Pros and Cons of buying a Chinese Import Scooter: My DirectBikes Moped Review

Posted by admin on Mar 23, 2011 in opinion, technology |
My DirectBikes scooter

My DirectBikes scooter


Last year I decided I was sick of my daily struggle with public transport and decided to get a moped. It would be quicker than the bus, more economical than a travel card, and would invest me with the type of ‘cool factor’ that you only get in Shoreditch. Alas, my budget wasn’t quite as big as my dreams, so I settled on buying a Chinese import scooter from import company Direct Bikes– and this is my tale.

There are many options when buying a Moped, and they range from purchasing a brand new model from a dealer, to getting a second hand version on eBay. Models and prices vary from around £500  for a used version to £1900 and up for a brand new scooter. Options do tend to get a bit more limited when your budget is low and you’re set on owning something pink (repressed Barbie fantasies) so I was a little bit stuck when searching for one. I have a full car licence, but annoyingly it was issued in 2003, which means I need to complete a CBT (a one day training course, approx £110) to ride a 50cc or 125cc scooter. Anything above 125cc required an investment of around £1500+ to get the correct licence,  and I wasn’t willing to go there.. yet.  The rest of the costs are negligible, as I live in London and scooters don’t have to pay congestion charge. Parking is also free in most places in central London, apart from Westminster where it’s £1.

DirectBike moped in detail

DirectBike moped in detail

With these facts in hand I set off to buy a moped and experienced issues at every turn. Either they were well out of my price point- like this beautiful pink Vespa, or they were based in Manchester and I had no easy way of getting there. eBay wasn’t a huge help, nor was Gumtree, and then I stumbled across a site called DirectBikes. They ship all their bikes in from China, and sell them brand new in the UK at a markup. Even with their markup it was still only £649 for a BRAND new bike, plus a non negotiable £80 odd pounds for delivery. And no, you couldn’t pick it up yourself. Boo. OK, so that’s £731 all in so far.

I ordered it online.. and it didn’t go through. I rang them and they said my address had been wrong (it wasn’t) and reordered it. Same issue. Different card tried, same issue. Now my bank was calling me because they though there had been some fraud taking place and I had zero cash (frozen ) and no bike. Four days later I tried again, this time ringing them straightaway. Exact same problem. Losing hope, I got the boyfriend to try them, and somehow it went through. No apologies from them about this, and no mention of when they’ll fix their website ordering process- consider yourself warned.

Three days later the bike arrived, in a packing crate. Isn’t it lovely???

Moped in the packing crate

Moped in the packing crate

A few things needed to be adjusted before I could go ahead and ride it- the battery had to be charged and the mirrors attached, but this was pretty simple stuff, and I’d been informed of this prior to purchase. The bike had no number plate however, because the Direct Bikes folk are cheap and make you pay to register it themselves. That isn’t their excuse though as they laughably say , ‘By registering the scooter before the scooter is sold makes the scooter second hand, you become the second owner. This significantly reduces the value of your scooter. We only sell new scooters where you are the first owner’. Yeah, bollocks. If there’s 0 miles on the clock you’re the first owner.

I can live with this however, as registration is £55 pounds- yep price is mounting for the £649 scooter, which is now at £786. When you register is you also pay for a tax disc (£15), so we’re up to £801. To register is you need documents from the DVLA and forms to fill in.. but the DVLA phone number has a recorded voice mail going ‘due to unseasonable amounts of calls we want you to check online…’ BEEP. Ta, very much then.

Online it says that the number plate ordering process can take 4-6 weeks for you to get a number plate and that you have to provide insurance documents to get it. Hmm. So you’re paying for insurance on a scooter you can’t ride yet? Grreat.

I checked with the insurers, and because my bike doesn’t have plates yet it costs an average £100 more to insure, for f**ks sake. The story gets more convoluted- don’t give up!

