Are 50cc Scooters Worth It? Is 50cc Enough?

red vintage vespa

After writing my post on the best 50cc scooters, I was presented with the question:

Are 50cc scooters worth it and is 50cc enough power?

The answer – it depends. I put some thought into it, and in this post I want to discuss whether or not it’s worth investing in a 50cc scooter.

Depending on where you’re from, having a little 50cc moped could be worth it. It could also be an expensive mistake. Let’s take a look at the practicality behind owning and maintaining a 50cc or less scooter.

The discussion will be broken down into five parts:

  • Cost
  • Maintenance
  • Speed
  • Passengers
  • Fun & Commuting

This way you’ll get the best idea of whether a 50cc scooter is a good choice or if they should be avoided. Let’s jump right into it!

Are 50cc Scooters Worth It?

modified honda ruckus

Around the world, except in Canada and the United States, small scooters like these are wildly popular. Given the larger distances between cities and towns in North America, it’s easy to see why they haven’t gained a foothold.

There’s also the harsh winters to contend with, high-speed highways running through cities, and less skilled drivers. Could there be even more reasons why they’re not popular?

On the other hand, scooters are fuel efficient and easy to maintain. In many American States you don’t even need a license to operate a scooter that’s 50cc or less. With Rising gas prices and increasing living expenses, maybe these mopeds will take off in North America.

Let’s find out.

Cost (Purchase + Insurance)

red vespa

The first factor to consider when it comes to the 50cc scooter debate is their cost. Compared to motorcycles, it’s significantly cheaper to buy a new or used scooter.

At 50cc these scooters come equipped with a small engine. The body around them is also small and lightweight.

In many places, it’s possible to pick up a second-hand moped for between $500 and $2000. These are typically in great condition as many people buy them and neglect to ride them.

Assuming you already own a car, picking up a 50cc scoot isn’t necessarily about idea. For a few hundred to less than two thousand dollars you can get a machine that’s ready to ride immediately.

Even brand new, mopeds aren’t going to break the bank. It’s possible to buy a new Yamaha or Vespa 50cc scooter for under $4,000. This isn’t a lot of money for a reliable, fun to ride form of transportation.

As for scooter insurance, it’s affordable just about everywhere. Some places don’t even require insurance for vehicles under 50cc.

Even in Ontario, where they pay some of the highest motorcycle insurance rates in the world, scooter insurance will run just $15-$30 per month. Compared to cars and motorcycles, where it’s not uncommon to spend more than $100 every month on insurance, this is a great deal.

When looking at cost alone, it can definitely be worth it to invest in a scooter. Unfortunately, there are a lot of other factors that still need to be considered.

Maintenance & Maintenance Costs

Scooter maintenance and the related costs are the next factor to consider. Most modern mopeds are reliable and can be ridden thousands of maintenance-free miles.

Compared to motorcycles, scoots require little in the form of maintenance. There’s no chains that need lubing, the tires last longer, and the small size makes everything easily accessible.

The small size means you can do most of your own scooter maintenance at home. There’s no need for an expensive motorcycle lift and it’s easy to reach all of the internal components.

Working on your own scooter can be done with basic tools. Even if you don’t have a garage, it’s not a problem to work on these machines outdoors.

Thanks to their simple design, mopeds can travel further before any scheduled maintenance is required. Many people don’t even ride them enough to worry about spark plug changes or engine rebuilds.

Bringing the moped to your local mechanic isn’t an issue either. Again, when compared to motorcycles, it’s easier and faster to work on a scooter.

Apart from regular oil changes and preventive maintenance, the maintenance costs for a scooter are surprisingly low. It’s easy to do your own maintenance and affordable to keep your moped up and running.

When it comes to maintenance, it’s definitely worth it to own a 50cc scooter. Just a few hundred dollars and some afternoons of your own time are enough to get the scooter through the year.

Practicality

black vespa

Is it practical to own a 50cc scooter? That depends mostly on where you live and the conditions you’re riding in.

In big cities like Toronto, New York City, Miami, and Los Angeles, owning a smaller-cc moped is a great choice. They’re simple to ride and easy to get around town on. Most heavy urban centers in the world have scooters as one of their main forms of transportation. It’s no different in North America.

