Scooter (motorcycle)
A scooter is a motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

 with step-through frame
Step-through frame
A step-through frame is a type of bicycle frame, often used for utility bicycles, with a low or absent top tube or cross-bar....

 and a platform for the operator's feet. Elements of scooter design have been present in some of the earliest motorcycles, and motorcycles identifiable as scooters have been made from 1914 or earlier. Scooter development continued in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 between the World Wars
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....


The global popularity of scooters dates from the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 introductions of the Vespa
Vespa is an Italian brand of scooter manufactured by Piaggio. The name means wasp in Italian.The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. S.p.A...

 and the Lambretta
Lambretta can refer to:* Lambretta, a petrol-powered scooter made by Innocenti* Lambretta , a clothing brand* Lambretta , a Swedish rock band* The Lambrettas, a British mod revival band...

. These post-war scooters were intended to provide low-power personal transportation (engines from 50 to 250 cc). The original layout is still widely used in this application. Maxi-scooters, with engines from 250 to 800 cc have been developed for Western markets.

Scooters are popular for personal transport, partly based on their low cost of purchase and operation and on benefits that include convenience in parking and storage. Licensing requirements for scooters are easier and less expensive than those for cars in most parts of the world, and insurance is generally cheaper.


A motor scooter is a motorcycle similar to a kick scooter
Kick scooter
A kick scooter or push scooter, originally scooter, is a human-powered vehicle with a handlebar, deck and wheels that is propelled by a rider pushing off the ground. The most common scooters today have two hard small wheels, are made primarily of aluminium and fold for convenience...

 with a seat, a floorboard, and small or low wheels. The United States Department of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation
The United States Department of Transportation is a federal Cabinet department of the United States government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967...

 defines a scooter as a motorcycle that has a platform for the operator's feet or has integrated footrests, and has a step-through architecture.

The classic scooter design features a step-through frame and a flat floorboard for the rider's feet. This design is possible because most scooter engines and drive systems are attached to the rear axle or under the seat. Unlike a conventional motorcycle, in which the engine is mounted on the frame, most modern scooters allow the engine to swing with the rear wheel. Most vintage scooters and some newer retro
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of "retro" style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc...

 models have axle-mounted engines with a manual transmission and the gear shift and clutch controls built into the left handlebar. Most newer scooters use a continuously variable transmission
Continuously variable transmission
A continuously variable transmission is a transmission that can change steplessly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios between maximum and minimum values. This contrasts with other mechanical transmissions that offer a fixed number of gear ratios...


Scooters usually feature bodywork, including a front leg shield and body that conceals all or most of the mechanicals. There is often some integral storage space, either under the seat, built into the front leg shield, or both. Most scooters have small engines, 50 cc
Cubic centimetre
A cubic centimetre is a commonly used unit of volume extending the derived SI-unit cubic metre, and corresponds to the volume of a cube measuring 1 cm × 1 cm × 1 cm...

 to 400 cc with a single cylinder, although maxi-scooters might have twin cylinder 400 to 800 cc engines.

Traditionally, scooter wheels are made of pressed steel, bolt on easily, and are often interchangeable between front and rear. Some scooters carry a spare wheel. Many recent scooters use conventional front forks
Motorcycle fork
A motorcycle fork connects a motorcycle's front wheel and axle to its frame, typically via a pair of triple clamps. It typically incorporates the front suspension and front brake, and allows the bike to be steered via handlebars attached to the top clamp....

 with the front axle fastened at both ends, while some have twin shock rear swingarms.

Regulatory classification

Most jurisdictions do not discriminate between scooters and motorcycles. Some scooters conform to the legal definition of a moped
Mopeds are a type of low-powered motorcycle designed to provide economical and relatively safe transport with minimal licensing requirements.Mopeds were once all equipped with bicycle-like pedals , but moped has been increasingly applied by governments to vehicles without pedals, based on their...

 and are regulated as such.

For all legal purposes in the United States of America, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government, part of the Department of Transportation...

 (NHTSA) recommends using the term motorcycle for all of these vehicles. However, while NHTSA excludes the term motor scooter from legal definition, it proceeds, in the same document, to give detailed instructions on how to import a small motor scooter.