As it’s a cheap bike, the excess on third party, fire and theft works out at around the same cost as the insurance- so like, £350 insurance and £350 excess.. not really worth it. Will keep looking. The Direct Bikes company recommends their ‘friendly’ insurers Rampdale- who refuse to insure freelancers as we’re not a viable option. Ta very much, back to square one.

DirectBikes scooter details

DirectBikes scooter details

GoCompare has given me more favourable rates, but there’s still that dratted excess to contend with. I have heard (don’t quote me) that pink bikes are the least likely to get stolen, but it’s my baby… and I want it to be safe! I know that London has a high incident of moped theft and I’m worried that something as pretty as my bike will just get walked off with. Finally I choose an insurer, and just grit my teeth and go with it. Next up-bike plates. Deciding I didn’t want to chance my number plates to the deep recesses of the DVLA I travelled across town to their London office (Wimbledon is so not central) and gave my forms in there. They said it would take around ten days (much less than their prerecorded message said) and the documents arrived within that time. Then I had to take them to a shop and get the plates created (yes, more money- kerching!). Now my bike was finally ride-able.. and I’d spent £820 plus insurance- higher than anticipated.

So, the big question- how did it drive?

I’ll be honest with you here- it is AMAZING. The engine purrs nicely into life, the moped accelerates quickly and the brakes are very responsive. It’s comfortable to sit on, and is great for taking on London traffic. The bike is a lovely bright colour- way better than hoped for, and looks really striking and riding it is fun. Sure, there could be more power, but I knew what I was getting when I got a 50cc.  I rode it without the free (finally!) topbox for a while, then after one Tesco shop too many put it on, and it holds everything very nicely. I feel very in control when on it, and the bike handles wet weather well. The quality of the seatcover isn’t the best- it’s most definitely ‘pleather’, but it feels nice to sit on and looks fine for the price.

Issues with the DirectBikes bike

Six odd months on and I’ve had one or two problems with my bike. The first was when I managed to smash both lights (oops) as the bike toppled over (1 of them) and then I managed to hit the other into a lamp post. Brand name Vespa’s have the lights integrated as part of the frame, but this cheaper model has them protruding- not good for someone like me. I was worried it would cost a lot to replace, as I knew parts were scarce and expensive and eBay showed me the lights at £14 each. I decided to call DirectBikes (just in case) and found they could do replacement lights for £5.50! Woo hoo! And they arrived within two days. Score.

The second problem was when the indicators suddenly and without warning stopped working. Cue scary driving, and the bike not leaving the house. The issue was the ‘indicator relay lights’, and the parts were cheap when I checked on eBay. As I have a year warranty for parts however, I rang DirectBikes up and asked for a new part.. only to be fobbed off with, ‘You need a service! Call Greg on 0777xx to arrange this and he’ll sort it out’. When asked how much that was they said, ‘You’ll have to negotiate it’. Hmm, suspicious. Phonecall 2. Technically under their T’s and C’s I did need a service- but at only 3 months of usage I didn’t want to pay for one! Greg was actually great to talk to, and arranged for the relay light to be sent free of charge. I fitted it easily (OK, with an online tutorial) and the bike was 100% once more.

My DirectBikes pink moped

My DirectBikes pink moped

The final verdict

Overall, I’m happy with the bike. It didn’t help that I found out they’d been featured on Watchdog, but despite that fact, I was pleased with what I got. I bought a budget bike, and it performed very well. The DirectBikes people may not have been the most helpful staff in the world, but things (eventually) got done, and my bike remains in good nick today. It does scratch quite easily and the design of the indicator lights is a bit silly, but it’s a comfortable drive and handles roads well. Be aware of the hidden costs involved in this purchase and the extra effort needed to get set up and then you won’t be caught out.

You can try out DirectBikes for yourself here. What do you think of the brand- any personal experience?


Barbie Pink Moped

Barbie Pink Moped

Here is an image of what may have subliminally motivated me to buy this. I’m not sure if I see the resemblance, do you?

Check out some cool looking scooter helmets to go with your moped here.

