How to choose a motor scooter

Yamaha scooter on white background.

David Morley

Posted February 27, 2019

Finding the right scooter for your budget and lifestyle.

From the classic La Dolce Vita fantasy Vespa to the up-and-coming three-wheel varieties, News and Lifestyle explains how to find the right scooter for you.

Vespa 946 - $12,490

If a scooter is part of your La Dolce Vita fantasy, then only a traditionally styled two-wheeler will do. Italian brand Vespa invented the whole thing way back in the 1950s and the current 946 Bellissima (what a name!) retains all the charm of the original style icon.

Thumbs up: Riding a Vespa is simplicity itself with a step-through design, decent weather protection and twist-and-go operation (no clutch or gearbox).

Thumbs down: The small wheels that characterise the classic scooter aren’t great for high-speed stability. Or tram tracks.

Yamaha Tricity 155 - $5099

Three-wheeled scooters are an emerging trend right now with many manufacturers adding a trike to their range. Yamaha’s Tricity 155 is one of the better ones. It still leans like a two-wheeler, but the extra front wheel makes it less confronting for beginners.

Thumbs up: The extra front tyre means three-wheelers have enormous grip for cornering and braking. That’s especially important on a wet road.

Thumbs down: When it’s time for new tyres, you’re up for three, not two.

Suzuki Burgman 650 - $14,790

A maxi-scooter is a bit like an SUV; a cross-over vehicle with all the good bits of a scooter and the best bits of a ‘normal’ motorbike. The Suzuki Burgman 650 retains the comfy riding position and step-through design, the luggage, weather protection and convenience of a scooter. But it’s a physically bigger machine and combines those elements with a relatively large (650cc) engine for lots of performance.

Thumbs up: The larger engine of a maxi means it can tackle interstate trips or weekends away with ease. And a maxi-scooter will easily carry two people in comfort.

Thumbs down: Performance costs, so a maxi scooter is generally more expensive. It’ll use more fuel, too, but still less than a car.

Suzuki Address - $3190

For many of us, a scooter is a way of saving money on our daily commute. And that’s precisely the design brief for the Suzuki Address 110. The Address is all about low purchase price and running costs, yet it still manages to offer great luggage capacity and decent build quality.

Thumbs up: Some of these can be bought for not much more than a new set of tyres for a four-wheel drive. And they run on fumes.

Thumbs down: Quality and reliability from some ultra-cheap brands (though not the Suzuki) can be patchy. 

Don't forget

Just because a scooter is cute and great fun, it’s still a motorcycle and falling off it will hurt. So the right riding gear is crucial to your safety. The law demands a helmet, but common sense also dictates a proper jacket and pants, sturdy boots and good gloves. Don’t forget to factor the price of these into your budget.