The emissions of mopeds and scooters have been the subject of multiple studies. Studies have found that two-stroke 50 cc mopeds, with and without catalytic converters, emit ten to thirty times the hydrocarbons and particulate emissions than the outdated Euro 3
European emission standards
European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states. The emission standards are defined in a series of European Union directives staging the progressive introduction of increasingly stringent standards.Currently, emissions of...

 automobile standards. In the same study, four-stroke mopeds, with and without catalytic converters, emitted three to eight times the hydrocarbons and particulate emissions than the Euro 3
European emission standards
European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states. The emission standards are defined in a series of European Union directives staging the progressive introduction of increasingly stringent standards.Currently, emissions of...

 automobile standards. Approximate parity with automobiles was achieved with NOx emissions in these studies. Emissions performance was tested on a g/km basis and was unaffected by fuel economy. Currently in the United States, the EPA allows motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds with engine displacements less than 280cc to emit ten times the NOx and six times the CO than the median Tier II bin 5 automobile regulations. An additional air quality challenge can also arise from the use of moped and scooter transportation over automobiles, as a higher density of motorized vehicles can be supported by existing transportation infrastructure.

Predecessors to the scooter

Scooter-like traits began to develop in motorcycle designs around the 1900s. In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmüller
Hildebrand & Wolfmüller
The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was the world's first production motorcycle. Heinrich and Wilhelm Hidebrand were steam-engine engineers before Alois Wolfmüller agreed to finance them to produce their internal combustion Motorrad in Munich in 1894....

 produced the first motorcycle that was available for purchase. Their motorcycle had a step-through frame, with its fuel tank mounted on the down tube, its parallel two-cylinder engine mounted low on the frame, and its cylinders mounted in line with the frame. It was water-cooled and had a radiator
Radiator (engine cooling)
Radiators are used for cooling internal combustion engines, mainly in automobiles but also in piston-engined aircraft, railway locomotives, motorcycles, stationary generating plant or any similar use of such an engine....

 built into the top of the rear fender. It became the first mass-produced and publicly-sold powered two-wheel vehicle, and among the first powered mainly by its engine rather than foot pedals. Maximum speed was 40 kilometre per hour. The rear wheel was driven directly by rods from the pistons in a manner similar to the drive wheels of steam locomotive
Steam locomotive
A steam locomotive is a railway locomotive that produces its power through a steam engine. These locomotives are fueled by burning some combustible material, usually coal, wood or oil, to produce steam in a boiler, which drives the steam engine...

s. Only a few hundred such bikes were built, and the high price and technical difficulties made the venture a financial failure for both Wolfmüller and his financial backer, Hildebrand.

In France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, the Auto-Fauteuil was introduced in 1902. This was basically a step-through motorcycle with an armchair
A fauteuil is a style of open-arm chair with a primarily exposed wooden frame originating in France in the early 18th century. A fauteuil is made of wood, and frequently with carved relief ornament. It is typically upholstered on the seat, the seat back and on the arms . Some fauteuils have a...

 instead of a traditional saddle. Production continued until 1922.

The first generation (1915–1930)

The Motoped entered production in 1915, and is believed to be the first motor scooter. They were followed that year by the Autoped
The Autoped was an early motor scooter or motorized scooter manufactured by the Autoped Company of Long Island City, New York from 1915 to 1921....

, whose engine was engaged by pushing the handlebar column forward and whose brake was engaged by pulling the column back. Autopeds were made in Long Island, New York from 1915 to 1921, and were also made under licence by Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 in Germany from 1919 to 1922.

The number of scooter manufacturers and designs increased after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The Skootamota, the Kenilworth, and the Reynolds Runabout debuted in 1919, with Gloucestershire Aircraft Company
Gloster Aircraft Company
The Gloster Aircraft Company, Limited, known locally as GAC, was a British aircraft manufacturer. The company produced a famous lineage of fighters for the Royal Air Force : the Grebe, Gladiator, Meteor and Javelin. It also produced the Hawker Hurricane and Hawker Typhoon for the parent company...

 following with its Unibus in 1920. The Skootamota was noted for being practical, popular, and economical, the Kenilworth for its electric lights,, and the Reynolds Runabout for its advanced specifications, including front suspension, a two-speed gearbox, leg shields, and a seat sprung with leaf springs and coil springs. The Unibus also had a two-speed gearbox, but it is more notable for its full bodywork, similar to that which would appear of second- and third-generation scooters.

The reputation of first-generation scooters was damaged by a glut of unstable machines with flexible frames, and more substantial examples like the Reynolds Runabout and the Unibus were too expensive to be competitive. The first generation had ended by the mid 1920s.

The second generation (1936–1968)

E. Foster Salsbury and Austin Elmore developed the Salsbury Motor Glide, a scooter with a seat above an enclosed drivetrain, and began production in 1936 in California. In 1938 Salsbury introduced a more powerful scooter with a continuously variable transmission
Continuously variable transmission
A continuously variable transmission is a transmission that can change steplessly through an infinite number of effective gear ratios between maximum and minimum values. This contrasts with other mechanical transmissions that offer a fixed number of gear ratios...

