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Mopeds are a type of low-powered motorcycle with pedals, designed to provide economical and relatively safe transport with minimal licensing requirements. Traditionally, mopeds are equipped with bicycle-like pedals (the source of the term, motor-pedal), but moped is sometimes applied by governments to vehicles without pedals, based on their similar engine displacement, speed, and/or power output. Mopeds occasionally resemble powered bicycles, but most are now step-through designs (both kinds, visually similar to a traditional scooter but with either large or small wheels) and step-over designs similar to regular motorcycle. Although mopeds usually have two wheels, in some jurisdictions low-powered three or four wheeled vehicles are also classified as mopeds.

In most countries, the legal driving age for a moped is lower than for larger motorcycles and cars and they are often popular with the young. Mopeds are typically restricted to 50 km/h (30 mph) from an engine displacement of 49 cc, though there are a few variations.


Early moped, a bicycle with a helper motor.
The earliest mopeds were invented by Anthony Derek Davis, which were bicycles with a helper motor in various locations, for example on top of the front wheel; they were also called cyclemotors. An example of that type is the VéloSoleX brand, which simply has a roller driving the front tire. (See picture, below left.)
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. On the other hand some mopeds, such as the Czech-made Jawa, were derived from motorcycles.

This 1912 Douglas has modern chain-drive but still benefits from pedals
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. In some places, three wheelers and microcars are classified as mopeds or variations thereof. In some countries, such as Francemarker and Belgiummarker, microcars like Aixam are classified similarly to mopeds as "light quadricycles" - because of their low top speed and small capacity engine.

While the term "moped" now has a particular meaning, pedals were a sign of sophistication when fitted to early motorcycles, such as the 1912 Douglas in the photograph. LPA (light pedal assistance) was valuable for climbing hills and even pulling away from stationary. It was a great improvement over "run and jump".


The original moped – a bike equipped with a motor
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 "motorvelociped", as Velocipede is an obsolete term for bicycle that is still being used in some languages such as Russianmarker. 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 motorbicycle, motorized bicycle, motor-driven cycle, and goped (motorized inline skateboard with T-bar). In German, the terms Mofa (from Motor-Fahrrad, "motor-bicycle") and Mokick (equipped with kick-start) are also used. In Finnish, the common term is mopo (from moottoripolkupyörä, "motor-powered bicycle"). The term noped is sometimes used for mopeds that do not have pedals.

Derestriction and performance tuning

By the 1970s, it was obvious that the pedals on mopeds were no longer performing any useful function, in fact the performance of the 49 cc engines available was delivering speeds in excess of 50 mph (80 km/h), a common model in the UK being the Yamaha FS1E. Such speeds were felt to be considerably more than the target market could safely handle. Western jurisdictions introduced new regulations (eg UK in 1977), limiting the speed of these "mopeds" to 30 mph or 50 km/h (and abolishing the requirement for pedals). In some cases, the power restrictions (such as perforated plates in the inlet tract) were primitive and easy to bypass, but the larger manufacturers from eg Japan restricted engine breathing with smaller carburettors (eg 16 mm replaced with 13 mm) and modifications to cylinder ports and exhausts. Then they fitted CDI ignition systems tuned to limit maximum engine revolutions eg the Honda MT/MB50 was built to run to 10,000 rpm, but the combined restrictions cause it to run out at around 6,500 rpm. Illegal de-restriction of models such as this is effectively impossible.

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. Many mopeds are equipped with reflectors and other accessories that make them more visible in the street - especially in the dark. Most mopeds are distinctive, low-powered scooters (though often with motorcycle wheels), while others are styled to look like motorcycles. Those that are styled like or as motorcycles are more likely to be used (illegally) on high speed roads.

