The Difference Between Scooters and Motorcycles

If you consider how much more faster and powerful scooters have become in recent years, it makes you wonder what specifically defines a sco...

If you consider how much more faster and powerful scooters have become in recent years, it makes you wonder what specifically defines a scooter from a motorcycle.

I'm not sure I'm able to put my finger on it.

Take a look at the Gilera GP800, what's being billed as the world's fastest scooter...

Gilera GP800 Scooter
This thing has the same motor from the Aprilia Mana (a motorcycle), an 850cc v-twin motor, cranking out 75bhp and a top speed of 120mph. It's got a 16 inch wheel in the front, 15 inch in the back.

So, if this is a scooter, then what specifically makes it a scooter, and not a motorcycle?

The Gilera GP800 does have an automatic transmission, and I believe all scooters have automatic trannies. But is that it? The Yamaha FJR (sport touring motorcycle) has a push-button transmission, though it's still technically a manual transmission. But if the Yamaha FJR were to boast a totally automatic transmission, would that make it a scooter?

In California, there is an "M1" license for riding motorcycles and scooters, and an "M2" license for riding scooters only. Shouldn't the Gilera GP800 require someone to have the M1 license?

If appearances is what defines a scooter, then what specifically makes something look like a scooter?

Victory Vision StreetRemember the new Victory Vision touring motorcycle? If Victory called that thing a scooter, wouldn't you believe it? That thing does look something like a scooter, and it only has an extra 150cc over the Gilera GP800.

We've arrived at a point where scooters are only scooters because their manufacturers call them scooters, and for no other reason.


Scooters 1058079214555619944

Post a Comment

  1. ummm, every victory motorcycle made since 2006 has a 100 cubic inch motor which equates to 1634cc's - the vision is rumored to be even bigger (like a 106ci) so, your a little off the mark...

  2. Hate to break it to you but the Vision will have at LEAST a 100 cubic inch motor which converts to just over 1600cc's. Not 1000cc as stated in the original post.

    More likely it will have a new displacement along the lines of 106 cubic inches or larger.

  3. Ridley has been making auto trannie motorcycles for over 10 years. No, they aren't scooters. Basic difference I've seen is no footrest/peg outside the wheels of scooters. Scooters used to be thought of a 'step through' so a woman can wear a skirt to ride. But now???

  4. There are lots of scooters with manual trannies. For example, look at classic Vespas, Lambrettas, and of course "modern classics" like the Stella. That certainly doesn't make 'em motorcycles. I believe it's all about styling, design... and of course, marketing.

  5. Actually, the M2 license is for mopeds, which in California means a bike under 50cc with pedals and a limited speed. Scooters don't have pedals, so they require a full M1 license.


    * There are manual transmission scooters.
    * Scooters are differentiated from motorcycles by having a step-through configuration (i.e., the area in front of the seat is lower than the seat itself). It's like boy bicycle vs. girl bicycle. But I don't think many women will be hopping on the GP800 wearing a skirt.

  7. Traditionally, scooters had [1] small wheels [2] monocoque frame [3] step-thru design [4] engine under or behind the rider [5] the engine/transmission pivoting on a swingarm.



Follow Us


Latest News


Hot This Week