 (CVT). This was the first use of a CVT on a scooter. It was such a success that Salsbury attempted to license the design to several European manufacturers including Piaggio. The Motor Glide set the standards for all later models. It inspired production of motor scooters by Powell, Moto-scoot, Cushman, Rock-Ola, and others.

The Cushman
Cushman is a manufacturer of industrial vehicles, personal vehicles, and other custom vehicles, including parking patrol auto rickshaws.- Models :* Haulster, small industrial multi-purpose truck.* Truckster* Bellhop Series, golf carts....

 Company produced motor scooters from 1936 to 1965. Cushman was an engine manufacturer that started making scooters after Salsbury found their offer to supply engines to be unacceptable. Cushman and Salsbury competed against each other, with both companies advertising the economy of their scooters. Cushman claimed an efficiency of 120 miles per gallon at 30 mph. Cushman introduced a centrifugal clutch to their scooters in 1940. The Cushman Auto Glide Model 53 was designed to be dropped by parachute with Army Airborne troops, and was eventually called the “Cushman Airborne”. Cushman scooters were also used around military bases for messenger service.

Salsbury continued manufacturing scooters until 1948, while Cushman continued until 1965.

Small numbers of the 165 cc Harley-Davidson Topper
Harley-Davidson Topper
The Topper was the only motor scooter that the Harley-Davidson Motor Company ever produced.The Topper had a continuously variable transmission, like most modern scooters. The engine was a single-cylinder two-stroke engine requiring a premixed gasoline/oil mixture. The starter was of the...

 scooter were produced from 1960 to 1965 using the engine from their line of light motorcycles
Harley-Davidson Hummer
The Hummer was a motorcycle model manufactured by Harley-Davidson from 1955 to 1959. However, the name "Hummer" is now used generically to refer to all American-made single-cylinder two-stroke Harley-Davidson motorcycles manufactured from 1948 to 1966. These motorcycles were based on the DKW...

 based on the DKW
DKW is a historic German car and motorcycle marque. The name derives from Dampf-Kraft-Wagen .In 1916, the Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. In the same year, he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW...

 RT 125
RT 125
The RT 125 is a German two-stroke motorcycle made by DKW in Zschopau in the 1930s, IFA and MZ in the 1950s and early 1960s, and DKW in Ingolstadt in the 1950s and 1960s...

. It had a fiberglass
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling...

 body, a continuously-variable transmission, and a pull-cord starting mechanism.

Early postwar Japanese scooters

After World War II, wartime aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 manufacturers were forbidden from making aircraft, and had to find other products to make in order to stay in business. Fuji Sangyo, a part of the former Nakajima Aircraft Company
Nakajima Aircraft Company
The Nakajima Aircraft Company was a prominent Japanese aircraft manufacturer throughout World War II.-History:...

, began production of the Fuji Rabbit
Fuji Rabbit
The Fuji Rabbit was a motor scooter produced in Japan by Fuji Heavy Industries from 1946 through 1968.Production of the initial model, the S-1 began in 1946, some six months before the Vespa went into production and was largely inspired by scooters used by American servicemen during and after World...

 S-1 scooter in June 1946. Inspired by Powell scooters used by American servicemen, the S1 was designed to use surplus military parts, including the tailwheel of a Nakajima bomber, re-purposed as the front wheel of the S1. Later that year, Mitsubishi
The Mitsubishi Group , Mitsubishi Group of Companies, or Mitsubishi Companies is a Japanese multinational conglomerate company that consists of a range of autonomous businesses which share the Mitsubishi brand, trademark and legacy...

 introduced the C10, the first of its line of Silver Pigeon
Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon
The Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon is a series of scooters made in Japan by Mitsubishi between 1946 and 1963. The first was the C-10, based on a scooter imported from the United States by Koujiro Maruyama, which began production at the Nagoya Machinery Works of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries...

 scooters. This was inspired by a Salsbury Motor Glide that had been brought to Japan by a Japanese man who had lived in the United States.

Production of the Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon and the Fuji Rabbit continued through several series until the 1960s. Some series of the Fuji Rabbit were developed to a high level of technological content; the S-601 Rabbit Superflow had an automatic transmission with a torque converter, an electric starter, and pneumatic suspension. Mitsubishi ended scooter production with the C140 Silver Pigeon, while Fuji continued production of the Rabbit until the last of the S-211 series was built in June 1968.

