Commuting to work is becoming extremely expensive. For example some car drivers are forking out the same amount every month in petrol/insurance and servicing costs as they are for a mortgage. It isn't much better on public transport, where some railway season tickets can cost over £4,000 a year.
So is a small scooter one possible solution? Watch My Wallet takes a closer look.
Are Friends Electric?
The cheapest route to work on two wheels - apart from a bicycle - is by electric scooter, but only if you calculate the cost of charging it (about 15-20p per day) against the fuel used by a 50cc petrol engine scooter, which would be perhaps £1 per day for a 20 mile commute.
The trouble with electric scooters is that most of the cheap ones that retail for around £1,000-£1,400, use sealed lead acid or nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) batteries, which don't last very long. The best batteries are Lithium-ion and even they may need replacing after 4-5 years of ownership, at a cost of around £500.
Commuting in London? Remember all two-wheelers are free from the Congestion Charge - there's no extra advantage, such as free parking, to be gained from running an electric scooter. You only save on VED road tax.
The Nifty Fifty - Can Be Cheap to Insure Too
A good 50cc petrol engine scooter costs about £1,200 upwards. Legal requirements are VED tax (£15) a crash helmet (from £100 upwards) and insurance starts from around £130 fully comp for experienced riders aged over 30.
There is a downside however, which is that 17-24 year old learners living in London may have to pay over £1000 for insurance.
We checked with Principal Insurance to see how London commuters could save money on insurance, Matt Byrne told Watch My Wallet;
"Get a strong lock and chain, always use it. Park off-street, in a shed or garage overnight, if you don't need pillion cover that helps too. We recently found a quote for a novice teenager, North London postcode, at just under £400 on a 50cc scooter - it can be done. We also offer quotes on most Chinese made scooters and small motorcycles too, some insurers don't cover them."
Get a Car Insurance Quote from the RAC - More Here
Get a Quote on a Commuter Scooter from Principal - More Here
Can You Ride a 50cc Scooter On a Car Licence?
Car drivers with a full licence gained before Feb 2001 can ride a 50cc scooter without taking any CBT ( Compulsory Basic Training) but we wouldn't recommend this - one day's training for £100 could save your life.
Car drivers with a licence gained after Feb 2001 need to do CBT, but you don't need to apply L plates to the bike once you've passed.
If you want to ride a 125cc scooter you need to pass CBT training and be 17 or older.
The Inner City 125
A 125cc scooter will return between 70-90mpg and offers a top speed of 60-70mph, with reasonably nippy acceleration too. 125cc scooters typically cost £1,500-£2,000 to buy new, way cheaper than a small car and about the same as a 12 month season ticket from Alderley Edge to Manchester Piccadilly (£1776 per year).
But you need to buy a decent helmet, boots, lock & chain, gloves and waterproof clothing - so add on another £500-£600 for that, plus insurance and VED tax.
A 125cc scooter is definitely cheaper than a car in terms of commuting but things like electrics, brakes and variator gears can wear out within 10,000 miles on some models. Scooters need servicing more often than a car does, typically every 3000-4000 miles.
The Theft Problem
There is a BIG problem with all modern scooters, which nobody likes to talk about in the motorcycle industry; theft.
Some scooters are incredibly easy to steal and they are targeted by youths who tend to `spot' where you park every day, or follow you home then break into your shed or garage.
Out of the 22,000 bikes and scooters nicked in the UK every year about half are never seen again. Most stolen scooters are simply ridden to destruction off-road.
The top ten most stolen two-wheelers in 2011, according to UK Police statistics, were;
1. Gilera Runner 50/125/180
2. Piaggio/Vespa 125
3. Piaggio Zip 50
4. Peugeot Speedfight
5. Piaggio NRG
6. Honda SCV
7. Piaggio ET2
8. Yamaha YZF125
9. Piaggio Typhoon 125
10. Yamaha DT125 trailbike
The best theft deterrent is an immense, case-hardened steel chain and a padlock with a rotating cylinder barrel, which will cost you about £50. But it is money well spent, as the average skinny youth doesn't usually have access to industrial bolt-croppers to get through it.
Have fun, ride safe.