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Sep 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hi thanks for review have just ordered a sports 50cc scooter for my son waiting for it to be delivered , feel better having read your review many thanks

Sep 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I have just spent two nightmare days (hmmm can a day be a nightmare I wonder!) with Direct Bikes. Rude, aggressive, they do not comply with the ‘distance selling regulations’ and I am awaiting for a refund as I have now cancelled my order. They are refusing to refund the £135.00 next day delivery fee (even though they couldn’t deliver for 2 days!) and charge a cancellation fee of £30.00. So far, my impulse to get a bike has cost me £165.00. Under the distance selling regulations retailers must refund the full cost of the product(s) ordered, including delivery during the 7 day ‘cool off’ period. I’ve yet to even get the price of the bike back at £499.00 (oh, less £30.00 cancellation fee) so I’m even less hopeful that I’ll ever get the £135.00 delivery fee back. The bike hasn’t even left their warehouse so how they can justify keeping this fee is beyond me. I’m now like a ‘dog with a bone’, I’ll be tweeting Katie Price and Imran Khan who are now featured on DB’s website, I have already contacted Citizen’s Advice and will be on to Hertfordshire Trading Standards, Watchdog and Rip-off Britain too! Buy a bike from Direct Bikes at your own risk!

Sep 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm

love your review, ordered a pink one too! very happy with purchase thanks again. if your in london we should meet up with our bikes. i live in convent garden. i think i may have seen you around.

Sep 14, 2013 at 11:25 am

I have just had my direct bikes 50cc registration refused by the DVLA. Got a letter this morning saying the NOVA (Notification of Vehicle Arrival) for Customs and Excise hasn’t been done by Direct Bikes. I have tried calling and emailing to Direct Bikes but no one responds. Has anyone had this problem and how did you manage to sort it out ?

ian barker
Sep 14, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Nice write up very much as it is well done, i have serviced and repair a number of these china scooter now for friends and am very surprised at both the quality and parts prices.

Sep 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm

My bike has turned up yesterday, looks fantastic ;))))))))))))))))))))

Sep 17, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Got in touch with Direct Bikes and the HMRC NOVA request letter has been sent now. Looks like Direct Bikes have a backlog of around 3 weeks so make sure you ask them to do the NOVA for HM Customs and Excise before trying to register the bike.

Sep 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm


Does anyone have a better contact number for Directbikes? Mine turned up yesterday with 2 massive scratches and just cannot get hold of them on the 0845 number provided!


Sep 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm

my 49cc scoot has been running now for a year, good little bike. costs around £8 to fill up, makes a change from my £70 mini car fill up. got a puncture last week, easy to find tyres. managed also to get a great little bike sat nav that i can plug in when i go around london.

james mcnicholas
Sep 19, 2013 at 6:43 am

I live in the united states in Tampa FL and here all we have to pay is tag and title, cost around 20 bucks a year. before I bought my scooter, I was looking at a lot of models, and the china made ones were a lot cheaper, and people were saying don’t buy a china scooter, there junk. but after seeing reviews online and talking to people who had a china scooter, they said you need to buy one. they have had there’s for a long time and no problems. also china has no copyright laws so they can clone anything and sell it as there own, and the motors that are on the china scooters, well there the same ones on many of the name brand scooters. it came with the 1p39 gy6 motor witch is a 64cc motor unlike a lot of the competitors 139 gy6 49cc motor. so right off the bat, its got a better motor. I’ve only owned mine for a few days, just long enough to put 67 miles on it. I love it. motor runs strong, runs great and drives so smooth. I think it drives better than Vespa’s, lol sorry Vespa, but true. the only thing is I had to replace the fuel lines because in china they don’t put ethanol in there gas but we do, so the gas lines would go bad if I didn’t replace them with good u.s. approved ones. also the spark plug needed to be upgraded and I put a new racing cdi on it as well as the spark plug boot and wires. also im going to put a new carburetor on it as well due to I have herd the china ones are junk and clog after so long. in a few weeks im going to order a 100cc bore kit to make it go faster, from 35mph to 50mph. after all the parts I replaced and going to replace, its just going to cost me about 100 bucks. after all said and done, I love my china scooter. some cheep things on it like the body plastics and such, but great powertrain. and if you take care of your china scooter, it will last for ever.

harry clives
Sep 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm

So after I ready you review i decided to order one of their bikes. Ordered online and was at my door in two days. Arrived in good condition. Was very well packaged, had trouble getting out of packaging! eventually it was out. looks good and started first time. just awaiting my insurance docs. good purchase. Will keep you updated.