Italy - Vespa and Lambretta

In post-World War II Italy the Piaggio Vespa
Vespa is an Italian brand of scooter manufactured by Piaggio. The name means wasp in Italian.The Vespa has evolved from a single model motor scooter manufactured in 1946 by Piaggio & Co. S.p.A...

 became the standard for scooters, and has remained so for over 60 years. Patented in April 1946, it used aircraft design and materials. D’Ascanio's 98 cc scooter had various radical design concepts, including a sleek, stress-bearing structure. The gear shift
Gear shift
The gear shift is the part of the gearbox which has the shift forks and allows the contact from the driver to the synchronization. Most of the time they are so much like the gear counter plus the reverse gear. And they make it possible to choose the gear and to switch this in or out...

 lever was moved to the handlebars for easier riding. The engine was placed near the rear wheel, eliminating the belt drive. The typical fork support was replaced by an arm similar to an aircraft carriage for easier tire-changing. The elegantly-styled body protected the driver from wind and road dirt, and bore little resemblance to uncomfortable and noisy motorcycles. The smaller wheels and shorter wheelbase provide improved maneuverability through narrow streets and congested traffic. Combining the best elements of automotive, aeronautical and motorcycle design, the Vespa quickly became an icon of design and economy. The name reportedly originated when Piaggio's president upon seeing the prototype, remarked "Sembra una vespa", "It looks like a wasp".

Months after the Vespa, in 1947, Innocenti introduced the Lambretta, beginning a rivalry with Vespa. The scooter was designed by Innocenti, his General Director Giuseppe Lauro and engineer Pierluigi Torre. It debuted in 1947 at the Paris Motor Show. The Lambretta 'A' went on sale on December 23, 1947 and sold 9,000 units in one year. It was efficient, 160-180 mpg (miles per gallon) or 68–76 km/litre, at a time when petrol was severely rationed. It had a top speed of 45 mi/h from a fan-cooled engine of 123 cc. The Lambretta was named after Lambrate, the Milanese neighborhood where the factory stood. The first Lambretta designs had shaft drive and no rear suspension, later designs used various drive and suspension systems until Lambretta settled on a swingarm-mounted engine with chain drive.


Germany's aviation industry was also dismantled after World War II. Heinkel
Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by and named after Ernst Heinkel. It is noted for producing bomber aircraft for the Luftwaffe in World War II and for important contributions to high-speed flight.-History:...

 stayed in business by making bicycles and mopeds, while Messerschmitt
Messerschmitt AG was a famous German aircraft manufacturing corporation named for its chief designer, Willy Messerschmitt, and known primarily for its World War II fighter aircraft, notably the Bf 109 and Me 262...

 made sewing machines and automobile parts. Messerschmitt took over the German licence to manufacture Vespa scooters from Hoffman in 1954 and built Vespas under from 1954 to 1964. Heinkel designed and built its own scooters. The Heinkel Tourist
Heinkel Tourist
The Heinkel Tourist is a motor scooter made by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke from 1953 to 1965. More than 100,000 were manufactured and sold.The Tourist was sold as an upscale scooter. It was more expensive than a Vespa or a Lambretta, and was generally heavier, more comfortable, and more stable...

 was a large and relatively heavy touring scooter produced in the 1960s. It provided good weather protection with a full fairing, and the front wheel turned under a fixed nose extension. It had effective streamlining, perhaps thanks to its aircraft ancestry. Although it had only a 175 cc 4-stroke motor, it could sustain speeds of 70 mi/h. Heinkel scooters were known for their reliability.

Hans Glas GmbH is a former German automotive company, which was based in Dingolfing. Originally a maker of farm machinery, Glas evolved first into a producer of motor scooters, then automobiles...

, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, made the Goggo scooter from 1951 to 1955. Glas discontinued scooter production to concentrate on its Goggomobil
Goggomobil was a series of microcars produced in the Bavarian town Dingolfing after World War II by Glas.Glas produced three models on the Goggomobil platform: the Goggomobil T sedan, the Goggomobil TS coupé, and the Goggomobil TL van...

A microcar is the smallest automobile classification usually applied to standard small car . Such small cars were generally referred to as cyclecars until the 1940s. More recent models are also called bubblecars due to their egg-shaped appearance.-Definition:The definition of a microcar has varied...


Several manufacturers in the German motorcycle industry made scooters. NSU made Lambrettas under licence from 1950 to 1955, during which they developed their Prima scooter. Production of the Prima began when NSU's licence to build Lambrettas ran out. Zündapp
Zündapp was a major German motorcycle manufacturer. The company was founded in 1917 in Nuremberg by Fritz Neumeyer, together with the Friedrich Krupp AG and the machine tool manufacturer Thiel under the name "Zünder- und Apparatebau G.m.b.H." as a producer of detonators...

 made the popular Bella scooter in the 1960s. It was in production for about ten years, in three engine sizes, 150 cc, 175 cc and 200 cc. They could perform all day at a steady speed of 60 mph (96.6 km/h). Extremely reliable and very well made, many of these scooters still exist today. Maico
For the manga series, see Maico 2010.Maicowerk A.G. was founded in 1926, originally assembling 98 and 123 cc Ilo two stroke motors. After World War II the West German motorcycle manufacturer began producing its own unit construction two stroke engines, selling engines and complete motorcycles...

