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Scooter advice for a first timer!

I grew up with a father and brother both mad keen (and safe) motorcyclists. As a result, I always wanted my own two wheeler! In my advancing years though, no longer a motorbike but a scooter is my aim. Long have I battled with my husband who does not want one because it is a threat to my health and safety but now is my time and I can see many benefits of having one. I live 40 minutes’ drive from the Sydney CBD where I work - only buses are an option to the city (no trains) What do I need to consider - which model, new or second hand, insurance, maintenance costs, scooter security, clothing and headwear, where to park safely, driving lessons (I have had a full and clean licence since 1983!), What advice has the community for the best way to proceed please?

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Scooter :motor_scooter: ?
Not :kick_scooter:?

It’s these you need to look out for :red_car: :bus: :minibus: :articulated_lorry: :blue_car: :truck:, etc

Us other drivers can be terribly inattentive and careless. If we were any good at driving on 4 wheels we would not run into other vehicles or things.

The problem around here with open air transport of any variety including footpath legal options is the weather. It rains on 65 days each year, out of the approx 130 predicted by the BOM. Wet weather gear and a plan B for wet days? Not needed on the farm bike even when it is raining although you tend to take on the appearance of a motorised cow pat along with other characteristics rather quickly. A good place to practice your skills at avoiding obstacles in wet and slippery conditions, encountering the unexpected ( 3m pythons) and untangling yourself from barbed wire fences.

Some of us, I’m one were never intended to ride on two wheels of any design. Others are very good at it, although one friend was run over by a car in suburbia and has spent the last decades as a 4wheeler. There are only so many times you can watch the same rerun of F-Troop.

Practice core skills and do some extra training in a safe environment if you are not an everyday rider?

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Hey @Cazfitzwater and welcome to the Community!

I’ve been looking at buying a motorbike over the last 6 months and have still yet to lock in getting my license yet. My partner’s brother has been riding for years and is slowly helping me with the process. I have some experience with dirt bikes from when I was a teenager.

It seems like you’ve got a great list of things to consider already. Personally, I think it would do wonders to find someone who can help you with buying gear and helping you buy a secondhand scooter - someone with experience can check and test the scooter for issues before you make a purchase.

To get your bike license, you will need to pass a two day course. It is intentionally designed for people with no previous riding experience. There are services out there such as Sydney Bike Training or Girl Torque that offer personalized lessons as well if you are worried about the nature of the license test. Depending on the individual teacher, they may even help you check out a scooter you want to buy.

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There is also electric bicycles (:bike:) and electric motorbikes (:motorcycle:) which can also be a solution and have different constraints/limitations to their use…such as registration, range when fully charged (could range from 20-30km to several hundred depending on the device and its type). safety features, charging option at departure and destination points (this may also affect the type and range of two wheeler one is looking at purchasing) etc

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Hi Cazfitzwater and welcome to the Choice Community Forum! :slight_smile:

Hopefully you can gain some help and insight from the varied and many contributors that have an absolute wealth of knowledge to assist you with your problem.

Feel free to comment or contribute on anything that you are concerned about, or interests you, as everyone is welcome and the many friends on this Forum are always more than happy to help you out and advise you on multiple topics.

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Hi @Cazfitzwater and welcome.

I too got a scooter late in life. My advice is do not rush out to buy one.

As @jhook elucidated, there are lots of courses out there to get your licence. Where I did mine, they would rent you a scooter or a motor bike for the course. I suggest you do this for two reasons.

Firstly, their scooters are physically smaller, and are easier to manage and manoevuer through the requirements of the course. Secondly, it will give you a chance to determine what you like and don’t like on the scooter, so you know what to look for when you go to buy one.

Where I did my course, they will also hire you helmet, gloves, etc… Personally, I bought myself a flip up full face helmet (where the front flips up like the Police wear) as the open-face/scooter helmets are far less protective in the event of an accident. The flip up ones are also perfect if you wear glasses. Mine also had internal flip down sunglasses.

I took that my helmet the course. Look for the Australian Standards label inside the helmet to make sure it complies. You can go to specialist moror bike/scooter stores to get one. Once you know how to find the right fit etc, you can even buy Aust Standard helmets and other motor cyling gear from Aldi. I bought another helmet, gloves, and other gear from Aldi and found it all to be good quality.

When eventually you decide to buy your scooter consider your physique. Are you strong enough to pull a 250cc up onto it’s stand, or do you need to get a smaller one like a 125cc? Are you going to go on expressways where you need comfortably do 100kph for which you would be better off on a 250, or will you be in commuter traffic where a 125 might be better? Once you know what size engine you want focus on that size and look at the ride comfort, reliability, service costs etc. Initially, you won’t be allowed to carry a pillion, so you only need one seat, but where will you put you bag, shopping etc? Do you want a top-box (the box that sits up above and behind the sear) to add more storage for you helmet etc? I had a windshield on mine which was invaluable, but not everyone likes them.

