Moped and low cc Motorcycle info needed


Short version - Live in South Carolina, am pretty poor, gas is becoming too expensive. Need to get to work more cheaply. Have to be able to drive at least 55 mph (or my ass will get run over by F350s also going to work). Considering a moped or motorcycle, but can’t find useful newbie info with a general google search. Have ZERO knowledge regarding the subject.

Need to know:

When I’m looking up models, all I can find are the ‘scooter’ style things. Is that all they have in the US anymore? I think those are so ugly. I remember mopeds from childhood - they looked more like dirtbikes. Where can I find those styles?

What determines the speed and what’s the difference between 2 and 4 stroke?

How expensive are they usually? If a good moped is pretty pricey, would it make sense to get a real motorcycle instead?

What brands/makers do good reliable work (but aren’t the upper high end… I’m too poor for that.)

Should I buy from a dealer, or is it safe to buy from individuals?

If I go the motorcycle option, where can I find people to teach me so I can pass my license test?

Mopeds are usually 50cc, far too small for the freeway.

Check your state DMV for minimum displacement required for freeway use.
In California, I believe it’s 175cc.

Take classes. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a good source.

Most likely, you won’t find a street-legal two stroke.

Since you admit to no knowledge, buy from a dealer.

How far is your commute?

You’re better off with a small motorcycle rather than a moped. The motorcycle will have real brakes and be able to keep up with traffic easier. Ask dealers or other riders about the Motorcycle Safety Foundation training programs near you.

ETA:runner pat, I posted this before I saw you already answered.

If your interest is just in fuel economy it may make more sense to look at one of the compact high efficiency cars out there these days. Motorcycles can have a learning curve if you’ve never ridden them, and from what I’ve seen a lot of people go through a period once they’ve learned how to ride where they aren’t really comfortable driving at freeway speeds.

Add to your budget: helmet, gloves-full gauntlet, boots-above the ankle, leather jacket-thick(and pants).

There are 4 classes of motorbike:

  1. electric bicycle (usually held to all applicable bicycle laws.)
  2. moped (usually under 80cc’s. Some states require a restrictor plate to keep the speed under 35 mph.)
  3. scooter (essentially a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. Capable of going on the freeway, but a motorcycle license is required.)
  4. Motorcycle.

If mopeds are allowed on the freeway in your state, you should go with that. They are safer and cheaper than other options, and other cars will just go around you. However, if your state restricts mopeds and/or has a minimum speed limit, you need a scooter. They generally come in a variety of styles (even those that look like harley’s) but the main difference is the lack of clutch/shifter.

Scooters aren’t all ugly; check out Aprilias here. Our Scarabeo gets great mileage, goes freeway fast. Very fun!

I’d need all that for a moped also, right? I was going under that assumption. SC doesn’t require safety clothes (or even helmets:eek:) but I like my skin…

The problem there is the price, and the negative of a car loan. Here the cheapest really-high-mpg cars are all over 10,000. If I can get a motorcycle or moped and the safety gear for less than that, then I think I’d prefer it. Our family already has two cars, we travel and visit friends/family often enough that we really don’t want to get rid of either of them, and it seems really silly for a two person household to have 3 cars.

Commute is about 20 minutes, roughly 15/17 miles, most of it traveled between 55 and 60 mph. I don’t use any freeways to get to work, which is helpful, but 90% of the roads I travel are single-lane with no shoulders and enough curves that there aren’t really good passing areas. I wouldn’t feel safe with something that couldn’t at least stay within about 5 mph (ideally the same speed) of the rest of the traffic. I know people would try to pass me where there wasn’t room, because I’ve seen them do it to people on slower scooters and mopeds regularly.

(Is the cc number the displacement?)

Displacement is always expressed in cc though you will see bikes over 1,000 cc referred to as “literbikes” in the press.

Most of the smaller displacement bikes are dirt bike styled like this.

Keep in mind, the smaller the engine, the higher revs you’ll run at speed(shorter engine life) and the less margin you have for acceleration if needed.

You should be able to get the bike and gear for well under 10,000 especially if the dealer has a lightly used bike for sale.

Also, find out about insurance. Depending on the bike, your age and driving record, you may not save that much.

Though it’s not ridden since I have the R1, I still have my 1994 Yamaha XJ600 Seca II. As the nomenclature suggests, it’s a 600 cc bike. I’ve successfully ridden it at 120 mph. (It came unglued at 125 mph. Never again.) At more reasonable speeds, say 65 mph, I routinely achieved 50+ mpg. I’ve put 80,000 miles on it, and (aside the fact that it hasn’t been ridden in a few years) it’s still strong.

