Buying a scooter to beat traffic? Here's what you should know

Top tips for buying a scooter…

While a constant increase in traffic congestion often gets the better of us, perhaps like many commuters you’ve decided to throw in the towel and get a scooter instead.

Scooters – even brand new ones – can be cheap, and most of them can get 40 kilometers or more to the litre, so they’re both fun and economical.

If you’re thinking of joining the scooterati, here are our 10 tips for buying a scooter.

  1. If you haven’t got your K53 motorcycle license, you will at least need a motorcycle learner’s license to ride a scooter. Remember that with a learner’s license, you can only ride scooters of 125cc and under. Your learner’s is now valid for 2 years –  plenty of time to get good enough to pass the test.
  2. Before you go scooter shopping, see if you can take a friend’s scooter for a test ride to see if it’s something you enjoy. Scooters are much easier to ride than motorbikes, but they’re also slower and don’t have the kind of brakes fitted on motorcycles.
  3. If you do have your motorcycle license, preferably look for a scooter of 150cc or more. Smaller scooters can feel underpowered, and in fast-flowing traffic, it’s safer to be able to keep up.
  4. With the possible exception of Vespas, scooters generally don’t have very long lifespans. Bear this in mind if you’re shopping for a second-hand scooter. What would seem like low mileage on a car (eg. 10,000km) is high mileage for a scooter.
  5. For a second-hand scooter, you can budget from R20,000 for something in reasonable condition. For a new scooter, you’re looking at something between R40,000 and R80,000. At the top end are Vespas, which cost around R120,000 new (no, that extra zero is not a typo). If you’re buying a new scooter, you’ll also also need to budget for the licensing and registration fees.
  6. Whatever your scooter budget, put aside about a reasonable amount of moola for a decent helmet. You may not want to use a full face helmet on a scooter, but make sure your helmet does have a visor that you can pull down to protect your eyes. In windy situations, sunglasses won’t be sufficient. Remember, you must have a helmet that fits – so second hand scooters ‘plus helmet’ are not necessarily a bargain.
  7. Check that the storage space under the seat will be large enough to put your helmet in. Nobody wants to lug a helmet around a shopping centre – they’re not exactly light, attractive fashion accessories.
  8. If you’re buying a new scooter, look online – particularly on Gumtree – for special offers.
  9. If you buy a new scooter, find out about the warranty or service plan. Most reputable brands offer a two-year warranty. Scooters need to be serviced about every 3,000kms or so.
  10. If you’re buying second hand, find out if the scooter is still under warranty and if the warranty can be transferred into your name. Check the service history – just like a car, a scooter comes with a service booklet that should be kept up to date.