moped: see motorcycle.
Mopeds are a class of low-powered (typically under 50 cc displacement) motorized vehicle, generally two or three wheeled. A Moped is driven in an upright position with the rider's back vertical to the seat. Moped classification is designed to allow the use of small motorized vehicles seen as not requiring the safety restrictions and license requirement that larger motorcycles are subject to. In many countries microcars like Aixam and Piaggio Ape are classified as mopeds because of their low top speed and small capacity engine.

In law and regulations, mopeds are normally defined by limits on engine displacement, speed, power output, or transmissions, or by a requirement for pedals. In some countries, the legal driving age for a moped is lower than for larger motorcycles, and consequently mopeds are popular among the youth. Typically, mopeds are restricted to 30-85 km/h (18-53 mph) and engines less than 50 cc.

Many jurisdictions classify them as "limited-speed" motorcycles; also in some, a pedal-equipped moped, in using both human power and machine power, qualifies for special treatment as a hybrid vehicle.


The earliest mopeds, introduced in the early 1950s, were standard bicycles with a helper motor in various locations, for example on top of the front wheel; they were also called cyclemotors. An example of this type is the VéloSoleX brand, which simply had a rubber roller driving the front tire. A more innovative design was known in the UK as the Cyclemaster. This had a complete powered rear wheel which was simply substituted for the bicycle rear wheel, which originated from a design by two DKW engineers in Germany. Slightly larger machines, commonly with a 98 cc engine were known as autocycles. However, some mopeds, such as the Czech-made Jawa, were derived from motorcycles.

A further category of low-powered two-wheelers exists today in some jurisdictions for bicycles with helper motors—these are often defined as power-assisted bicycles or motorized bicycles; see full article there. Some jurisdictions, however, may categorize these as a type of moped, creating a certain amount of confusion.

Some mopeds have been designed with more than two wheels, similar to a microcar, or the three wheeled (two front, one back) transport moped.

Batavus Starflite HS


The word moped was coined by Swedish journalist Harald Nielsen in 1952, as a portmanteau of motor and pedal. It is however often claimed to be derived from "motor velociped", as Velocipede is an obsolete term for bicycle that is still being used in some languages such as Russian. According to Douglas Harper, the Swedish terms originated from "(trampcykel med) mo(tor och) ped(aler)", which means "pedal cycle with engine and pedals." (the earliest versions had auxiliary pedals).

Other terms used for low-powered cycles include: Mofa (Motor-Fahrrad, German for motor-bicycle), Mokick (equipped with kick-start), Motorbicycle, Motorized Bicycle, Motor-Driven Cycle, and Goped (motorized inline skateboard with T-bar), Mopo (Moottoripolkupyörä, Finnish meaning motor-powered bicycle).

Local definitions

Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asian countries, mopeds are classified as small motorcycles similar to Honda Super Cub, sometimes called underbones, they are also known as kapchai in Malaysia. A kapchai moped is usually powered by small 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines ranging from 50 cc to 125 cc, but recently the displacement range was increased to below 150 cc with the introduction of the largest displacement kapchai model, the Suzuki Raider/Satria 150R .

In Thailand, the regulation of motorcycles in the city is different from the regulation for home use. Motorcycles in the city require payment of road tax and must have a valid license plate number. However, for home use, a motorcycle might not need to register and the motorcycle will only be able to be used in farms or a small town. Wearing a helmet is a must when riding on a major road and in the city. There is no limit of maximum pillion riders on the bikes even in the city.

In Malaysia, kapchai bikes may apply the same highway speed limits as cars and larger motorcycles since modern kapchai models are capable to reach the top speeds of about 120–130 km/h, therefore all kapchai bikes are allowed to be used on public roads and expressways. However, in Indonesia, mopeds are not allowed to be used on Indonesian tollways. In the Philippines, many underbones, especially the Honda XRM are modified, some are "pimped out" with stereo systems and neon lights, while others are tuned for illegal street racing.

In Vietnam, mopeds can be seen everywhere. In the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, mopeds are by far the preferred method of transport, due to the narrow nature of many of the streets, and the sheer volume of vehicles on them. In fact, many of the shops along these streets are designed such that these mopeds are parked inside of the shop.


In Brazil, the definition of moped ("ciclomotor" in Portuguese, but also known as either "mobylette", "vespa", "lambreta" or still "motoneta") and the regulations regarding its use has been varying throughout the years. From 1985 to 1997, a moped was defined as human propulsion vehicle aided by an engine displacing less than 50 cc, no more than , having a maximum speed of no more than and having pedals similar to those found in a bicycle. No license was required.