 built the large Maicoletta
The Maicoletta was a motor scooter built by Maico from 1955 to 1966. It was noted by motorcycle journalists in the United States and the United Kingdom for being powerful, responsive, and comfortable...

 scooter in the 1950s. It had a single cylinder piston-port two stroke engine, with four foot-operated gears and centrifugal fan cooling. The Maicoletta had a choice of engine sizes, approximately 175 cc, 250 cc, or 275 cc, The tubular frame was built on motorcycle principles, with long-travel telescopic forks and 14-inch wheels. The Maicoletta had a top speed of 70 mi/h which was comparable with most 250 cc motorcycles of the time. Other German scooters made by motorcycle manufacturers included the DKW
DKW is a historic German car and motorcycle marque. The name derives from Dampf-Kraft-Wagen .In 1916, the Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. In the same year, he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW...

 Hobby, the Dürkopp Diana, and the TWN
Triumph (TWN)
Triumph-Werke Nürnberg AG or TWN, was German bicycle and motorcycle company. In 1886, Siegfried Bettmann founded the Triumph bicycle factory in Coventry, England, and in 1896 he founded a second bicycle factory in his native Nuremberg, Germany, under the same Triumph name...


United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Douglas manufactured the Vespa under licence from 1951 to 1961 and assembled them from 1961 to 1965. BSA
Birmingham Small Arms Company
This article is not about Gamo subsidiary BSA Guns Limited of Armoury Road, Small Heath, Birmingham B11 2PP or BSA Company or its successors....

 and Triumph made several models of scooter including the BSA Dandy 70, the Triumph Tina
Triumph Tina
The Triumph Tina was a small and low performance scooter with a 100 cc two stroke engine, an automatic transmission, and a handlebar carry basket....

, and the Triumph Tigress. The Tigress was made from 1959 to 1964 and was sold with a 175 cc 2-stroke single engine or a 250 cc 4-stroke twin; both versions used a foot-operated four-speed gearbox. The 250 twin had a top speed of 70 mph (112.7 km/h). The BSA Sunbeam was a badge engineered
Badge engineering
Badge engineering is an ironic term that describes the rebadging of one product as another...

 version of the Tigress.


In India, Bajaj Auto
Bajaj Auto
Bajaj Auto is a major Indian vehicle manufacturer started by Jamnalal Bajaj from Rajasthan in the 1930s. It is based in Pune, Maharashtra, with plants in Chakan , Waluj and Pantnagar in Uttaranchal. The oldest plant at Akurdi now houses the R&D centre Ahead...

 manufactured its line of scooters from 1972 to 2009, which included the Chetak
Bajaj Chetak
The Bajaj Chetak was a popular Indian-made motor scooter produced by the Bajaj Auto company. The Chetak is named after Chetak, the legendary horse of Indian warrior Rana Pratap Singh....

, Legend
Bajaj legend
The Bajaj Legend was a popular Indian-made motor scooter produced by the Bajaj Auto, Ltd. The Legend was first produced in 2002. It is powered by a new environmentally friendly 145cc four stroke single cylinder motor. A four stroke motor means that no oil needs to be mixed with the gas, resulting...

, Super
Bajaj Super
The Bajaj Super was a two-stroke 150 cc motor scooter produced in India by Bajaj Auto between 1976 and 2006.-History:Early models were a licensed reproduction of the Italian-made eight-inch-wheeled Vespa Super. Production continued even after the licence agreement with Vespa expired in 1977...

 and Priya
Bajaj Priya
The Bajaj Priya was a three geared scooter manufactured by Maharashtra Scooters under a license agreement with Bajaj Auto from 1975. The design was very similar to that of the earlier "Bajaj 150" model which was in turn based upon a Vespa 150 with a slightly modified body.-Headset:Vespa 150 had a...

. The Chetak and Legend were based on the Italian Vespa Sprint
Vespa Sprint
Vespa Sprint is a 150cc, 2 stroke scooter made by Piaggio from 1965 to 1979.The scooter came in two different versions. Early models, called the Vespa Sprint, were made until 1974. Later models, called the Vespa Sprint Veloce, were made from 1969 to 1979....

. It was discontinued in 2009.

Another Vespa partner in India was LML Motors. Beginning as a joint-venture with Piaggio in 1983, LML, in addition to being a large parts supplier for Piaggio, produced the P-Series scooters for the Indian market. In 1999, after protracted dispute with Piaggio, LML bought back Piaggio's stake in the company and the partnership ceased. LML continues to produce (and also exports) the P-Series variant known as the Stella
Stella (scooter)
Stella is a model of a vintage-style scooter imported into the United States by Chicago-based Genuine Scooters since 2003, and manufactured by LML in Kanpur, India.-History:...

 in the U.S. market and by other names in different markets.

