- Created: 27 May 2015
With the smallest engines available, 50cc bikes are among the cheapest bikes – and cheapest motor vehicles full stop – to both buy and insure. In the UK, 50cc bikes, scooters and mopeds can be ridden from the age of 16, giving many young people their first taste of freedom and their first opportunity to get out on the roads.
The minimum requirements to ride a 50cc bike is the completion of Compulsory Basic Training, and passing theory and practical tests. Riders aged 16 will have to display L-plates at all times, until they turn 17 and pass the practical and theory riding tests.
The bike must also be insured and taxed, and you can view information about the tax bands that apply to motorbikes on the Gov.uk website. You will see that the 12 month rate for a bike under 150cc is currently at £17.
Picking the right 50cc bike can be tricky, especially if it's your first time purchasing one. Basic models like Vespas and Lambrettas look timelessly stylish and will let you nip in and out of traffic quite nicely, but aren't so good for long hauls. Sportier models will have better brakes and suspension – better for country roads – but don't have as good luggage capacity or weather protection as larger executive scooters. However, larger models will be heavier and not quite as easy to manoeuvre or park up. You will need to make sure there's enough space to store your helmet and wet weather gear, so consider a top box if you pick a model with less space under the seat.
Size is also important – if you're particularly small or tall you may find that your ideal model doesn't quite fit you right. Make sure the seat is the right height for you to sit comfortably and stably, but also make sure your knees don't hit the handlebars.
Most importantly, be sure you research your choice of ride carefully, go and take a look at one at a dealership even if you're buying online, and make sure it's the right choice for you.
Not only is a 50cc often a young rider's first taste of freedom, it's also their first taste of insurance. A bit less exciting, but absolutely essential to get right – you can't get out on the road without it, and if you don't get a good deal you could be paying too much for inadequate cover. An insurance broker could present you with a range of options – they may even be able to find you deals that you would miss out on if you were searching yourself.
Fortunately, thanks to their smaller engines, 50cc motorbike insurance is often among the cheapest – it's totally different to a gas-guzzling cruiser, so why should it cost the same? Make sure you pick an insurer who knows the difference between different kinds of bikes.
There are a lot of different kinds of insurance cover. Third party only insurance covers the costs of the other person and/or vehicle involved in an accident, but none of your own – it'll save you from paying someone else's bills, but you'll have to take care of your own.
You can extend third party cover to include fire and theft, which will pay out if your bike is stolen or damaged by fire, but still won't cover your bike if you're in an accident. For that level of cover, you'll need a fully comprehensive policy – it will cost more, but will pay out the cost of damage to your vehicle as well as any third party claims made against you.
Many insurance brokers will offer plenty of extras – some free, and some for a fee – so be sure to pick the deal that you will get the most out of. At Carole Nash, for example, we offer accessory cover^, breakdown recovery, up to £100,000 legal expenses cover^^, up to 90 days European cover and some great security features.
But more than anything else, don't lose sight of why you're doing all of this – to get out on the road! So make sure you enjoy the ride, as much as you can.
^ Limits apply
^^ In the event of an accident that isn't your fault