The closest I ever came to owning a scooter was when I sort-of bought a Vespa in a silent auction in 2006. I say sort-of because I realized the next morning I actually couldn’t afford it, and that my bid was impulsive. Fortunately, the auctioneers were friends and I never had to pay up.  Of course there are still times when I muse over what could have been: me, zipping through Manhattan, hair blowing in the wind, getting to work in eight minutes flat and never again dealing with subway congestion.

I digress.

Presenting… Consumer Reports’newest survey of top-performing scooters and motorcycles. It’s the first time the group has researched this category since 1981. Why bring it back now? Try the skyrocketing demand for modes of transportation with lower fuel needs than autos.

Fewer Wheels, More Fuel Bill Savings
CR tested a total of eight models: three 50cc scooters for beginners, three scooters in the 125cc to 150cc range and two 250cc entry-level  motorcycles.  All vehicles cost between about $1,000 to $4,400 and deliver as much as 100 miles per gallon at a steady cruise.

Models from Italy’s Vespa and Taiwan’s Kymco achieved the highest overall ratings, with the Vespa LX 50 leading the 50cc category.  The bigger-engined Vespa LX 150 and Kymco People 150 share best overall ratings. They’re “well-rounded, easy-to-ride machines, with responsive handling and easy maneuverability,” reports CR.

Among motorcycles, Kawasaki Ninja 250, a beginner's sports bike, won a higher score than the Honda Rebel, (Stock Quote: HMC) thanks to a more powerful engine and better highway driving performance.

Scooters and motorcycles were surveyed based on performance in various categories including acceleration, braking, fuel economy, noise/vibration, top speed and comfort, among others. 

Reality Note: That hair blowing in the breeze part was me dreaming. If I ever get a scooter, I will also get a helmet:  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2006 motorcyclists were about 37 times more likely to die in a crash per driven mile than someone riding in a passenger car. Gas savings is one thing, but safety first!

—Catch more of Farnoosh’s advice on Real Simple. Real Life. on TLC, Friday nights at 8.