Cost-efficient scooters offer surprising power and versatility

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A Vespa GTS 300 Super.

The Vespa GTS 300 Super can reach speeds of up to 80 mph. (Public Domain/Thunderbird/Wikipedia)

In a world where fuel costs are out of sight and the newest automobiles, trucks and SUVs are prohibitively expensive, city dwellers who want powered personal transportation without a huge price tag still have a great option. Two-wheeled scooters remain popular for city driving, and they are increasingly fuel-efficient. If you are in the market for a scooter, consider one of the following.

Vespa GTS 300 Super

A ubiquitous name among the scooter set, the Vespa GTS 300 Super clocks in at about $6,199. The basic design of the Vespa has changed very little over the past seven decades, but the GTS 300 Super houses a 278-cc single engine that can move the scooter at speeds up to 80 mph. That’s serious torque for an urban scooter, although this Vespa tends to use more gasoline than its counterparts. At 70 mpg, it sacrifices economy in its class for power, although it still beats a hybrid car by many miles.

Zoom the Zuma, economically

For a mere $2,540, the Yamaha Zuma 50F is among the most economical of top-class scooters available. Yamaha has sold more than 79,000 of these since it was introduced in 1989, an indication of its popularity. With modern style updates and a fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 49-cc four-stroke engine, this Zuma is a looker with some gas. Fuel economy is estimated at 132 mpg, which is understandable because the top speed is a sluggish 40 mph.

Luxury class scooter with BMW style

At $10,000-plus, the BMW C 650 GT is a pricey scooter, the first that BMW has attempted in the U.S. market, along with the C 600 Sport. Both scooters will make their U.S. debut this fall and mark the first time that a German automaker has challenged traditionally Japanese brands. Both carry a 647-cc twin-cylinder mill that produces 60 hp, as well as standard ABS. All-day rides are most comfortable on the GT’s larger, lower seat. The GT also has floorboards, adjustable backrest and electric windscreen. As such, the scooter can compete with small-engined motorcycles.

Honda carves up the road

The Honda PCX is priced at a reasonable $3,399, and its 125-cc engine is worth every penny. Large 14-inch wheels help alleviate the typical handling issues many scooters have, and linked rear-to-front brakes make stopping a smooth affair. There’s even ample storage room with a large underseat area. Keep in mind with the PCX that because of the storage area, the gas tank holds only 1.6 gallons. However, at 110 mpg, fill-ups are still relatively infrequent.

Helium scooter goes electric

The Evolve Helium brings the EV experience to the scooter market at the reasonable price of only $2,900. Evolve is the same maker who created a battery-powered version of the Tron Light Cycle as a $55,000 novelty, and the Helium is much more practical. It’s LiFe PO4 battery powers the scooter at speeds of up to 40 mpg for a range of 45 miles. For $1,500 more, an upgrade can be applied that boosts the range to 110 miles. For scooter drivers looking for app entertainment, the Evolve Helium offers a smartphone app with GPS that is particularly good at locating EV charging stations.

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Boxx it up

Avant-garde style at $3,995 is what the Boxx has to offer in spades. It may literally look like a box – or, as Popular Mechanics calls it, a space heater – but the Boxx uses spare design to its advantage. Weld-free construction in aluminum makes the Boxx weigh only 120 pounds, and the small electric motors are located in the wheels. Storage is also exceedingly simple. It can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph for about 20 miles, or 40 miles in Eco mode. An add-on lithium-polymer battery for $599 doubles that range. This Boxx will open in the U.S. come the fourth quarter of 2012.

This scooter is a Boxx


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