What’s The Best 150cc Scooter: A Beginner’s Guide To Finding The Perfect Scooter

In the market for a 150cc scooter? Well, we’ve got your back!

Today, we’ll be answering some common questions on owning scooters and we’ll even recommend some quality choices. Enjoy!


Is it legal to drive a 150cc scooter on the highway?

In the US, most states categorize 150cc scooters as “motor cycles”, which makes them highway legal, but only in principle, and then not in all states.  There are as many requirements for 150cc scooters to attain highway legal status as there are states, but from a legal perspective, most states seem to classify a highway-legal scooter as one that has an engine displacement of not less than 150cc.

It is however important to take note of the words, “seem to”, since there is no clear and unambiguous  rule that is valid in all, or even most states. Many states have additional requirements, such as that the scooter must be able to sustain the highway speed limit in force in that state, but in these states, this rule merely states that the scooter must be capable of that speed “on a level surface”, if they qualify that requirement at all.

Being able to keep up with traffic on a highway is vitally important from a safety perspective, which is perhaps why many states ban scooters that cannot do this from their highways.

More information on the speed limits currently in force in all 50 states.

Additionally, some states require 150cc scooters to have wheels of a specific diameter as a minimum requirement to qualify as highway legal scooters. Still other states combine the minimum speed requirement with specific wheel diameters, which means that a scooter that is highway legal in one state, may not highway legal be in another.

In view of the conflicting, and often confusing  requirements for 150cc scooters, we strongly recommend that you consult the authorities in your state to ensure that the scooter you buy is highway legal in your state.

Also note that apart from non-standardized requirements for highway usage of scooters themselves, licensing requirements for scooter operators  also differ widely from state to state, meaning that even if your scooter is highway legal, you, as the operator,  might not be.

More information on licensing requirements for scooter operators.

Having said all of the above, and assuming that a particular 150cc scooter is highway legal in any given state, there is another, equally important question that must be asked, which is:


Is 150cc enough for the average rider?

To answer this question we must first define the “average” rider. One rider may want to use his new  barely highway legal 150cc scooter to commute 20 (highway)miles between home and work  while another may want to get a similar scooter only to save gas while running errands and doing his weekly shopping, riding only on suburban streets.

There is a vast  gray area between these two extremes, which makes it virtually impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to the question of whether 150cc’s can deliver enough power under most, if not all conditions and circumstances. Therefore, we have prepared a list of questions that you need to ask yourself before you rush out to get a scooter. Ask yourself the following;

How much do you weigh?

This is important, since the heavier you are, the more power you need. For instance, if you weigh 250 lbs, and the scooter you want has a 300 lbs load limit, you will be operating the scooter at close to its limits, which has a severe impact on maximum speed, reliability and durability. Chances are you won’t have enough power in this case.

What speed do you need to travel at?

Will you need to keep up with highway traffic for significant portions of your daily trip or commute? Or will you be sticking to quiet residential streets, with maybe a short detour on city streets, where you also need to keep up with traffic, albeit slower traffic?

A good rule of thumb says that you have enough power if you can keep up with traffic while riding at ten, to fifteen miles per hour slower than the scooter’s rated maximum speed. If you can do this in both residential streets and on the highway, you have enough power, since speed is a function of power.

Will you be riding in flat, or hilly terrain?

Steep hills can significantly reduce a scooter’s speed in a very short distance, so if you cannot maintain highway speeds on hilly terrain, you don’t have enough power. Flat terrain is obviously not a problem, since the only thing you have to worry about is your own weight, but bear in mind that the weight of a passenger can have the same effect as a steep hill, so consider the problem of added weight when you go shopping for a 150cc scooter.

How often will you carry a passenger?

Bear in mind that if you are on the hefty side, the added weight of a passenger could put you over the maximum allowable load for a 150cc scooter, in which case you won’t have nearly enough power available to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Be sure to compare scooters, and to pick the model with the highest load carrying capacity.

Examining the above issues should enable you to decide if the power of a 150cc scooter is enough for your particular needs and circumstances, but bear in mind that you should always have a reasonable amount of power in reserve.

It would be a mistake to buy a 150cc scooter if you are going to be operating it at its limits of power and load carrying capacity, because it won’t last very long, you won’t be able to accelerate away from dangerous situations safely, and you won’t be able to stop safely, or in time to avoid a crash.


Choosing a 150cc scooter

To help you in the decision making process, we present you with three possible choices of scooters in the 150cc class.

