Moped vs Scooter: What is the Difference?


Moped vs Scooter


Teal Vespa Ciao

Vespa moped

There are several differences between mopeds and scooters. Scooters and motorcycles share more common similarities than the moped. The word moped can be divided into two i.e. motor and pedal. Mopeds are small motorcycles with bicycle pedals, they are similar to a motorized bicycle that can use both a human pedaling and a motor power. Scooters don’t have pedals and are lesser powered motorbikes. Some jurisdictions also specify an engine limit to define a moped;

Vespa scooter

the biggest difference is the pedals.





Legal Differences

Most state or countries used to categorize the mopeds as bikes that are motorized and didn’t require them to be registered. In the United States, for example, the moped definition and regulation differ depending on specific states. Scooters are classified as “mopeds” or motorcycles and owners are required to have registration, motorcycle-endorsed licenses and also insurance in some states.


Generally, a moped is restricted in engine displacement and speed, with many countries or states limiting the engine size to 49cc or below and a top speed of 30mph. Scooters are not restricted in terms of displacement or maximum speed limit.

You can ride mopeds in most states without necessarily having a motorcycle driver’s license (a car’s driving license is good enough). There may be speed limit by design, however, even if they are not the smaller size of the engine usually restricts them to a maximum speed of under 40mph (or 45mph downhill with a tailwind).


Technical Differences

Both the scooter and the moped use smaller motors for propulsion.  The motor of the scooter provides all of its propulsion whereas a moped can still be driven with its bicycle pedals.

The scooter uses its electric and charging system. This powers ignition and lights system and also replenishes its battery. Mopeds also have similar electrical systems but most do not have or require a battery.

The moped may use large or small diameter wheels. The larger wheels with tires mounted average around 20 inches or so. Moped wheels have a look and feel similar to that of a bicycle, although it is not recommended to use bicycle inner tubes for a moped. Scooters only use small-diameter wheels, with the largest averaging 12inches in diameter.

A moped is turned on by pedaling and then engaging some variation of a clutch system to start the compression process.  Scooters use a lever to kick start the compression process or some are equipped with an electrical starter.

Cultural Differences

Mopeds and the scooters have for a long time been deeply entrenched in the European heritage. Offering alternative means of transportation in many parts of Italy, Spain, and France.  There is a cult-like following for both mopeds and scooters.  Both cultures have their purists who enjoy the machines for their intended function and design.  Both also share a group who like to modify the appearance and performance of these small motorbikes.

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