From 1997 onwards, the legal definition of moped changed to "a two or three wheeled vehicle having an internal combustion engine with displacement inferior to 50 cc and maximum factory speed of less than . The 1997 New Code of Transit also stated that any person aged 14 or older could ride a moped provided that person could read and be physically able. However, in 1998 the minimum age limit was changed to 18 years, since Brazilian Law doesn't allow minors to be criminally responsible, which contradicts the 1997 New Code of Transit, that states that being a criminally responsible is a requirement to be able to get a license.

Note that by the current Brazilian regulations, electric mopeds are currently classified as "motorcycles", which require a type A driving license, as they have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine.


In Canada the Moped has been repealed from the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. Nevertheless the vehicle itself is still legislated within various provinces.

In Alberta, Canada, mopeds up to 49 cc and over require a class 6 motorcycle licence. If they are between and 55 kg a class 7 is required. In addition to this, they must not have a driver-operated transmission. They are allowed to carry more than one person. Mopeds are subject to all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles, and all riders must wear helmets.

In British Columbia, Canada Mopeds (limited-speed motorcycles) and Motor Assisted Cycles (MAC) have separate and distinct classifications and requirements. The following criteria apply to a Moped (limited speed motorcycle):

Definition of a limited-speed motorcycle:

* no more than 50 cubic centimetre engine displacement or 1.5 kilowatt motor rating
* does not require clutching or shifting after the drive system is engaged
* has a maximum speed on level ground of 70 kilometres per hour
* weighs no more than 95 kilograms excluding fuel and batteries
* wheels must be 25.4 centimetres in diameter or more

Requirements for operation of a Moped (limited speed motorcycle):

* the vehicle must be registered, licensed and insured for road use
* the operator must have a driver's licence (any class)
* the operator must wear a helmet

In Ontario, Canada, "a moped is a motor-assisted bicycle fitted with pedals that can be operated at all times and has a maximum speed of 50 km/h. A motor assisted bicycle is a bicycle:

(a) that is fitted with pedals that are operable at all times to propel the bicycle,

(b) that weighs not more than fifty-five kilograms,

(c) that has no hand or foot operated clutch or gearbox driven by the motor and transferring power to the driven wheel,

(d) that has an attached motor driven by electricity or having a piston displacement of not more than fifty cubic centimetres, and

(e) that does not have sufficient power to enable the bicycle to attain a speed greater than 50 kilometres per hour on level ground within a distance of 2 kilometres from a standing start; (“cyclomoteur”)

Since 28 November 2005 moped drivers require either a full M licence or a restricted class M licence to legally ride on road in Ontario. Prior to that date riders only required a G licence. The G licence is a "general" licence for automobile drivers such as cars, small vans and trucks.


Mopeds in Denmark are divided into "Small mopeds" and "Big mopeds", 'Small' mopeds have a speed limit of , and 'Big' mopeds have one on . If you are between 16 and 18 you require a moped driving license to drive the small moped. A car driver's or motorcycle license is needed and the driver must be at least 18 years old to drive a big one. All new mopeds (both types) bought after 1 June 2006 must be registered with a license plate, and have insurance. The older models are not required to have a license plate. All mopeds must now have insurance in Denmark.

Both models have a maximum of 1–1.2 bhp (750–890 W) and 50 cc but nearly 75% of all Danish mopeds are illegally unrestricted.

European Union

There is yet no law for mopeds commonly throughout the European Union; each country has its own laws. However, there is a moped called the EU-moped that has the same speeds and other properties and is widespread over Europe. It has a maximum speed of and must have a licence plate.


Mopeds can be driven with an M-class driving license, which can be obtained at the age of 15. People born before 1985 can drive a moped without a license. The power of an internal combustion engine moped is not limited, but the speed limit is and engine capacity can be a maximum of 50 cc (with electric motor maximum power is restricted to 4 kW). Mopeds are allowed to carry one passenger with the driver, if the moped is registered as having two seats. Both driver and passenger are required to wear helmets. After Finland joined the European Union, EU regulations increased the maximum weight of moped and speed limit was increased from to . In Finland, it is illegal to drive a moped without a safety helmet.


In Greek slang mopeds are referred to as "Papakia" (Greek: Παπάκια) - meaning "Ducklings". They are usually powered by small 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines ranging from 50 cc to 125 cc. They are very popular among youngsters due to their small price and maintenance cost, and are widely used by all age groups, usually 13 and up. The most known "Duckling" was the 80's Honda 50 cc moped, which is still in use today. (the use of these bikes requires a licence[A1 category] and relevant exams taken before attaining it)


In Hungary it's called "robogó" - meaning something as "voice-maker". It's powered with an 50 cc motor, and it has a maximum speed of . It can have 2, 3 or 4 (!) wheels (aixam is a moped in Hungary). To drive a moped you need M ("moped") type national licence, which you can get if you are over 14. Mopeds are cheap, the running expenses are low (the third-party insurance is only 2000 Ft-12 $- 8 €).

