Why not a Chinese Scooter? They’re “Cheaper”! Well, this is why…

I’m a bit of a scooter snob.  I only ride “major market” bikes.  Why? Well, because I enjoy breathing and really don’t want to die on a Chinese POS  made in the same fashion you make toasters or Hello Kitty rice cookers!  I also dislike companies that make deathtraps and purposely lie to gain sales, and who copy designs simply to mislead you from your money.

“But, they’re cheaper!  You must have something against the Chinese.  Or, perhaps you’re just a snob!” is the usual response I get.  I also hear many claim Chinese scooters are superior to Vespa for the low, low price of $999, but by people who still have the 30 day plate on their bike.  I have yet to hear this argument from anyone with a  Chinese scooter older than 1 year.  Also, the most vocal of those insisting people NOT buy bikes from companies like Honda or Vespa are the ones selling them, and insist it’s a “plot” by the oil companies to keep scooters expensive to keep the poor from having efficient transport.  But, there’s always a line…

I always insist that if you have either never heard of the bike, or you cannot find MULTIPLE brick-and-mortar dealers within one state that have a legit company and product line behind them, don’t buy.  But, how do you know what’s Chinese-made and what’s not? And, what makes Chinese bikes so bad? If you’re new to the scooter scene, you may not of heard of a lot of the vintage bikes like Heinkel, Lambretta or Italjet that everyone keeps raving about… so what makes Chinese scooters like Roketa, Lance and TN’G any different?

Long story short: China is currently the masters of mass manufacture.  They have the ability to copy, retool and produce at an alarming rate.  When it’s something like a Microwave or computer components, that’s a good thing since they are easy to quality check and don’t normally have lives on the line.  But, the more complex the machine, the more quality control is needed.  The problem is that many scooters made in mainland China are slapped together and use copies of copies of old engine designs from Honda or Yamaha.  And, they use the cheapest materials in order to bring the price point down.  You get bikes made like bargain basement dishwashers and Wal-Mart TV’s that you’re supposed to trust your life to at 55mph?  They have ZERO delaership networks too!  You won’t find parts for a Chinese scooter, because once they crank out a few hundred thousand of one model, they scrap the ENTIRE line and re-tool from fresh for the new model.  That means they don’t have compatible parts on hand, since dead-stock=no profit. 

Another trick they use is to claim the engine is “Honda Made” or “Same as Honda”. This has some origin: 99% of all Chinese scooters are powered by a copied variant of an engine developed by Honda called a GY6.  Now, this was a very innovative engine and pretty high tech… for 1989.  It’s a good engine when you have an engine blueprinted, built and inspected by the high-tech plants at Honda of Japan and when high-end metals, rubbers and electronics are used.  Chinese copies are just that: Copied plans that have been copied several DOZEN times.  Ever put a picture through a Xerox machine a dozen times?  Then you know what I mean when I say that once you copy something too many times, the end result is pretty messed up and garbled.  Things get changed along the way, and the quality of materials gets worse each time in order to cut down on costs.  Soon that “Honda Engine” has a sort-of similar shape, but not one part will fit it from the original engine design, and nothing will look the same on the interior.

They will even ripp off the names and appearance of well known bikes!  One Chinese scooter company even bought out the Shwinn bicycle company just to get it’s copyright to sell electric kick-scooters AND China-made motorscooters under the same brand!  Needless to say, they both failed.  This aping also applies to the exterior look, with designs from Kymco, Honda, Vespa and even Harley Davidson applied to make the bikes look as much as their Asian and European cousins in order to con people into thinking their bike is in any way related to the big guys.

Also, most Chinese bikes don’t even pass basic DOT road worthiness inspections or air-quality standards.  How do they get around it?  Well, they sell them as “off road only” bikes, and don’t give a buyer a title.  You get what’s called an MCO (Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin) and the dealer leaves it up to YOU the buyer to fight the DMV to get a real title.  And in the US, without a title you don’t really own an automobile or motorbike, and can’t get it registered for street use.  If the ‘dealer’ makes you get the title yourself and doesn’t provide you with actual plates, then you are at a China-bike dealer!

Other “major market” bike builders like Vespa, Honda, Kymco, Genuine/PGO, LML and the like think different.  They put the money into inspecting the bike and using QUALITY components first, and know that the true money is repeat service with reliable supplies of parts to keep bikes on the road for a long time.  This keeps the rider coming back for upgrades and parts, and that makes good money.  It’s good business.  And, unlike no-name Chinese scooters bought from Habib at the corner tire shop or from Pep Boys, you can go to a DEALER who has direct contact to the manufacturer if there is a problem.  Good luck trying to get that park-n-swap guy to service your Chinese copy of a Kymco/Ruckus/Vespa. 

But, I can only extol the dangers so much.  The man who can accurately describe WHY is a legend in the Scooter scene: Phil from Pride of Cleveland Scooters.  His shop deals in the best of bikes, and are renowned nationwide for not only their service, but aftermarket support for all things scooter. Be it Vespa, Buddy, Stella, Lambretta or Honda, they see it all and Phil can fill you in.  He’s responsible for making a series of “public service announcement” vids that show what a Chinese scooter looks like, what it is, and why they are dangerous!  Once you see his run down on what to look for, you’ll start to spot Chinese scooters all over the place and will begin to understand why they are so cheap, and so reviled by the scooter community. 

Check these few out:

A great example of the “low grade” materials issue”
You hear a lot of Chinese scooters claim “Anti-Lock Brakes”, but in truth they are FAKE and actually are dangerous! Phil explains why in this classic example of a Chinese scooter style very popular in the US…for about 100 miles
This is the BEST example of what a true “China bike” is, and what to look for. Phil knows his stuff, and probably sees HUNDREDS of these. Heed his words!

Are all cheap scooters bad? Well… yes!!!  But, there are inexpensive major market bikes that will blow these China-rific scoots out of the water.  In fact, one of the biggest bike manufacturers in the world, Kymco, is constantly ripped-off by China and two of the three bikes in the videos above are clones of their own Cobra-Cross!  Their bikes start at a low $1299 and go all the way to $8,000.  But, unlike the bikes made in China, Kymco has a long reputation, hard dealerships and excellent quality.  They are also based out of Taiwan, which is NOT subjet to mainland China’s lax laws and ignorant copyright approaches.  Did I mention Kymco is also a manufacturer of a bunch of engines and components for other bike companies such as Yamaha?

