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MotorScooterShopper.com - The Motor Scooter Buying Guide 
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Motor Scooter

Scooter Brands

Itís quite common for someone in the US to decide to look for a gas motor scooter and expect the market to be similar to what they know about the automobile market. But they quickly get overwhelmed with a list of scooter brands that theyíve likely never heard of. People in the US are used to ďthe big 3Ē in the automobile market, with a handful of well known foreign brands. Narrowing down what you are looking for in an automobile is as such fairly easy. But when it comes to scooters, the market can cause an interested scooter consumer to just give up instead of finding something thatís right for them.

There are many reasons for the scooter market being the way it is, but for the most part itís due to the American scooter market being but a small fraction of the overall world scooter market (as opposed to the American automobile market being a large chunk of the world automobile market). In 2007 there were only 1 million registered scooters in the US, compared to over 30 million in Europe alone. How many scooters are being used in Asia is unknown, because not all of them need to be registered, but itís safe to assume the total number in Asia far surpasses even the Europe number. Check out the YouTube video to the right to see the prevalent use of scooters in Asia.

Scooters have been being built, distributed and sold on a mass scale for many decades, but itís only recently that their popularity has risen in the US. As such, all of these many scooter brands throughout the world are now hoping to gain a share of the growing US scooter market. This results in the interested scooter consumer being flooded with a list of scooter brands that makes it seem impossible to decipher.

And it's not just the scooter brands, but the dealers too. For instance, if you were in the market for a Kia or Hyundai type of automobile, the Jaguar dealer can size you up fairly quickly and knows enough to not waste his time with you, but thatís not how the scooter market works. You might very well be in the market for a RoadRunner iScooter or a Roketa type of motor scooter, but the Honda and Vespa dealer is going to try like crazy to convince you to spend twice as much on their scooter. And vice versa. Even the consumer who should really be spending less than $2000 on a scooter is a potential customer to the dealer with $5000 and up scooters. He won't want to lose you, and will stop at nothing to keep you from buying less expensive scooter brands, which just may in fact be more appropriate for you. And the less expensive scooter brands dealers will try to convince you that their scooters are just as good as the Hondas and Vespas. The mud will fly if you shop amongst the different brands. If youíd like to avoid the mud, the process of narrowing down the brands can be made much easier just by asking yourself a few simple questions:

1) Do you want American made scooter brands?

Well, the answer to this question is actually moot. But it needed to be asked just to make a point. There are no ďAmericanĒ scooter brands. There are American scooter companies, but for the most part there arenít any significant scooter brands that are built here in the states. The scooters are coming from overseas. Some from Italy, some from Japan, some from Taiwan, some from Korea, and some from China. And as you shop for a scooter, the sales pitches you hear are likely to include in what country the scooter was built. For the most part, if the scooter was built in Italy or Japan, youíll get a top quality scooter. Taiwan and Korea's quality is in the middle, and Chinaís is at the bottom. But before you think ďOh, so the guy at the Vespa shop who told me any China scooter brands Iím considering will fall apart after 100 miles must have been rightĒ, you must consider that over half of all scooters manufactured in the world are manufactured in China. If the majority of scooters coming out of China were falling apart after 100 miles, the country could never hold 50% of the world scooter market. China makes a decent scooter, but if you value peace of mind, and have the money to spend, spend it on an Italian or Japanese brand. But do us all a favor, and donít join the clique of those who trash talk the China scooter brands just because theyíre fortunate enough to afford a more expensive scooter. Just because your BMW is a better quality car than my Kia doesn't mean my Kia isn't a decent car. The same applies to scooters.

2) Do you need a name brand scooter?

Are you the type of person who needs to buy a name you already trust? If so names like Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha will likely fit your bill. But before you limit it to those names that are common in the US, you should really consider a Vespa, Piaggio, and Aprilia. Vespa is to scooters as Kleenex is to facial tissues. While you may never have heard the name before becoming interested in buying a scooter, it is one of the most trusted scooter brands. But in all these trusted brand name scooter brands, the price of your scooter will be top dollar, which can be sometimes as much as 3 times more than a very similar product from a lesser known brand. You will also have to have a dealer somewhere close to you, because none of these scooter brands will ship a scooter to you. They might deliver one to you if you are willing to pay one of the dealer employees to drive it out to you, but still youíd need to be relatively close to the dealer.

3) Do you need a local scooter dealer?

Perhaps you donít need a name brand, but you do need a local dealer so you can touch and feel your scooter before you buy it, and get the kind of support you want after the sale. Off brands like Kymco, Hyosung, SYM, and Genuine are perfect for this kind of buyer. For the most part the quality is as good as the name brands above, but because the brand name isnít as well known yet, they come with a smaller sticker price. But the companies that distribute these off brands also require dealerships to make a lot of investment in their facilities (minimum square footage, high traffic locations, minimum quantity orders, required showroom floor models, etc...), so those costs are passed along to the buyer. These scooter brands will save you some over a name brand, but their prices are still fairly high compared to the rest of the scooter brands available.

4) Do you need to save every penny on your scooter?

If cost is the most important determination in what you buy, then buying a scooter from an online dealer is the way to go. Scooter brands like RoadRunner, Tank, Roketa, BMS, and Wildfire can be shipped from a dealer to your door. It will require you to do some setup, and the warranty will just cover parts, but because youíre not paying for a dealerís storefront, overhead and labor, the price of an online brand scooter is 2 to 3 times less than a name brand scooter. If you are considering this option, it's highly recommended that you read our Tips for Servicing Your Online Purchased Scooter article so you know what to expect before buying.

5) Do you need to save every penny, but still need a local scooter dealer?

If money is important, but youíre willing to pay just a little more to have local dealer support, then you should get China scooter brands from a local dealer. Discount scooter brands like Q-Link, Flyscooters, Lance, TNG, and even Schwinn (a name youíve probably heard before) are scooter brands built in China and distributed only by local dealers (you can't buy these China scooter brands online and have the scooter shipped to you). You should expect to pay $300 to $500 more for these scooter brands than a similar online sold brand.

Choosing Your Scooter Brands:

Use the answers to these questions as a process of elimination. For example if you said ďyesĒ to #4, then donít even consider a Honda or Vespa in your quest to find your scooter. Likewise, if you answered yes to #2, donít even consider buying China scooter brands. By shopping for your scooter in this way, youíll have half a dozen or so scooter brands to choose from, instead of dozens of scooter brands to choose from. And most importantly you'll be able to avoid all the mudslinging that's going on between the dealers of the many different scooter brands.

On a final note, the scooter brands listed above are not all encompassing. That is to say, if you see a brand thatís not on this list, donít assume it canít be trusted. There are a lot of scooter brands. In fact there upwards of 1000 different scooter factories in China alone. If youíre interested in a brand not on this list, just do a little Google research on it, and youíll likely find itís very similar to another brand.

If you are following this Motor Scooter Buying Guide in its natural order, proceed to "How to Choose a Motor Scooter"
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