Interest in motorcycles and scooters has increased in London with the introduction last month of a congestion levy for cars.

Interest in motorcycles and scooters has increased in London with the introduction last month of a congestion levy for cars.

Motorists entering London will be required to pay five pounds a day between 7am and 6.30 pm on weekdays. The aim is to reduce congestion in the city.

But there are ways around it. Motorcycles, taxis and buses are exempt from the levy.

Dave Plumber, of Benelli scooter companies, told : "This could double the market for scooters. If people have to pay five pounds a day, they could easily buy and run a small scooter for that cost, including the depreciation on it."

Meanwhile, a Warwickshire-based company is marketing the bubble bike, what it calls “the ultimate commuter-bike” to avoid the congestion charge.

The Bubble Bike is a ton-up, twist-and-go scooter with a roof. The first production machine is based on Yamaha’s XP500 TMAX, which combines the best of motorcycle performance and handling with the ease of use of an automatic scooter.

Although it is open-sided, the machine’s clever aerodynamics keep the rider and passenger warmly cocooned in a ‘bubble’ of still air. In good weather the roof can be removed in a matter of minutes.

With the use of optional accessories the Bubble Bike can carry tools and equipment and therefore provide a serious alternative to a small van while beating both the traffic and the congestion charge.

The bike, sells in Britain for about 1 200 pounds (R15 000), is 79 cm wide. Phil Meaton, who led the design work, said: "Not only does this avoid the congestion charge but it will also save you time on your journey because of its ability to manoeuvre in and out of the traffic."