PGO is another company that sells great bikes that you may not know off the bat. But, if you have seen the Genuine Buddy or Blur, you’ve seen their bikes! In fact PGO under partnership with Genuine Scooters currently makes the most popular scooter in America!  And, they’re so good that even Vespa dealerships sell them next to their Italian wares.  And, unlike Chinese scooters that may come with a 30 day “warranty” Genuine’s Buddy and Blur come with a 2 YEAR warranty!  And, since they’re sold all over the world, the aftermarket is huge for them.  And, like Kymco, they’ve even built scooters for other bike companies you may of heard of, such as Vespa!

So, while a cheap scooter is tempting, ask yourself: Would you hurl yourself down the road on a bike with the same build quality as a Wal-Mart blender (and on a bike that probably uses the exact same bearings as previously mentioned blender)? Or, would you rather have a bike you KNOW is going to work and is sold worldwide legally?  While many of us can’t afford a $4700 base model Vespa, you  don’t have to resort to a $999 Pep Boys China clone.  Research is your best friend, and don’t be afraid to join popular scooter club message boards and to even stop the average rider on the street.  If they genuinely love their bike, they’ll gladly chat about it.  I myself have owned a $500 Chinese scooter all the way to a top of the line Vespa GTS25oie with every engine upgrade imaginable, dropping nearly $10,000 on it over all.  And, I learned the same way: Asking others, researching like mad and getting my hands on as many bikes as possible.

And, in the end, even my happy butt is picking up a Genuine Scooter Company bike next month!  Be it the Stella 150 or the Buddy 125 (not sure yet… both are VERY tempting), I’ve learned that in some cases, you get what you pay for but it doesn’t hurt to try to get a good deal when it’s a SMART deal!

About neotrotsky

A Technical Director at a somewhat-sorta-prestigious live performance studio, audio engineer and secondary engineering student (the second time around) by day. But, by night I am a daring (if not slightly melancholy) motorscooter enthusiast and gearhead searching for a garage and steady paycheck. View all posts by neotrotsky

77 responses to “Why not a Chinese Scooter? They’re “Cheaper”! Well, this is why…

  • michael

    I understand your point. But you can not deny the fact that Kymco uses the same engines as most. The GY6 has been used in Kymco and PGO and many others such as SYM and Kawasaki for years.And I do take the same parts I sell for Honda CN250 engine for the Honda Helix and add to the CF Moto Fashion as well as the parts for a Yamaha Majesty 250 as far down as the Cylinder and piston to the Chinese made Linhai engines. I am certainly not defending Roketa, I think they are slime balls period. As for dealers you are right. On the other hand I personally have worked over 8 years to help the Chinese scooter owner. I do carry most parts just like your number one Vintage parts dealer does.

    • neotrotsky

      The engines used by Kymco are NOT the same engines cranked out like bad renditions of over-photocopied prints by many Chinese factories. They may of started off as GY6 plans from the same book, but revisions mid-production and poor materials application and compensation for poor materials in many Chinese factories have made their copies of the GY6 practically worthless. And, quality control in the average Chinese motorscooter factory is non-existent as compared to the higher paid and better trained workforces hired directly by Piaggio or Kymco

  • michael

    BTW the Buddy 150 GY6 engine, the Piaggio Fly Made in China with a chinese company building Piaggio engines. I just work hard for my customers so I need to know these points in order to help fix their scooters and help the DIY like yourself. Plus I have shops and I pay mechanics to work on them all thats how I found these points out.

  • Roger Wynn

    I agree with most everything you said. However, I will stick my neck out for Lance(SYM). I work for one of the top 10 Lance dealers in the U.S. I spend most days trying to breathe life into Tao Taos, Velocity, wildfire, Roketta, and ALL the nightmare Chinese scooters. When I get a lance(SYM), 90% of the time it is for routine maintenance. I ride a 2009 Lance Cali Classic every day.I have several thousand miles on this scooter with NO problems whatsoever. In fact, Lance has extended the warranty on the Calis and Havannas to 2 years. I love my 74 vespa, I aslo love my Cali Classic 125. It is absolutely dependable, and much better made than the aforementioned deathtraps. Keep up the good work, I try to warn consumers as much as possible to RUN from the cheap bikes myself.
    Sincerely,
    Roger Wynn

    • wendemachete

      Thanks for the great comment Roger. We try not to discriminate against certain scooters, because, let’s face it… there are just too many people that are loyal to their bands. Most scoots have their pluses and minuses, they are machines after all. But the scooters that are cheaply made, poorly maintained and just generally “disposable” give the rest of the scooter world a bad name. We just can’t have that. It’s great to get some insight from someone that isn’t just a rider, but also works with them.

      Thanks again! Please continue to post comments or info that you might have.🙂

      • Kal

        Ridden Vespas all my life
        Lived them loved them
        Never again
        ,,,but my 2011 px was a heap of xxxxxx,,
        ,as for piaggio uk and its so called uk director tony Campbell ..”?
        The guys a dickhead and has no idea how to run a business even with overwhelming evidence not too mention the law on my side including independent reports he still retained his position of” there’s nothing wrong with it go away ”

        even funnier I kid you you not he used these exact words ” if you dare to proceed with legal action we will not fail to use the full force of the law to strike out against you
        unbelievable.
        For the record tony I ignored your silly schoolboy threat and took it all the way to the ombudsman and WON
        Strangely your office never did respond to my call for a comment .?
        Piece of advice of advice folks piaggio has give to the dogs as has Their so called quality machines and customer service
        as much as it hurts me I will never darken their door again
        Don’t buy one
        Ps tony
        Feel free to say sorry and explain yourself .

        Cheers

      • wendemachete

        It sounds like you’ve had a rough go of things with Piaggio. I’m sorry you’ve been going through that and hope that from it, you find a scooter that you’re proud to support. Best of luck!

