Just to make sure we all have a good Christmas and New Year, The Rail Delivery Group announced that the biggest rise in train fares for five years will be hitting the UK on January 2nd – cheers for that.
Yep, tickets will be going up by an average of 3.4% just as we all start trudging back to work in 2018. That might not sound a lot, but it’s putting over £100 on top of the average annual season ticket, and means more commuters than ever will join the unhappy band who’re forking out over £5000 to get to work and back each year; season tickets to London are already over £5k from places like Milton Keynes, but from January commuters from Oxfordshire, Essex and East Sussex will also be looking at north of £5k to get to the capital.
Add to that the increasing passenger numbers on already oversubscribed routes, delays (1 in 9 trains were late in the UK last year) and strike action – ref: Southern Rail, to name just one – and you’d be mad not to be considering two wheel travel to the office next year.
Even if you haven’t got a bike license (if you have, what the f*ck are you doing sitting on a train?!) the costs of rider training, insurance, fuel and bike gear, plus a a PCP deal on a brand new scooter big enough to tackle a serious daily commute each day, will still come in way less than just one year’s season ticket, as well as reducing your daily commuting time and lowering your blood pressure*.
Here’s six of the best:
Honda’s SH300 might look funny, but it’s a big seller on the Continent, and for good reason. Those 16-inch wheels make it handle and hold the road like it’s on rails; add to that the punchy and smooth 279cc fuel injected motor and 125cc dimensions, and it’s one of the fastest things through traffic you can buy.
Seat height: 805mm
Fuel capacity: 9 litres
The J300 was Kawasaki’s first foray into the scooter world, and it’s a very good effort. OK, it’s not strictly all their own work – it’s actually a Kymco underneath, a Taiwanese company that also makes scooters for BMW – but the tweaks they’ve made have given it a strong motor, easy handling, a good spec and a very comfortable ride.
Seat height: 775mm
Fuel capacity: 13 litres
Yamaha X-Max 300
The X-Max fills the gap between the N-Max 125 and the prized-by-theives-and-eye-wateringly expensive T-Max 500 in the Yamaha range. For a daily commute, you don’t need much more: enough power to overtake on the motorway, predictable and confidence-inspiring chassis, decent weather protection and executive-level spec – adjustable screen and bars, lockable storage, power socket, anti-lock brakes, traction control and much more.
Seat height: 795mm
Fuel capacity: 13 litres
Substance meets style. If the ‘modern’ scoots do nothing for you, the GTS is what you should be looking at. Vespa style with genuine 80mph performance, respectable handing, a solid engine and more accessories than you can shake a fox tail on an ariel at. Get to work quicker than your colleagues, and look good while you’re at it.
Seat height: 790mm
Fuel capacity: 9.5 litres
Peugeot Satelis 2 400
Although not many people know it, Peugeot’s have been making scooters since Noah was a lad, and as a result are very, very good at it. Version 2 of their Satelis 400i is worthy of the pedigree and blends the practicality of a maxi scooter with class-leading performance – it puts out an impressive 37bhp. Its 6,200-mile service intervals makes running the Satelis easy on the wallet too.
Seat Height: 784 mm
Weight: 213 kg
Fuel capacity: 13.5 litres
Kymco X-Town 300i ABS
You might not have heard of Kymco, but they are a serious player in the two-wheel game, having had tie-ins with Honda, BMW and Kawasaki. As we said earlier their X-Town 300i is pretty much the same as the Kawasaki J300, but with a bit of negotiating at the dealer, should come in a few hundred quid cheaper. If you’re not bothered about the badge, it’s definitely worth considering.
Seat height: 785mm
Fuel capacity: 12.5 litres