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Buying a New Scooter?

Read this before you go shopping!

It used to be so easy. Many of us bought our scooters from friends, at yard sales, or (for our "mature" readers) dealerships that sold scooters from reputable manufacturers. As the Managing Editor at Scoot! magazine office, I have waded through hours of voicemail from people who did not purchase their scooters that way and have come to regret it. Any scootershop owner can tell you the same sad story that we hear almost daily.

A person sees some scooters for sale at a local flea market or cellular phone store or on the Internet. They buy it for less than a new set of car tires and ride it happily around the neighborhood until-CLUNK! or Whirrrrr!or until the batteries wear out. They go back to the flea market or email the website that sold it to them and find out that there is no support, no spare parts and, in some cases, the retailer has gone out of business. Now what can they do?

Trying their phone book, they find the local scooter shop. They drag their electric skateboard with a seat into the local vintage scooter shop and say, "Can't you fix this? You're a scooter shop!" or they search the Internet and find the Scoot! site and call us asking for parts. When we inform them that we are a magazine, they are genuinely annoyed that we can’t help.

We have received calls from used car lots that ask us for recommendations on "the cheapest scooter" they can sell. We have even seen this and the Scoot! site linked to by shops that sell mini-bikes and go-peds claiming that they are scooters and implying that Scoot! covers those vehicles. These sellers make us all look bad.

I worry about these purchases. Not only are they creating a slew of unnecessary headaches for all involved, they are giving scootering a bad name. People who should be feeling the freedom and excitement of scootering are thinking that scooters are piles of crap.

While the vast majority of you readers own legitimate scooters, we thought it would be a good idea to print a list of things to look out for when purchasing a "scooter." If many of these people had put a fraction of the amount of thought into buying a scooter as they do a car, most of these bad buys could be avoided. After all, who would think to buy an unknown Australian brand of car from the Internet and then take it to a Chevrolet shop and expect them to fix it? If you know anyone who might be considering buying a cheap, unknown scooter, give him or her this list of questions.

Does the vehicle have a vehicle Identification Number (V.I.N)? If not, it can’t be registered and likely did not get Department of Transportation approval.

Does the vehicle have a DOT sticker? It should be located under the seat or on the steering column and all vehicles sold in the U.S. MUST have it. Manufacturers like Vespa, Aprilia, Bajaj and Honda have spent tens of thousands of dollars going through EPA and DOT testing in order to be able to place those stickers on their scooters.

Will your insurance company cover it? Call a few insurance companies that covers motorcycles and ask them if they cover the exact make and model. If they have never heard of it and won't insure it, you don’t want to drive it.

Does your "dealer" actually have a permit/license to sell the scooter? It is illegal in the U.S. to sell vehicles without a dealer certificate. If the feds catch them it is a $5000 fine for each infraction. The illegal dealer that sells ten of those scooters can look forward to a $50,000 fine, which will likely be the death knell for that pager store or used car lot.

Will the dealer take care of the DMV paperwork? If you are told that the dealer doesn't do the paperwork- look for another dealer who will.

Are parts available? Don’t take "Sure they are" for an answer. Make sure that they actually have those parts on site and see if the will sell them to you when you purchase the scooter. Don’'tbuy from a retailer who won't be there when the inevitable goes wrong. All vehicles need to be maintained and fixed.


Some dealers will tell you that 50cc and under scooters do not need to be registered. While this is true in a few states, the majority of states require it. Check with your DMV before shopping for a scooter. The same goes for getting a motorcycle license. We do not recommend operating any motor vehicle without the proper license. By driving without a license, you are doing yourself and the community a disservice that can result in property damage, injury or death. It may be a little work, but it is worth your safety and the safety of others.

ScooterGal Confidential wants you to have a great scootering experience. Always wear appropriate protective clothing and observe all safety rules.