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What is a moped?

You might have heard the words scooter and moped being used interchangeably to refer to similar vehicles and wondered if there’s any difference between the two. If you’ve recently turned 16 and you’re looking for your first road vehicle, even this level of technical jargon can be confusing. To help you out, here’s a quick guide to what makes a moped.

What is a moped?

Historically, a moped was basically a motorised bicycle, and had pedals. The name is actually a portmanteau of motor and pedal. Modern mopeds no longer have pedals, and so the term is used to refer to two-wheeled vehicles of a certain engine size, shape, and top speed.

Mopeds typically have a step-through frame that makes you sit upright, as opposed to a motorbike frame that you straddle. Because of their low top speed and function as a city vehicle, mopeds don’t need the same level of aerodynamics as a proper motorbike. That’s why you don’t need to sit on them in the same way.

The standard engine size for a moped is 50cc; giving it a top speed of around 28mph. Mopeds generally have automatic transmissions, and are called “twist and go.” This refers to the fact that you literally only need to twist the accelerator to get the vehicle moving. Their ease of use makes mopeds a great choice for young riders, and those that are new to the road.

To ride a moped you need to be at least 16, and have obtained a CBT. This is the absolute minimum experience needed to get on the road, and the course only lasts a day. They’re valid for two years, after which you either need to take another one or get your full licence. You need a proper licence to ride anything larger than a 125cc motorbike.

Moped vs. Scooter

So now that we’ve defined a moped, what’s the difference between a moped and a scooter? There are a few differences, the most important being:

  • Mopeds generally only have 50cc engines, whereas a scooter can be anything between 50cc and 150cc.
  • Scooters with larger engine sizes have much higher tops speeds, usually up to 60/70mph.
  • Scooters can have either manual or automatic transmissions, whereas mopeds are usually automatic
  • Scooters have the same style frame as a moped, but they usually have smaller wheels.
  • 50cc scooters can be ridden at 16, but for any more powerful models you need to be 17 or older.
  • You only need a CBT to ride anything up to a 125cc scooter, but for anything more powerful you need a full motorbike licence.

Mopeds are the perfect vehicle for new road users. They’re cheap to buy, cheap to run, and easy to ride. 50cc mopeds are a great way to gain experience on the road, and make it much easier to move up to bigger motorbikes.