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What is a Moped?

By Patti Kate
Updated Jan 27, 2024
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A moped is a type of bike powered by a motor, similar to a motorcycle, but with much less power. Considered to be a super-economy vehicle, mopeds are an option for those wanting an alternative to traditional everyday transportation. Although many styles of mopeds feature pedals as bicycles do, the engine that is equipped on mopeds is one feature that differentiates two. Regulations and license requirements for mopeds may vary in different locations, but are generally not as restrictive as those for operating a motorcycle.

Sometimes referred to as a motorbike, a moped will not reach speeds as high as motorcycles do. Typically, a moped will top out at around 35-45 miles (approximately 56 km) per hour. Engine size of a moped is never greater than 49 or 50 cc, and anything higher will be considered a motorcycle.

It is not unusual for a moped to have three wheels. Most models, however, feature the two-wheel design. Utilizing what is known as a two-stroke engine, mopeds are generally fueled by gasoline and engine oil together. Some mopeds feature four-stroke engines, and these are generally less fuel efficient. Another aspect that sets the moped apart from a motorcycle is the lack of a manual gear shift.

Electric mopeds do not use gasoline for fuel, as these models are powered by a rechargeable battery pack. A 500-watt motor is the standard found in these models. Electric mopeds are typically not as powerful as the gasoline-powered models, however, and will not typically reach the speeds of the fuel-powered vehicles. An advantage to the electric-powered moped is that generally it does not need to be registered like a fuel-burning model.

Most mopeds, whether electric or gasoline powered, will have many of the standard features as motorcycles, such as brake lights and head lights. These vehicles will also feature a standard speedometer, often with a digital LCD display. These vehicles also come equipped with side view mirrors. Hydraulic disc brakes are another typical feature.

Electric and gasoline-powered mopeds generally may be purchased either online or from a dealer. Some models require minimal assembly as well. The electric moped variety may feature a step-through design, although many of the gasoline-powered models do not have that feature. Most models of mopeds have large enough seating to accommodate a second passenger.

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