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Budget Commuting: The Scooter Solution

Alastair Walker 14/04/2014 12:05:33

Budget Commuting: The Scooter Solution

Commuting to work is extremely expensive. It can cost the same amount every month as it does for a mortgage. It isn't much better on public transport, where some rail season tickets can cost over £5,000 a year. A basic Oyster Card for Zones 1-4, including buses can cost over £2600 each year.

So is a small 50cc, or 125cc scooter one possible solution? Watch My Wallet takes a closer look.

Are Electric Scooters Worth Buying?

Eko Bikes Electric ScooterTypical new electric scooter costs are about £1500-£2000 and you can expect a range of about 30-50 miles on one charge. You also need to pay for CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) and you need a licence to ride one, plus a helmet and insurance. So add on about £400 insurance, £150 for a decent helmet and another £600-£1000 for training and your test fees.

The other problem is that the batteries gradually lose their ability to hold a charge, so when you decided to sell an electric scooter, you may find nobody wants it. The depreciation could easily be over £1000 in three years. We say forget about electric scooters.

Peugeotkisbee 50 Cheap ScooterThe Nifty Fifty - Shop Around For Insurance

A good 50cc petrol engine scooter costs about £1,300 upwards. We found a Peugeot Kisbee 50 at £1300 online.

Legal requirements are VED tax (£17) a crash helmet (we recommend a good one, at about £150-£300) and insurance starts from around £180 fully comp for experienced riders aged over 30.

There is a downside however, which is that 17-25 year old learners, living in London may have to pay £600-£1000 for insurance, depending on where you live, where the scooter is parked and what you do for a living.

One useful comparison site we saw is The Bike Insurer, who let you shop around for a deal.

Top Tip: If you de-restrict your 50cc scooter and DON'T tell your insurance company, then you may not be covered.

Keeway Fact 50cc Scooter Cheap Commuter (1)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 £130 or so, could save your life.

Car drivers with a car 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.

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Is Bigger Better? 125cc Scooter Needs More Training and Skill to Handle, But Faster Way to Work

Peugeot Tweet ScooterA 125cc scooter will return between 70-90mpg and offers a top speed of 60-70mph, with reasonably nippy acceleration too.

If you lived in say Reading and wanted to get into London, then a 125cc scooter will feel safer, more stable and able to keep up with traffic - a 50cc scooter is restricted to 31mph. Hmmm, bit awkward being overtaken by men in lycra on racing bikes.

125cc scooters cost £1,800-£3,500 to buy new, still cheaper than a small car. But you have to add on clothing, helmet, lock, CBT training and test fees from the DSA. It will cost you over £4000 to get on the road. It isn't cheap transport.

The upsides are that 125 scooters can be fun to ride, luggage capacity can be quite roomy too. You get to avoid being squashed against sweaty people on the Tube too.

More Commuter Friendly Features For You:

* Bicycle thieves target Universities and commuter stations

* Five budget smog masks for commuters - breathe cleaner air

* Five cars that will do over 60 miles per gallon

The Theft Problem

There is a BIG problem with all modern scooters, which nobody likes to talk about in the motorcycle industry; theft.

Abus Lock ChainSome 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.

Big manufacturers still don't fit alarms or immobilisers as standard to their 50cc and 125cc scooters. It's as if they want them stolen.

Out of the 22,000 motorbikes and scooters nicked in the UK every year about half are never seen again. Most stolen scooters are simply ridden to destruction off-road, others are shipped abroad, or broken up for spare parts.

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. A D-Lock is also a good idea, as these are harder to break than chains. 

Be very careful about where you park at work, try and make sure there's CCTV and always lock your scooter.

Have fun, ride safe.

Alastair Walker is features editor of Watchmywallet.co.uk

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