Moped vs Scooter: What Is the Difference?
- on March 07, 2023
- Categories: Articles
Among people familiar with motorized two-wheeled vehicles, the moped vs scooter debate is a longstanding one that can sometimes become heated. However, newcomers to powersports, off-roading, or motorbikes may get confused and use the two terms interchangeably. Despite some similarities, mopeds and scooters each have some unique features that set them apart.
Moped vs Scooter: What's the Difference?
Mopeds and scooters have some superficial similarities. They have approximately the same size frame in a step-through design so that the rider does not need to swing a leg over the top to get on. The engines of both mopeds and scooters are in the back. They both run on gasoline and tend to be more fuel efficient than larger vehicles. They also have to have wheels of less than 16 inches.
The differences that set them apart are less obvious to the casual observer. Without knowing what to look for, it can be difficult to tell a moped from a scooter unless there is some kind of label identifying it. Nevertheless, though subtle, the differences can be significant, and a rider should understand them before deciding whether to purchase a scooter or a moped.
When it comes to a moped vs a scooter, the primary distinguishing characteristic between the two is the size of the engine. A moped has an engine of 50 cubic centimeters at most. This is a relatively small, less powerful engine.
Scooters have larger engine sizes than mopeds. Scooter engine sizes can be anywhere between 50 cc and 250 cc, though any larger than 250 cc and the vehicle is classified as a motorcycle. It is fairly common to see 150 cc scooters and 250 cc scooters.
The size of a vehicle's engine determines the maximum speed it can go, with smaller engines not able to go as fast. When comparing moped vs scooter speeds, the scooter can usually reach higher speeds because it typically has a larger engine. On the other hand, a scooter with an engine size close to 50 cc has a top speed comparable to a moped.
The top speed for a 50 cc moped is approximately 28 miles per hour. A 250 cc scooter can reach a top speed of 75 miles per hour, while a 150 cc scooter can reach a speed of 60 miles per hour.
Because scooters do not have pedals, that is one thing that may differentiate a scooter from a moped. The word "moped" is a combination of the words "motor" and "pedal," and in the beginning, all mopeds had both. However, today it is common for mopeds to be built without pedals. In other words, all gas-powered motorbikes with pedals are mopeds but not all gas-powered motorbikes without pedals are scooters. Ultimately, when trying to differentiate a moped vs a scooter, the determining factor is engine size, not whether the vehicle has pedals.
Because mopeds have a smaller engine size than scooters, it is usually less expensive to purchase a moped. The costs of operating it also tend to be comparatively lower. A larger engine can result in a higher purchase price for a scooter.
Ease of Operation
Both scooters and mopeds are fairly easy to operate, even for new riders. However, because mopeds do not reach the high speeds that most scooters can, a moped may be less intimidating for a new rider to operate for the first time.
The legalities of moped vs scooter riding can vary by state. In some states, riding a moped requires nothing more than a valid driver's license, while other states require a special endorsement. While scooters are different from motorcycles in many respects, they are often indistinguishable legally; most states require a motorcycle license to operate a scooter.
Then there is the issue of where it is legal to ride a moped or a scooter. Because mopeds only have a top speed of about 30 miles per hour, it is only legal to ride them on city streets or off-road; it is illegal to ride them on highways. Scooters typically reach higher speeds than mopeds, so some states allow people to ride scooters on highways, while others restrict scooters with lower horsepower or engine size from driving on the highway.
Choosing Between a Moped vs a Scooter
When deciding to buy either a moped or a scooter, there are several things that a person needs to take into consideration. One is age. Different states have different laws regarding the minimum age at which one can operate a moped or a scooter, but typically riders have to be at least 14 to 16 years old. There may be additional restrictions or requirements, such as the completion of a course of rider training or driver's education. The prospective rider has to meet any other legal restrictions that apply.
The next thing a rider has to consider is where and how he or she intends to ride the moped or the scooter. If the rider intends to ride it only within city limits, and not out on the highway, either a moped or a scooter will do, and the choice then comes down to other personal preferences. If the rider intends to go off-road with the vehicle, the moped vs scooter choice is again a matter of personal preference.
However, if the rider ever intends to operate the vehicle on the highway, or anywhere requiring a maximum speed greater than 30 miles per hour, the rider should choose a scooter because a moped will not be up to the task.
Furthermore, a rider who intends to operate a scooter on the highway must make sure that it complies with all applicable regulations or restrictions within the jurisdiction. For example, if scooters on the highway have to have an engine size of at least 200 cc, the rider has to find a scooter that meets or exceeds that benchmark.