Twist-and-go today with MCN's best cheap 50cc scooters and mopeds for 2021

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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 2021

2009-2019 Peugeot Speedfight 50 3/4

Spec: 49cc / 3.8bhp / 97kg / 800mm seat height

Price: £850 (used) – £1900 (new)

Peugeot Speedfight

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.

Read our Peugeot Speedfight 50 review

2004-2019 Aprilia SR 50

Spec: 49cc / 3.8bhp / 90kg / 820mm seat height

Price: £700 (used) – £2700 (new)

Aprilia SR 50

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.

Read our Aprilia SR 50 review

If you fancy something a little sportier, there’s always the Aprilia RS 50, which is based on the same platform. 

2004-2009 Derbi GPR50

Spec: 49cc / 8.8bhp / 120kg / 760mm seat height

Price: £850 – £1600

Derbi GPR 50

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.

Read our Derbi GPR50 review

2005-2019 Derbi Senda R

Spec: 49cc / 9bhp / 90kg / 810mm seat height

Price: £1200 (used) – £2700 (new)

Derbi Senda R

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.

Read our Derbi Senda R review

1999-2019 Piaggio NRG 50

Spec: 49cc / 4bhp / 95kg / 795mm seat height

Price: £850 (used) – £2700 (new)

Piaggio NRG

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
16-year-old wants.

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.

Read our Piaggio NRG 50 review

2005-2019 Rieju RS2/3

Spec: 49cc / 8.2bhp / 119kg / 845mm seat height

Price: £1200 – £2899 (new)

Rieju RS2/3

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.

Buying advice

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.

Read our Rieju RS3 review here

2014-2019 Peugeot Django 50

Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 113kg / 770mm seat height

Price: £1400 – £2299 (new)

Peugeot Django

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 Primavera 50 side on

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.

Buying advice

 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. 

1998-2019 Yamaha Aerox R 50

Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 97kg / 828mm seat height

Price: £600 – £2199 (new)

Yamaha Aerox

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.

Buying advice

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.

Read our Yamaha Aerox R 50 review here

1998-2017 Yamaha BW’s 50

Spec: 49cc / 2.6bhp / 93kg / 770mm seat height

Price: £600 – £1100

Yamaha BW's

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.

Buying advice

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.

What to look for when buying a 50cc motorbike

There’s nothing you should do differently when buying a 50cc moped or scooter, all the same advice still stands. Look for obvious signs of rust, wear and tear or crash damage, make sure all the relevant paperwork is present and correct and ask to see evidence of service history if the seller claims to have it.

It’s pretty much impossible to thrash a 50cc machine as the engines are designed to be redlined most of the time so as long as the servicing has been completed then reliability should be ok for recognised manufacturers.

Be weary of anyone who claims to have modified or derestricted an engine to unlock more performance, chances are they’ve either damaged or added extra stress to the engine and the performance won’t have improved. Worst case scenario – their ‘upgrades’ have rendered the bike illegal or dangerous. Just don’t go there.


How fast does a 50cc bike go?

We won’t sugarcoat it, not very. Most come limited to 28mph and while that’s not going to break any land-speed records, it’s plenty for nipping across town to work or college.

Do you need a licence for a 50cc bike?

Anyone aged 16 and over in the UK can ride a 50cc moped or scooter on L-plates by applying for a provisional driving licence and then completing a CBT. Some older riders with a full car licence will also be able to ride a 50cc scooter, if in doubt, check the back of your photocard licence for your entitlements.

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