Much of the focus when you say the words “motor” and “cycle” together is on the larger displacement engine versions. However, in Europe and in some parts of North America, there are classes of motorcycle licenses (often labeled learner or “limited” depending on where you are) that allow those under 18 the chance to ride and learn.
As well, there is an entire segment of motorcycling that is squarely aimed at the scooter. While many may not think of scooters as motorcycles, by the absolute purest definition of the term, they have a wheel powered by motor and earn their spot. Indeed, in many parts of the world, especially in SouthEast Asia and continental Europe, scooters are the primary method of commuting.
In today’s list, we’ll be going over the best 50cc motorcycles and lower range scooters that are 100cc or less in displacement. These are suitable for European learners on AM or CBT licenses, or those who have their full endorsement but want a fun, easy scooter to do minor errands on.
7: 2021 Aprilia RS 50 E4 (Europe and UK only)
Aprilia is a brand that, while not having the largest rider base in North America, is still quite popular. Unfortunately for us, we do not get their funky little scooter, nor do we get their lower displacement models such as the superb RS 50 E4.
Designed to both look like a larger sportbike, as well as introduce learners to what an Italian sportbike can feel like, the RS 50 E4 is a two-stroke, 50cc masterpiece. While it may only have power that tickles at 9 HP, it isn’t skimping out on “big bike” amenities. A 6-speed manual shifter, inverted front sport shock, asymmetrical single shock rear swingarm, a full aluminum frame, and brakes with ABS and a 4 piston caliper up front.
6: 2021 Rieju MRT50 SM
Rieju is a name that is not well known at all in the USA and Canada, which is a bit disappointing. The Spanish brand has been around for several decades, and at least in the EU is well known for making smaller displacement street and dirt bikes that can take a beating and still run flawlessly.
The 2021 MRT50 SM, however, is quite possibly their best sub-100cc bike in years. Unsurprisingly, the SM in the name stands for SuperMoto. While 50cc’s may seem a bit small for such a bike, the MRT50 SM is hilariously capable of everything you would ask a bigger SM to do.
In Europe and the UK, this is a bike that is fully under the AM and CBT rules and, because of its 6-speed manual transmission and peppy little 50cc, will help those 16 and older learn to ride an SM. It’s also not marked as EU and UK only, as while it is not officially listed on Rieju’s US or Canadian sites, there are a lot of murmurings and a few examples of interested buyers being able to import one officially through Rieju dealers.
5: 2022 Honda Metropolitan
Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, a lot of urban scooters were sold that combined stylish Euro-retro looks with modern equipment and drivetrains. Honda, seeing this, decided to come out with their own version of a Euro-style scooter in 2002 with the Metropolitan. It was shelved in 2009, but reintroduced in 2013 with a fuel-injected four-stroke that garnered a lot of attention.
By switching from a two-stroke to a four-stroke, and from carburetor to fuel injection, the Metropolitan became the class of the field, with smooth power and much less of an annoying buzz. It gained society’s attention as well, as a few celebrities throughout the 2010s have been seen zipping about on their little Metropolitans in Hollywood.
For the common layperson, however, what the Metropolitan offers is a smooth-riding, decently zippy little scooter, with the classic looks of retro European, and the durability and reliability of a Honda. And for the new 2022 model, the transmission has been changed to Honda’s all-new V-Matic belt drive unit, which seamlessly shifts to the correct gear for the power you need, seamlessly and without disturbing the rider.
4: 2021 Vespa Sprint 50 4S3V
Vespa is a name that, in North America, was close to becoming synonymous with “scooter.” Thankfully, other brands realized that there was indeed a scooter market in the USA and Canada, and, as the saying goes, “competition drives innovation.”
While the Vespa name has been around for just about 75 years, the Sprint is a relatively new scooter offering from them. Starting in 2014, the Vespa Sprint is a little urban scooter that is meant to be the retro-styled bike that no one notices. While the Primavera 50 model may be the high fashion statement of the Vespa lineup, the humble Sprint is just there to get you from point A to point B and back again, comfortably, safely, and, if you really want to look closely, stylishly.
It’s this delineation between the Sprint and the Primavera that really sold us on the Sprint 50, with it’s new 4S3V Euro 4 compliant engine. The Primavera is the Vespa to be seen on under 100cc, and is a bit flash. The Sprint 50 is what you need in a scooter, nothing more, nothing less, and is noted in many reviews to be as reliable as any scooter from the Big Four Japanese manufacturers, which is incredibly high praise indeed.
3: 2021 Kymco Agility 50
We did mention that SouthEast Asia is a popular place for scooters to be sold, and Taiwanese manufacturer Kymco definitely proves it. Across their massive lineup of scooters, the Kymco Agility 50 is their pure “have fun and enjoy life” type model. It has a peppy little 49cc engine that can get the little bugger rolling in fine style and has a surprisingly plush and comfortable seat.
What makes it even better is that unlike a one-speed automatic as many scooters have, it has a pretty ingenious implementation of the CVT transmission you can get on some cars nowadays. This transmission will keep the engine in the best part of its power curve, giving you ample twist and go thrust without hitting revs high enough to burst an eardrum. It also features a full front disc brake instead of the standard drum brakes that come on many scooters, making it feel like a high-end luxury scooter.
Oh, and did we mention it sells for under $2,000 USD new? And has 104 MPG? A bargain and a half for a superb, durable scooter that also looks nice too.
2: 2021 Piaggio Liberty S 50 E4
When you talk about scooters, it is inevitable that a Piaggio model will appear on the list. Long term scooter builders and masters of keeping classic Italian looks melding with modern shapes, the Liberty S 50 E4 is just their latest in a long line of successful urban scooters.
Much like the Kymco above, for 2021 the scooter comes with both a front disc brake and a CVT transmission. What separates it from the Kymco is that the Piaggio comes with fully fledged ABS, and has a wide front fascia that is aerodynamically sculpted to allow for decent airflow around the legs, without allowing rain or road debris in.
The Liberty S 50 E4 also features an especially spacious two-up seat, with plush cushioning for both the driver and pillion. And, being from Italy, it has ample underseat storage and a handy shopping bag hook behind the front shield. The best of Italian style in a great package.
1: 2022 Honda Ruckus
Honda, as of late in both the automotive and motorcycle worlds, has been rediscovering the efficient, reliable fun that was part of what made them popular in the first place. Even 10 years ago, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade or the Civic Type-R would never have even made it past the board of directors. In 2021, however, we have both. And in the middle of 2021, we’re also getting the revamped and added-fun Ruckus.
The venerable Ruckus has been around for a while, and it has taken both the best and worst of treatment and just kept trucking along. In the 2022 model, the Ruckus will gain an all new, lighter weight starter with an automatic choke that will help the engine kick over in cold weather. It also has had its suspension reworked minutely, with a half-inch longer rear suspension to absorb bumps much better. The front is still a twin-downtube fork with 2 inches of travel.
New colors are coming as well, in Midnight Blue with Tan subframe, Gray, and White with Pearl Blue seat bars. No matter what color combo you go with, however, you’re sure to have an absolute blast on the fun little beast of a scooter.