Another tip… Scooters with bigger tyres are more comfortable and easier to ride. The ones with the little tyres are more hard to handle, prone to catching in ruts, and wear faster.

When eventually you decide to buy a scooter, go to scooter shops, and try out lots until you find what feels right for you. You don’t have to buy from a scooter shop, but as you first ride, it would probably be safer. And you can go back there to get it serviced too! (Not all motor cycle businesses service scooters, as the expertise, equipment, and the parts needed are quite different.)

Final tip. There are very different qualities of fluoro vests. Buy the best quality and most reflective one you can, and ALWAYS wear it on the scooter as you want to be as visible from all directions as possible. (Have a look at the work-wear store for example.)

So the bottom line is take it step by step. Buy a good quality helmet and gloves. Do your course, and attain your L plates. Then look for your ride.

Hope that helps, and good.luck.

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It is best to approach the decision as to whether to ride a scooter or other two wheeled form of transport with eyes wide open as riders of such have a much higher rate of serious injury and death than four wheel vehicles when involved in accidents.

This morning, the Mayor of Townsville and a motorbike rider had a collision, and irrespective of who may have been at fault, the motorbike rider is dead whilst the Mayor is shaken.

I cannot recall anyone I knew who rode a motorbike who did not have at least one serious accident

The photos of the wrecks on the tow trucks clearly illustrate the different in the damage to the two vehicles.

Perhaps consider undertaking a defensive driving course for teh benefit of both yourself and your husband.

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Hi @Cazfitzwater, I’ve been riding motorcycles and scooters for more than 50 years so far without a serious accident, touch wood. Nowadays, though, I tend to stick to the streets around my local area, and don’t go out on major roads all that much. I agree with @meltam’s advice – slow and steady does it. I would also suggest that if you can, find a mentor who can help you develop your riding skills. Join a rider’s association such as netrider.net.au, and see if there’s someone in your area willing to help. When looking for a scooter, I would also be looking for safety features such as, eg, ABS brakes, which might stop your wheels locking up (and the bike crashing) if by chance you brake too hard for the prevailing conditions – scooters with ABS (eg, some Honda PCX150) might be more expensive but it’s a great feature to have. My bike has it and I wouldn’t be without it.
Some of my riding gear comes from Aldi, but they only have sales of motorcycle stuff once a year, so if you’re interested now, it might be worthwhile looking online at Gumtree, where there’s heaps of second hand gear available at reasonable prices. Just not helmets – you need to buy new.

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Well as a long time motorbike rider with many years of dirt riding before I got on the road I can pretty much predict that you will almost certainly come off at some point.

I have hit cars and animals. They don’t give, not one inch. Hit a sheep doing 90 kmh once. Dead sheep. Lucky me.

Cars will drive through stop signs. They will cross in front of you. I have hit them all. Including dogs that just appear in front of you. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don’t (missing kneecap from stop sign runner).

You must take the attitude that you are invisible on the road.You also need to develop situational awareness. Looking in the mirror a lot. Knowing what is around you at ALL times. Turn that head. LOOK.

I can’t say that my riding has been perfect as I have let my judgment slip from time to time and have come a cropper from my own inattention.

At the end of the day for gods sake wear decent protective clothing and keep the speed down.

Coming off in the dirt can be rough but going “down the road” is whole new level of pain. My leather jacket and gloves have saved me more than once. The new stuff out there has nice armoring inside these days.

Just get some. Wear it. Even on 40c plus days. Boots too.

Dry bitumen wants to sand your flesh down to the bone.

Other than that it’s great !

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Edit: Some other things to watch out for include tram tracks (they guide you where you may not want to go). Piles of dirt in the road (oh I thought I had breaks…not). And the middle grease strip at lights.

One time I came to a stop at lights and put my foot down and fell off as there was no grip, it was that greasy. Kind of embarrassing on an expensive bike.

Don’t drive in the middle of the lane. Don’t drive in the left either people always try to “sneek past”
Drive in the right hand side out of the grease strip. Keep up with traffic.

Learn how to do an emergency stop without locking up your front wheel.

Get good in the dry before you go in the wet, that’s a whole new ball game.

Skidding down a hill with your back wheel locked up and still not stopping into moving traffic is not pleasant.

P.S. I gave it away as I don’t bounce so well at my age now. Not trying to put you off as there are plenty of reasons to ride including fun.

