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Why scooters are 2021’s big bike trend

Could you save time and money by joining the scooter revolution? You’ll be in good company if you do…

Derri Dunn
Derri Dunn
Updated 01 June 2021  | 3 min read

Motorcycle sales took an absolute hammering last year.

Covid closed down showrooms and forecourts in late March, right when bikers traditionally come out of hibernation. From January to April last year, sales of new motorcycles and mopeds plummeted 31% from 2019.

Another lockdown at the start of this year didn’t help. Sales have started to pick up, albeit slowly, with a 14% increase for January-April this year, but they’re still well below 2019 levels.

Yet scooters have bucked that trend – 2% more were sold January-April than in 2019, despite every other type of bike (except enduro/trail) seeing a slump on those pre-Covid figures.

Are you jumping on the scooter bandwagon?

There are a few reasons scooters are so appealing at the moment…

It’s easier than riding a bike

Have you ever tried writing with your non-dominant hand?

That’s the simplest way to compare learning to change gear with your feet on a motorbike when you’re used to a car’s gear stick. It takes a bit of brain re-training and it’s not for the fainthearted or the uncoordinated.

But scooters are automatic – there’s no braking or shifting with your feet at all. You just twist and go, which again usually means less learning and therefore less time and expense to get you up and running than either a car or a motorcycle.

You don’t need to pass your motorbike (or car) test

As long as you’re over 17 and display L-plates, you can get on the road without taking a test on a scooter up to 125cc – that’s most scooters in reality (although larger scooters are available).

All you’ll need is compulsory basic training (CBT), which typically costs around £100-£150 and takes a day.

Although CBT trainers had to pause for the early 2021 lockdown alongside rider trainers and driving instructors, CBT is usually conducted in larger groups and in a shorter time than motorbike training courses, so waiting lists should be far shorter.

That means it’s a lot quicker and cheaper to get going on a scooter than on a larger motorbike. And while that’s appealing at any time, it’s especially relevant when you could be waiting months for a slot to take your motorbike test while the DVSA deals with pent-up demand for both learner bikers and drivers.

The number of CBT certificates issued in the last quarter of 2020 was the highest in nine years. Could it be that frustrated learner drivers are hopping on the scooter bandwagon?

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They’re a public transport alternative

At the height of the pandemic, train use dropped to just 4% of pre-pandemic levels. By the middle of May it had rebounded to a little over 40%, while car use was around 90%.

Lots of us are still working from home and travelling to work less, but given the robust sales data for scooters from January to April, it’s likely they’re being increasingly pressed into service to fill that commuter transport gap.

And why not? A 125cc scooter is a formidable commuting option and with top speeds of around 60mph they’re more than adequate for urban riding.

And then there are the savings on the cost of a car or a season ticket:

  • £21 a year to tax – equivalent to about 40p a week
  • A 25-mile round-trip commute could cost around £6 a week[1]
  • Parking’s usually free, even in city centres and at train stations
  • They’re exempt from the London congestion charge

Think about it – if your return to the office involves taxing a car, paying for fuel to drive to the station, then shelling out for parking before buying your weekly season ticket… those costs quickly stack up.

Or you could pay less than £6.50 a week. We’ll just leave you to think about that for a minute…

[1]Average cost of a litre of petrol was £1.29 on 27 May 2021 (RAC Fuel Watch) = £5.87/gallon. Typical 125cc scooter fuel consumption of around 120mpg = 0.05p per mile. 125 miles per week = £6.11

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