How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Scooter?

When you buy a new scooter, there more cost than just the MSRP. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How much do scooters cost?”

When calculating this important answer, you need to look at much more than just purchase price. It’s easy to overlook the price of required necessities like registration, a helmet, and first service.

Here’s what to expect when budgeting for your new purchase, including a real-world example.

Dealer Costs and Charges

When you buy at a dealership, additional costs are tacked on to the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP). Fees will vary by dealer, so be sure to ask yours for specifics. Here’s a rundown of possible expenses:

Set-up fees

These are the fees the dealer charges to get your scooter ready to take home. It can include unpacking the scooter, connecting all the lines and wiring, putting gas in it, charging the battery, and making sure it starts and runs. Start-up fees run an average of $300-$500.

Shipping

Freight or shipping is the cost of getting the scooter from the manufacturer to the showroom, or from the showroom to your home. The charge is also sometimes called “crating fee.”

If you are picking the scooter up at the dealership, you may or may not see this charge. Some dealers may fold this cost into the set-up fees. Others only charge shipping fees on special orders. If you can’t pick your scooter up at the dealership and need to have it delivered, the shipping will definitely cost extra.

Shipping fees run $150 to $500, depending on the distance and the dealer. Of course, overseas purchases cost even more to ship.

Registration

This is the cost of registering your scooter with your local deparment of motor vehicles and it’s what gets you your license plate, and/or your “tabs.” Another state-dependent fee, usually in the neighborhood of $50. States vary in their registration requirements. Some don’t require plates on 50cc scooters, some do. Check with your local DMV or DOL for state-specific details.

Title Fee

Your local department of motor vehicles charges to transfer the title from the dealer to you (or to your lienholder if you are financing your purchase). This charge varies by state but runs about $15 – $25 and is often added in with the Registration cost.

Sales Tax

If you have required sales tax in your area, this will be added to the purchase price. If you buy in a place that doesn’t have sales tax but you register the scooter in a place that does, you’ll still pay sales tax. For example, Washington has sales tax (a hefty 8.9%), but Oregon doesn’t. Even if I buy my scooter in Oregon, I will be charged Washington sales tax (or a “use tax”) when I register it here.

Scooter Insurance Policy

I consider insurance a required start-up cost, even though it’s not legally required everywhere. For example, my home state of Washington does not require insurance on scooters or motorcycles. However, as far as I’m concerned, insurance is a requirement.

Buying a cycle insurance policy, or adding your scooter to your existing auto policy, is dirt cheap and you would be a total moron to waive this protection. There are simply too many big risks out there to save $12 a month. So do yourself a favor and insure your vehicle. It only takes one phone call and fifteen minutes of your time.

If you are financing your scooter, comprehensive insurance coverage will be required by your bank or financing company. You will also need to provide them with proof of insurance once you get it. They give you a week or two to get coverage before they come take their scooter back.

Early Scooter Service

New scooters require their first service soon after purchase because the mechanic needs to be sure the engine is “run in” properly. Properly running-in your engine increases its life and the scooter’s reliability. Your owner’s manual should outline recommendations for running-in the scooter. For example, you want to avoid running it for long periods at full-throttle

Many models require the first service at around 600 miles. I put that milegage on my Vespa GTS the first week I had it. (I couldn’t help it – it was way too fun to ride!)

Routine scheduled service like this is not covered by your factory warranty. In fact, it’s usually required by your factory warranty in order to initiate coverage. Adhering to the manufacturer suggested service schedule is also required to keep your warranty valid going forward.

The cost of service varies depending on the model and your location, but the first service appointment will usually be around $150 and take an hour.

If you continue to rack up the mileage, the next service at 1200 miles can come up rather quickly. But skipping the early services will cost you more further down the line – and void your warranty – so be sure to have them done on schedule.

Essential Riding Gear

You’ll need a helmet and a pair of gloves at the very least, even if you decide to invest in the rest of the gear further down the road. A good helmet can be expensive – from $75 up to $300 or more depending on the kind. This is one area you should really splurge, because your brain can be pretty important to your quality of life.

Gloves do way more than just keep your hands warm. They improve grip and handling, protect your hands from debris, shield you from wind, rain and sun, and save your skin and bones should you go down.

Riding gloves can potentially increase your visibility if you wear gloves with reflective elements. (I’m a big fan of GloGlovs.) A good pair of gloves can run from $30 into the hundreds.

Scooter Cost Breakdown – Real World Example

Just to give you an idea of what you’re looking at when purchasing a new scooter, here are my personal details on my last factory-fresh purchase – a 2008 Vespa GTS 250cc scooter.

  • MSRP: $5,999.00
  • Dealer set-up: $500.00
  • Title: $25.50
  • Registration: $63.75
  • Sales tax: $587.75
  • TOTAL purchase price: $7,176
  • Insurance premium: $128.00 (paid once annually)
  • New helmet: $136.50
  • New gloves: $27.50
  • First service: $172.50 (1 week after purchase)
  • TOTAL start-up costs: $464.60

So the total cost of buying my new Vespa and all the start-up requirements was $7,640.

Which, you can see, is a little bit different than the MSRP of $5,999.

Keep in mind that the GTS is at the top of the new scooter price range. So if you’re buying a 50cc Buddy Scooter, for example, the MSRP would be $1,999 and the related costs proportionately lower.

When picking your price range and deciding on a budget, don’t forget to add these essentials into your calculations. You’ll also want to think about the non-required scooter start-up costs like topcases and windscreens, many of which you won’t want to live without!