Later Japanese Scooters and "maxi-scooters"

In the 1980s new versions of scooters began to be released and become popular, especially in Japan and far-east Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

. This style of scooters began to reflect that of larger, sporty, higher-performance motorcycles of the time and the trend has continued till now. With the release of the Honda Ruckus
Honda Ruckus
The Zoomer is a motorscooter developed by Honda and introduced in Japan and America in late 2002 for the 2003 model year; in Canada and the USA, the scooter is sold as the Ruckus...

, new trends towards dirt-bike scooters are just beginning. In 1988, Honda introduced a large, touring scooter design, the 250 cc Helix (also called Spazio, Fusion or CN250). Although it was bulky to handle at low speeds and was derisively called a "Barcalounger
A Barcalounger is a type of recliner made in the United States of America. It was introduced by the Barcolo Manufacturing Company of Buffalo, NY, which eventually became the Barcalounger Company. The chairs are currently produced in North Carolina, although the company's website's "Company...

 on wheels", it was designed for riding long distances in comfort. Now nearly all major scooter manufacturers produce such models, called "maxi", "GT" or "touring" scooters. The largest scooter made is now the 840 cc Gilera GP 800, a 75 CV scooter capable of reaching 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds.

The classic styling of the Vespa never lost its popularity, and remains the most-popular and most-imitated scooter design. Almost all manufacturers now carry both a classic/retro model and a sporty/modern model.

Scooter developments

Trends around the world have seen new developments of the classic scooter, some with larger engines and tires. High-end scooter models now include comprehensive technological features, including cast aluminum frames, engines with integral counter-balancing, and cross-linked brake systems. Some of these scooters have comfort features such as an alarm, start button, radio, windshield
The windshield or windscreen of an aircraft, car, bus, motorbike or tram is the front window. Modern windshields are generally made of laminated safety glass, a type of treated glass, which consists of two curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them for safety, and are glued...

, heated hand grips and full instrumentation (including clock or outside temperature gauge).

Three-wheeled scooters

During World War II, Cushman made the Model 39, a three-wheeled utility scooter with a large storage bin between the front wheels. They sold 606 to the US military during the war.

The Piaggio MP3
Piaggio MP3
The Piaggio MP3 is a tilting three-wheeled scooter from the Italian manufacturer Piaggio. It was first brought to market in 2006...

 is a recent example of a three-wheeled scooter. Unlike most motorcycle trikes, it has two front wheels, with tilting
Tilting three wheeler
A tilting three wheeler is a three wheeled vehicle whose body and or wheels tilt in the direction of the turn. Such vehicles can corner safely even with a narrow track.-Wheel configurations:...

 suspension to allow the body to lean when cornering, as for a two-wheeled motorcycle.


A maxi-scooter or touring scooter is a large scooter, with engines ranging in size from 250 cc (Honda CN250
Honda CN250
The Honda CN250 is a scooter introduced by Honda to the United States market in 1986. It was marketed in the U.S. as the Helix and in other parts of the world as the Fusion or Spazio...

) up to the latest 839 cc machine (the Gilera GP 800), and using larger frames than the normal sized scooters.

The trend toward maxi-scooters began in 1986 when Honda introduced the CN250
Honda CN250
The Honda CN250 is a scooter introduced by Honda to the United States market in 1986. It was marketed in the U.S. as the Helix and in other parts of the world as the Fusion or Spazio...

 Helix / Fusion / Spazio. Many years later, Suzuki launched the Burgman
Suzuki Burgman
The Burgman series of scooters is produced by Suzuki with engine capacities from 125 cc up to 638 cc. Models include:-AN series:...

 650 and 400 models. Honda (600 cc), Piaggio, Yamaha, Aprilia, Kymco (700 cc) and others have also introduced scooters with engine displacements ranging from 400 to 850 cc. Honda's PS250 (also known as Big Ruckus) defies common scooter classification because its step-through is high and it features a motorcycle-like exoskeleton instead of bodywork.

A new direction in maxi-scooters has the engine fixed to the frame. This arrangement improves handling by allowing bigger wheels and less unsprung weight, also tending to move the centre of gravity forwards. The trend toward larger, more powerful scooters with fully automatic transmissions converges with an emerging trend in motorcycle design that foreshadows automatic transmission motorcycles with on-board storage. This is exemplified by the Aprilia NA 850 Mana automatic-transmission motorcycle that provides built-in storage for a full-face helmet.