    • Michael Milstead

      The SYM Lance scooters are made well and if you follow myself over the past ten years I promoted Lance from day one. But understand when they say the belt is better or spark plug these are all the same in all scooters. The dealership and QC is top of the line where other Chinese made scooters never see a dealer or never get prepped so all the bad ones get to end user. KYMCO Chinese made period. Check vin numbers if its starts with an L its made in China. The Chinese only do what they are asked so when a company has a cheap scooter made its not their fault. You nay sayers better get on board China is about to finish taking over the world. The US makes nothing because of lazy Americans.

  • diamond

    doesnt anybody have anyhing to say on saga scooters was thinking of getting one but im not sure. trying to do research… please help me out

    • tom a

      look for right now never ever ever ever buy a Chinese scooter ever they are crap wont last a year and no parts to buy to fix things buy a brand name Honda Yamaha vespa apprilla buddy , i will guarantee you will not be happy 2 months down the line with a cheap Chinese scooter dont let them fool you!!

      • thetackler

        Aprilia scooters are made in China.

      • derek

        Iv’e had my cheap chinese scooter now for 3 years. I have over 20,000 miles on it and the only work ive done is oil changes brakes and belt not bad for a 800 dollar scooter

      • John

        Pablum. Parts (up to and including a complete engine) are widely available, there is a gigantic amount of information online. If (and only if) you can do your own service, go for it.

  • wendemachete

    I’m glad to hear that there are good scooters coming out of China and that they’re not as bad as people think. It’s important for us to try and remain impartial as far as manufacturers go, but in our area of the country, it’s tough because we see far too many dead scooters.

    Thanks for the comment Frank!
    ~wem

  • wendemachete

    Hi Sheldon,

    Thanks so much for the great information. I hope that this will be helpful for the readers that are looking for a new scooter.
    My recommendation for anyone looking to buy a scooter is to do your research on price, parts and overall quality of the bike. These things factor quite heavily in your happiness with your purchase.

    Thanks again!
    ~wem

  • kris stivers

    Its no different than buying a car… Remember the GEO.. it was disposable too and they are still on the streets.. rusted through.. The buyer needs to know why he’s buying it and what to expect. I like my Chinese scooters but I didn’t buy them to run for 100,000 miles. Neither do I recommend them in LA traffic.. Buy for the purpose.

    • wendemachete

      You’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t buy one of those foam ice chests with the intention of never having to buy another one, no doubt. But I think that often the rider isn’t as knowledgable as perhaps they should be when making this kind of investment. Let’s face it, beyond the stigma and jokes, people are buying a vehicle and hopefully this vehicle won’t let you die. I have bought well beyond my fair share of lemon cars that have almost killed me. However with a scooter or other motorbike, you don’t have a protective shell. What has always been my stance is this: know what you’re buying and understand the possible flaws. If its worth the price and you can live with the flaws, it could be a keeper.

      Thanks so much for your comment Kris!

    • Roj

      So is a vespa ok in LA traffic?

      • wendemachete

        Most small engines are not into being idle. I know that my Vintage Vespa doesn’t because the engine is air cooled. However, many new scooters have liquid cooled engines instead of the old air ones that require you to basically keep moving to keep the engine relatively cool. I would suspect that LA traffic will be hard on any vehicle you drive, since even the nicest of cars do not typically stand the test of time. However, the one advantage is that motorbikes are allowed to “split lanes” in many California cities, making riders have to wait less in the parking lot that is the freeway.

        Has anyone experienced heavy traffic situations on a scoot that would like to chime in?

    • Dale Gavey

      My 1985 Chevy Sprint, for runner of the GEO has over144000 miles and runs great.. Just follow common sense…….

  • Tracy Wallach

    Thanks ! My wife was just about to get one….until I saw the videos .

  • Warren

    Thanks in favor of sharing such a pleasant thought, article is
    pleasant, thats why i have read it completely

  • wendemachete

    Thank you for the comment and you are correct, not all scooters of any make, model or nationality are created equally. I’m sure there are millions of happy customers riding Chinese imports. I wish them all the luck and safety, as much as anyone riding a Genuine, Vespa, Honda… etc.🙂

    • Karl Mueller

      I put 13k on my Shenzen Galaxy 50, and hope to achieve similar results with my new Tao Tao GT5-50. Never even had to change the TIRES on the first bike…oil, of course, but virtually no problems.

  • Brad Tyrrell

    Don’t buy a Chinese Scooter unless you are willing to put time, money and effort to keep it running. If your new to mechanical stuff, like changing rear tires, or finding the oil stick, but you want to learn, get a Chinese Scooter!
    One major issue with these scooters is that “Reputable Dealers/ Repair Shops” won’t touch them. I understand why. It’s not so much that the “drive trains” go wankers, or can’t find parts. (Ebay) . It’s all the body panels you have to remove just to change the rear turn signal bulb!
    Think about it, do you want to pay someone $50 or $100 an hour to remove plastic parts so he can get to the real issue at hand?
    No. Do it your self! Learn how these things work, buy the few tools needed to keep them up and running. These Scooters will “Nickel and Dime” you. For some people that’s easier than big lump payments, when your Vespa, or Honda need repair, beyond upfront costs.
    Remember these are cheap for a few reasons, labor being chief .

    • marc

      well i have sold over 80 new in the last 3 1/2 years and around 40 used. a lot of the reason these get a bad rap is the dealers that just throw them together and dont check any other nuts,bolts,screws. as long as you keep the oil & rear end grease & run premimum gas i have not had very much warenty issues. have had no bearing failers at all. i beat the crap out of mine with a 80cc big bore 150 intake & carb high output coil iridium plug and no-rev cdi lighter rollers and open the muffler up. everyone wants to bad mouth these mopeds. the few name brand i have worked on low oil light fail or temp.light by time you know it its to late and your motors locked up. i wont touch the water cooled motor comes apart in 10 pieces. and whats the deal with the honda have a 22 coil stater anduse the crank for the starter. no thanks an opion like every one else

  • Kris Goff

    Gassed up my 2008 Lance Vintage, it has about 1300 miles on it, headed down the road and about 2 miles out it started cutting out real bad. Thought it had over heated but after letting it rest overnight it is still running the same. I can’t even get it to go 10 mph, its never done this before, can you please give me some idea what’s wrong with it? Its a 150 cc. I thought I may have pushed it too hard as I had it just barely up to 50mph for about half a mile when it started doing this. The speedometor red lines at 50 so I kept it below that but just barely. Can you also tell me how long or how far this particular scooter should be able to go before needing a rest. Thankds so much!