New Zealand and Australia

New Zealand - Mopeds can be driven with any class of driver licence. Mopeds are classified as having an engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc and a maximum speed not exceeding . Electric mopeds must have a motor between 600 and 2000 watts. Mopeds do not require safety testing (known as a Warrant of Fitness in NZ) and are subject to lower licensing costs than motorcycles, though one still needs the right equipment (Helmet etc.) But the rider must licence the moped (get plates etc).

Australia - Queensland; small Scooters of less than 50 cc are able to be ridden with a Car Licence, Mopeds that do not meet Australian design specifications are not allowed on public roads, with the exception of bicycles equipped with a meagre power-source (electrical or combustion engine) of just 200 watts. So called “monkey-bikes” were quickly made illegal as they gained huge popularity. Anything resembling an EU moped will need registration and a adult driver with a motorcycle license.


All vehicles below 50 cc are considered mopeds no maximum power, including some specially built cars, referred to as "Mopedcars". These cars are usually bought by people who want the comfort of driving a four-wheeled, roofed vehicle without paying extensive taxes and insurance. speed limit is in Norway.

All two-wheeled vehicles with more than 50 cc are considered motorcycles.


In Portugal Moped is a two or three wheel motor vehicle with an engine of 50 cc or less, or having an engine with more than 50 cc but with a maximum speed of no more than . Class M (moped) license is required to drive such vehicles. This license can be obtained with a minimum age of 14.


The moped is legally defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with engine displacement of no more than 50 cc and maximum speed of no more than . Such vehicles require no licensing. Pillion passengers are not allowed.


In Spain a moped is defined as a two or three wheel motor vehicle with an engine of 50 cc or less with a maximum speed of no more than . The license needed for driving a moped is the 'LCC' or 'Licencia de Conducción para Ciclomotor', which can be obtained at the age of 14 years but since September 2008 it will be 15 years. The driver is not allowed to transport passengers on the rear seat until 16 years of age.


Mopeds are available in two classes. Class 1 mopeds -- also known as EU mopeds, as they were introduced to comply with European Union rules -- are designed for a maximum speed of powered by an engine of 50 cc or, if it has an electric motor, has a maximum power of . A driver's licence type A (motorcycle) or B (car), a driving licence for tractor or a class 1 moped licence (type A1, minimum age 15) is required to ride a class 1 moped. In traffic class 1 mopeds are regarded as motorcycles -- but may not be driven on freeways or motorroads -- and has to be registered and have a licence plate. They are however tax free. Class 2 mopeds are designed for a top speed of and has an engine with maximum . No licence is required, but the driver has to be at least 15 years old and wear a helmet. In traffic they are regarded as bicycles, and are allowed in the same places, unless signs explicitly forbid them. Mopeds registered before June 17 2003, are called legacy mopeds, and are subject to the same rules as class 2 mopeds, but may have a top speed of .


A moped is considered to be a two wheeled vehicles that has pedals, a motor which is less than 50 cc and a top speed of . The moped must be registered and must have a number plate with a sticker for that year indicating that the vehicle is road taxed and insured. Insurance is handled by the government. These vehicle are regarded bicycles in traffic and are therefore not allowed on motorways. To drive this vehicle one must have a Category M licence (which comes with every car and motorbike licence) as well as a motorcycle helmet. A Category M licence is obtainable at the age of 14. At the age of 16 one can obtain a A1 licence to drive a 50 cc motorcycle which does not conform to the limit.

United Kingdom

The term moped describes any low-powered motor driven cycle with an engine capacity of less than 50 cc and a maximum design speed of no more than . If used before 1 September 1977 it can be moved by pedals and although it must be 50 cc or below, it does not have to conform to the speed restriction. (This is not where the original name 'moped' is derived - Mo = motor, Ped = pedals). A provisional licence, full motorcycle or car licence is needed to operate a moped. An additional Compulsory Basic Training certificate is also required to ride a moped on public roads, except for anyone who obtained their full car driving licence or motorcycle licence before 1 February 2001. A provisional moped licence may be obtained at the age of 16, whereas standard car and motorcycles licences are only available at the age of 17. Provisional licences require learner plates and expire after two years if the licence holder has not upgraded their licence, however if you just re take your CBT you get another two years. Mopeds are subject to all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles. All motorised cycles/motorcycles/mopeds under 50 cc are excluded from using UK motorways.

United States

Prior to the 1970s, use of mopeds in the United States was relatively rare due to legal restrictions on the devices in many states. In 1972, Serge Seguin, after writing a Masters thesis on the European moped, received two mopeds and a small amount of money from a company called Motobecane to promote the vehicle. After lobbying Congress on its fuel efficiency benefits, Seguin was able to get more than 30 states to devise a specific vehicle classification for the bikes.

