The Honda Ruckus is an interesting scooter that provokes a lot of questions from people who do not ride. These people are curious and impressible, and I often find myself advising against choosing the Ruckus as a first scooter. This is why.

It’s sometimes unsafe to be on a slow scooter

I live in central Pennsylvania, where small towns and larger cities are separated by a lot of rural terrain in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains. Many of these back roads have 45 MPH speed limits, and that means a lot of vehicles are traveling 48 to 52 MPH. Many of these drivers will be annoyed if traffic causes them to reduce their speed to 30 to 40 MPH, which is exactly what a Ruckus (or any 49cc scooter) does.

Drivers are mostly predictable, and it’s easy for me to tell when a vehicle behind me is annoyed with the speed of my scooter. Anytime a driver is annoyed with your choice of a slower vehicle, you’re in a bad spot. Angry drivers are less safe, and when you’re on a Ruckus, you do not have the option to get away from situations that make you uncomfortable. You can’t create distance between you and other vehicles. This is the advantage of the motorcycle or larger scooters in traffic over all other vehicles on the road. If someone wants to tailgate you on a 49cc scooter, there’s not much you can do besides pull over and let them pass. This is a bad choice, too, however, because any vehicle that sees someone passing you decides that they should pass you as well. Suddenly, every vehicle behind you is tailgating your scooter until they have an opportunity to pass. You sweat.

It takes a while to reach that top speed

You might be thinking that most of the roads you use are 35 or 45 MPH speed zones, so this warning does not apply to your situation. The Ruckus’ top speed is 40mph, but the average speed of the Ruckus is more like 25-30 MPH. To hold the top speed, the Ruckus needs a completely flat or downhill grade. Any uphill grade will prevent the scooter from reaching it’s top speed, and most hills will hold you to less than 30 MPH.

The Ruckus’ slow speed is one reason I love it

Riding the Ruckus forces me to carefully consider my route. Avoiding highways and busy 45 MPH roads is part of the fun for me. I get to explore roads I usually would not use, and my common commutes are all different on the Ruckus than they are while in my car or on my DR650. The slow top speed makes riding the scooter a creative endeavor, and I enjoy this. Most of my riding on the Ruckus and familiar roads is full throttle. If I can’t take a turn at full throttle, I practice it on my commutes until I can. It’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.

Certainly, if you are a city dweller in the flat midwestern USA, go for it. I’ve written before that the Ruckus is the best vehicle in a 35 MPH zone, and that could cover a large majority of city riding. There are many more reasons to love this scooter. 110 miles per gallon of gasoline is really nice.

As a new rider, you have a lot of things to concentrate on while riding a scooter: traffic, turning technique, posture and balance, potholes, and more traffic. Instead of adding angry tailgaters to this list, get a faster scooter and give yourself more control on the road.

So, what scooter do I recommend for new riders?

Any scooter that can maintain highway speeds. I like Japanese vehicles. I love the way the Yamaha Zuma 125 looks, and I would love to own a two stroke scooter someday. I dig the 80s styling of the Honda Helix. The Honda Grom and Kawasaki Z125 are really cool little motorcycles. Almost every off-brand scooter from China has the same GY6 motor inside, which is the motor a lot of people swap into the Ruckus to make it faster and more dangerous if you don’t also upgrade the brakes. I recommend any engine size greater than 100cc for new riders. Do not let the choice hold you up. Start riding something. If you like it, you’ll own plenty more bikes. Every time I buy a motorcycle (or bass guitar amp), I proclaim, “this is the last one of these I’ll ever want,” and it’s false every time. Get a Ruckus, just not as your first bike.

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