Do you have to know how to ride a motorcycle in order to ride a motor scooter?

by Diane
(Albuquerque, NM, USA)

I want to purchase a motor scooter but don't know how to ride one. Do you have to take lessons like with a motorcycle or can you just get on and ride like a bicycle?


ANSWER: Well, Diane, no and no. You don't have to take motorcycle lessons to ride a scooter. Actually, today's "modern" scooters are quite a bit simpler to ride than most motorcycles, because they have automatic (4-stroke) transmissions. They are considered "twist n' go", meaning that all you have to do to start them, is put the key in the ignition, twist the right handgrip and go.

However, riding a scooter is actually very little like riding a bicycle, in my opinion, with the main difference being that the scooter is motor-powered, not foot-powered. So most people will benefit from some lessons, or at least protected practice in a safe environment (not on the main road).

I learned to ride my scooter (having never been on anything motorized before, other than a car) by riding it very slowly first on my street in a quiet development, and then in a local parking lot.

So, yes, you can learn to ride it. Just be sure you have your head on straight and learn how to operate it safely before you start going 35 mph or faster on heavily-trafficked roads!

Comments for Do you have to know how to ride a motorcycle in order to ride a motor scooter?

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Mar 11, 2011
Take it slow and easy at first.
by: Rick Rudge

Hi Diane,

I'm new to scooters myself and have never ridden a motorcycle. I just got mine 10 months ago and like the moderator, I started out slow, mostly riding it around inside an empty school parking lot, then putting up plastic cups like traffic cones to practice maneuvering, and then venturing out onto the residential streets, and then graduating to the busier streets.

Soon, I was learning how to lean into turns and other techniques. There's a great book out "Proficient Motorcycling" by David L. Hough that you might be able check out at your local library (or better yet, buy it), that was a big help to me.

Also, most states have some kind of motorcycle safety classes that will be of great help to you. Best of luck and happy and safe riding.


Sep 20, 2010
by: Zoomie

Not everyone who has a scooter has ridden a motorcycle before. You're definitely not the only one in this situation. However, riding both requires a license in most states and even if it weren't required, it's highly recommended that you take lessons.

1. Motorcycles/scooters require the rider to countersteer to make a turn. To turn left, you actually turn the opposite direction and lean into the turn. It's difficult to explain, but is taught in classes/lessons. Not knowing this can get you into accidents when attempting to go in one direction, but the scooter initially goes into the wrong direction. A friend of a friend died doing this b/c he hadn't known this.

2. Larger consequences due to the weight. Bicycle falls on you, you'll be okay. If a 200+lb piece of metal falls on your leg, that's a different story.

3. Since these motorized vehicles go much faster, you really don't have the luxury of looking around like you do on a bicycle. Most accidents on scooters/motorcycles occur when the rider runs into something - not when something runs into them.

Mar 19, 2010
HEY! Look where you're Going!!!
by: Artist Bob

Literally: "Look where you are going, because you will go where you are looking". That is just one of the little gems of advice you can get from a Motorcycle Training Class. As a new rider it sure helped me, especially when making turns. Look exactly along the path you want to take. Be aware of your surroundings, but don't look (focus) at anything else.
If you are a fan of America's Funniest Home Videos then you have seen all those riders who drive into trees, vehicles, and bystanders. every one of them is looking right at the "target" that they hit.
Somehow your eyes and steering are tightly connected. You will go where you are looking. So look where you want to go. It will help in those tight turns...and keep you out of a 'funny' video later.

Dec 07, 2009
Get the Training!
by: Vic Kelly

Diane --

I rode a motorcycle for a number of years before graduating to a motor scooter. There was a 30 year gap between the two.

No, you do not have to learn to ride a motorcycle first, but there is a set of specialized skills, both mental and physical which must be mastered if you want a long and happy experience.

Yes, you should be able to ride a bicycle, but after the balance issue, the similarity fades.

Especially if you are going to go out and play in Albuquerque traffic (I've driven there, and it scares me), it would be a great idea to take a riding course for scooters - the community colleges here in AZ offer them, check the internet and community colleges in your town.

If scooter courses aren't available, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has courses all over the country, and the skills learned are easily transferable. What you learn is well worth the money, and it could keep you alive.

If you want a humorous picture of what a beginner goes through on a scooter check out

Scootering is a blast. Go for it!

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