Buying a two wheeler over a four wheeler, must be the smartest of your decisions, but which one to buy is an equally important question, that you need to evaluate before buying one. Or else you will end up with a low satisfactory vehicle, and you will be stuck with it for at least for five to seven years.
Two wheeler’s broadly come in three categories
In this article we will be comparing Motorcycles and Scooters considering a lot many factors, which will help you decide which of the two suits you the best. And we will also look how two wheeler’s are always a clever choice over the others.
Mopeds are out of the comparison as they are not meant to serve the basic day to day commuting needs – and are more of a recreational outdoor outing vehicle.
Two wheeler’s have become an integral part of the urban lifestyle in many countries all over the world. The East and some of the European countries are already using them excessively, and in modern times, even the western world is feeling the need to make them their main commuting mode.
And one important reason for this can be the recent downturn in the economy and fluctuating fuel prices. Recent studies and various data show that scooter sales have increased up to 60% in recent years in American States. Click here to know some interesting stats about bikes in the States.
So as stated earlier – buying a two wheeler is a smart choice, and now to answer the other half of the smart act – let us evaluate the factors based on which you should determine whether your purchase should be a motorcycle or a scooter.
There are four major parts to look for when answering how comfortable a motorcycle or a scooter can be –
- Tires – Motorcycles have wide and large tires in comparison to the scooters.
The wider the tires, the firm your ride will be, as a large area is in contact with the ground.
Larger tires, give the bike a high clearance. The higher the position of the seat, the more comfortable your ride will be.
In a scooter, both these features succumb.
- Suspensions – Suspensions are responsible for the stability of your vehicle. They make the rides smooth and balance out uneven surfaces. Especially they absorb the potholes, speed breakers and loose gravels resulting in lesser strain to the rider. Motorcycles have much powerful suspensions than a scooter.
- Brakes – Brakes need no introduction, and in the comparison again a motorcycle has a powerful braking response than a scooter. And nowadays every motorbike comes installed with powerful disc brakes – which are very strong in comparison to a scooters disc brake.
- Floorboard – A floorboard is where a rider’s feet rests while on a scooter. This is the most comfortable feature for a two wheeler, as the weight of the lower body can completely be put on the board, and hence a rider has just to handle the upper body’s weight.
Generally Motorbikes don’t come with a floorboard and have pegs or foot rests. These footrests are nothing in comparison to the scooters floorboard when we are talking about comfort. In fact mostly for this reason a scooter becomes a favorite choice for females and old age riders. Recently some motorbikes are being designed with floorboards – giving them a hybrid scooter-cum-motorbike appearance.
Generally scooters are easier to ride because of the automatic gear shifting system and are comfortable too because of the floorboard and storage compartment.
This makes them an easy choice for females and middle age to old age individuals, increasing their usability – they can be used by all members of a family. They can be driven by school going children too – but you need to check the minimum age limit permissible in your state.
On the other hand – a motorbike is usually driven by a narrow age group. Starting from 15 to 45 is the age limitation of bike riders and that 99 percent of them are males. But another factor which runs in motorbikes favor is that this age group and gender accommodates most two wheeler buyers.
A scooter has a wide range of supplement accessories – a floorboard, a spare tire, a storage compartment, and other small wiring and button functionality equipments.
In a bike, you will have to fit side boxes for any extra luggage you are carrying. You can use a back pack on a motorbike too which is growing a lot in fashion amongst bike riders.
But it can never equal the convenience of a separate storage unit, which gives no extra weight on your shoulders.
I liked someone quoting – “One has tires meant for a wagon. The other has tires made to handle the road at 120 mph.”
If we are comparing speeds and accelerations, between a motorbike and a scooter than the definite winner is a Motorbike.
A scooter is not tailored for speed. The tires, brakes, ordinary standard suspensions, and seating position are thus arranged in a manner that they can handle average speeds.
