As more of us look to return to our traditional workplaces, so we look at new ways to commute: ways which allow us to avoid crowded public transport, which are quicker, cheaper and which give us the flexibility to set our own timetables.
In many cases a motorcycle or scooter is inexpensive and very practical, allowing you to nip in between cars to get to your destination quickly. Scooters are the most practical of all. They have fully automatic transmissions, more weather protection and space under the seat to carry bags, and to leave your helmet during the day.
Can I ride a scooter on a driving licence?
There are many more car driving licence holders than motorbike licence holders, so there’s an understandable desire to get on two wheels without the rigmarole of having to take lessons and sit a test.
With a few exceptions for those with licences dating back decades, you’ll need to do a day’s training (called Compulsory Basic Training, or CBT for short) after which you can ride a motorcycle or scooter of up to 125cc on public roads for up to two years (after which you will either need to take a test or do the training again).
There are a few restrictions. You won’t be able to carry a passenger or use motorways, and you’ll have to display learner’s L plates, but you can be up and on the road in a matter of days. Many car licence holders will have an AM entitlement on their licence, meaning that they can ride a moped, but as these are restricted to 28mph they will not be practical for many.
What did we test?
We took out four popular scooters for our video review. As these all have very different specifications and price points, the idea was not to compare them directly. Instead we looked at the relative strengths and weaknesses of each one, which will hopefully help you to decide which type of scooter suits you best. The four we rode were:
Vespa GTS 125 Super
An Italian fashion icon, the Vespa is like a two-wheeled Mini – a Sixties legend reimagined for the 21st century. We loved its style (especially in the bright yellow of our test bike) and build quality, although at £4740 it is a pricey option if all you want is a basic commuter.
Lexmoto Aura 125
Our bargain option was the Lexmoto Aura 125. Lexmoto is a big selling Chinese brand and they have a huge range of small capacity mopeds, scooters and geared motorcycles. The Aura 125 is one of their top end models but, at £2000, is still by far and away the cheapest one here. We were very impressed and all agreed that if cost is a major consideration, the Lexmoto is hard to beat.
Honda Forza 125
Honda make 125cc machines for all tastes and price points, and the Forza 125 is the poshest of the lot. At £4949, it isn’t cheap but you do get a lot for your money. It’s physically big for a 125, which means that it is comfortable and offers good weather protection – as well as generous underseat storage. There’s also a 350cc version, which is well worth considering if you have a suitable motorcycle licence.
Piaggio MP3 300 Sport
Something of a wild card in our test, the MP3 has three wheels (two at the front and one at the rear). Because the two front wheels have a wide track, it’s classed as a tricycle and can be ridden on a car licence without even doing the CBT (although we’d still recommend it) or donning L plates.
It’s a little faster (with a top speed of over 70mph) and the design gives a reassuringly high level of grip and stability. It’s expensive though. At over £7000, cash buyers could take their motorcycle test and still have enough left for a 300-400cc scooter.
Which is the best scooter you can ride on a car licence?
In truth, our review was not to determine which of the four scooters was best but to look at four very different approaches to urban mobility.
The three wheeled Piaggio (and also the similar Yamaha Tricity 300) is brilliant and innovative. Car drivers can take it on a motorway and carry a passenger, which they couldn’t if they were running a 125cc machine on a CBT. Because it has a 300cc engine, it’s also a little bit quicker, making it ideal for those who wish to do more sustained dual carriageway work.
Those two wheels up front make these tricycles more stable and secure feeling too, ideal for those without previous motorcycling experience, but the main trade offs are that it’s heavier than a two wheeler and expensive too.
The Honda and Vespa we tested are both premium scooters, but as a basic commuter we were very impressed by the £2000 Lexmoto Aura.
What are the best selling scooters in the UK?
Scooters are hugely popular, especially in the big cities and with delivery riders.
The benchmarks are Honda’s PCX125 and the Yamaha NMAX 125. They’re the best sellers and offer exceptional value for money. We compared them earlier in the year and can strongly recommend either. You may find that these suit your needs as well as, if not better than, those in our four scooter review.
What about electric options?
If you live in the city and want an electric scooter, there are quite a few affordable options from emerging brands like NIU, Silence, Sunra and Super Soco. These are either moped or 125cc equivalents, with top speeds of up to 60mph and a range of up to 80 miles. These can be recharged at home and have lower running costs than a petrol scooter.