Operation
Learning Time2 – 4 Hours1 – 2 Months

This is a key difference between the two. Scooters are much easier to ride than motorcycles, especially for beginners. With a throttle, single brake for front and rear brakes, and automatic transmission, scooters are simple enough that new riders are usually able to feel confident riding within their first few hours.

Motorcycles, on the other hand, are harder to learn for newer riders, taking most a few months before they would be comfortable to do any city riding. Unlike the scooter, a motorcycle has a manual transmission meaning you will need to change gears. Additionally, your brakes are split between a front brake and a rear brake. This is something different for most of us car drivers who have never considered a split braking system. Also, a motorcycle’s throttle is far more reactive/sensitive than a scooter’s throttle which does take some time to get used to.

Seating Positions

There is a big difference in the seating position between a scooter and a motorcycle. Scooters almost only have one seating position, which is extremely upright and with your feet sitting within the confines of the scooter itself. When seated on a motorcycle you are literally mounting the bike with your feet on either side. Depending on the style of motorcycle you are either sitting upright or leaning forward. A motorcycle’s seating position is more similar to a bicycle.

Motorcycle riders have the ability to control where their body is in regards to controlling the bike. This is hugely beneficial for cornering and can be used in conjunction with counter-steering. A scooter rider only really works in 2-dimensions with turning the handle-bars towards where to go.

Licencing, Rules & Regulations of Scooters and Motorcycle

Disclaimer: The licensing advice provided below is general in nature, please contact your local department of transport for specific information.

The licensing and rules for a motorcycle are different than that of a scooter. Almost all countries allow you to ride a scooter with a normal car license, whilst motorcycles require an additional license to be operated. To receive your motorcycle license, you are required to undergo both a theoretical and practical riding test in order to demonstrate your ability. Expect the maneuvers to include emergency stops, figure 8s, dodging, and weaving.

Fuel Economy of a Scooter vs. Motorcycle

The fuel economy of a motorcycle or scooter depends on the size of its engine. With scooters being typically 50CC and motorcycles being anywhere between 125CC and 1200CC, scooters are clearly the more fuel economical vehicle.

The fuel economy of a 50CC scooter is better than that of a motorcycle. Scooters can travel up to 300 miles on one gallon, whereas motorcycles are at the lower end of this spectrum with around 100-150 miles per gallon. It’s worth noting that these numbers will heavily vary depending on the size of your motorcycle engine.

Top Speeds & Acceleration On Scooter vs. Motorcycle

Similar to fuel economy, the top speed and acceleration of a vehicle are very similarly linked to the engine size of the vehicle. Therefore even the smallest motorcycle at 125CC is going to have a faster acceleration than a scooter at 50CC.

Top speeds On Scooter vs. Motorcycle

The maximum speed of a motorcycle is typically around 100-120mph, while the max for scooters is about 70mph. This is the key reason scooters are not allowed on highways in most countries.

Acceleration On Scooter vs. Motorcycle

The 125cc motorcycle will be able to accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in around 11 seconds, making it a great vehicle for taking on highways and open roads where acceleration is important. The scooters, on the other hand, will typically take anywhere from 15-25 seconds to accelerate to such speeds.

Of course, larger 600+ CC motorcycles will do 0-60 miles per hour even faster!


The popularity of motorcycles in the west is on a decline, with only about 20% of new motorcycle sales going to first-time buyers. In Asia and other countries that are less developed than the US or UK, scooters make up between 60%-90% of all vehicle purchases, which is huge!

Carrying & Storage Options on Scooter vs. Motorcycle

Scooter Carrying & Storage Options

Scooters have the ability to store items under the seat, which is great for those who want to carry things with them. The storage capacity of scooters will be anywhere from 700-1400 cubic inches which are just large enough to take a scooter helmet, a small backpack, or a single bag of groceries.

Motorcycle Carrying & Storage Options

Motorcycles really don’t have any storage and you’ll need to buy saddlebags, a top box, or something of the sort in order to carry anything on it! Therefore, that’s why you often see motorcyclists carrying their helmets around with theWhilst saying that, the expandable storage that motorcycles give you is far larger than what you could attach to a scooter.

Gear needed for Scooters vs. Motorcycles

When it comes to gear requirements for scooters and motorcycles, you’ll find everyone has a different opinion. Ultimately, the only gear you ‘have to wear’ is the gear that is legally required in your country. Let’s break down the different gear items and whether or not they should be worn (my opinion of course):

HelmetOpen face Essential, Full Face RecommendedFull Face Essential
PantsJeans will be fineRecommended
BootsNot RequiredEssential
GlovesNot RequiredEssential
The Above is my Opinion. We are all Adults, Make your Own Informed Decisions.


So, which should you buy?

Ultimately, it depends on your needs and what you want to get out of riding.

Scooters are more suited to short commutes with their automatic transmission is hella easy for anyone to learn, whereas motorcycles offer a lot more variety in terms of speed and distance traveled depending on whether they’re manual or not as well as being able to go a little faster than scooters.

So whichever you choose just make sure that you test drive them first before purchasing one!

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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