Scooters generally have engines which can run at a 50 MPH average speed. This makes them a perfect choice for cruising around the neighborhood, to the corner store, or in urban areas where heavy traffic prevents high speeds.
Even if you a replace a heavy duty engine in a scooter, it will not be able to handle cruising speeds – not just because of average components – but because of the weight of your vehicle.
A scooter is a light weight machine in comparison to the muscular bikes. More the weight and the bulk of a machine, more is its withstanding capacity to drift (air resistance). Drift will always act against the ride. Less heavy machines tend to lose balance as the drift rises and the chances of skids and falls increases.
Motorbikes have all the parts designed to handle speed. A 150 to 200 cc engine, large tires, better suspensions and brakes, and most importantly they are heavy automobiles. This gives them a leading edge over scooters and thus makes them ideal for long distance rides and as highway vehicles.
This point is the most important one in the article. In fact this is the one which makes a stark difference in the sales of the two.
In general the fuel efficiency is better in a geared vehicle compared to automatic be it car or motorcycle.
Scooters have automatic gear shifting mechanism whereas a bike requires constant gear shift. Because of this riding and especially maneuvering through traffic is easier on a scooter.
But it has a downside too. Automatic transmission consumes more fuel while manual transmission saves fuel. Riding a motorbike can cut fuel costs almost to a half.
An average scooter gives you a mileage of 25-28 miles whereas a bike will average at 40-45 miles. And with the rising fuel prices especially in the States a motorbike is the best solution.
If you are new to two wheeler’s automatic transmissions are best for you, which will give you more concentration to balance your vehicle and decrease the burden of shifting gears. Once you have got over it, then you can shift to manual transmissions.
You can also install quick shifters for your bike. They simplify gear transmission and enhances the overall performance of your bike. Read more about them in this post.
Google is flooded with articles on “how motorcycles will kill you”, and it is almost an accepted notion than bike or two wheeler’s are more risky than cars.
If we are comparing a bike and a scooter – then undoubtedly a scooter is safer. And the science to this is the leg space and the weight of the automobile.
During an accident it is easier for the rider to jump away from a scooter due to sufficient leg room. Even if the rider doesn’t jump, his lower body is protected because the vehicle will not fall on his legs.
Mostly the injuries on a scooter will be because of the contact (fall or crash) of the rider with the ground.
But this is not the case with a motorcycle. It is nearly impossible to leave the bike in an accident because the whole body is almost glued to the vehicle. So as the bike goes down, the whole body of the rider goes down as well. And as he goes down, the rider will be injured by the ground and by the bikes weight too.
An important factor to consider here is the position of the fuel tank, which increases the chances of burning of the fuel. In a motorbike the fuel tank is almost placed on the top of the bike, near the rider’s seat, and in a collision the fuel gets easily ignited increasing the risks of severe burns.
The fact that motorbikes are not the safest mode for commute is an inevitable fact, but there are certain things to understand before it effects your decision.
If you drive at the speed limits of any vehicle, chances of crash increase many folds. So the actual art of riding with fast speeds is never touching the maximum speed. If you ride within limits, leaving a healthy margin between your speed and the maximum speed your bike can reach, then the chances of accidents decrease dramatically. So this leaves you safe with your bike.
However when we are comparing the chances of an accident on a bike and on a car – then there is a huge difference in the stats.
Motorcycles have a higher rate of fatal accidents than automobiles or trucks and buses. Stats suggest that motorcycle crashes are 35 times more deadly than automobile crashes.
According to a report – In Unites States fatality rate for passenger cars (this includes cars, buses and taxis) is 18.62 fatal crashes per 100,000 registered vehicles. The figure reaches an all time high at 75.19 per 100,000 registered motorbikes.
But one important consideration is “What would the incident been like if the motorcyclist had been in a car instead?”
Accidents which cause serious injury to motorcyclists would probably cause serious injury to car drivers as well. And the fatality figure is higher comparing the number of vehicles but if we analyze this ratio as
“fatalities per mile” for motorbikes and cars than the numbers are not that high, because bikes cover many more miles than a car.
