They are currently exempt from the London congestion charge, and because of their small engines, provide a more economical, environmentally-friendly means of transport than cars. And, according to Honda's aftersales and technical development manager Dave Hancock, scooters could be used by any fleet.
He said: 'As long as fleets are provided with the correct product and maintenance and it is not too expensive, any fleet could run scooters.'
Scooter manufacturers are now even designing machines with the business rider in mind, increasing the amount of luggage space and improving specification to protect against the elements.
Hancock explained: 'Big scooters are designed for businesses. Under the seat they can carry a briefcase and they can cruise on motorways at the same speed as a car. From our range, we would offer fleets the Silverwing 600 because it has good power and weather protection through a high screen and leg shields. Riders have their feet forward so it is more comfortable and they can ride in the rain as the design means they only get wet when they stop.'
Since the introduction of the London congestion charge, Honda has noticed an increase in scooter sales and expects sales to benefit from additional charging zones. Hancock said: 'There has been an increase in 125cc sales in the centre of London. If the congestion charge does spread across other cities, there will be a marked increase in sales. We currently supply pizza fleets, the police, ambulance services, the AA and the Ministry of Defence but in any business there are bike enthusiasts who would choose a bike if offered the choice. It is an alternative we are looking at.'
Honda believes the two main factors dissuading fleets from swapping from four wheels to two is the weather and security problems. However, the manufacturer is working on designs to combat these problems. Hancock said: 'The biggest problem for running scooter fleets is the weather. Scooters need to be designed with better weather protection.
'With smaller bikes, security is another problem. The majority of scooters are stolen by joyriders. We are looking at different forms of anti-theft device. An immobiliser which would be factory fit and cheap could combat the problem.' Honda has also looked at lowering the height of scooters and introducing adjustable seats and handle bars in a bid to attract shorter riders.
New scooters for 2004
PIAGGIO X9 EVOLUTION 500
Piaggio has refined its 'maxi-scoot' X9 Evolution 500 which now includes a new fuel injection mapping which improves slow speed running and adds smoother progression as revs increase. The exhaust has been re-designed to include a two-stage catalytic converter alongside a new transmission system which Piaggio claims will offer reduced running noise. Additional options include colour coded top box, alarm and heated handlebar grips.
SUZUKI BURGMAN 650 EXECUTIVE
The Burgman 650 Executive has automatic transmission which shifts to manual at the touch of the button. It features a 638cc liquid-cooled twin-cylinder fuel-injected engine and also has a host of add-ons. Extras on the Executive include ABS brakes, pillion backrest and electric rear view mirrors. Style-wise, the Executive comes with chrome plating.
VESPA GRANTURISMO 125/200
This is Vespa's first new scooter to hit the roads since 1996 and is the biggest, fastest and most advanced Vespa Piaggio has produced to date. Available with 125cc or 200cc engines, it is the first Vespa to use a liquid-cooled four-valve four-stroke engine meeting Euro2 emissions. The Granturismo also uses 12-inch wheels and a twin disc braking system.
YAMAHA CYGNUS X
The Cygnus X uses a 125cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine. It weighs just 114kg, which Yamaha claims improves handling, providing a more nimble ride. The scooter also has telescopic forks, twin rear shocks and disc front brakes. Yamaha is also launching the majesty 400, which it claims offers the same weather protection as a maxi-scooter. The bodywork helps deflect wind and rain away from the rider.
Make sure drivers are legally entitled to ride on two wheels
The DVLA deals with all licence applications. Collect a form from the post office or visit www.dvla.gov.uk.
If you passed your driving test in a car after February 1, 2001, you must complete compulsory basic training (CBT) before riding a scooter up to 125cc on the road.
However, you may ride on a road under the supervision of an approved instructor as part of that training course.
If you passed your driving test in a car before February 1, 2001, you may use your car licence to ride a moped up to 50cc without L-plates. Scooters up to 125cc still require CBT training.
Motorcycles over 125cc can only be ridden when a full standard category A licence has been obtained.