Category Archives: Toronto

The Vespa Investigation

A while back I blogged about possibly getting myself a scooter to get around the GTA in the pleasant months. I was hoping to get one pretty soon, especially since the TTC strike put a real kink in my plans.

However, after a little investigation into costs and logistics, I’ve decided to put off my purchase until at least the end of the summer.

This weekend I encountered a few people that asked me about scooters and the cost and stuff since they were interested too. I am by no means an expert, but here’s what I found out.

The Scooter
There are lots of brands out there to choose from! Vespa is perhaps the most popular and well-known, but other brands include Honda, Yamaha, TMC, Piaggio (Vespa), Kymco and more. After doing some research online I decided that a traditional Vespa was probably what would satisfy me the most. I didn’t want to be a brand whore, but I just couldn’t say no to the Italian styling, quality assurance and familiarity the brand presents. Though I did seriously consider the Yamaha Vino, and may still revisit it.
I spoke with a dude at the Vespa store here in T.O. and we assesed my needs. I wanted something with enough “get up and go” to take me from Toronto out to some of the surrounding cities/burbs, that could carry two people, had suitable storage and a possible top case or rack for more carrying capability.
The Vespa LX 150 in Plum fit the bill.

The Cost

Ahh, now the not-so-lovely part of the Vespa buying experience. The cost. It’s a whopper.

The list price for the LX 150 isn’t too bad. A little on the high side compared to other brands, but they can command what we marketers call prestige pricing because of the name and reputation they carry.

List Price: $5,700

And we mustn’t forget the freight, PDI and documentation costs involved in a new vehicle.

Freight: $250
PDI: $100
Documents: $75
Taxes: $796.25

That brings us to a total cost of $6,921.25 for a brand new Vespa.

One thing I will point out though, is that there is room for negotiating with this price. There is no way I would pay full price right off the bat. I would probably try for at least a grand off the list price, but I have no idea what I would actually get.

I did find out from the cute counter staff that it’s much cheaper to buy at the end of the fiscal year, for obvious reasons. Either that, or at the end of the season. I found out when their fiscal ends, but I shall keep it as my little secret so all the good bikes aren’t taken before I get there!

Additional Costs

Another thing to factor in when purchasing a scooter is that you will require an M licence, insurance and plates.

I would estimate insurance to be around $500/year. I estimate the M license process would cost around $200-300 total, and that the plates cost $20, then $42/year to renew.

This is starting to get expensive! And the testing process for the M license is time consuming. First you read the little motorcycle booklet and take a written test. Then you have a 90-day permit (M1, similar to G1) to learn how to ride your scooter sans passenger, alcohol and night-time driving. Then you take your M2 road test at some obscure location and have that license for the next 22 months, or 18 months if you take a safety course.

All the while you’re paying a premuium on your insurance because you are an inexperienced rider. What a bummer. The rates should go down after you get your full M though.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I’d need to buy a helmet for about $150, and any accessories such as rack or top case would cost more, too.


So there is my rundown of costs and hassles involved in getting a scooter. What I have therefore decided to do, is purchase one either new or used at the end of the season/fiscal year to help save me some money. My dad will store it in the garage and I’ll go for my license, etc. next spring. I’ll then be able to ride it for the entire spring, summer and fall next year :)

If I am paying approximately $50/month in insurance and $20/month in gas, I will still be paying less than the cost of my TTC pass! And scooters are pretty good on emissions, so I don’t feel as though I am creating too much pollution. I will be able to get around when I want and go where I want and have an easy way to carry things like groceries and friends. I can also park for free in the city of Toronto. Whoopee!

So, have I convinced you to buy a scooter yet?

Investing in a Vespa?

Anyone who lives in the Greater Toronto Area is probably now aware that the TTC did a sneak attack and went on strike at 12am this morning, leaving people at bars and clubs in the city stranded.

It has caused our city to come to a grinding halt and inconvenienced thousands upon thousands of riders who depend on the TTC to get them around.

This includes me.

This weekend, I *gasp!* actually had some social plans (I know! It’s crazy! Hermit Ginger actually having social plans?! Unbelievable.), so of course they had to go on strike. Of course they did.

That means 3 friendly outings today alone were botched, and my shopping plans for Sunday, too. I’m not too thrilled, as you can imagine.

But I guess I shouldn’t really complain too much. After all, it is the weekend and all neccessities such as grocery stores, pharmacy and laundromat are all within walking distance to me. I’ll be fine on that front, but it’s just injustice of the situation… I was finally going to be social and work on not being so awkward and the TTC had to ruin it. Thank gods I wasn’t clubbing last night.

This ridiculous strike has forced me to reevaluate my transportation options. Currently there is no possible way I can afford to either a) move closer to my workplace, b) walk or ride my bike to work (too far), nor c) afford a car.

So what else can I do when the TTC is on strike or having one of its many mechanical failures?

Coincidentally, when I received my May Metropass in the mail yesterday (on the discount plan) there was a coupon offering a membership with AutoShare for only $75 (AutoShare is a service that loans out cars for hours or days to its members, similar to ZipCars). This might actually be doable, it’s cheaper than ZipCars and there is a parking lot right by my house so I could certainly use it. It would cost me about $9.50/hour to rent a car, plus an annual fee of $35. That’s reasonable.

However, I’m not sure how easy it would be to reserve a vehicle during a strike. Hmmm. It would certainly make groceries easier though.

My other option, which I am seriously considering is purchasing a scooter. The Vespa brand definitely has the cutest, but they’re also the most expensive, so I’ve looked up some other brands and they’re much more affordable.

My dad has given me his blessing to get one, and is going to check to see how much it would cost to insure a scooter. I would have to get my M license but as I understand it I would be able to ride my scooter right away as long as it’s during daylight hours in the city.

I’ve googled a couple of shops in the area and I plan to go in and ask questions about the different types and brands, associated costs and the pros and cons of owning a scooter. I hope that the sales staff will be able to help me find the right scooter for my needs. I would love one that fits 2 people and has the luggage box on the back.

So far what I have learned is that it is economical and also less impactful on the environment to ride a scooter. It would give me more freedom and flexibility in terms of personal transportation, and I could use one for at least 6 months out of the year.

If I buy a used scooter I can get them for less than $3000, and most will only cost $4-10 per tank of gas. If I get a new scooter the pricetag would be much higher, but I would stay under $4000.

So now the hunt begins. Wish me luck!

Click here for the AutoShare discount for TTC MDP members.