Situational awareness is everything on two wheels. Two wheels are open vehicles and if driven with care and in proper senses, than the chances of crash are not that high.
A four wheel – is an aptly balanced mode of transport. You don’t need to balance a four wheel. And if you calculate the costs for safety features expended on a four wheel machine – you will find that it is nowhere in comparison to a bike’s overall cost.
A scooter or an average motorcycle is mainly used for commuting purpose and hence top speed or acceleration is generally not a priority for every day commuters. What matters to them is the health of the engine, mileage and how frequently the vehicle needs servicing. Servicing has a lot to do with the engine quality and the body of a vehicle.
Engine refinement, mileage, pickup and acceleration and the overall performance on the road is better on a motorcycle compared to a scooter.
A bike is built – considering male consumers. So it features a very strong and durable body. The weight is almost 1.5 – 2 times more as compared to a scooter. The metallic frame is thick and even the smaller parts in a bike are made by anti corrosive and heavy materials.
This makes them run last then a scooter – which is mostly employed by men and women alike. And for this reason they exhibit a generic frame-style structure.
The parts are of less heavy material, and even the body is slim. This makes a scooter more open to scratches and dents – and ultimately increases the visits to service centers for repairs and small damages.
Even the cheapest car costs almost 10 times more than a brand new, sports or luxury motorcycle. Forget the sedans and the SUV’s or the luxury cars. This is while you are purchasing.
You can still buy a car if you have plenty of savings, but the real deal is maintenance cost. There are some heads in the maintenance which will give you a clear picture – about how many dollars are shelled out.
The first one is gas or fuel charge. Then there is parking cost, renewing of license cost, insurance charges, and finance and servicing charges and per year depreciation of the vehicle. If not the purchase then definitely the maintenance will kill you.
Now if you purchase a bike, then mostly you need to worry about the fuel costs. All the other charges are meager. It is estimated that a bike’s maintenance is 7-8 times cheaper than a four wheeler.
If we are comparing a scooter and a bike – then the purchase prices for both are almost same. Sometimes a scooter can cost you 10 percent more than a bike. The maintenance cost is also almost the same for both.
But the fuel consumption or mileage varies a lot between both. The bikes consume 40-50 percent less fuel than a scooter – and this is the most likely factor for increasing motor bike buyers.
Here we will only be comparing two wheelers and four wheelers as scooters and motorbikes are typically identical when we are talking about environment concerns. Environmentalists all over the world and especially in the States are propagating the use of Motorcycles and scooters owing to their low fuel consumption.
Some study suggest that two wheelers have lower per-mile carbon emissions of 0.4 lb/mile (113 g/km) which is 65% less than an average four wheel carbon emissions.
However, there is a hidden truth to this too. Many two wheelers lack a catalytic converter, which makes their exhaust emissions containing traces of oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and unburned hydrocarbons. Another concern is that the modern catalytic converters are not a good fit for motorbikes. Although environmentalists are designing appropriate converters but still this remains a major concern because of the excessive population of two wheelers and their ever increasing demands.
Personal Comfort Equation
Scooters and Motorbikes vary a lot in their design, stability and on the factors discussed above. Personally I would advise you to buy a motorbike – if you are in the 15 – 45 age range and a male. And the reasons for this are – a motorcycle will be heavier, more stable (on bigger wheels), have a higher top speed, and be better suited to taking a passenger if that matters to you. You can get a bike at almost the same price of a scooter and you will save a lot on fuel and other maintenance costs too.
Now the only factor to think is how safe a motorbike can be. I believe the answer to this is a risk/reward calculation. You derive a lot of rewards from your bike, and you need to minimize the risks by riding within speed limits, and by equipping all your senses.
Finally it is an individual’s comfort level and purpose for the buy which decides whether a motorcycle or a scooter is a perfect choice for him or her.