Sep 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Absolutely flaming typical. I’ve had my Tommy 125 for nearly six weeks now, have literally just sent out registration documents on Friday, first I have even heard of this, so I am expecting to be turned down. Seriously, this machine better be worth all this time and aggro.

Sep 25, 2013 at 8:34 am

All arrived on time & good working order. Does anyone know where I can buy a good bike cover from?

julian caine
Sep 26, 2013 at 12:56 pm

hi, i’ve jst ordered the direct bikes classic 125cc, has anyone any experience of these bikes and are they any good.

Sep 26, 2013 at 11:53 pm

I got turned down twice by the DVLA when trying to register the bike because the HMRC NOVA number still hadn’t been generated. I got my NOVA number 2 days ago from Direct Bikes so going to try registering again. Had my bike 5 weeks now and still not yet Registered but hoping it will be soon. A bit annoying how long the process takes to get the bike Registered.

susan watts
Sep 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm

ordered my brand new pink bike on saturday – came on tuesday. i love the colour and look, started first time now off to get my helmet. thanks for the informative review.

Sep 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Got turned down. Direct bikes sent me a letter saying the tax was £16
and £55 registration. I sent £71 in postal order, they sent it all back. Had bike 7 weeks now and seriously not happy now.

Sep 30, 2013 at 10:41 am


Louise redman
Sep 30, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Thanks for the review, got one and happy I did :)))))

Oct 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Hi Gary,

You need to ask Direct Bikes to handle the NOVA for HMRC for you. Eventually after you remind them they will send you the NOVA reference number you can use to register the bike with the DVLA.

Takes a while but you will get there. I am still waiting for my 3rd attempt at registration from the DVLA so will let you know how I get on.


Oct 4, 2013 at 11:31 pm

ha! like your bike but not as good as mine, got a lynx 125cc black, nice motor.

Oct 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Bike now Registered and on the road ! Took 6 weeks but worth it. 35 km driven and ok so far.

Oct 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Well done mark! I’m just waiting again…

Oct 9, 2013 at 10:38 am

Finally got on the road after nine weeks, for one day! Electric start is making no noise and now kick start isn’t working either. Really not happy.

Oct 9, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Haha, turned out I was just being thick. Done 50km, so far so good. It has been a long wait, but if it keeps performance up I will be happy.

Oct 10, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Glad you got it on the road. I remember the electric start only works if the stand is up. I think it is a safety feature. I’ve done 100km and so far so good. Starts ok and runs well. No sign of any rust or anything but we do keep in a garage when not using.

Nov 6, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Hi love your review, had my bike now for 6 months, all good. does anyone know where i can get a good full face helmet from?

Dec 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

I’ve been through hell with this company. They delivered faulty bike, it would not start. They would not accept return and refund the money. They sent their mechanic from London to fix the bike, he spent 2 hours and could not fix it. He took it to London with him. Now they claim it was a flat battery only… Haha, what kind of mechanic would be spending 2 hours if he thought it’s as simple as a flat battery. Plus I know it wasn’t because we charged it and it still wouldn’t work. It’s the worst Chinese company every, terribly poor manners and customer service, would never buy from them again. Wanted to go to small claim court, but now they fixed it I don’t have a case. Shame I let them to take it to London. Honestly, don’t bother with these cheap rubbish bikes…