  • El

    great to find a dude what’s in the know. having hard time right now trying to find rear tire size 90.90-12. any ideas.

  • Will

    The old addage “you get what you pay for applies”.If you want a the best quality scooters get one from Italy or Japan. I sell & service scooters including those from china (Tao Toa,Peace Motor Sports ect).I have found the workmanship to be shoddy in most cases but I have found the parts for the china scooters readily available and are dirt cheap in price.Mostly everything is assembled/built in china these days -Lifan is a Chinese company that built Honda motors(and others).In short if you can afford a non-Chinese scooter brand than get one but if you buy a Chinese scooter expect it to start falling apart soon after the factory warranty expires but even after the repairs that WILL be needed you’ll still be hundreds if not thousands cheaper then a higher end non-Chinese scooter.Also before you risk your life on any scooter Chinese or not -new or used you should have a mechanic you trust go over it.-Just my opinion:)

  • don

    This is why I only buy Honda, suzuki or yamaha scooters. Kawasaki doesn’t seem to make any scooters?! My 1987 honda ch150 scooter was stolen 2 years ago. The thieves drove it mostly offroad for over 300 miles and beat the crap out of it. I mean… really rode it like they stole it. When I got it back over a year later (the police caught a guy riding it in the city!) the plastic bodywork was all busted up and hanging off it, the battery was dead and it had mud caked in every orifice. You could not ride a bike harder than this one was ridden. I bought a new battery, hit the starter button and after a few turns the old girl started right up! It was built so well that the frame, the front end, and the rear end were all intact and not bent even though the scooter had been wiped out hard many times. I took off everything that was broken and turned into a skeleton scooter (skelly). It runs like it always did except now it’s faster with the weight loss and because it looks like crap, it is less likely to be stolen again. HAD THIS BEEN A CHINESE SCOOTER, IT WOULD HAVE NOT SURVIVED THE FIRST NIGHT OF ITS ORDEAL… NEVERMIND OVER A YEAR OF HARD HARD RIDING. Dont cheap out folks. Buy a Name brand Jap scooter.

    • marc

      ok so your telling me that you owned a Chinese scooter and you beat the crap out of it and it didn’t survive it don’t sound like that. well I have done that to a couple Chinese scooters because we have a motocross dirt track we built and me and a friend rode our so called junk Chinese mopeds just like they were motocross bikes and never broke down. most dealers that sell them just put parts on that need to be when they come out of the crate don’t check any other nuts,bolts or screws to see if there tight don’t change the shipping oil don’t tell the customer that it has shipping oil in the crank case. I have 86 new tao taos on the road and around 40 to 50 used on the road. and any I have fixed for a customer don’t return after there problem has been fixed. if u keep the oil & rear end grease changed run high test gas they don’t have any problems. you like what you like and we like what we like that’s our and your choice you act like your right and were all wrong you are a snob that’s for sure. I have worked on your so called name brand mopeds there a pain and the price of there parts are way to much. $3,000 rukus wire harness made in china and a lot of other part the same with your other preferred mopeds. water temp light or gage fails by time u no it to late complete rebuild same with 2 cyc. low oil light fails by time u no same thing. I wont even work on them anymore just a pain compared to my good ol cinese parts r cheap and easy to fix. bye bye snob

    • Peter

      Why do people make comments with no experience with a particuliar product. How do you know that a Chinese scooter would not stand up to a bad treatment. Most Chinese scooters have the GY6 Honda designed motor and CVT. i have a Chinese Scooter coming up to 10000klms much to many brand snobs disapointment it has been very reliable and performed well. Parts are at a price brand snobs could only dream about. Nothing wrong with the more well know brands names but they are expensive which moves away from the whole idea of owning a scooter that is it being cheap to buy and run.

    • jay

      Lol, yeah…im green with envy for your “quality” scooter…funny how most of the people who badmouth china scoots have either never owned one or just dont know how to take care of a scooter. the point of a scooter is a cheap economical machine. A 3000 dollar scooter that is as much as a used car and that requires an expensive mechanic to service with overpriced parts just doesnt fit that bill. For all that dougb id just buy a used sportsbike, cruiser, or dualsport. China scoots are dirt cheap, easy to fix, fun to mod, and parts are ple tiful and cheap. Best transportation you can buy if youre willing to do your research and maintenance. My zuma clone looks pretty mean toolol. My buddy has a real zuma and honestly its nice, but more than twice as nice.

  • ScooterMadness

    The key with Chinese scooters is that you have to know what you are getting: http://www.scootermadness.com/blog/should-i-get-a-taotao-or-chinese-scooter/

  • Roj

    I just ordered an ssr turino 150 here in California and by state law it has to be registered by the dealer with the dmv. That means it must be California carb compliant and good enough for the DOT to allow people to ride them. The turino looks far nicer than any modern Vespa and I’m still trying to figure out the 6000 dollar price for one. It’s still a scooter at the end if the day.

  • John Levy

    I hope someone is still monitoring this thread. I am looking to buy a new scooter. I had seen the Chinese ones listed at very low prices but now you have me scared of them. I do have a couple of questions I hope someone can help me with:

    1. Who makes the Maui Dreamer scooter? I can find no information on its manufacture. Is it Chinese?

    2. Can anyone recommend a good scooter that is not too expensive and is legal in California?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Jim Zeiser

    Gee, I wonder how I’ve gone so far with my three Chinese bikes? Over 8,000 miles on two of them and 3500 on the third. I totaled it up the other day and it comes to over 20,000 miles on the three combined. What’s even more amazing is that I paid less than the price of a 50cc Vespa for a 50cc, 150cc and a 250cc. Do you want to know why mine don’t break down? I’m a motorcycle rider with over 50 years of riding and fixing and we know how to take care of stuff.

