How to Choose a Scooter

If you have decided to buy a scooter the next goal is finding the right scooter for you. Choosing the right scooter is as important as choosing the right pair of shoes. You don’t want something that’s too small or too big. If you are also a first-time buyer, there other factors to consider.  We mention these in our First-Time Buyer guide.

When you are buying a scooter, the first question is new vs. used. If you want a warranty and the security of readily available parts, then it’s best to buy a new scooter from a reputable shop. Buying a used scooter can save you money, but the risk of unforeseen repairs is a real possibility. When you look at buying a used scooter, try to assess how well it was cared for. Did it have regular oil changes? Was it ridden regularly or has it been sitting?  Has it been in an accident? What are the condition of the tires, etc.?  A lot of potential hazards and expenses can be avoided by buying from a reputable shop and having someone knowledgeable evaluate the scooter before you purchase.

The next question is manual vs. automatic. If you like the idea of manual-shift scooters, you are limited to something like a Genuine Stella 150, which has a four-speed manual transmission, or something like an older Vespa or Lambretta.   As a general rule, manual-shift scooters require more periodic maintenance, for example, cable and gear shift adjustments, and manual dexterity. Many prefer the simplicity of an automatic scooter. The rider simply twists the throttle and they go. This simplified system requires one control, the throttle, to move down the road, whereas manual-shift scooters have three controls: the clutch, gearshift, and throttle.

Next, you must assess your individual needs. Will your scooter be solely for commuting or running errands? Will you be carrying a passenger? Are you interested in riding recreationally or touring? Are you taller or shorter than average? Knowing these factors as you do your research with different models and engine sizes will guide you in finding the right scooter for you.

The most common way to organize scooters is by their engine size. Engine size is measured in cubic centimeters (cc). It follows that the larger cc scooters are more powerful than the small cc ones. For our purposes we’ll group scooters into 49cc, 80-170cc, and 200cc+ categories.

The 49cc scooters are slow and too small for most people under most circumstances. Their utility diminishes when they are taken out of their comfort zone.  Because of that, we recommend not buying a 49cc scooter if you want to carry a passenger, travel easily up steep hills, or want to commute more than a few miles around town or to and from the metro on major roads.

These models are usually designated “50”, as in the Something-or-other-50. These are the first scooters that people are interested in getting. They’re considered something simple, relatively inexpensive, and in some states you don’t need to get a specific motorcycle license. (Note: If you live in DC, you’ll need a motorcycle license. Please see our section on licensing for more information). Many people have been happy with their choice of a 50. However, an equal number of people have expressed regret in not getting something a little more powerful to start with. Many are also restricted to a top speed of around 30-35mph.

There are a lot of options of these scooters available. If we do not have a new or used one in stock, we can always order a new Genuine Buddy 50 or Genuine Roughhouse 50.

If you want a little more “get up and go,” you may want to consider a scooter in this range. They usually have a top speed of 50+ mph. Acceleration from a stop is usually quite brisk, which is helpful to get you going around town. These scooters are very practical for day-to-day use in the city.

The 125cc+ scooters are especially popular in and around the Washington, DC area. You can keep up with traffic, carry a passenger, ride comfortably up hills and still have reserve power under most circumstances.  These scooters are a popular alternative to having a car in the city.

We usually have a selection of 125cc+ scooters in stock including the Genuine Buddy 125, the Genuine Buddy 170i, and the Genuine Stella 150.

200cc and Higher
If you’re looking for more serious performance out of your scooter, you might want to consider something in the 200-300cc range. They are generally larger in physical size and weight. Many people choose something in this range if they don’t limit their riding in town, frequently ride with a passenger, or they are looking to replace a car. An additional advantage is that the 200cc+ scooters are freeway capable.

There are many 200cc+ options. Genuine’s contribution to this class is the Blur 220i and can be ordered upon request.

If you have any questions we invite you to stop by Modern Classics. We will be happy to answer your questions.


Who We Are

Modern Classics is a full-service scooter shop located in Washington, DC. We carry new Genuine scooters including the unbeatable Buddy 125 and 170i, the new Stella 4-Stroke, and a varied selection of used and consignment scooters and motorcycles. We also feature riding gear from Rev’It!, AGV, Alpinestars, Icon, Z1R, and GoGo Gear.

Modern Classics services a wide variety of vintage and modern scooters.

Visit Us!

We are located at:
955 V St., NE
Washington, DC 20018

We are open:
T-F 10-6; Sa 9-5
Closed Sunday and Monday