Dec 11, 2013 at 10:30 am

my bike has come yesterday, looks lovely. only cost me £6 to fill up, such a change from filling up my car! the bike came on time with everything there, my husband helped me set it up, just had to put wing mirrors on and get some petrol. started first time and being riding it around my estate. it is quite nippy and very quite. there seems quite a lot of storage under the seat and in the top box. my husband has a vespa and i think this bike is better made, he had a lot of trouble with it. I love my new scooter, the review was great and made me buy one in the first place. thanks again :))))))))))

Dec 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm

hi in the process of buying a scooter do the dvla state why they wont let the vehicles on the road

Dec 13, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I’ve had a couple of chink scoots. To be honest I would get a proper machine in future.
Anyway, if you have problems with them loosing power, cutting out and refusing to start for an hour two – this is v common.
Save yourself a lot of trial and error and get the valve clearances reset. This is the most likely cause. The quality controls at the factories are poor. They will ship them out with little or no valve clearance, so when they get hot the valve is permanently open due to thermal expansion, resulting in zero compression.

Dec 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I’m a woman with no motorcycle experience, I’ve gone with a db125t-f classic scooter as it was cheap and affordable.
However I would not recommend that any lady without any experience should use this company.
They are not very helpful and take ages to get in touch with you. You can not get the company on the phone, everything has to be done by email.
When trying to get parts for it under its warranty is like trying to get blood out of a stone.
They will not send anyone out to look at it when it breaks down. You will be given the mechanics number and he tells you its down to you to fix the issue.
With mine its been issue after issue. Faulty battery. Faulty fuel pump. Faulty carburettor. Loss of both back break lights and indicators for no reason. Faulty throttle.
I wish I paid a little bit more and went with a better company.

Jan 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Hello Zara, i am thinking of buying the big wheeled CITY 125cc model. to me its the best looking bike out there, I would just like to point out to those thinking of buying….do not be put off because of worries about the engine, all or most Chinese bikes use the GY6 engine, this is highly respected among Scooterists because…. its a good engine, thanks for such a good review and i must say that you look so good that your picture should be on Direct Bikes web site … would be a great advert for them.

Jan 10, 2014 at 12:44 pm

i have just ordered the 50cc £499 one lets hope I will not regret it.I have been taking notes tho of everyone comments.I am not too worried about the paperwork effort (I have a feeling that i might regret saying that later on)

Whats the best and cheapest place to get them insured?.If DB even try screwing me over I will send so many emails and call them they will get sick of me and have to sort it

fototaker Tony
Jan 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

i’ve been searching for DIY fix hints for non-functioning turn signals on chinese scooters. i have a 150cc and they went out abt a year ago. in San Francisco there’s a few pink scooters, cars and even people!! hahahaa you havent mentioned your turn signals recently so i take it it’s fixed? all the girls here – and there’s many here buying scooters – wear long jeans and boots and it’s warmer here than in London, but all you need to do is fall once and you’ll know why, especially while going 30mph! HA! take care and be safe on that pink scooter!! great pixs and writeup!

Jan 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

i purchased a milan 125 scooter from direct bikes in december 2013 ,when i unpacked it i found that the back wheel was buckled.dispite several emails to the company most of which have not been answered i sent them a disc of the fault as their computer could not accept a video! it was posted first class and had to be signed for,but dispite office hours of 10am-5pm there was no reply.turns out the office is a private address if you look on google.have now phoned the 0800 phone number and selected sales and i got a answer.could not speak to the manager as was out ha ha! am waiting for an answer or will take it to court.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:10 am

I can not contact Direct bikes to find out one of their alleged 200 service centres are by phone, it states try e-mail, cant get through, sent a letter requesting a service centre no
reply. Scooter seems ok service crap

helen justins
Feb 1, 2014 at 12:28 pm

My scooter came last week, amazing! Thanks for the review, very happy with my purchase. I have never bought a scooter on the internet before. The price and quality is good. Managed to get my insurance online for under £100. To fill all the way up cost me £8. No more congestion charge for me. Whoopeee!!!!!

terry Harris
Feb 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

direct bikes scooters they are quick to sell,but what hassle if something wrong no one wants to help , my local bike repair centre wont touch direct bikes,even tho direct bikes told me to contact them, engine wont start (no spark) any help out there, lynx 125cc

Feb 13, 2014 at 6:45 am

I live in China, you have all been robbed. A 50cc scooter brand new here costs 1800RMB, which is £180.