There are of course thousands of possible choices, but we believe the three listed below offer excellent value for money, and are therefore worthy of consideration.


Tao-Tao PowerMax 150 Gas Scooter

Tao-Tao PowerMax 150 Gas Scooter

Although in the words of the manufacturer, “…when you leave Point A you’ll have to keep an eye out for point B or you’ll end up at Point Z before you know it!”, the 55 mph maximum speed of this scooter may disqualify it for highway use in some states.

This scooter comes about 90% pre-assembled. Instructions on how to attach the front wheel and handlebars are provided on DVD. The scooter comes with a free, matching cargo trunk.

NOTE: This scooter cannot be registered in California.


TaoTao LANCER-150

TaoTao LANCER-150 Gas Street Legal Scooter

At its current price of about $1000 (plus shipping to some states), the Lancer-150 scooter offers excellent value for money, although the four-stroke engine may not be as responsive as a comparable 2-stroke engine.

Be aware that this particular scooter is not street legal in some states, so be sure to check with the authorities in your state before ordering. Also note that due to stringent emissions regulations, this scooter cannot be registered in California.

The scooter comes about 90% pre-assembled. An instructional DVD on how to fit the wheels, handle bars, mirrors, and battery is included. The scooter comes with a free, matching cargo trunk.


TaoTao POWERMAX-150 Gas Street Legal Scooter

TaoTao POWERMAX-150 Gas Street Legal Scooter

For just over $1000 (including shipping), the TaoTao Powermax-150 Gas 150cc Scooter offers zippy performance for a 4-stroke engine, and fuel consumption figures that will make you wonder why you haven’t bought a scooter years ago. However, the scooter does not meet emissions regulations in several states, so be sure to check with the authorities in your state before ordering.


Warranty:  30-day manufacturer’s warranty on defective parts, and a full one-year warranty on the engine and transmission.

NOTE: Registration documents do not come with the scooter. All relevant documents are only available from the seller’s website.


One more thing

It is easy to make the mistake of thinking  that since a 150cc engine has three times the displacement of a 50cc engine, it must therefore have three times the power output and performance as well.

This is not always the case, and especially in the case of 4-stroke engines that are perceived to be “cleaner” than 2-stroke engines. This is rarely true, since the 150cc 4-stroke engines fitted to scooters very often have carburetors that cannot be adjusted, meaning that these engines are not legal in many states since they cannot meet, or be made to meet emissions standards.

In fact, the state of California has an almost blanket ban on small 4-stroke engines because they mostly do not emissions standards. Moreover, 4-stroke engines require high PRM’s to make their rated 10 or so HP, which not only makes them wear out faster, but also to use more fuel than a comparable 2-stroke engine.

Far be it from us to tell you what to buy, but you can save yourself a lot of money, time, and frustration by doing some research on the differences between 2-, and 4-stroke 150cc engines, and especially on issues like performance, reliability, and running/maintenance costs. You will find that the 2-stroke engine wins every time.

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  • Reply John Newton February 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I disagree totally with the scooter selections offered here. All are Chinese and all are pretty crappy.
    Your best manufacturers in the 125cc-175cc category are these:
    Vespa, Aprilia, & Piaggio (same company) Yamaha, Honda, Kymco, Genuine Scooter Co., and Sym.
    All of those manufacturers offer quality products. They are rated in no particular order other than to say that in my experience Aprilia is the least reliable of all of those.
    You would also do well to be a smart shopper and purchase a good scooter used.
    Best value for the money when you factor in maintenance costs are probably Honda & Yamaha. Their entries in this price range are all water cooled and durable. Genuine is the most zippy. SYM is comparable to the other two Taiwanese brands (Genuine and Kymco) but at a lower price.
    Don’t go Chinese, unless it is a Japanese manufacturer who uses a Chinese plant that they oversee. The Chinese bikes break down all the time. It just isn’t worth it.

  • Reply Sue May 31, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Thank you for the honest and helpful advice, John! I’m looking to purchase a scooter but I’m not quite sure where to start. Is there a specific website that provides various information for beginners? I’m not looking to spend more than $1500 on a scooter but is capable of being ridden on the highway and is at least 125 cc. I’d prefer a Honda or Yamaha for maintenance cost purposes.

  • Reply JP May 24, 2020 at 4:29 am

    I hope you followed John’s advice, not that ridiculous article. Not having Honda, Yamaha or the Piaggio group (and even the Taiwanese manufacturers) in the comparison is completely senseless. Or is it some kind of Chinese propaganda???

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