Recent years have seen a surge of new and highly competent midi-scooters, which bridge the performance gap between the more restrictive 125cc machines at the lower end of the scooter class and the bigger 650cc versions.
While 125s can be ridden on L plates or an A1 licence, riders of these midi-scooters will need to pass a test before they can be ridden solo. For many, that’s worth it though, as the mid-range scooters offer enough performance and speed to mix it up on faster roads and the occasional bit of dual carriageway and motorway work with brilliant city handling. Add in the high levels of practicality you’d expect from a scooter and these new generation of powered two-wheelers make great tools for commuters who live out of town.
We’ve take a look at some of the best to round-up our top five from the class that falls between the 125cc and 650cc examples on sale.
Honda Forza 300
The new Honda Forza 300 is one of the newest offerings and has been given a fairly hefty makeover for 2018. That has propelled it to become one of the best in the class thanks to a quality finish, decent performance, practicality, an affordable price and frugal economy figures.
The work on the 2018 overhaul has transformed the Forza 300 into a much more sporty proposition and, along with a decent weight-loss of 12kg, the 24.8bhp generated by the four-stroke, single-cylinder engine is more than enough to produce performance that can beat cars off the line.
Honda has introduced traction control for the first time on a scooter and the ABS works well without ever getting in the way.
Miserly fuel consumption is one of the key attributes in this class. It achieves over 110mpg around the city and away from faster roads these numbers are easily achievable, which, combined with some tempting finance packages make the Forza 300 an ideal way of saving time and money on a commute.
Yamaha XMAX 300
Yamaha’s XMAX 300 sits between the XMAX 125 and the larger-capacity TMAX which is more than double the price of the smaller 300. Slightly weirdly, Yamaha also has an XMAX 400 but the 300 is the pick of the two as it offers almost everything the 400 does but for less money.
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The XMAX 300 is the sporty end of the mid-size scooter class yet it retains the practical side too with plenty of underseat storage and this practical nature is further enhanced by Yamaha’s offering of packs like a ‘Winter Pack’ and a ‘Sports Pack’ as bundles of discounted accessories.
With 28bhp from the four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, the XMAX 300 has plenty of zip and can easily fend off cars when it comes to getting away cleanly from a set of traffic lights. The extra performance offered by the 300cc engine over a 125cc is very noticeable on faster roads and, like all the scooters here, it can comfortably top the national speed limit.
ABS, classy looking clocks and two gloveboxes (one of which has a 12v charger port) are all aimed at making the XMAX 300 suitable for those using them for an across-the-city commute and potentially during the day between meetings.
Like most of the 300s, the NMAX 300 sips fuel and 115mpg plus fuel economy is easily achievable. Add in extra luggage options like a topbox and the XMAX 300 can really help with commuter duties.
BMW C400X and C400GT
BMW was a little later than most manufacturers to arrive in the midi-scooter class and there are now two separate versions of the C400 scooter; the C400X and the C400GT.
The German firm’s answer was a twist-and-go 350cc four-stroke, single-cylinder motor that generates 34hp which is a fair bit higher than rivals.
The difference between the two models is not that great but the price varies from just over £6000 for the X and £7000 for the GT. The prices are high when compared to Japanese rivals. Differences between the X and GT include a taller windscreen, more storage in the form of two gloveboxes up front and a larger capacity for the underseat storage on the GT too.
BMW has a clever ‘flexcase’ system for the underseat storage where a moveable floor to the storage area can be unlatched once the scooter is parked so you can cram more riding gear and a crash helmet easily.
The BMW trump card is the Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen which works with full smartphone integration so the rider can make and receive phonecalls and there’s also a BMW Connected Ride smartphone app that gives a basic satnav system on the full colour dashboard.
Suzuki Burgman 400
The Burgman 400 has been around for a few years but was given a hefty revamp for 2018 that brought it right up to the best class standards with better performance, a weight reduction and new styling.
The Burgman 400 (and there are smaller and larger versions too from 125 to 200 to 650cc) has always been a reliable mid-size scooter that works well in the role of a workhorse by combining practicality with comfort.
The latest version only builds on those capabilities with improved rider comfort thanks to a slightly higher riding position of 755mm but this has been combined with a reduced width to the seat and new footboards so getting a foot down when the scooter stops has been made easier.
Handling has been improved thanks to a larger 15” front wheel, replacing the previous 14” version, and combined with a completely new ABS system it gives a lot more confidence to the handling and braking. The new ABS system goes a long way to the total 7kg weight loss on the overall scooter.
Like many other mid-size scooters, the Burgman 400 manages to eke out the fuel over a surprisingly long distance with mid-70mpg average economy figures easily achievable.
Practical touches include a decent underseat storage area along with two front mounted gloveboxes with one having a 12v charging socket.
At £6499 the Suzuki Burgman 400 isn’t the cheapest of mid-size scooters available but it does still have a huge amount of appeal for those that need a workhorse to cover a reasonable commuting distance or those that want a scooter capable of covering some touring mileage.
Piaggio MP3 350
The Piaggio MP3 350 isn’t the first three-wheel scooter from Piaggio but it’s one of the most popular thanks to the reassurance and extra handling prowess from the leaning three-wheel layout.
These things are everywhere in European cities as they can handle the colder, wetter winter months in cities like Milan where poor road surfaces like bumpy cobbled streets can be more difficult to handle on a normal two-wheel scooter.
The MP3 350 replaces the previous 400 model and slots the single-cylinder 330cc engine from the Beverley scooter into the MP3 chassis. The new engine is more powerful than the 400cc motor it replaces but is lighter overall.
With 30bhp to move the MP3 350 – which is slightly heavier than a traditional scooter – performance is adequate rather than brisk but it’s still more than enough to carve through city traffic and stay ahead of cars in town.
If you want something that can handle riding throughout the worst of winter, the MP3 350 is a solid choice and the locking suspension system means you don’t even need to put your feet down when you stop at lights!