Scooter vs. Bike


You may have decided that two wheels are more cost efficient for commuting, want to have the experience of enjoying the wind on the open road, want to cruise from coast to coast, or just take short neighborhood trips because you can. You've made the decision to join the thousands of individuals who take on the open road on two wheels.


  • The biggest difference between scooters and bikes is the transmission. Scooters have always had an automatic transmission, making them typically more attractive for beginner riders. Motorcycles run with four to six speeds and use a clutch found at the left handlebar to switch between the gears.


  • Scooters are typically smaller than a standard motorcycle both in engine size and appearance even if there is room for more than one rider. Scooters are designed more for smooth back roads and side streets, at speeds usually under 45 mph. The body styles typically carry smoother and more rounded lines than do motorcycles. Most motorcycles, as long as they have an engine size of 250 cc or more, can maintain freeway speeds for long periods.

Carrying Capacity

  • Most scooters are designed for just one rider, although the larger models have room for two. Motorcycles usually have room for two riders, one in the front and one in the back. Larger bikes have the ability to actually tow small trailers for longer distances, whereas scooters do not. Motorcycles can have a sidecar attached, whereas scooters cannot.

Getting On

  • Riders on motorcycles mount the bike by standing to the left of it, grabbing the handlebars, and throwing the right leg over the frame. The feet are placed to the left and to the right of the frame on pegs or platforms. Scooters always have a frame to step through and a platform on the bike to put your feet. This is the hallmark visual difference between the two. If you aren't sure if it's a bike or a scooter, the scooter always has the platform right on the bike so that both feet are together in the middle.

Cost Efficiency

  • Scooters typically have better gas mileage than bikes simply because the engine sizes are smaller and less powerful. Scooters can get anywhere from 70 to 100 miles to the gallon. Motorcycles range from 40 to 70 miles per gallon. The larger the engine size, the fewer the miles per gallon. Scooters are typically less expensive to purchase than motorcycles.

    Some models of scooters and motorcycles need to have oil changes after every 1000 miles on average. Bigger motorcycles can last longer, such as every 3000 miles for regularly scheduled maintenance. Some states do not require insurance on motorcycles or scooters unless the vehicle is being financed. There is not a drastic difference in costs for upkeep, insurance, or licensing unless your insurance company feels it may cost you more because of your driving record. Some riders opt to change the oil after every ride out of personal preference, increasing their overall costs. The dealer you purchased your scooter or motorcycle from can give you a schedule of recommended maintenance for the make and model you choose. If you purchased a used scooter or motorcycle, the manufacturer can inform you of your regularly scheduled maintenance.


  • If you want to go freeway speed and still get roughly 70 mpg but want an automatic, then check out Suzuki's Burgman scooter line. If you want to sustain freeway speeds with roughly 70 mpg and still have more control over changing speeds, then try the Hyosung Aquilla GV250 cc cruiser motorcycles.

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  • Photo Credit Typical scooter. nitpix/
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