Moped vs Scooter

Moped vs Scooter

  • Updated: 2023-08-05

What are mopeds?

To understand what a moped is, you can start by guessing where its name comes from. ‘Moped’ is a term that brings together the two main aspects that define this type of bike – ‘motor’ and ‘pedal’. If the scooter you want to purchase has pedals, you are actually looking at a moped.

In conclusion, this type of two-wheeled vehicle provides a combination of pedaling power and motorized power. A scooter that is not provided with this ‘pedaling’ capability can’t be considered a moped.

Originally, mopeds represented a step forward in the evolution of bicycles. They were equipped with a small engine and pedals in order to provide more power. The engine’s power varied and some even had an engine of 250cc.

However, since these bikes were accessible to anyone who could afford to purchase them, in the ‘70s, state regulations started to be stricter in limiting the riders’ age to 16 years.

This fueled manufacturers’ desire to continue targeting a larger segment of the young population, which led to the development of ‘miniature’ motorcycles that were equipped with engines of 50cc and pedals, in order to meet the legal requirements. These motorized vehicles that soon became quite popular in Europe were available for people as young as 14.

Why are mopeds confused with scooters?

These two-wheeled vehicles are often confused because of their similar look. However, they are different when it comes to engine size and speed. State laws also define and regulate bikes according to these features. These are the essential criteria that dictate the limits for each type of bike.

Mopeds are typically slower and smaller than scooters, as they are equipped with less powerful engines. Therefore, in some states, they don’t require a license. Bikes that have an engine of at least 50cc or above aren’t classified as mopeds but as motor scooters.

The age limit also differs based on the type of motorized vehicle you ride. People who are under the legal driving age are usually allowed to ride mopeds and they can start doing this two years before they are able to take their driving license.

Some scooters that don’t necessarily have pedals are still considered mopeds if they are not very strong and they have a small engine.

What are the differences between mopeds and scooters?


There are several differences between mopeds and scooters despite the fact that both look and function similarly. In general, we can say that scooters are closer to motorcycles than they are to mopeds as they are larger and more powerful.

Scooters have a step-through frame, which is also available for most mopeds. The two are mainly distinguished by their engine type. Scooters can vary tremendously in terms of engine size.

Unlike mopeds, they are not limited to a specific size. The smallest engines start from 50cc and the most powerful ones can reach as much as 750 cc. Most models available nowadays are equipped with engines starting from 100cc. Some models such as the Honda X-ADV maxi scooter have some of the biggest engines.

In terms of design, scooters are pretty straightforward; they all have a platform where you keep your feet during the ride. Because they have a different frame, scooters vary a lot in terms of design in comparison with mopeds.

Scooters provide a combination of manual transmission and automatic transmission. They are more powerful due to their engine and they can reach higher speeds.

Another common feature that sets them apart from mopeds is the wheels. In scooters, these are usually smaller. Scooters are heavier than mopeds and they normally have their fuel tank located under the seat.

To start a scooter, you don’t need to make a lot of effort as most models are self-starting, which means that all you have to do to turn them on is to press a button. In case this function is not working, you can also kick-start them.

Because scooters are larger than mopeds, they are usually a better choice for people who want to ride with someone else, as these bikes can easily carry two people. Scooters are also capable of providing higher mileage than mopeds.


Generally speaking, mopeds can be described as a combination of bicycles and motorbikes. In the beginning, all mopeds were provided with pedaling power. However, in time, these two-wheeled vehicles have evolved, and nowadays, they don’t necessarily need to have pedals.

While most mopeds still have pedals that allow you to ride them as regular bikes, by pedaling, others don’t have them. Today, mopeds are more commonly categorized according to their speed and engine size.

The general rule that started governing mopeds decades ago, according to which the motor size should be limited to 50cc or less, still applies today. In terms of speed, mopeds can usually reach a maximum of 28mph.

After you get used to their design, mopeds are pretty easy to differentiate from motor scooters as they are smaller. One characteristic that might strike you is the fact that they have bigger wheels. Another common feature that most mopeds have is their Twist & Go or automatic function. In mopeds, the fuel tank is located below the handle.

Unlike scooters, where you place your feet on the platform, mopeds are ridden like motorcycles. In other words, you put your feet on both sides of the seat, positioning them laterally and not on a frame, as you do with scooters.

Traditionally, mopeds were considered a cheaper alternative to motor scooters because they were more fuel-efficient. Many models still provide this advantage today.

Mopeds are smaller and lighter than scooters. This makes them a good choice for beginners who are yet not able to control a big bike. For this reason, they are usually recommended for teenagers as they are more suitable for their anatomy and skills.

Mopeds are also easier to control since they cannot reach high speeds and this is definitely something you should consider if your teenage kid wants a bike for their birthday. Being cautious is always the key to avoiding accidents and this applies to any type of motor vehicle you are operating.

All in all, because mopeds are smaller, lighter, and only able to reach a maximum of 28mph, they can be considered less dangerous than scooters.

Price and insurance

In terms of price, mopeds usually cost less than scooters since they are not as strong or large. Of course, the model and brand will always influence the price and if you want to get a high-end design, you might pay more for a moped than for a scooter.

When it comes to getting insurance for these motor vehicles, not surprisingly, you will find out that scooters cost more. This is due to the fact that they are more powerful, reach a higher speed, and therefore, pose more risks compared to mopeds.

Scooters also mean taking more money out of your pocket for tax roads and for registration fees because of their stronger engine.

If you are oscillating between buying a scooter, a moped, or a motorcycle, the latter will be the most expensive option in terms of insurance and not only. Also, if you are a beginner and you want to use your bike to commute to and from work or to take casual rides, it might be safer to start with a moped or a scooter. 

As you evolve and gain confidence, you can start considering getting a motorcycle that’s heavier, more powerful, and more difficult to control.

In the end, it is a matter of personal taste whether you choose to opt for a moped or a scooter. Now that you know the main differences between the two, you can make up your mind easily and figure out what the best option is based on your needs and your abilities.