  • happycow

    I currently own a POS as you say Chinese made moped SSR Lazer 5. In the first month alone I have put in over 1000 miles all over the City of Los Angeles. Yes you heard it right in the actual City itself and while I already know that some upgrades are in order I would say that for the price and what it does it is great. I still do not see the purpose of paying as much as a car for a scooter again its a scooter. I think people really need to take a chill pill on the Chinese bashing after all haven’t most of the recent mass market recalls been on American vehicles? Just saying that perhaps a more fair and balance review is in order. Know the cost point, know your use of it, and then figure it out will it work for you? So far it has and I can’t complain when I put in 1.40 of gas and go 90+ miles. Also it fits a second passenger and let me tell you its a chick magnet. My next purchase will be a 250 motorcycle

  • Konstantin

    Very nice write up, everything precise and very on point. The Chinese clone bikes put public and market in danger. Very few people who buy them know how to maintain them well enough to prevent or fix brake downs and look for signs pointed out in the videos. We actually end up towing fair share of these Chinese 150, cause in comparison to 50 they are heavier to roll home🙂 KM Scootermutter.com Motorcycle towing + More

  • JKerry

    i have a Chinese scooter, and have had a few of them. There are certain parts I keep on hand at home, probably around $100.00 worth all together. The thing I like most about them while someone is still making payments on a good brand name scooter I can buy 4 or 5 of the cheap ones. Change and get a new scooter, change looks,have a new style. new look and stay in style.The cheap ones the only trouble I have had out of any of them is carb. getting dirty, or replacing belt never nothing major, never nothing expensive.

  • Ash

    Lol @ the SSR Turino looks far nicer than any Vespa. You can spot the cheap plastic and fake chrome on that thing from miles away! Don’t leave it out in the sun, it might melt.

  • paul

    most 50 cc scooters you are looking to buy say they get 90-112 mpg even with a big-bore kit. look and do the math 1 mile = 1.6 km so that 90-112 is really km for real you are looking at 63-70 mpg pending on where you live, weight ratio, type of octane

  • Joseph

    The Vespa is a well known brand with an honest reputation for quality. As with so many products, you get what you pay for.

    • wendemachete

      Hi Joseph,

      Thanks for the comment. I agree with you about Vespa being reliable and honest. However, that’s not to say that people who work on these machines are either of those things, not to mention, machines are designed to wear out. In my case with Vera (see photos), she’s old, finicky, and the people who had her before me… not the greatest mechanics. So, I’ve had Vera for more than 4 years, but have ridden her about that many times.

  • Jim Zeiser

    http://modernvespa.com/forum/topic130381.2
    Oh yes, Vespa is so much better. Blown valves by the thousands, cracked water pump housings, broken camshafts and electrical connections that go up in smoke. Read Modern Vespa, Scooter Snob, you might learn something.

  • Mike Baker

    i bought a chineese scooter back in 08,have beaten the shit out of it and have had zero prblems. i have decided to do some tuning and on the first search found HUNDREDS of sites with upgrades for my specific engine that i had not heard of. your point is invalid and prejudiced. i also ride a custom american chopper but id rather beat the crap out of the scooter for short trips. just sayin

  • Japaneese emperor

    The author….must be quite young. I remember in 1970…JAPAN (mostly)
    purposely bought a U.S. made goods…took it apart…and made copies
    of it..at cheaper price. In fact just thought…remember 1960’s…buying
    stuff …small items…radios…batteries…toys…made in Japan.
    China…isnt doing anything that other countries have done for years.
    Last U.S. tv made was 1971…Motorola
    Unfortunately….everything…you buy today…made overseas….
    surprize!!!! Thats why we cant find a job !!!
    Even Bill Gates….has his Windows software…developed in INDIA !!
    OH…AND HE’S SO GREAT TO DONATE TO NEEDY CAUSES…
    HOW ABOUT KEEPING THE SOFTWARE IN THE U.S. AND JOBS.
    So dont tell me about gas scooters…..young pup.

  • Brian Wight

    Mostly ‘Tosh’ from people who have fixed ideas. The Chinese make just about everything these days so we have what we have. I recall the 70s when “jap rubbish” was the usual feeble cry. Then what? Japanese domination in manufacturing for two decades. Now the Chinese are doing just the same. Get over it guys, things move on

