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red motor scooter A motor scooter is a motorized bike that, at first glance, looks similar to a motorcycle.  However, there are significant differences between the two.

The step-through frame is the most obvious difference between scooters and motorcycles.  Instead of having to swing a leg over to become comfortably seated, the rider merely needs to step into the motor scooter and sit down.  This comfortable feature makes motor scooters a good choice for both young and old riders.

While the mechanical components are in full view on most motorcycles, they are generally hidden by bodywork on scooters.  This prevents heat, grime, and grease from getting on the rider.  In addition, motor scooters provide more storage than motorcycles, typically under the seat or in a leg-shield glove compartment.  All of these features combine to make the motor scooter a good choice for just about anyone, whether he or she is commuting to the office or carting groceries back from the store.

Riding a Motor Scooter along a Shoreline Trail

When motor scooters were first introduced — and for decades after — most of them were manual shift.  Today, the automatic transmission is most common, allowing the motor scooter to be comfortably used in stop-and-go traffic.

Motor scooters are a ubiquitous form of urban transportation in Europe and many other parts of the world.  They became popular in Europe after Vespa and Lambretta mopeds were introduced during the 1960s.  Both brands are popular with collectors and the general public, and new models are available as well as original vintage and retro models.

Motor scooters are available with both two-stroke and four-stroke engines.  A stroke refers to the amount of times the piston moves up and down in the cylinder per combustion cycle.  In a two-stroke engine, the piston moves up and down twice during the combustion cycle, while in a four-stroke engine, the piston moves up and down four times during the combustion cycle.  The benefits of two-stroke engines are that they are powerful and compact.  Their downside is that they pollute more than four-stroke engines, which are known for their very clean emissions.  However, four-stroke engines are more powerful and more expensive than two-stroke engines.  Scooter motor sizes are usually between 30 and 125 cc, but some range up to 600 cc.  Scooters with 50 cc (or smaller) motors are usually classified as mopeds; these have less restrictive safety requirements and lower licensing fees.

Depending upon the motor scooter, both air and liquid cooled engines are available.  Motor scooters are also available with disc brakes, drum brakes, and anti-lock brakes depending upon the model.  Some scooters are also equipped with linked brake systems, which are designed to help the less experienced rider brake in a faster, safer manner.

vintage motor scooter

Motor Scooter Suppliers

  • Vespa USA began production of motor scooters in Italy in 1946.  These scooters were quite successful; the firm is now a well-known European manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles.
  • Lambretta USA began production of scooters in 1947, after World War II.
  • Go-Ped developed an early motorized personal transport vehicle about 20 years ago.
  • Viza Motors manufactures a variety of electric and gas scooters and mobility scooters.
  • ZapWorld is an innovative manufacturer of folding electric scooters and electric bikes.

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