Scooters race back to top ten

A new breed of scooter-commuter is turning the once-unfashionable vehicle into the boom sector of the two-wheeler trade. Sales figures for January show that scooter sales were up 62 per cent on the same month last year.

The machines whose popularity peaked in the "mod" era of the 1960s, snatched three places in the two-wheeler top 10, dominated for years by sports bikes.

The scooter's ailing public image has been given a boost in recent years by its adoption as the favoured mode of transport of stars, including Oasis's Gallagher brothers, former Take That star Robbie Williams and DJ and presenter Chris Evans. Industry insiders believe that the trendsetters are being joined by more mature people, who have realised that the car is no longer the most practical way of getting around town.

A total of 5,255 two-wheel machines - 4,403 motorcycles and 852 mopeds - were registered in January, about a third more than the same month in 1997, a year when sales reached a 10-year high. For the first time, scooters feature in the top 10, with Peugeot's Speedfight 100 at number five and two moped scooters at numbers eight and nine.

Scooters have suffered a precipitous decline in popularity since the 1960s, when thousands used them to get to the office or factory and the mods turned them into a vital style accessory.

As cars became more widespread, the two-wheel market was dominated by die-hard bikers, most of whom wanted machines with the slick looks of a Grand Prix racer.

A Motor Cycle Industry Association spokesman said: "Scooters are being driven by people new to two wheels, including a lot of middle-aged people attracted by improved journey times, lower running costs and cheaper insurance compared to cars."

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