#19: The Fastest 50cc Scooter

Today’s question for Dr. Buzz and his panel of experts comes from Charlie M. in Florida:

I am interested in purchasing a 50 cc scooter. In Florida I will not need to get a license. I plan on using it within a five-mile radius. I would like to know the fastest stock (new or used) 50cc scooter. (I’d prefer some storage space if possible, but that’s not a priority.)

Dr. Buzz: That’s actually a really good question, nothing really springs to mind as “the fastest 50cc scooter,” and I have a good idea why, but first, let’s go to the panel and throw out some ideas (and we’d love to hear readers’ suggestions in the comments). My guess, without looking at any specs, would be an Aprila SR50, just because it costs twice as much as any other 50cc (aside from remarkably pokey metal-bodiedVespa 50s), but now that I look, it’s not particularly fast.

Havelock VanDerHook No, the SR50 isn’t all that fast. The fastest unrestricted 50cc scooter is probably the Derbi GP1 or older liquid cooled Kymco Super 9 with the rear disc brake.

Matmet Frietjes The Kymco People 50 is pretty fast too.

Havelock VanDerHook Some are a bit faster, some aren’t. It’s hard to tell which ones are ok. Their speedometers are really optimistic, too (“Piaggio Optimistic”) so you can’t trust anyone’s untested opinion. For sure, most current models are dogs. They’re very dumbed-down for emissions, so it takes replacement parts to get back to speed.

Dr. Buzz: Right, which solves the mystery of why we’re hard pressed to name any standout 50cc scooters: They’re all pretty slow, and engineered purposefully to be nearly equally slow. Manufactuers must comply with an ever-more-restrictive global collection of limitations on speed, horsepower and emissions, meaning most 50cc bike manufactuers restrict their bikes to produce a fraction of the power of which they’re capable. And as technology improves, they’re still getting slower. So you may want to track down a fin-de-millenium model, before everyone started underengineering so much. Sadly, there’s a lot more to it than that, some models have been criminally slow since they were introduced.

In most cases, derestricting your 50 changes the game. Derestriction is generally illegal, but a subtle, inexpensive, and reliable way to get more power out of many 50cc bikes. I’m famously an honest, law-abiding guy, but even I have my limits of doogoodery, and if I ever found myself stuck with a 50cc scooter, I’d derestrict it in the parking lot of the scooter shop before I rode it home. (These skills are also handy at go-kart tracks in Wisconsin Dells)

You specify you want to stay stock, but it’s always worth noting that there are many stages of modification, of varying levels of expense, complexity, reliability, and legality. Even if you have no interest in a flashy, screaming bike, there are things you could do–for not much money–that will give you an modest but undetectable (to the authorities) boost. That said, whatever the 50cc speed limit is in your area, you’ll want to be careful to stay under it under normal circumstances. The Denver scheme (snapping the “2” off your “250” badge) never ends well.

Havelock VanDerHook Also, just to be clear, you do need a driver’s license in Florida. Just not a special motorcycle or scooter endorsement (so says your DMV). So despite what the guy at the bar told you, a 50cc scooter won’t solve your DUI problems.

Dr. Buzz Why must you assume all 2strokebuzz readers are drunks?

Havelock VanDerHook Are they not?

Dr. Buzz OK, fair enough, but I’d like to think most of them have the common sense to not ride or drive drunk. And that brings me to the last point:

Whatever the law in your area, professional training, a motorcycle endorsement, a helmet and safe riding gear is still important, even if it’s not mandatory. Insurance is mandatory everywhere*. And don’t forget you’re not any safer on a 50cc than any other bike, in fact you’re less safe. The minivan bearing down on you in the rain doesn’t care about your paperwork, it’s your responsibility to become a safe and skilled rider!

Do you have a question for our so-called experts? Email Dr. Buzz! Your confidentiality is guaranteed.

Note: Dr. Buzz is an unlicensed, mostly-fictional doctor. Take his advice, and that of his team of experts, with a grain of salt.

*OK, just about everywhere, see comments, but like training and safety gear, it’s always a good idea.

6 thoughts on “#19: The Fastest 50cc Scooter”

  1. Insurance on a “motorized bicycle” is not mandatory in Tennessee (as many 50cc bikes are considered, here). Only requirements are valid operator’s license (any class), DOT helmet, mirror, headlight, taillight, brake light.

  2. The Genuine Buddy 50 will go 47 mph derestricted (you remove a washer placed between the exhaust port and the pipe). I know this because the dealer in Seattle derestricted all 50cc Buddys as part of the PDI and setup. That was as fast as my PX 150.

    In Washington, motorcyclists are not required to have insurance, but are financially responsible if something happens. You can post a bond with the Department of Licensing for something like $50K, but I imagine buying an insurance policy is a whole lot easier (and cheaper).

  3. I don’t buy the 47 mph figure. The buddy 50 is fast as any air cooled two stroke 50cc bike, if not faster than most. But I’ve heard this 47-50 mph figure tossed about and won’t believe it until I see it on GPS for myself. I’ve never experienced anything beyond the legitimately respectable 42 mph.

  4. Thanks for letting me back in illnoise!

    Yeah, I think that Buddy 50 had a 55lb. child on it on a steep downhill grade.

  5. How can you say that the Aprilia SR50 is not the fastest when it uses the same engine as the Derbi GP1.

  6. I have a 2002 MALAGUTI DUCATI Phantom F12 and I am 6’2 and 280lbs and it reached 47 mph on my gps,know on the other hand my son is185lbs and he hit 53 mph,I have to say this is the fastest scooter that is still restricted that I rode!! I also own a 2004 kymco super 9 lc when it was restricted it only did 28 mph but when I derestricted the bose dog on the cvt and disconnected the green wire it was a different animal!!! It went 55 mph this is a amazing machine! and will out rides any 50cc scooter in the world and I can say I drove and worked on 98% of the 50cc that I now about or heard of.

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