Motorcycle vs. Scooter

The world of two wheels is vast, and if you are in the market for buying one, you sure have a plethora of choices. Bikes are usually a low-cost way of getting their owners from point A to point B while providing significant savings on fuel and ownership costs. The growth in demand over the last hundred years for the two-wheel experience has led to many different classifications of motorbikes that cater to particular needs and purposes. For example, the dirt bike could take its riders to the great outdoors with ease. 

Recently, one particular type of bike has been growing in popularity, and it has made manufacturers focus their production efforts on a rapidly growing market - scooters. 

The scooter has quite a fascinating history. It was born out of the post-World War II period and the need to have a more efficient way of going about, as it was cheaper than the run-of-the-mill motorbike of the time. While many manufacturers were trying to construct the scooter, they became immensely popular due to the designs by two Italian manufacturers, Vespa and Lambretta. 

Suppose you are tired of the constant fight to park your car, and the cost of ownership is getting to your head. To overcome this dilemma, you are now on the lookout for a motorbike, and the two choices you have are a scooter and a motorbike. The guide below would help in making your decision easier. To understand the differences between these two classifications of bikes, we must break them down into categories:

  • Design Features
  • Technical Features
  • Ownership

Design Features

Motorcycles are usually the most recognizable form of two-wheel motorized transport. The bikes are designed to be more prominent in appearance and to achieve higher highway speeds. Motorcycles are often equipped with 16 inch or larger alloys, with an engine that’s attached to its frame and other technical features designed to ensure rider safety while cruising at high speeds. Motorcycles can be broken down into many platforms, such as the standard, Cruiser, Tourer, and Sport Bike, geared for public roads. The rider sits farther back on the bike, controlling the speed with a handle throttle and changing gears with his legs.

Scooters are a growing market but still haven’t achieved the level of popularity that motorcycles have. The design of a scooter includes a step-through frame and a platform for the rider’s feet. The scooter is smaller in size. Its engine is located on the rear suspension, and it rides on small 10-inch wheels, making it more maneuverable at low speeds than a motorcycle. While scooters were known for being smaller, modern-day scooters are increasingly growing in size, especially in western markets. 

Technical Features


The size of the engine depends on what the bike is used for. Motorcycles are bigger, and therefore, require larger engines. Since motorcycles cover different types of bikes, the cubic capacities range from 150cc to 2000cc and above. 

For example, a sport bike's engine’s cubic capacity would usually start from 250cc. The basic motorcycle is manufactured with 125cc engines to save fuel since the bike would be used daily. Ultimately, fuel efficiency comes down to riding patterns, but a smaller motorcycle averages about 50 miles per gallon, with newer, more efficient bikes achieving close to 80 miles per gallon.

Most scooters come equipped with smaller engines due to their smaller size. The cubic capacities of scooters range from a small 50cc motor to 250cc engines. Ever since their inception, scooters are commonly equipped with 125cc engines regardless of the manufacturer. 

The rise in popularity of scooters in western markets has seen bigger engines become more common. These larger units mean these scooters no longer retain small structures. Manufacturers have to fit engines in surplus of 500cc to ensure the supporting components can handle the power generated. The 2021 Honda Forza 750 is a prime example. Due to scooters being lightweight and generally having smaller engines, they easily average 100 miles to the gallon. However, this is all still largely dependent on riding patterns.


With their larger engines and variances in design, motorcycles are equipped with a manual clutch for riders to change gears with their right leg. Modern motorcycles feature five-speed or six-speed transmissions, and the gear selection would vary depending on the manufacturer and the type of bike. Certain bikes have a one down, four or five up gear system, while other bikes work inversely. Although 99% of motorcycles have a manual clutch, some higher-end sport bikes offer automatic transmissions.

Scooters are known for their ease of use and reliability. The majority of the scooters seen on roads have a CVT transmission or an automatic transmission. Older scooters are often equipped with manual gearboxes, where riders change gears with their hands. The transmissions fitted onto scooters aid them in achieving higher fuel efficiency.



Motorcycles, as highlighted above, cover a vast range of styles - from standard motorcycles to touring bikes. In turn, prices vary depending on what you expect from your bike. A standard motorcycle can run as low as $3,500, while a rare, high-end sportbike could sell for $200,000 and higher. The manufacturer plays a direct role in the price of the bike. 

The increase in demand for scooters is due to their ease of use and cost-effective pricing. Scooters start from $2,000, while luxury scooters can sell in excess of $10,000. 

Storage Capacity

Motorcycles typically don’t have storage units on the bike. Standard motorcycles are often equipped with aftermarket storage compartments. Higher-end motorcycles such as the Honda Goldwing are fitted with additional storage, as they are cruisers built to travel long distances. 

Scooters come equipped with storage compartments, often located under the seat. The size of the storage space is usually determined by the size of the scooter. 

Learning and Usage

The qualifications needed to ride a motorcycle and a scooter are almost the same. Both require riders to be fourteen years of age, although some states require riders to be sixteen years old to ride a scooter. Both forms of bikes follow the same legal framework and the same tests the Department of Motor Vehicles put forward.

Motorcycles are harder to learn due to their transmission and structure, and it can be a bit complex for a new rider. However, due to their longer wheelbase and bigger tires, motorcycles are more stable at higher speeds.

Scooters are much easier to learn to ride, likely a result of their CVT or automatic transmissions. Riders only need to twist the throttle to accelerate. But keep in mind, while they may be easier to operate, scooters are not permitted to drive on highways in certain states. 


The world of two-wheel motoring is forever growing, and consumers are increasingly exposed to a variety of choices. A customer’s purchase decision should ultimately be based on careful consideration, weighing all the factors involved. As always, it is essential to note the usage of proper safety gear when purchasing your next motorbike. Ride safely, and enjoy your adventures on the open road!