In more rural areas and smaller towns owning a moped is less practical. If you need to drive on the highway, or higher speed secondary roads, a 50cc scoot isn’t going to cut it. They’re not going to be fun for riding 10+ miles on back roads just to get to your closest grocery store.

Scooters and mopeds are the most practical in bigger cities where there’s a lot to do in a small area. This is, however, until you take the weather into consideration.

In many northern areas, like NYC and Toronto, it’s not practical to ride a scooter for half the year. From November until April the temperatures are often below freezing. Its not uncommon to find snow on the road during these months. This worsens in cities and towns at higher elevations. Even in a big city, you probably won’t want to be riding a scooter during the winter.

In the south, where it’s warmer, and in generally warm destinations you’ll be OK riding a moped for most of the year. Colder areas and smaller towns won’t find this mode of transportation to be as practical.

Speed

yellow vespa

One of the biggest drawbacks to smaller displacement scooters is their slower top speed. Most 50cc scooters can only reach speeds of 35 to 45 miles per hour (55 to 70 kilometers per hour).

Unless you’re doing all of your riding in the city, this isn’t fast enough for most people. Rural and secondary roads typically have speeds greater than 40 miles per hour. It’s dangerous, unsafe, and illegal if you’re not able to keep up with traffic at these speeds.

The speeds are even lower for heavier riders and if you’re carrying a passenger. This makes mopeds better suited for urban riding where the speed limit doesn’t exceed 30 to 40 miles per hour.

While it is possible to travel on roads with higher speed limits, it’s dangerous and not recommended. People have crossed North America on 50cc scooters, though for daily use they’re not practical at higher speeds.

At this point, riders will want to consider a more powerful scooter. Those with 125cc+ are better suited for secondary roads and highways. In cities, these lower speeds won’t be a problem for keeping up with traffic.

Passengers

Another one of the main drawbacks to smaller displacement scooters is their any ability to carry passengers. These mopeds have a smaller weight limit and will be noticeably affected as the limit is approached.

For example, a rider weighing 185 pounds will run into difficulty carrying a passenger that weighs 150 pounds. The engine has to work harder and there will be a noticeable lack of acceleration.

Many scooters also have a weight limit that doesn’t allow for two passengers. Some of the 50cc Vespas and Piaggio scooters have a weight limit of 300 pounds or less.

On your own however, riding solo isn’t a problem for most mopeds. This depends on your weight, though riders under 300 pounds can typically ride safely.

Fun & Commuting

cockpit view vespa

Finally, it’s hard to go wrong with a 50cc scoot if you’re looking to have fun. They’re a blast to ride around, easy to maintain, and a reasonably affordable form of entertainment.

As a motorcycle rider, nothing beats hopping onto a two-wheeled machine and ripping off into the sunset. The wind on your face and all the elements around you make even the smallest scooters heaps of fun.

In many cities there are scooter communities and groups that you can join. There are group rides, scooter related events, and other fun things you can do with local riders. Unless the weather is miserable, you’ll never not have fun riding your scoot.

As for commuting, this is one more area where 50cc scooters shine. Riders with a short, local commute that doesn’t involve the highway will find a smaller displacement moped to be a suitable form of transportation.

They’re fun to ride and easy to find parking for. It’s hard to complain about the fuel efficiency as well, especially with the rising gas prices. Compared to taking the bus, costs can be similar depending on where you live.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, it depends on these various factors that will determine whether or not a 50cc scooter is worth it for you personally. Some riders will find them to be a great choice for local rides and commuting. Others might find them lacking in power and practicality.

It’s important to consider where you’ll be riding, the speeds of your local roads, and what you need a scooter for. It might be more worth it for you to invest in a bigger displacement moped, or even a motorcycle.

People looking for something fun to ride around town are going to have a blast. These scooters are easy to maintain and are guaranteed to put a smile on your face whenever you go for a rip.

I’d love to hear your own thoughts and opinions on this popular debate. Feel free to let me know what you think down in the comments!

For more scooter guides, check out these posts:

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