BUT just think about whether or not you could handle coming off.
In the wet you usually just slide and it’s not that bad unless you hit something at speed.

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Nor I … but as others have said its a matter of when not if (so the better prepared one is should lower the severity of said boo boo).

A defensive riding course(s) is/should almost be mandatory.
Watch some dash cam you tube channels from Australia … note every vehicle you see in those is a dangerous object and you need to know how to deal with before it happens!

Don’t skimp on your helmet (no need to go crazy either) its the only thing protecting your head.

Consider that the road you ride on is the equivalent of a metal cheese grater (so anything not covered by suitable riding attire is something you have to be prepared to leave behind).
I’d never endorse an open face helmet! I also shudder every-time I see the trendy scooter/moped rider in thongs/shorts(skirt) and t-shirt (I know some folk that have worked shifts in emergency departments).

On the subject of fun, if you do go for a weekend ride with a group don’t feel obligated to push your comfort limits if you’re a tail end Charlie, (if they have an issue with it find a better (safer) group to ride with).

If you have a pedal powered bicycle I’d recommend getting out on the road in traffic to get a better feel for how traffic will be like.

Work-wear stores are likely a really good tip; they’ll have to comply with National Safety standards!
That’s important because that silver/grey strip is quite often not on ‘hi-vis’ attire of the cheaper variety (that I see sold in bike shops … still). In bad (no) lighting conditions black/white/flouro make virtually no difference but even with a weak light source that striping lights up like the bat signal even from a decent distance.

Link is for photo’s to demonstrate the effect not to suggest/endorse product:

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Oops. Forgot the open face helmet tip.

Agreed emphatically. I had one once and it was not pleasant eating dirt. Ran out and got a full face after that little bingle.

Insects at speed also really hurt ! Bees feel like someone throwing a lit cigarette in your helmet.
Full face is a must IMO. Further if you have a full face wear sunnies under it if you do “pop the lid”.

It was a standard joke for us to comment on the brave (fools) souls running “stubbies thongs and tshirts” in the 70s.

Dirt riding can teach you a lot though and a LOT safer.

At the end of the day though. If you want to ride, ride. Just be aware of your limitations and level of experience. Not everyone can pop a wheelie round a corner and not come off.

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Thanks to all who have responded and I am certainly clearer on next steps and all that I need to do before I buy a scooter. Is there anything anybody can add on insurance please? Is it best to insure separately from the car (or can I add the scooter to the car insurance policy I have) and if not, then who with please and what ‘extras’ should I be looking at? Thanks again CHOICE Community!

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I added to my existing car policy to get the benefit of multipolicy discount. Your choice though.

Choice has done some work on car insurance, and the best policy depends on where you live, your age, your claim history, what sort of insurance you want, etc. You need to research the best value for money and best policy for you.

Take into consideration:

  • How do they treat motor cyclist L platers. Will your years of motor vehicle driving count in your favour?
  • What excess they want you to have.
  • Will a claim affect your no-claim bonus across all policies if you add it onto your car(s)?
  • How the insurer is at actually paying up if you make a claim. No point in saving a few dollars on your policy if the insurer puts you though the wringer if you make a claim, or worse, won’t pay up.
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get a smartmotion ebike faster and safer or a leitner fold up ebike good service and safer than a scooter

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As a motorcycle rider , I commend you for your decision to get on a bike. However, if your decision is merely a means of getting to work in Sydney CBD, then I totally agree with your husband. Commuting in peak-hour traffic is fraught with dangers that even the most experienced riders are not able to avoid. An inexperienced rider with a low-powered scooter just heightens the danger. Get on a bike, by all means, but get out into the country-side and enjoy the feeling of riding. Get on that bus, stay safe, and get to work relaxed…read a book. I can tell you that commuting in peak hour is not normally a bike riders idea of fun and the economic benefit is not always evident.

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I got my motorbike licence at 50 yrs of age. Daunting but as several have said it isn’t a CBD commuter option. Too much SIDSY (sorry I didn’t see you).
I have ridden in Sydney traffic but have a large bike and added air-horn.
Electric bikes at any level? Again CBD stuff means one more sense for the senseless to ignore. No sound = no presence for many.
Go for a bike session at a training facility to see if it’s for you. But follow the suggestions (defensive riding, protective clothing, the person in front is an idiot etc, stay in sight i.e. no blind-spot riding) and you should enjoy :wink:

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When our son was learning to drive, I said to him to always imagine what the most idiotic thing the drivers in front of you can possibly do and then wait for them to do it.

He later told me that it worked for him.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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Disagree, one has to assume that everyone else on the road is one…or out to kill you.

Riding defensively is a safer way to ride.

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Which is why we ensured that our son completed a defensive driving course.

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