Though not in the spotlight as much as their bigger alternatives, there is a thriving 50cc scooter market that will get you on two wheels and honing your road craft so that, come the right age, you have a wealth of experience under your belt and are ready for a bigger machine. And the best bit is, it doesn't even have to cost the earth.
What do I need to ride a 50cc scooter on the road in the UK?
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your provisional licence, which you can apply for through the DVLA website. Once obtained, you’ll then need to complete your Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). It’s simple to do and doesn’t cost too much money. From there, you’ll be free to ride around for two years with L-plates. But which 50 should you go for, new or used? Here’s our pick of the best around right now…
Best 50cc scooters and mopeds in 2019
Spec: 49cc / 3.8bhp / 97kg / 800mm seat height
Price: £850 (used) - £1900 (new)
When it comes to scooters, there’s none more iconic and successful than the Peugeot Speedfight, which set the template for the sports scooter back in 1997. The venerable French runabout has been around for an impressive 22 years, selling a staggering half a million units around the world during that time. It became the 3 in 2009 when Peugeot redesigned it from the ground up, bringing it firmly into the 21st century, and then became the 4 in 2017, though received mostly cosmetic changes at this point.
BUYING ADVICE Peugeot quality and reliability has always been among the best in the scooter class and the new Speedfight maintains that tradition. They’re generally robust, refined, and well built. Just look out for the obvious signs of abuse or previous accidents.
Spec: 49cc / 3.8bhp / 90kg / 820mm seat height
Price: £700 (used) - £2700 (new)
If you want to get on two wheels, but don’t fancy the hassle of shifting gears, then a scooter is the way to go and Aprilia’s SR 50 is among the sportiest of them all. The SR 50 has been around for a while, but received an update for 2018 including a new paint scheme in the following year and a few subtle additions which include a new air filter, exhaust cover and numberplate bracket.
Buying advice Just like Aprilia motorcycles, this scooter is very nicely put together. It’s built to be abused by 16 year olds, so rest assured it has Tonka Toy durability.
Spec: 49cc / 8.8bhp / 120kg / 760mm seat height
Price: £850 - £1600
The GPR 50 is a fully-faired sports 50 version of the Senda 50 which the Spanish firm officially brought into the UK from 2004-2009, although some later versions do turn up. As a stylish, well-equipped, 49cc two-stroke from the home of lightweight sportsbikes it’s great fun and fairly highly strung, but still limited to 30mph (although many have been derestricted). Bags of style when you’re 16.
Buying advice A very well put together motorcycle when new and left in standard condition the little two-stroke engine will run on forever. Reliability issues can arise when used and abused by first-time riders.
Spec: 49cc / 9bhp / 90kg / 810mm seat height
Price: £1200 (used) - £2700 (new)
Spanish firm Derbi are now owned by Italian giant Piaggio, who also own Aprilia, so it’s only natural the two brands’ trail/supermoto two-stroke 50s are basically the same bike. This style of machine, being upright, suits taller riders and is also hugely cool and great fun. On the downside, dealers are scarce and Sendas tend to get thrashed, but if you want a full-size, geared 50, this (or the Aprilia) is great.
Buying advice Fairly delicate and highly-strung so needs to be looked after – which most examples won’t have been. Inspect carefully for use and abuse and check its history, too.
Spec: 49cc / 4bhp / 95kg / 795mm seat height
Price: £850 (used) - £2700 (new)
Let’s be honest: image is everything when you’re 16 – and the Piaggio NRG 50 has plenty, with race bike styling and graphics. Small wheels mean it’s very nimble through traffic and easy to manoeuvre at low speed – which is also ideal for CBT – but allied with cheap suspension also makes it a little nervous. Overall, however, it’s stylish, easy and affordable – everything a
Buying advice Piaggio build quality is fairly basic: finish is cheap, the paint rubs through, alloy parts corrode and steel parts rust, so you’ll need to find one that’s been looked after.
Spec: 49cc / 8.2bhp / 119kg / 845mm seat height
Price: £1200 - £2899 (new)
Rieju are another Spanish company that specializes in lightweight, sporty machines, and its RS is its fully-faired sports option. The RS2 was available up to 2012 when it was superceded by the uprated RS3. Both boast fancy chassis and screaming two-stroke engines and if you’re 16 and looking to get on two wheels, it doesn’t get much better. Fairly highly-strung and quite brittle, though, so they need to be looked after. Also, dealer back-up and spares availability isn’t the best.
The RS3 was mostly well put together, save for a few issues, such as the sidestand not retracting fully and the left mirror working itself loose every couple of minutes. How well the two-stroke engine would hold up to abuse and minimal maintenance from a 16-year-old is another matter.
2014-2019 Peugeot Django 50
Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 113kg / 770mm seat height
Price: £1400 - £2299 (new)
The stylish, two-tone Django proves that if you want a retro-styled scoot it doesn’t have to be a Vespa. Full-sized and available in 50, 125 and 150 engine sizes, the Django has lots of nice styling details and a quality feel about it, which goes a considerable way to justifying the higher asking price. In 50cc form it’s a little sluggish but if you’re a teenager who likes the style there are very few better-looking ways to get yourself on to a powered two-wheeler.
Buying advice Build quality is generally good, Peugeot scooter mechanicals are proven and it’s the sort of machine that should get looked after, so we’ve few concerns here.
2005-2019 Vespa Primavera 50
Spec: 49cc / 3.3bhp / 96kg / 775mm seat height
Price: £750 - £3399 (new)
Vespa remains the classic, retro scooter and its re-imagined ‘Primavera’ family is the latest interpretation of the theme. Available in both 50cc and 125cc forms it’s the easiest entry into Vespa ownership and as a round-town scoot they don’t get much more classically cool. Now four-stroke powered, they’ve never been cheap but they are stylish, well-built and equipped. Small wheels make them a bit nervous over bumps, though.
The painted enclosed body is nicely finished and the chrome looks OK, but underneath the metal parts suffer at the hands of road much, water and salt. The iconic body shape is vulnerable in a crash, though.
Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 97kg / 828mm seat height
Price: £600 - £2199 (new)
Yamaha’s funky race replica two-stroke scooter is nippy, agile and lots of fun, although the single seat limits pillion options. It’s one of the best looking scooters around and can be seen tearing up city streets as well as being paddock transport for Yamaha-sponsored MotoGP,/WSB and BSB stars. With its upside-down forks, fat tyres and disc brakes, the Yamaha handles far better than the average shopping scooter. Dare we say it, but the Aerox can be knee-scrapingly good.
Sports scooters like these are going to be used and abused by their 16-year-old owners, or wheelied around paddocks by racers, so they need to be durable. The Aerox R ticks that box and is well finished.
1998-2017 Yamaha BW’s 50
Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 93kg / 770mm seat height
Price: £600 - £1100
The BW’s (pronounced ‘B-whizz’) is an off-road inspired scooter with chunky, fat, semi-knobbly tyres. No, you’re right – that doesn’t particularly help handling on the city streets, but it does make it look fab. It’s not the cheapest or most practical, and it’s quite small, too, but it’s rugged, has a distinctive style and nice detailing, decent performance and is great around town, all of which go some way to explain its enduring popularity. You’ll certainly stand out.
Besides being an off-road inspired scoot that goes nicely and looks even nicer, the BW’s is more durable than most, too.
What about electric scooters?
They're starting to emerge as a force to be reckoned with, particularly for inner-city riding. In fact, there's considerable growth in the electric motorbike market as a whole.
Our latest electric scooter review is the retro Čezeta 506/02.
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