Moped racing

The wide availability of previously-used but still functional small motorcycles in western societies enables and encourages cheap forms of racing, wrongly called moped racing. Dirt-racing can take place in the stadiums of agricultural shows, where the surface is not too important. One popular series uses chicanes consisting of stacked tractor tyres and requires a team of riders, each doing 10 laps before pulling into the middle of the ring for change-over. Two heats and a final, each lasting 25 minutes, can be held in one day interspersed with speedway racing and other displays. Another series once held on full-size race-tracks, including Le Mansmarker, ran for 25 hours (typically 3.00pm one day until 4.00pm the next) and was billed as "the longest race in the world".

Moped collecting

Even as mopeds themselves have become scarcer in the West, a certain nostalgia has grown around them (as with classic scooters). Enthusiasts have formed a considerable number of organizations devoted to moped collecting, repair, and lifestyle.

Individual countries/regions

In Brazilmarker, 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 does not 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.
Canada In Canada the Moped has been repealed from the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. Nevertheless the vehicle itself is still legislated within various provinces.

In Albertamarker, Canadamarker, 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 Columbiamarker, Canadamarker 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 Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, "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 are required to have either a full M licence or a restricted class M licence to legally ride on roads 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.
Denmark Mopeds in Denmarkmarker are divided into "small mopeds" and "big mopeds", 'small' mopeds have a speed limit of , and 'big' mopeds have one on . Between 16 and 18 years of age a moped driving license is required 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.
European Union The drivers license category for mopeds across the E.U. now is the AM driver's license. This license is for scooters and mopeds with no more than 50 cc and a maximum speed of . E.U.member countries that have not fully implemented the E.U. directive that refers to the moped and other drivers license categories must do so in the next few years, 2013 at the latest. Many member states have already done so.The "E.U. moped", scooter, moped, or any other type of vehicle that fits into this category, two, three or four wheels, a maximum speed of and obligatory licence plate as proof of insurance. Many E.U. countries only require special insurer issued plates, not state issued plates.
Finland 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, like in all EU countries,it is illegal to drive a moped without a homologated safety helmet.
Germany German law has two categories for mopeds. The first and slower category is the so called Mofa, with a maximum design speed of no more than and only the driver is allowed on the bike, no passenger. Minimum age is 15 and no license is required, but a written test has to be completed.The second category is the Moped, with a maximum design speed of , mimimum age is 16, a drivers license is required, one passenger is allowed if the moped or scooter is certified for a passenger. Both need an insurer issued license plate, which is much smaller than regular state issued plates, which have to be renewed every 12 months, changing the color of the plates every year.Since a 16-year-old can now drive a 125 cc ( ) bike, and scooters in the "moped" category allow for transporting a passenger comfortably, mopeds, since they have less power, appeal, and space, have almost disappeared as a result of the new E.U. laws. Most teens that don't have the money for the costly A1 driver's license (1st step towards the full motorcycle license), which allows them to drive a 125 cc ( ) scooter or motorcycle, go for the less expensive AM driver's license, which allows them to drive a moped or scooter with a maximum speed of , but less than 1% chose a moped over a scooter based bike. Modern scooter design & amenities have effectively changed how teens chose their first set of wheels in Germany.
Greece In Greek slang mopeds are referred to as "papakia" (Greek: παπάκια) - meaning "ducklings". They are usually powered by small 2 or 4-stroke engines ranging from 50 cc to 125 cc. They are very popular among young people due to their low price and maintenance cost, and are widely used by all age groups, usually 13 and up. The most known "duckling" was the 1980s Honda 50 cc moped, which is still in use today. (Use of these mopeds requires a licence [A1 category] and exams passed before attaining the licence.)