  • isaac

    In the spring of 2008 I purchased a new Chinese 50cc 4stroke scooter because I wanted to rage against the Big Oil Machine. She ran good for about 4000 km when there became a noticeable loss in the engine performance. Who will work on my scooter? I thought to myself. I was unable to locate a Chinese scooter mechanic or a good shop at the time. So I learned how to properly adjust my valves, she ran great once again, and so I learned by virtue of necessity.
    I navigated my browser to various online scooter forums, I made contacts and developed relationships with shop owners who sell and work on Chinese scooters, I downloaded service manuals, got my hands greasy, then I threw myself out there, working on peoples scooters to get the real world experience that I needed. They love me, they are grateful, and they appreciate the fact that I am there to fix their scooters for them. I get paid and I enjoy the work. It is a good feeling when I help a fellow scootist…. to get his knees back in the breeze.
    There are very few Chinese scooter mechanics out there period, and even fewer highly skilled ones. This is how I got into the whole scooter repair business. I saw a great need for Chinese scooter services, and now I am busier than a one armed paper hanger. This is my 3rd year servicing Chinese scooters. My phone rings continuously and I am one heck of a sought after guy. I have diagnosed and repaired hundreds of these scoots with a 98% success rate.
    Do you want to become a Chinese scooter mechanic? There are only 4 things your scooter needs to start up and run. Fuel flow, Ignition, Vacuum, and Engine compression. OK, You got that? Congratulations! You are now a Chinese scooter mechanic.
    All joking aside there is much more to these scooters than I had ever imagined, I am still learning. I use to joke about it and tell people…. “It’s a Leaf Blower with a seat and wheels on it…Easy Peasy Chineesy!”
    But to be serious, you at least now know the basics. And if your scooter won’t start or run properly, it is absolutely one of the 4 things I just mentioned. Fuel flow, Ignition, Vacuum, or Engine compression.
    The Chinese scooter is actually an amazing machine. The quality is every bit as good as a Honda or a Yamaha and they will last just as long, IF you know what to do with one of these scooters, directly after she comes out of the shipping crate. You see the Chinese think that we are very intelligent people, and they expect us to know what to do, and figure it all out for ourselves. I will list the most critical criteria that must be met in order to give your Chinese scooter a long and well performing life. This must be done when she is brand spanking new.
    1) Change the engine oil before you put 1 mile on it! The oil your new scooter ships with, is for start up and testing purposes only, and overseas transport. It was never intended to be used to operate your scooter with. Change the oil before you ride your new scooter. 5W 50 is what you need. (good quality gear oil replacement is a good idea too)
    (2) Use ONLY 93 octane gas, I cannot emphasize this enough. The GY6 4 Stroke engine is designed to run off of high octane gasoline, and this fuel will keep your carburetor very clean. If you put 87 in your scooter you will be calling me very soon to replace your carburetor and your fuel petcock valve. Cheap gas will gum up your carburetor and destroy it.
    3) Use a good quality spark plug like NGK or a Honda silver wing iridium plug. Replace your stock ignition coil with a high performance coil.
    4) Check all the bolts, make sure they are ALL tight.
    5) Set your intake valve lash to 0.08mm and your exhaust valve to 0.10mm
    6) Do not expose your scooter to the elements, leaving it outside in the rain will destroy it in no time. Drain the carburetor and bring the battery inside for winter storage
    7) Do not let your buddy next door who is really good at fixing lawn mowers work on your scooter. Do not attempt to work on the scooter yourself unless you are sure of your abilities, you have done your research, and you have excellent mechanical skills and the correct tools.
    8) Engine Break In: Allow the choke to kick off and warm the engine well before riding. For the first 500km avoid overheating the engine. Ride for an hour or two then let her cool down for an hour. You can give her full throttle, just don’t overwork or overheat the engine when she is brand new.
    9) Replace your original CVT Drive belt with a Gates Powerlink Belt and it will last 10 times longer…..10,000 km instead of 1000 km. Trust me replace the belt now….When your drive belt breaks you are stuck on the side of the road. Then it will begin to rain, then hail balls, Lightening, followed by gale force winds, then your cell phone battery will die right there on the spot. Been there done that.
    The Chinese scooter is a very good quality scooter. It will run forever if you follow the 9 steps I have listed above. The problem is that many of the shady dealers who sell you a new Chinese scooter do not perform a PDI(pre delivery inspection) They do not replace the fluids, test the ignition, engine compression, valve adjustment, or inform you that your scooter requires 93 high octane gasoline to run properly and reliably. A legitimate dealer selling Honda or Yamaha scooters would perform a complete and detailed PDI before you even purchase a scooter from them. This is a mandatory procedure for the Japanese scooter dealers, but rarely is a PDI ever performed at your local Chinese scooter retailer. A retail store is not a dealership or even a repair shop. My advice is to buy a Chinese scooter from a reputable outfit like Scootertronics dotcom.
    My 50cc 4stroke Chinese Scoot has 22,000km on her and she runs great! My 150cc has over 13,000km and is a very nice running ride. Very reliable die hard scooters and both are Chinese. Both have the original engine maintained only by an oil change and valve adjustment every 1000km and 3000km respectively. Real Chinese junk huh? LOL The engine compression is perfect on both of these scooters. Both scooters have far exceeded my greatest expectations, and I am impressed every time I start one up and ride. I am here to tell you that these scooters are not cheap Chinese crap like many people believe they are. The problem here lies within the fact that 95% of the Chinese scooters sold to the public by a retail outlet, lack the essential preparation by the seller, and or the owner that is critical to perform before the new scooter is operated.
    Your Chinese scooter is comprised of 90% Japanese parts made in Taiwan, it is a Chinese scooter only because it is assembled in China. The carburetor, some tires, the drive belt and a few other misc parts for your Chinese scooter are made in China, the vast majority of the parts however are manufactured in Taiwan. The GY6 4stroke engine is an exact replica of a Honda engine using the same exact Japanese engine parts. It is the SAME thing, it is a Honda engine! It will run forever if you use a good quality oil and keep it clean.
    Make it go faster and perform better:
    *93 octane Sunoco, Citgo, Shell
    *High performance carburetor
    *Gates powerlink drive belt
    *High performance ignition coil
    *No Rev Limit CDI Controller
    *Iridium Spark Plug
    *36psi in both tires
    *High performance variator and clutch
    *High performance exhaust system
    Long Live the Chinese Scooter!

    • marc

      neotrotsky what ever. wow 99% of these post bad mouthing Chinese gy6 clones. top reason they get a bad rap is because someone gets a good deal on buying a bunch of them puts on the parts that need to be assy out of the crate and don’t check and tighten all other nuts bolts and screws don’t change shipping oil and don’t tell person buying that it has shipping oil not regular motor oil in it. im just a 55 year old retired guy and I have sold almost 100 new tao tao and over 100 used on new ones I would give 100% warranty for 3 months even the dealer I get them from don’t give me anything close to that. and the reason I do give that is because I go through complete moped and make sure everything is tight change ship oil top battery acid off and a couple zip ties here and there. my mopeds coming back for warranty work is next to none. other post on here saying cloned to many times like they change any specs. I have built big bore stock 50cc motors 150cc to 180cc big bore ported my own heads max out on everything on these supposed junk clones and beat the crap out of all my personal high performance machines I have not had any motor fails or anything else for that matter. except I do go through a few back tires from brake torque burn outs. sick of seeing 99% of post saying there all junk. there opinion and this is mine. peace out

      • johnathon

        I will never bad mouth Chinese scooters my scooter is chinese its an ice bear 50cc wave to be exact I’ve had normal issues like belts braking throttle cables breaking but all in all I’ve got over 6k km and no issues with the engine still running solid and the motor sounds great has its own unique sound that my buddy knows because he hears me coming up and catching his scooter all the time. So all in all I’ve had a few Chinese scooters with no problems I rate at 90% efficiency on product.

