Getting Your Groceries Home on Two Wheels

Scooter cargo space is essential, whether you’re commuting to work, grocery shopping, or even toting your significant other to the movies. Let’s take a look at the cargo carrying capabilities of various scooters to help you decide which models meet your needs.

Scooters vary in their ability to carry cargo or store items like helmets and covers. You’ll find some scooters pre-installed with enough options to suit your needs, and others will come as a blank canvas with a wide array of add-ons available to help you haul your goods.

Even if you don’t need all your storage solutions immediately, be sure your potential scooter has options for expanding to accomodate your lifestyle. Read on for the details.

What Do You Need to Carry?

When deciding how much cargo space you need, it’s helpful to think about how you’ll be using your scooter. If you’re an urban professional using your scooter for commuting, you likely have different needs than the avid camper using their scooter as a get-away vehicle.

As an active girl on the go, my scooter needs lots of storage options to support my myriad activities. On a typical day, I have my messenger bag with laptop, a canvas tote of groceries, an extra layer of clothing, two helmets and extra pair of gloves. (I’ve also been known to cart home Ikea purchases on my Vespa GTS using packing twine laced through the scooter’s chrome crash bars.)

When I got my Vespa GTS, “Aphrodite,” the only storage space she had was the under-seat compartment and a factory-installed mini rear rack. The rack provided about enough space for a box of cereal – not very useful when you’re doing all your grocery shopping on two-wheels.

I decided a topcase, or rear trunk, would be best for some of my items. Topcases come in many sizes and colors, lock shut to protect your cargo, and are water resistant (not waterproof, as I discovered at the car wash!). If the scooter you have in mind features a rear rack – or the ability to have one installed – a topcase may be a great option for you.

The Vespa brand topcase I bought came with hardware that bolted directly to Aphrodite’s existing rear rack. My topcase fits two 3/4 helmets plus a small tote. When the helmets are on our heads, the topcase fits my large messenger bag and a picnic blanket. It’s the perfect size for my needs.

I chose a Vespa brand topcase because it had a passenger backrest and matched the color of my scooter – metallic midnight blue. But there are other manufacturers with universal product lines that fit most scooters, and they will likely be much cheaper. You pay extra for that Vespa logo!

To further expand my cargo carrying capabilities, I installed a front chrome rack on the GTS which is great for carrying a bedroll or bag of groceries. I’ve even used it to carry flats of flowers home from the nursery.

Scooter Cargo Capabilities Vary

Some scooters don’t offer much in the way of storage aside from the rear rack and topcase option, but you may just need a spot to tuck a small bag of goodies on your way home from the store. Stella scooters and P-series Vespas have an amazing array of add-ons available, from front racks to glove box trays and luggage rolls that mount on the rear rack.

Genuine Buddys also have quite a selection of both front- and rear-mounting storage options, so any of these scooters could easily meet your cargo needs.

One of the most cargo-friendly scooters I’ve found is the Honda Big Ruckus, which has a fold-down passenger seat that makes way for an enormous storage area and easily accommodates double rear luggage carriers so you can fit everything you need for a weekend in the woods – tent included!

Storage Standard on Most Scooters

Most scooters include the following cargo carrying capabilities, but their size and functionality vary scooter to scooter so be sure you examine a few different models to get an idea of what’s available.

  • Mini Rear Rack

    Most scooters come with a small rear rack already installed just behind the seat. You can strap your bag to that with bungee cords, attach a chrome bicycle-style basket, or go for the cheapie ubiquitous milk crate secured with zip-ties.

    I’ve seen some pretty creative rear rack solutions, including a Stella with a garbage can bolted to the rear rack – perfect for filling with ice and refreshments to be enjoyed at the destination after a long ride. If you opt for an add-on topcase (covered below), it will be mounted to this mini rear rack.

  • Glove box

    The glove box of some scooters is just big enough for, well, your gloves – and little else. If there’s room, the glove box is a great spot for a mini tool kit. (In fact, some new scooters come with a tool kit stashed the glove box.)

    Some glove boxes offer more cargo space than others; I can fit my small messenger bag in the glove box of my Stella, along with a fleece hoodie, while the glove box of my Vespa ironically lacks room for even my gloves. I do have big hands, but still.

  • Helmet & grocery hooks

    You may find a hook under the edge of your seat or even on the legshield of your scooter that’s capable of hanging your helmet on while you’re in the store and a small bag of groceries when you come out.

    These hooks can be handy while parked, but bags can interfere with your feet while riding – especially dangerous if your scooter has a foot brake. Before you hit the road, it’s wisest to secure your cargo to the appropriate rack where it’s out of your way.

Under-seat storage

Not all cargo space is created equal! The under seat compartment may be roomy and perfect for your sweatshirt, but not for your ice cream. Why? In many scooters, the engine is located just below it. The under seat storage provides a toasty spot to stick your gloves when you park so they’re warm when you put them back on.

But stow the wrong groceries under the seat and you’ll arrive home with par-boiled produce. In fact, there’s a recipe for Helmet Bucket Chili which you can make in your Vespa under-seat compartment. I’ve had better chili, but you can’t beat the novelty of cooking in your scooter.

The under-seat storage is a great spot to store your helmet, if it fits. I have four helmets and only one fits under the seat of my GTS. But Aphrodite’s under-seat storage compartment is spacious enough for my rain gear, an extra fleece layer and a selection of bungee cords.

The Stella and P-series Vespas have no under-seat storage because the gas tank is located there, but as I mentioned earlier, the glove box is very roomy on these scooters to compensate.

If the scooter you have in mind doesn’t quite meet your cargo-carrying needs, never fear! There are tons of accessories you can have your dealer or shop install – or you can do it yourself. Check the scooter manufacturer to find out if the accessories are available for the model you’ve got your eye on. Popular scooters like Vespas, Buddys and Stellas have limitless possibilities for cargo add-ons.

Secure Your Cargo and Be Safe!

One last note – no matter what you’re carrying or where you’re carrying it, always secure your load safely. Be careful of where your load is situated – down low and toward the back makes for the most stable ride. Make sure the weight of your cargo is balanced evenly on the scooter, and never exceed the weight recommendations of various racks.

Improperly stowed cargo can endanger your life. I’ll post soon on best practices for carrying cargo safely.