After Yamaha had the Seca II out a couple of years, Suzuki came out with the 600 cc Bandit. It’s said to be a better bike. (Of course, reviews are published in magazines that are beholden to the manufacturers.) I’ve heard good reports of the Suzuki SV650. The Wiki article reports 45-59 mpg for the 2nd generation models. MSRP is $5,899 to $6,299 depending on where you look. (I just glanced at the returns from a google search.)

Another option might be the Honda Nighthawk 250. 250 cc is not going to be very fast; more like a scooter than a motorcycle. But it will handle like a motorcycle, which is important. The Wiki article suggests 59-69 mpg. MSRP is about $3,600. Since people outgrow them quickly, I suspect that used ones in good condition should be fairly easy to find.

My 2¢, anyway.

OK, digging through the state statutes, it’s looking like it has to be either a scooter or a motorcycle.

Mopeds are limited to 50ccs and 35 mph, and can’t be driven legally on any road with a speed limit higher than 35.

If I drive a scooter, I have to have a motorcycle license anyway, and take a required driving lesson. Funny that they don’t care if you paste yourself all over the road, but they do make you take official lessons.

Runner Pat, you said that smaller engines have shorter lives, and don’t accelerate as well.

How short a life are we talking when comparing a scooter with a ‘real’ motorcycle? What about the acceleration? I’ve seen motorcycles take off like rockets, but I don’t normally drive like that. Would a scooter ‘take off’ more slowly than a car would from a stop?

The Scarabeo **kayT **linked to earlier was 500ccs, and it looks like there are actual motorcycles with equal or even smaller engines. Is there an average motorcycle engine size?

When the engine size goes up, does the gas mileage go down?

Is it very difficult to learn to drive a real motorcycle? For comparison, I can drive a stickshift, and didn’t have too much trouble learning that.

Yes, cc is the displacement.

I used to ride a Honda 360 and I didn’t have a problem getting up to speed.

Two of the women I ride with have Kawasaki Vulcan’s 500cc. They don’t have a problem keeping up in traffic and although they are both about 5’4" -5’-5", the bike doesn’t seem too big.

I have not ridden their bike, but it doesn’t seem too small either. IOW, if you wanted to go farther, I don’t think it would be an issue. Sometimes smaller bikes don’t do well on long-distance rides. However, my 360 was a 1976 and I rode it in 1982-83 time frame, I’m sure bikes are better built.

I would guess a Kaw 500 gas mileage to be 45-55 mpg.

I highly recommend the ABATE MC course. They usually provide the 125-250cc bikes. And you get your license upon completion.

In fact, you could take the course before you buy a bike to see if it’s something you want. I think I paid $50 for the course in Indiana.

Acceleration is from engine size/power. A scooter with a 350cc engine will have the same potential acceleration as a motorcycle with a 350 cc engine.

In real life, scooters usually make less power as they are not marketed to those who crave performance.

Engine life is affected by the rpm you usually run at. Scooter or motorcycle, it’s the size of the engine/gearing that matters.

A 175cc may run at 7000 rpm with a redline of 10,000 while a 500cc can run at 5,000rpm with a similar redline.

Engine size up, mileage down.

If you’re trying to save money, the odds are against you.
The cost and maintenance of any reliable vehicle are going to add up to more than your gas savings; in fact, probably more than the cost of your entire gas EXPENSE.
Even assuming you’ll ride the bike 10,000 miles per year, the gas expense in a 15 MPG pickup truck would only be $2400. 50 MPG would still work out to $720. You’ll need to spend under $1680 on the vehicle + maintenance to break even. [Assuming $3.60/gal.]

If you want to ride because you just want to ride, that’s a good reason. If your regular car is an expensive luxury sedan that depreciates 50 cents a mile, that would be a good reason.
Saving money probably isn’t.
Good luck.

Oh, one other tip:
Don’t ride after dark. People are stupid, and you WILL eventually get hit if you commute after dark.

News to me. Any idea when I will get hit? I have been riding since I was 15, if I do the matheficating, that is 30 years. Do I need to wait another 30? Or will this inevitability happen sooner?

I’m glad to hear drivers where you live are less stupid than drivers near me.
Do you commute 40 miles a day to work, including hours after dark?
Have you done that for the entire period?

I rode over Highway 17 (Santa Cruz/San Jose) for twelve years in the dark and getting hit from behind was never a concern. Bikes do have tail lights. I did add extra lights to make it more obvious I was a bike not a one eyed car.

A lot of the bikers around here use those ‘bumpity’ head and tail lights that flicker as they ride around. There’s a HUGE biker community around here, and people are generally pretty aware of them on the road.
I’d be a lot more secure feeling on a motorcycle than on a scooter. Scooter riders tend to get abused and yelled at a lot…