  • Charles

    I have been riding a Roketa Bali 250 since 2008 and it has run great. This will be my 8th year of owning it. No major issues yet.

  • julio

    I purchase on January 2015 a brand new TAO TAO150 BWS with KILLER MOTORSPORTS out of texas ,horrible experience ,don’t do it ,the scooter come broken , it will run for 5 min and die ,wait 2 min and may work again ,it vibrates really bad the rear wheel when turning fast ,it come with almost all nuts loose and the worst part is that the dealer ( KILLER MOTORSPORT ) will not paid for labor ,and they don’t return my tech support calls.
    Stuck with 1000$ piece of junk. think twice about buying it .You should not be playing mechanic if you bought a new vehicle.

    • Jim Zeiser

      No, you should not be playing mechanic if you buy a new scooter from a dealer who prepped it. You should be playing mechanic if you buy a scooter in a crate and the dealer told you, in print, that it needs to be gone over and given the same preparation a dealer will do when he buys a Honda in a crate. If you buy a scooter in a box, throw gas in it and ride down the street IT WILL FAIL. The myth that brand name scooters just come out of the crate ready to roll is so naive it defies description. As a matter of fact, somewhere in the disclaimers of all online dealers it reads, “FAILURE TO HAVE THIS PRODUCT ASSEMBLED AND PREPARED BY A LICENSED MECHANIC VOIDS ALL WARRANTIES, WRITTEN OR IMPLIED” Read the fine print.

  • Ron ved

    Get your facts straight. Parts are easy to find and Walmart doesn’t make tvs.

  • jay

    No parts…gy6 scooters are THE easiest bikes to find parts for…there is a plethora of oem and performance parts at dirt cheap prices. Funny how much shit ppl talk on chinese scooters to justify their overpriced ones. Chinese scooters will run as well as the owner is willing to maintain it. If you cant turn a wrench get a honda and pay out the ass for a mechanic, but if you have half a brain cell and two hands the gy6 is simple to maintain and in the absolute worst case scenario youd have to pay 350 bucksfor a brand new motor which I less than a freakkn tune up on a vespa.

  • Arber

    I’m sorry but I would have to disagree, not all Chinese scooters are junk. I bought a brand new Roketa 250cc in 2007 and the only thing I’ve had to replace was the cooling fan and a couple of batteries.I’d say that’s pretty good for a scooter that’s 8 yrs old.finding parts are easy as well. If you want to spend thousands of dollars on a scooter that’s your choice. Most people wouldnt. Especially when they cost as much as a motorcycle. I also have over 15,ooo miles on mine. A few places where the plastic has come apart but the seat is still perfect. Oh wait I did have to change one of my headlight bulbs..I say if your just wanting to ride around town and not drive across state then there’s nothing wrong with a cheap Chinese scooter.

  • fieldmouse

    I have owned Japanese (Honda) and Chinese (TaoTao) scooters, and

    Was the Honda better built? Yes.
    Were Honda parts stupid expensive? Yes
    Was the used Honda 4x the price of the used TaoTao of the same displacement? Yes.
    Was the Honda faster? No.
    Was the Honda more fun? No.

    My bikes have been Suzuki (2) and Honda. Would I consider one of those 200cc Chinese enduros for trails and bopping around town? Sure. Lots of accumulated knowledge out there on the forums and YT.

  • Zack

    The Honda Spree and Honda CH80 I owned had repeated problems with transmission and engines all failed even with good maintenance procedures if I rode them hard and fast. . The Honda Parts are extremely expensive compared to Chinese parts. The Hondas had excellent suspension and steering.

    Calling Chinese scooters unsafe is some ones passion to slam China.
    Safe and dependable are not the same. I have been fixing riding mostly Gy6 scooter for a few years. The plastics are fragile. and rubber seems to dry out faster. The gauges are poor quality and Speedo and Gas gauge are only ball park accuracy. After a few weeks it just wont mater, just put gas in every 100miles and go.
    The engines have a wide range of tolerance. many perfect and some marginal. two identical scooters may have 5 mph difference in top speed. .
    . All the retaining clips for plastics parts need a dap of silicone glue to keep screws and clips from falling off with a bonus to dampen vibration rattles.
    Electrical connectors are thin crimped copper metal and not sheltered properly from the elements, all should be soldered and sealed with light bulb grease if driven in rain and on salty winter streets or coastal areas.. The switches work fine but are not sealed and sensitive to corrosion. An occasional spray coating of spray Fluid Film helps reject rust and corrosions If you live near the coast just do it now. All of this work would add hundreds of dollars to production cost. They cut corners and cost. What’s your time worth?
    I could put about 2 hours into reworking a new Gy6 and it would be very dependable if oil changes, brake fluid and transmission fluids kept up.
    The basic engine and transmission are solid other than kick starter.
    Saying a Chinese scooter not safe is not justified.
    If I was selling them I would add a $100 to each one for prep fees, allowing me to fully modify, check and seal connections, adjust valves, and silicone fasteners. Then I expect five years of service to be realistic.
    But if let any scooter sit over the winter with a dead battery and old gas in the carb you “might” getting it going in the spring. let it sit Two years and your going to need a new battery, carbs cleaned, and maybe fuel tank cleaned.
    If you let mice move in under the battery and they eat the wires, best to sell it to that grease monkey down the road for $100.
    Chinese scooters are soo much fun, if your a bit handy and don’t ride with the throttle wide open 24/7, your will enjoy owning one and not be ashamed having one in your garage.