The bikes had very small engines and often could not exceed 40 miles per hour. What they could do, however, was run for up to on one tank of fuel. Because of the problems caused by the aforementioned energy crisis, mopeds quickly became popular, with more than 250,000 people in the United States owning one in 1977. However, as gas prices eventually moved down and automobile companies devised more efficient cars, the moped's popularity and usefulness began to fade.

Legal terms and definitions of low-powered cycles vary from state to state and may or may not include "Moped," "Motorcycle," "Motorized Bicycle," "Motorscooter," "Goped," "Motor-Driven Cycle," and or others. A moped's speed generally may not exceed 30 mph (48 km/h) on level ground, even if it is capable of going faster. In a few states this number is 20 or 25 mph (32 or 40 km/h), and in most states, the maximum engine capacity is 50 cc. However, Kansas ("Motorized Bicycle" K.S.A. 8-126, 8-1439a) allows up to 130 cc. Some states, like California, require pedals, while others do not. Virginia allows mopeds to operate at up to . Some states, like North Carolina, require there to be no external gear-shifting mechanism.

Derestriction and performance tuning

In jurisdictions where mopeds are limited by power output or top speed, it is common for mopeds to be restricted in some capacity. Some mopeds are restricted by simple means, such as plates or washers which may be removed to increase speed—some dealerships will derestrict a moped for free or at minimal expense. Some mopeds are restricted by washers in the variator which prevent it from being able to close fully at high speeds, limiting revs, while others are electronically limited by their CDI unit which works similarly to an ECU in a car. Other mopeds, however, are restricted by their design as a whole. Such mopeds require aftermarket parts to increase performance. Common means for increasing performance on 2-stroke mopeds include adding an exhaust pipe with a larger expansion chamber, installing a larger carburetor or, at least, larger carburetor main jets, and/or installing a speed kit with a larger cylinder or with reed valves or modifications to centrifugal clutch and variator settings.

The speed gained by such modifications varies greatly on the specific engine and on the combination of modifications performed.

Most mopeds can be upgraded without problems to a 70 cc engine by replacing the original cylinder with an aftermarket cylinder - Mainly produced in Italy by Polini, Malossi, Athena, Hebo (sub-producer of Athena), Metrakit etc. These companies are specialists in producing 'racing' or sports kits (which last better, and do not require extreme maintenance - good for every day mopeds) for many kinds of 2- and 4-stroke engines. They also offer great sponsor deals for licensed racers, who race on certified racetracks.

Under some circumstances, teens who ride mopeds may drive without a license. In countries that have limited moped top speed and/or engine capacity, a moped that has been upped in power or top speed is legally a motorcycle, which requires different taxation, insurance, and driver's license than a moped, which makes riding those mopeds by teens punishable as driving without a license.

In Finland, the police have increased the number of surprise checks in schools and teenager hot spots to cut down the problem. A more drastic approach was used by the Dutch police in the 1960s: any speed-modified moped was confiscated on the spot and later returned to its owner, crushed into a cube.Illinois allows you to ride anything that you want

Moped culture

As mopeds and repair parts have become scarcer, and as a certain nostalgia has grown around mopeds (not unlike that of classic scooters), enthusiasts have formed an increasing number of organizations devoted to moped collecting, repair, and lifestyle.

  • The Moped Army is a moped club comprised of local branches from the United States. Various branches hold annual rallies around the country.
  • The Moped Riders Association is an international organization that provides moped riders and enthusiasts opportunity to share information and organize riding events. Topics at this site tend to be more repair and support oriented, as many members have years of moped experience.
  • The National Autocycle and Cyclemotor Club (NACC) cater for all types of mopeds in the UK and are affiliated to the Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC).

A number of unaffiliated local and regional organizations also exist, such as the RCMP (Royal Canadian Moped Posse) from the Greater Toronto Area, Rocket Ship Tomos from Japan, and The Variators, which were formerly a branch of the Moped Army, from Ottawa.

Moped safety

Riding a moped safely has similar considerations to motorcycle safety; however, some concerns are exacerbated on a moped. Their smaller size, while offering finer control than larger bikes, also makes them harder to see. Therefore, many mopeds are equipped with reflectors and other accessories that make them more visible in the street - especially in the dark.

Many mopeds are styled to look like motorcycles. This may encourage inexperienced riders to act as if they were riding a motorcycle, expecting performance it is unable to provide or bringing it into situations it is not capable of negotiating (such as trying to ride a moped on a high speed interstate). This also increases the risk from automobile drivers as they may think a moped is a motorcycle and misjudge its speed.

See also



External links

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