Hungary In Hungary mopeds are called "segédmotoros kerékpár". For a vehicle to fit within this category it has to be powered with a 50 cc motor, and can only have a maximum designed speed of . It can have 2, 3 or 4 wheels, if the vehicle has a covered passenger area such as a moped car, e.g.:(The Aixam micro car) wearing a motorcycle helmet is optional, otherwise it is mandatory, and the failure to wear one can be fined by the police. To drive a moped one needs to obtain a M ("moped") type European license, which one can get if you they are over the age of 14. Because mopeds are inexpensive compared to other forms of motorized transport, and the running expenses are low (the third-party insurance is only 2000 Ft-12 $- 8 €), and since they can be driven after obtaining any form of license, they have become quite popular in larger cities. Vehicles registered as mopeds cannot carry passengers (even if they have space for one) and they cannot use highways (however they can use bicycle roads at a limited speed of 20 km/h). Their maximum allowed speed on any road is 40 km/h.
Indonesia Mopeds are not allowed to be used on Indonesian tollways.
Italy Mopeds aren't allowed on highways. Required age is 14, but a specific license ("patentino") is required. Owners of car or bike licenses may drive them freely. Registration (with plate) and insurance are mandatory. The law dictates all mopeds be restricted to 45 km/h, but this is largely ignored and it's common for dealerships to sell them unrestricted if asked beforehand; this is generally tolerated by the authorities. Helmets are mandatory. Since 2006, a passenger may be carried on suitably built (dual seat) and registered mopeds. Mopeds registered before this date that satisfy the technical and legal requirements may be re-registered (a new plate is issued) and used to carry a passenger.
Malaysia In Malaysia and some other Southeast Asian countries, small motorcycles are classified differently, most of the machines known as mopeds in the West (eg Honda Super Cub) are known as underbones (kapchai in Malaysiamarker). These are the machines elsewhere known as scooters or sometimes "step-throughs". Kapchais have engines up to 150 cc, can reach speeds of 120–130 km/h, and are used on public roads and expressways.
New Zealand 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 Australia - Queensland; small Scooters of less than 50 cc are able to be ridden with a car license,and are restricted to 80 km/h, 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 an adult driver with a motorcycle license.Mopeds in Australia have to be ADR approved in order to be ridden on Australian roads.All requirements are listed in the consumer affairs website.
Norway All motorcycles having less than 50 cc (and some "Mopedcars") are limited to in Norwaymarker. All two-wheeled vehicles with more than 50 cc are considered motorcycles.
underbones, especially the Honda XRM and Honda Bravo, are modified, some are "pimped out" with stereo systems and neon lights, while others are tuned, even stripped to their frames, for illegal street racing. Others, however, are modified for aesthetics (ranging from only the bodywork to extensive modification, often to resemble a full superbike).
Portugal In Portugalmarker 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. Photograph shows a Russian moped ZiD-50 "Pilot"
Spain In Spainmarker a moped is defined as a two or three wheeled 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. The driver is not allowed to transport passengers on the rear seat until 18 years of age.
Sweden 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 .
Switzerland 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 and therefore is not regarded as a bicycle anymore.
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 a maximum limit of one pillion riders on the bikes.
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 . Machines registered prior to 1 September 1977 mopeds had to have pedals, but engine power was unrestricted, and most could top 50 mph (most famously the Yamaha FS1-E or Fizzy).

A provisional licence, full motorcycle or car licence is needed to operate a moped. An additional Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) 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 passed a test, however it can be extended another two years by retaking the CBT. Mopeds are subject to all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles. All motorised cycles, motorcycles and mopeds under 50 cc are excluded from using UK motorways.
Prior to the 1970s, use of mopeds in the United Statesmarker 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 the Frenchmarker company Motobécane 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 mopeds. Produced by U.S. manufacturers such as AMF, mopeds 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 1970s energy crisis, mopeds quickly became popular, with more than 250,000 people in the United States owning one in 1977. However, as gasoline 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," "scooter," "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.
Vietnam Parts of Vietnammarker (eg the major cities of Hanoimarker and Ho Chi Minh Citymarker) are amongst the last places in the world where two-wheeled personal transport is more important than four-wheeled transport. Mopeds, underbones/scooters and motorcycles are everywhere, partly due to the narrow nature of many of the sidestreets and alleys.

See also


  1. Moped Laws by state

External links

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