Enclosed scooter

Some scooters, including the BMW C1
The BMW C1 is an enclosed scooter manufactured by Bertone for BMW.-Models and options:Two models were manufactured. The '125' model has a 124 cc capacity four valve, four-stroke, water-cooled, fuel injected engine producing . The '200' model has a 176 cc engine producing...

 and the Honda Gyro Canopy, have a windscreen and a roof.

Four-stroke engines and fuel-injection

With increasingly strict environmental laws
Emission standard
Emission standards are requirements that set specific limits to the amount of pollutants that can be released into the environment. Many emissions standards focus on regulating pollutants released by automobiles and other powered vehicles but they can also regulate emissions from industry, power...

, including those of the United States and Europe
European emission standards
European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states. The emission standards are defined in a series of European Union directives staging the progressive introduction of increasingly stringent standards.Currently, emissions of...

, more scooters are using four-stroke
Four-stroke cycle
A four-stroke engine, also known as four-cycle, is an internal combustion engine in which the piston completes four separate strokes—intake, compression, power, and exhaust—during two separate revolutions of the engine's crankshaft, and one single thermodynamic cycle.There are two...

 engines again.
In 2001, Aprilia
Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle company, one of the seven marques owned by Piaggio, the world's fourth largest motorcycle manufacturer.Aprilia started as a scooter manufacturer, but has more recently come to be known for its race-winning sportbikes...

 released the SR50
Aprilia SR50
The Aprilia SR50 is a scooter built by Aprilia. Introduced in 1992, more than 800,000 units have been sold, bucking the trend for less use of two-stroke engines...

 Ditech with direct injection
Gasoline direct injection
In internal combustion engines, gasoline direct injection , also known as petrol direct injection or direct petrol injection, is a variant of fuel injection employed in modern two-stroke and four-stroke gasoline engines...

. The SR50 has a listed fuel consumption of 2 L/100km and meets the Euro 3 standard with a two-stroke engine. Later on, more brands, including Derbi
Derbi is a brand of motorcycles, scooters, and recreational ATVs produced by Nacional Motor S.A.U., a Spanish subsidiary of Piaggio & Co...

 and Peugeot
Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroën, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810, and manufactured coffee mills and bicycles. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion...

, started using direct injection systems for their scooters. Catalytic converters are now common in two-stroke and four-stroke engines sold in the E.U. and the U.S.

Electric scooters


An underbone
An underbone is a small motorcycle built on a frame consisting mostly of one large diameter tubular component.The stylistic difference between a motorcycle and an underbone is considerable and they are sometimes known as "step-throughs" or even marketed as scooters in the West.The fuel tank...

 is a motorcycle built on a chassis consisting mostly of a single large diameter tube. An underbone differs from a conventional motorcycle mainly by not having a structural member connecting the head stock to the structure under the front of the seat and by not having a fuel tank or similarly styled appendage in the space between the riders knees. Underbones are commonly referred to as "step-throughs" and appeal to both genders in much the same way as scooters.

Underbones are often mistaken for scooters and are sometimes marketed as such. However, an underbone does not have a footboard, and is therefore not a scooter.

The engine of an underbone is usually fixed to the chassis under the downtube, while a scooter usually has its engine mounted on its swingarm. As a result, underbone engines are usually further forwards than those of scooters. A typical underbone therefore has a more central centre of gravity
Center of mass
In physics, the center of mass or barycenter of a system is the average location of all of its mass. In the case of a rigid body, the position of the center of mass is fixed in relation to the body...

 than a typical scooter. Furthermore, having an engine mounted on the swingarm gives a typical scooter more unsprung mass than a typical underbone. These factors give a typical underbone better handling than a typical scooter.

The engine of an underbone typically drives the rear wheel by a chain of the kind used on a conventional motorcycle. This final drive is often concealed by a chain enclosure to keep the chain clean and reduce wear. The final drive of a scooter with a swingarm-mounted engine runs in a sealed oil bath and is shorter.

An underbone is usually fitted with near full-size motorcycle wheels, which are often spoked. Scooter wheels are usually small, and made made from pressed steel. In both cases, more recent examples often have cast alloy wheels. The bigger wheels of an underbone allow more ventilation and better cooling for the brakes than the smaller wheels of a scooter.

While the engine and suspension layouts described here for scooters and underbones are typical, they are not rigid definitions. There have been scooters with fixed engines and chain drive, and there have been underbones with swingarm-mounted engines. A twenty-first century example of variance from the typical scooter layout is the Suzuki Choinori
Suzuki Choinori
The Suzuki Choinori was a scooter built by Suzuki from 2003 to 2007. It was designed to minimize the use of materials in general and plastics and threaded fasteners in particular in order to minimize cost...

, which had both its engine and its rear axle rigidly bolted to its frame.


