THE Italians have known it for decades, and there was a moment in the Sixties when the British youth cottoned on too – when it comes to motorised transport, there is nothing cooler than a scooter. It took the Japanese to turn this convenient, two-wheeled style statement into something sleek, modern and ultra-dynamic – the perfect urban transport for busy commuters, and in the era of the congestion charge they’ve really come of age.
The normal London scooter type is the 125cc, with a top speed of 60-70mph (traditional 50cc scooters are restricted to 30mph). The beauty of mopeds is how quick off the mark they are, enabling you to keep up with the traffic as you move off from junctions and traffic lights. And since motorbikes and scooters are now allowed in many of the capital’s red route bus lanes, you can whiz past rush hour traffic jams, allowing yourself a smug grin as you glance at those fuming in their cars. Here are some of the best models out there.
SUZUKI BURGMAN 125
Known as the Skywave in Japan, Suzuki's sleek and futuristic Burgman is easy to handle and look the essence of modern cool. There’s room for two helmets in the generous underseat storage compatment.
VESPA LX 125
It still doesn't get any more chic than the Italian company's retro-flavoured, unmistakable scooters. Elegant and hi-tech despite its old-school design, it remains the ultimate two-wheeled head-turner.
This nippy, award-winning scooter wins extra points for the agility and nimbleness of its handling. A smaller bike than most with 10 inch wheels instead of 12, it’s perfect for buzzing around town and good value too.
It may sound like a plane, but this is a sturdy and comfortable urban scooter, with a distinctively shaped front cowl section that adds extra wind protection for windy days.
PIAGGIO MP3 LT
There's nothing else quite like it, but the three-wheeled MP3 has developed quite a following since launching in 2006. You can get versions up to 500cc, enthusiasts claim its design enhances stability and stopping distance. A plug-in hybrid version launched last autumn.