Mar 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I got one of these, STAY AWAY. It was the worst decision ever, the warranty is pointless, they won’t honor it. I tried to get in touch several times and they just won’t reply. They take your money and give you shitty bike that’s been sitting in a warehouse for at least 2 years as it were new. STAY AWAY.

Apr 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Ive just purchased my bike , I have to say im impressed , took two days to deliver , in total 3 weeks from start to finish , registration complete didnt have to take to dvla, perhaps im just lucky , or maybe the influx of foreign imports that dvla have now given up and just register them any way, so lets break it down £499 bike £85 delivery, £158 insurance , £55registration,£17 tax £18 l plates and number plate ,so there you have it now you make your mind up

Apr 14, 2014 at 10:41 am

Good to see your riding a moped but really take this from someone who builds his own bikes and races them. Direct bike please you with there cheAp prices and everything but I highly recommend you steer far away from them. The framework is made poorly and can break at any point, the carbourettor is not properly fitted and restricts the fuel flow to the crank shaft. The list goes on. I highly recommend you just save and get a decent branded scooter like Yamaha or Honda. Stay away from anything Chinese. Japanese is good. And even better go ahead and get a 125 🙂 much more speed and agility. If any of you do read this please go subscribe to my motorvlogging chAnnel called “TheMetalbiker” :3

Remember ride safe, and try get those knees down 😉

peter holder
Apr 25, 2014 at 6:40 pm

great little machine, no problems, had mine for over 2 years now.

May 13, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Hi. Our daughter wants to buy a 50cc moped from Direct Bikes but she wants to go and view a bike and try it for size as she is only short. She’s tried other makes and models but, so far, they are too big for her (Her feet don’t touch the ground). She has recently passed her CBT training and wants to get a moped so she can get around and continue with her St Johns Ambulance training. We asked Direct Bikes if we could visit their showroom but they’ve said that we should look at the bikes via their website and place an order. Apparently delivery is £100 and if the bike is no good (Too big for her) they want another £100 to come and collect it. I’m not happy. As an ex-biker (Suzuki and Honda owner) I’ve NEVER heard of these people and £500+ for a new moped sounds to good to be true SO I’m advising her to keep on trying the local shops and to forget DB. I’ve also read the above reports. Some good n some bad.

catherine p
Jun 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Hi, thanks for the review that made me buy one! I purchased my bike 10 months ago, very happy with it. Bought a matching helmet from my local scooter shop. I would advise getting a chain lock just in case some thug tries to steal it. Starts on the button each day. Had it out over the winter too. I cant really fault the bike at all. Ample storage under seat and with the top box. Can get up to 35mph on my 50cc and acceleration is good. Costs me around £8 to fill up so very good on petrol too.

Jun 4, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Had my 125 Cobra for a couple of months now, just over a thousand miles.
Delivered in a few days but took DVLA weeks to get paperwork to me, didn’t have to insure prior to registration which saved a bob or two. Rode at about 20 – 30 mph for first 80+ miles then let loose the dogs of war. Got the thing serviced after about 500 miles, valve timing needed adjusting but no other issues. 30 mile round trip to work 3 times a week, in town and on A roads, about 105 mpg, I’m not small which can’t help. At times it hits 64 mph! Top box removed as it kept opening on the way to work. All together very pleased.

kevin jerps
Jun 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

great little bike, no issues to date, thanks, cant go wrong for the price!

Jul 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Hi, got my bike on saturday, very happy :)))) Does anyone know where I can get a helmet from?

Oct 4, 2014 at 4:09 pm

i got mine delivered today, no battery manual or wing mirrors, this happened to anyone else?anyone got a real phone number? 0845 never gets answered.




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