scooter or motorcycle: 4 questions to help you decide which to buy

Even though motorcycle insurance will often cover scooters, these 2 vehicles are very different. Before deciding which is right for you, zip through these key scooter-centric questions so you can tackle this mini-bike debate with confidence.

scooter defined

First off, let's address what we mean by "scooter." This term doesn't refer to the kid's toy, of course, but rather a gas-powered, motorized cycle (Vespa is probably the most well-known brand). Scooters are less powerful than motorcycles but still typically require a motorcycle license to operate.

1. Are scooters safer than motorcycles?

While the image surrounding scooters seems to be one of playfulness (and Capri pants), the answer, unfortunately, is no.

Many riders might point to the fact that a scooter can't rival a motorcycle's speed as proof of its safety. However, the latest census shows that lower speeds don't always mean lower accident risk. In fact, more speeding-related traffic fatalities happen on 35-mph-and-under roads than on 55-mph-and-over interstates. And most scooters have no trouble getting up to 35 mph.

You could even make the case that because scooters are typically smaller than motorcycles, they're even more dangerous. When your little scooter easily gets lost in a driver's blind spot, you're that much more vulnerable while circling parking lots, changing lanes, or in intersections.

Riding a 2-wheeled vehicle of any type requires skill and caution. So don't assume your scooter automatically makes you less vulnerable than a motorcycle.

2. Are scooters more convenient than motorcycles?

Convenience is a big issue in the scooters vs. motorcycles debate. But there's really no definitive answer.

Don't get us wrong: riding a scooter certainly gives you a few advantages. Namely, if you live in a big city, you should have better maneuverability and an even easier time parking than you would with a motorcycle. Scooter fuel efficiency also tends to be very high (50–60 mpg is average, but 200 mpg is actually on the horizon!) while their cost is low (and saving money is the ultimate convenience, isn't it?).

However, what might make your scooter not so handy is its limited range. Many states ban scooters on highways (and only certain models have the speed for them anyway). This means that you might find your scooter lacking as a primary vehicle unless all your commuting is within a small area.

3. Is learning to ride a scooter easier than learning to ride a motorcycle?

Yes, in part. Motorcycles typically have a clutch and gear shift that riders must master. Scooters, on the other hand, usually have automatic transmissions — just turn them on and go.

But while the mechanics of the scooter itself are simple, the techniques you need for navigating the roads properly on one are not. When starting out on a scooter, you should look into a training class. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation's scooter course will teach you to take curves, manage intersections, change lanes, avoid obstacles, and everything else you'll need to get your license.

scooter motorcycle tire

4. Is insurance for scooters cheaper than for motorcycles?

Usually, yes. Because most scooters are ridden fewer miles and under less risky circumstances (no racing or off-roading on a Vespa) than motorcycles, there are fewer chances for accidents. Thus there's a good possibility of a more affordable premium on your mini-bike than your chopper.

That's not to say insuring a scooter isn't important, however. Scooter insurance is mandatory in every state, and with good reason. These vehicles come with unique perils of their own.

For instance, since you're practically invisible to other cars, you might want to outfit your scooter policy with uninsured motorist insurance and collision coverage in case you get hit while changing lanes or waiting to turn left.

And since your ride is so light, something as simple as hitting a pothole could present problems. That can make comprehensive or emergency road assistance well worth it.

Get your scooter a free quote today to start planning your coverage and see what perks you can nab, like the Paid-in-Full or Safety Course discount.

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