Buying a Scooter: Five Important Things you need to know

Scooters are a fun and cost-effective way to get around – find out all you need to know to get your scooter on the road

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If you’re looking for a way to get around that’s fun to drive as well as economical, scooters are hard to beat.

You can start to drive a scooter at 16 years old, so I wasn’t at all surprised when my youngest son decided to save up for his first scooter. Because we live in a rural area, having a scooter has given him much more freedom than relying on the local bus service. And I love it because it means that he’s not calling on me for lifts as often!

Travelling by scooter can be cheaper than taking the bus or train, and with fewer emissions than cars, it’s more eco-friendly as well.

If you’re travelling around town, driving a scooter can cut your travel time considerably. And if you’re riding a scooter in London, you won’t have to pay any Congestion Charge.

When you take into account the fact that scooters have lower petrol costs and cheaper road tax than cars, driving a scooter starts to look very attractive indeed.

So if you’re thinking of buying a scooter, here are some of the most important things that you need to consider.

How old do you need to be to drive a Scooter?

You can start riding a scooter from the date of your 16th birthday, but there are certain conditions.

Portrait of woman enjoying moped ride in city

You can ride a 50cc scooter from the day you turn 16 year sold, as long as you hold a provisional UK licence. You can apply for your provisional licence from the age of 15 years and 9 months onwards. You can apply on the DVLA website.

You’ll need to take a CBT course before you can ride your scooter on the road, and then you’ll need to display L plates on your scooter.

Until you’ve passed your full UK motorcycle licence, you won’t be able to carry pillion passengers or take your scooter on motorways.

If you’re 17 years old and hold a full UK driving licence, you’ll be able to drive a 125cc scooter as long as you have taken a CBT course.

You’ll need to display L plates until you have your full UK motorbike licence. And until then, you won’t be able to drive on motorways or carry passengers.

This flowchart on the DVLA website explains the process of obtaining a full UK motorbike licence.

Choosing a Scooter

There’s a scooter to suit every taste, from modern mopeds to classic Italian-style scooters.

The first step is to choose your scooter, and with a range of engine sizes, designs and styles on the market, you’re sure to find something that you love.

If you’re 16 or older, you’l be able to drive a 50cc scooter which will be restricted to 30mph. They’re perfect for zipping around town and ideal for city living.

Drivers aged 17 or older can ride a 125cc scooter, which can reach speeds up to 60mph. These are great for longer journeys as well as for riding in town.

But as well as engine size, you also need to consider the style of scooter that you want to drive. Do you want a modern style scooter, or something with a retro-Italian feel?

Whether you’re buying new or second hand, you should be able to pick up a scooter for less than £1000. This makes it very accessible and a great way to get on the road.

If you need help choosing a scooter or just want to connect with other scooter fans, you can find details of scooter clubs here

Buying Scooter Insurance

Once you’ve bought your scooter, you’ll need to take care of certain legalities before you take it out on the road.

As with driving a car, you’ll need to make sure your scooter has its tax, insurance and MOT (for vehicles aged 3 years and older).

When you’re buying scooter insurance, it’s a good idea to go to a specialist website to make sure that you’re getting the best possible price and service.

  • Third Party cover is the cheapest option, but you’re only covered for damage that you do to others or their property
  • Fire and Theft coverage gives cover for third parties as above, plus it covers costs of your scooter being set on fire or being stolen
  • Fully Comprehensive is the most expensive form of scooter insurance. As well as the above, it also covers you for repairs to your scooter after any accident.

You’ll need at least third party insurance to ride a scooter. When you’re looking at quotes, it’s important to also take into account things like the excess payable and whether the policy covers things like legal costs.

Taxing a Scooter

You’ll need to buy road tax for your scooter, but this will cost just £20 – much less than for many cars!

You can pay for road tax online or at a Post Office, and you’ll need your scooter’s V5C document to do this.

MOT for a Scooter

If your scooter is 3 years or older, you’ll need to have it tested for the MOT every year.

Prices for this vary, but you’ll generally find that it’s cheaper to put a moped or scooter through the MOT than a car. The maximum price for a motorcycle with an engine less than 250cc is currently £29.65.

Buying a Helmet and Protective Gear

Once your scooter is road-legal, next you need to make sure that you have the right gear to take it on the road.

I know it’s tempting to jump on your scooter wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but if you have an accident the consequences could be awful.

Choosing a Helmet

Wearing a helmet is a legal requirement on UK roads, and it must meet one of the following safety standards:

  • British Standard BS 6658:1985 (and carry the BSI Kitemark)
  • UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark

And if you wear a visor or goggles when you ride your scooter, it must conform to one of these standards:

  • British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark
  • European standard offering at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (UNECE Regulation 22.05)

You can find details of helmets that meet these requirements on the SHARP website (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme).

Protective Clothing

There isn’t a legal requirement to wear any other protective clothing, but it’s highly recommended. In the event of an accident, it could save you from serious injury.

Consider wearing gloves and a protective jacket and trousers, as well as sturdy footwear.

Moped Security

Not clothing but definitely worth buying, a secure lock will help protect your scooter from theft. This may also help to keep your insurance costs down.

Disc locks fasten onto the brake disc of your scooter’s front or rear wheel. This makes it impossible for the scooter to be ridden, but if you forget to unlock it, it may damage your scooter.

A chain lock fastens around a wheel to secure your scooter to an immovable object. This has the benefit of making it impossible to lift your scooter. However it’s important to make sure that you pick a chain of a suitable thickness and strength.

Booking your CBT

The final step before you take your scooter out on the road is to take your CBT training.

The CBT isn’t a test as such, but a full day’s training and assessment with a qualified instructor. It’s a legal requirement for riding a scooter on the roads, and teaches important riding skills and safety theory.

You’ll practice various manoeuvres on an off-road site, learn about hazards and road conditions, and practice vital road craft. Once your instructor is satisfied that you’re ready to go out on the road, you’ll head out for a practice ride with the instructor issuing instructions and guidance by radio link.

CBT Training costs vary, and you can find a local instructor by searching online. The course takes a full day, and if you’re not full proficient at the end of the day, you will have to go back for further instruction.

Once you’ve completed your CBT, you’ll receive a certificate that is valid for two years. After that period, you can retake your CBT, or alternatively you can take a full motorcycle test to allow you to ride without L plates.

Scooters are great fun and have so many benefits – would you consider riding a scooter?

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