Motor scooters are popular in most parts of the first world, Europe (particularly Italy and the Mediterranean), Japan and Taiwan, but not the US. They are even more popular in most parts of the developing world, particularly in countries such as India, Vietnam and China where there is local manufacture. Parking, storage, and traffic issues in crowded cities, along with the easy driving position make them a popular form of urban transportation. In many nations, scooter (or other small motorcycle) sales exceed those of automobiles, and a motor scooter may even be the family transport.
In Taiwan, road infrastructure have been built specifically with two wheelers in mind, with separate lanes and intersection turn boxes. In Thailand, scooters are used for street to door taxi services, as well as for navigating through heavy traffic. The extensive range of cycle tracks in the Netherlands extends into parts of Belgium and Germany and is open to all small powered two-wheelers. Motor scooters are popular because of their size, fuel-efficiency
Fuel efficiency
Fuel efficiency is a form of thermal efficiency, meaning the efficiency of a process that converts chemical potential energy contained in a carrier fuel into kinetic energy or work. Overall fuel efficiency may vary per device, which in turn may vary per application, and this spectrum of variance is...

, weight, and typically larger storage room than a motorcycle. In many localities, certain road motor scooters are considered by law to be in the same class as mopeds or small motorcycles and therefore they have fewer restrictions than do larger motorcycles.

According to the Motorcycle Industry Council
Motorcycle Industry Council
The Motorcycle Industry Council, or MIC, is a not-for-profit, national trade association representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV parts and accessories and members of allied trades, located in Irvine, California...

, sales of motor scooters in the United States have more than doubled since 2000. The motorcycle industry as a whole has seen 13 years of consecutive growth. According to council figures, 42,000 scooters were sold in 2000. By 2004, that number increased to 97,000. Scooter sales in 2008 in the USA were up 41% on 2007, and represented 9% of all powered two-wheeler sales. However, falling oil prices after a boom in 2008, led to a decrease in US scooter sales in 2009 of 59% against 2008, compared with a 41% fall for all powered two-wheelers, while the scooter's contribution to total US powered two-wheeler sales in 2009 fell to 6%. After a two year slump, scooter sales in the US rebounded in the first quarter of 2011, once again due to higher gas prices.

In popular culture

A common reference for the glamourous image of scooters is Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday is a 1953 romantic comedy directed and produced by William Wyler and starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn. It was written by John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo, though with Trumbo on the Hollywood blacklist, he did not receive a credit; instead, Ian McLellan Hunter fronted for him...

, a 1953 romantic comedy in which Gregory Peck
Gregory Peck
Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor.One of 20th Century Fox's most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play important roles well into the 1980s. His notable performances include that of Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an...

 carries Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was a British actress and humanitarian. Although modest about her acting ability, Hepburn remains one of the world's most famous actresses of all time, remembered as a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century...

 around Rome on a Vespa.

Significant scooter references in Mod culture include the 1973 rock musical Quadrophenia
Quadrophenia is the sixth studio album by English rock band The Who. Released on 19 October 1973 by Track and Polydor in the UK, and Track and MCA in the US, it is a double album, and the group's second rock opera...

by The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

, which spawned a 1979 motion picture
Quadrophenia (film)
Quadrophenia is a 1979 British film, loosely based around the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who. The film stars Phil Daniels as a Mod named Jimmy. It was directed by Franc Roddam in his feature directing debut...


A scooterboy is a member of a subculture based on motor scooter riding, particularly Vespas and Lambrettas. Scooterboy culture originated in the late 1960s in the industrial north of England and resurfaced nationally in the United Kingdom around 1979 or 1980 at the time of the mod revival...

 magazines include the British monthly magazine Scootering
Freestyle scootering is an action sport which involves using kick scooters to perform freestyle tricks, in a manner similar to skateboarding and BMX freestyle.-Terrain:-Park:...

and the American quarterly magazine Scoot!.

See also

  • Auto rickshaw
    Auto rickshaw
    An auto rickshaw or three-wheeler is a usually three-wheeled cabin cycle for private use and as a vehicle for hire. It is a motorized version of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw...

  • Cutdown
    A cutdown is a customised scooter with parts of the bodywork removed or cut away. Cutdowns were popular amongst skinheads and scooterboys during the mod revival of the 1970s and 1980s...

  • List of scooter manufacturers
  • List of scooters
  • LPG powered scooters
    LPG powered scooters
    An LPG powered scooter is a scooter powered by liquefied petroleum gas or autogas. The scooters are in use in China and many parts of Southern Asia....

  • Scooter rally
    Scooter rally
    A scooter rally is an event attended by scooter enthusiasts. Much like a motorcycle rally, scooter rallies usually involve: camping; going on group rides; racing; participating in gymkhana or field course events; watching bands; dancing to DJs; and drinking alcohol.In the United Kingdom, scooter...

External links

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