Not everything on two wheels needs to be the fastest, the most powerful, or even the most sleek. There is an entire world of two wheeled fun to be had at 50cc’s.
Unfortunately in North America, the 50cc motorcycle has mostly been relegated to youth oriented dirt bikes. However, in Europe, due to how their tiered licensing works, 50cc motorcycles are alive and well.
That being said, in today’s list, I will rank the top 5 scooters that are available in North America, and a couple of honorable mentions for our European friends that I think are the best 50cc motorcycles you can buy on that continent, appropriate for an AM or CBT license holder.
#7: (Europe Only) 2020 Lexmoto Aspire 50 E4
Lexmoto, out of the UK, produces the Aspire 50 E4, and personally, I love the look of it. It takes the concept of a junior streetfighter and makes it accessible to AM or CBT license holders. Powered by a 49cc single that puts out 3.0 HP, mated to a 4 speed sequential, the Aspire 50 E4 can reach 35 MPH, although it will struggle to maintain that speed.
However, in most European cities, realistic traffic speeds are more around the 25-30 MPH range, making this bike perfect for the young learner to gain valuable experience without getting up to a speed that could be considered outright lethal. Best of all, the motorcycle is fully Euro4 compliant for emissions and scores as a 50cc moped/scooter for insurance, meaning you won’t have to sell your left kidney to afford it.
#6: (Europe Only) 2020 Aprilia RS 50
Many of us at BestBeginnerMotorcycles want this motorcycle to be available in North America. Alas, it is not sold here. Available in most of Europe as an entry level AM or CBT license compliant motorcycle, the Aprilia RS 50 shows that even a beginner can have a great looking, sporty Italian bike in their stable.
Even better, it is a Euro4 compliant 2 stroke 50cc, giving it that classically rough and naughty exhaust note at idle and a full on scream at redline. With a spunky 8.4 HP on tap, the RS 50 comes packed with most features you’d expect on a full supersport, such as a full 6 speed sequential manual, inverted front fork, a monoshock asymmetrical rear swingarm, 300mm front brake with 4 piston caliper (218mm rear with a single piston), and a full aluminum frame.
#5: 2020 Vespa Primavera 50 CC
The 2020 Vespa Primavera 50 CC makes #5 on this list mostly because it has taken the (honestly) long-toothed look of the traditional Vespa models, and given it a bit of a modern stroke. Still classically European and harkening back to the middle 20th century, the style has a few new angles along the side of the cargo compartment and grab bar, and a newer, rakish front fairing.
Remaining is the traditional circular front headlamp, circular mirrors, and retro style gauge cluster. The Primavera 50 CC is powered by a 50cc single, and puts out 4.1 HP. It will get you to 35 MPH, but will struggle a bit to hit 40 MPH. As well, with a 2.1 US gallon tank and only 81 MPG, it has the lowest efficiency rating of any of the scooters presented today.
On top of that, Vespas are quite pricey, with the Primavera 50 CC starting at $3,999 before any options or accessories. On the flip side, Vespas do retain their market value well, so if you do sell it after a few seasons, they can command a bit of a premium.
#4: 2020 Piaggio Liberty S 50
The Piaggio Liberty S 50 is a great Italian scooter designed for the city. While there is a non-S version of the Liberty, the S model gets the nod because it has more quality-of-life items on it over the standard.
Both Liberty 50 models are powered by a 50cc four-stroke single that puts out 3.2 HP, which won’t get you much over 35 MPH. The S, however, has a slightly stronger rear shock, nice chrome touches everywhere, a ventilated disc front brake, and a USB charging port built-in, so you can run a GPS or charge your phone in your pocket while riding.
#3: 2020 Honda Metropolitan
A stylish answer to the barrage of European scooters, the 2020 Honda Metropolitan combines European elements with Japanese engineering and reliability to offer a great scooter to the American market.
Aimed squarely at the cosmopolitan rider, Honda themselves state that the Metropolitan is meant to give you some fun back into your day while looking good doing so. Using a 49cc single shared with the Honda Ruckus minimalist scooter, it has 4.5 HP and 3.4 lbs-ft of torque that will get you up to 40 MPH, more than enough for most city streets.
I appreciate that Honda practiced a bit of Japanese restraint with the Metropolitan. To me, most European scooters go hard for the full retro look. Honda pulled back from that, giving their scooter some lines and curves that suggest retro, without looking 60 years old.
#2: 2020 Honda Ruckus
There is something to be said about keeping it simple. For 2020, Honda continues its successful minimalist, rough-and-tumble Ruckus scooter. Powered by a 49cc liquid cooled engine that puts out 4.5 HP and 3.4 lbs-ft of torque, it’s not going to blow your face off with acceleration or top speed, but that’s not what it’s meant to do.
The Ruckus is meant to survive a harsh existence. The floorboards and cargo shelf are durable plastic to give good grip and resist water. The seat is sealed for the same reason, so moisture does not get inside into the foam. The frame may look a bit iffy, but it can survive pretty much anything thrown at it and gives the little street warrior a lot of agility.
Put simply, the Ruckus is a success and a great scooter because it’s ready for the real world.
#1: 2020 Piaggio Typhoon 50
The 2020 Piaggio Typhoon 50 takes the #1 spot for one reason alone: balance.
“What do you mean?” I can already hear the question. By balance, I am meaning that it doesn’t sway too far one direction or another. It doesn’t have the largest cargo compartment. It doesn’t have the most retro styling, nor does it push too far into the weird shapes some scooters can take. It’s a balance of all things in the right proportions.
It can be ridden calmly and maturely through a commute. It will happily take a few corners enthusiastically if a younger rider was to sit upon it, or if the mature rider needs a bit of pep in their commute. It can do both. Again, balance.
The only place where it is one of the biggest is in the fuel tank, with a 1.8 US gallon tank that is considered huge for the 50cc class. And with a claimed 144 MPG, that will get you 200-250 miles depending on your riding style.
And the only place where it’s at the smaller end of balance is the price, starting at $1,999.
NOTE: If having a bit more recognizable name on the scooter matters, you can get this bike as the Aprilia SR Motard 50 for $200 more, or $2,199, as Piaggio owns Aprilia.