  • Ricki dick

    One thing they dont tell is that they have no second hand value. If you will get the chance to sell it forward. In my case it broke down to such degree”smoke pouring out of the engine on the highway” that i didnt have the stomach to rip off it to somebody else. And no i didnt buy it myself, got it from work. And within a year. It was total shit. And on the meanwhile, it went back and forth to the shop that sold it to us, and without exaggeration it was the scariest scooter, motorcycle ive ever ridden. Shitty squeky brakes. Bad suspension, tires that felt as like they were made by snail slime eapecially when wet. So dont support that shitty products. Youll only lose on the affair

  • Jeff

    Im sure like anything else in the world, there are good and bad Chinese scooters. Unfortunately I bought the bad. I bought a pair of Icebear scooters this past summer. One of them started giving me problems before 1000 miles. The other one started giving me issues at about 1200 miles. This is all within a 3 month period. Now I know $700 for a brand new scooter with free shipping is nice but c’mon, full pump, carburator,and starter all go to hell in 3 months. Put new carburator, plug, filter, and fuel pump in one and it still runs like crap. Now Im not a mechanic or scooter expert by any stretch. All im saying is if I had paid twice as much for better scooters i would more than likely still have running scooters and wouldnt have to worry about buying new ones next spring( I live in Michigan). And from some comments on here i can only assume these people have dealerships that specialize in Chinese scooters, so of course they will defend them to the bitter end. However I will never spend a dime on a Chinese scooter again unless i can get a new one for $100.

  • Jim Zeiser

    I’m no dealer and I have Japanese motorcycles along side my Chinese scooters. If you pay $1200 for a scooter in a box you have to know it has limitations next to a $3600 scooter from a dealer. Have my Chinese scooters been flawless, NO. Have my Japanese bikes been flawless, No. I will tell you this, which of course the Author is ignoring, go to Modernvespa.com and see how wonderful they really are. One person just wrote in that he bought two brand new Vespa Primavera 50cc scooters (MSRP $3699), strapped them on a trailer and took them to his vacation home. Pulled them off and THEY WON’T START! You want a solid Chinese scooter buy a Lance, Bintelli or Wolf. You buy from a box and can’t prep or break in properly, you have problems like Ice Bear Boy up there. Plus Ice Bear is a nice company, if you contact them they do help you.

  • Jeramy Cleghorn

    I bought a 2008 Jonway 150cc scooter with 1500km on it last year, the previous owner ragged it out pretty bad. Busted up fairings, bent motor mount, gummed up Carb… all said and done $400 for the scooter AND needed parts it’s survived a year of my own abuse on and off road, and it’s ridden almost daily. I use it trail riding, scooting around my dual town, and it’s biggest responsibility is dragging deer and hog out of rough terrain during hunting season.
    The key to a good experience with these Chinese scoots is, as already been stated before, being proactive with maintenance and LEARN TO WORK ON YOUR SCOOT YOURSELF. They are quite simple mechanically, there’s no point in paying $75 or more in labor to have a mechanic swap out a $16 part.

  • Rob vanbuskirk

    I got a 2014 chinese scooter with a 49cc motor and have almost 7000 miles on it and she runs great as she did when she was new…all ive did was change oil,one sparkplug and tires…sure! Some of the exterior parts etc. were cheaply made but nothin a little know how cant fix. Ive got a back up scooter and havnt had to use it…i was skeptical at first but now im sold on it as its very dependable all year around…i ride it in the winter as well…ine other problem i had is the float stuck 2 times in the winter which made gas flow out if the over flow hose…tapped the carb with a hammer and wha lah…im happy with it as ive also destricted it and she flys…ive got uo to 52 mph on it and its smooth running…just basic engine care and a lil bit of time,youll be ridin for quite some time n then some…im happy with my express chinese scooter…

  • auto binary signals

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with
    the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to find
    out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

  • Robert

    I ha e a question I’m new it’s the scooter game but is the gy6 moped motor and the peace sport motor the same layout. I want Rogers bore kit and I want to make sure they’re the same lay out before I buy one

  • miles folksman

    From a mechanics perspective i find it hard to agree with quite a few points you made in the article. Ive worked on all shapes and sizes of scooter first hand, and i just can’t agree that you SHOULDN’T buy a chinese scoot. My first vehicle was a a chinese scooter. A copy of a copy of a copy. It looked like a vip but it wasn’t even branded. It said lb50qt on the side and that was as close as you were gonna get to finding out who made the thing. That being said it was a 2005 that made it til 2013 and had 30,000 miles on it when it got stolen out of my drive way. The thing was a tank. It got dropped 3 times, off roaded, and even hit by a car going 45mph. The street was littered with fairings, which i taped and glued back together, but mechanically speaking It never failed me once. From my personal experience what matters the most is how you care for your ride. Regular maintenance and checkups can make or brake your bike. A mistreated honda will break down just as quick as a tao tao.

    • wendemachete

      It sounds like you had amazing luck with your scooter. As I have said to people before, sometimes you get a dud and sometimes not. People bitch when they get a faulty phone or computer, it goes the same for vehicles. Like my Vespa for instance, I’ve had it 5 years and ridden it less than 5 times because the guy who ‘rebuilt’ it never put it together right. It’s been a paperweight. Sometimes you win, and sometimes not. Thanks for the comment!

  • Donald porter

    Hello, I’m in a situation with a Chinese scooter I bought from a dealer in Florida, I went to register it and the motor vehicle administration said the Vin number is already been used on another scooter and I can’t seem to get any answers or help from anyone, do you have any ideas how I can get this resolved or will I have to make this a civil matter in court. Any information would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

  • Delbert Mclennon

    Fantastic post however I was wondering if you coul write a litte more on this topic?I’d be very thankful if you coulpd elaborate a little bit more.Thank you!

    • wendemachete

      Hey Delbert, thanks for the comment! What this post was about at it’s finest point is that sometimes with Chinese scooters, you get what you pay for. Some of them don’t have easy to find replacement parts or really good construction. However, in my opinion, that could be said for just about anything that’s mass produced. There will be duds in everything and ultimately, it’s up to the rider what they want to spend their money on. Repairs can be costly on ANY bike and some are more so than others. With that being said, there are lots of people who have commented on this post with great success stories about their Chinese scoots and I’m happy for them. I want to believe that they are quality products that will stand the test of time, like many of the other European and Japanese brands. A lot of them haven’t been around for nearly as long, so only time will tell. Best wishes on your scooting adventures!

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