Moped vs scooter: What’s the difference?

People new to biking often consider moped v scooter. They ask “what is a moped?”, “what’s the difference between a moped and a scooter?”, and “is a moped faster than a scooter?”

Here the experts at Bikesure, the specialist motorcycle insurance broker, answer all the questions being asked in the moped vs scooter debate. 

Bikesure will explain the difference between moped and scooter, and hopefully help you decide which you should learn to ride on, a moped or scooter. 

What is a moped?

Mopeds traditionally had pedals and the name itself was a portmanteau of the words motor and pedal though now the term is generic.

Today, mopeds don’t come with pedals though the name remains the same and the bikes are categorised by their engine size (usually 50cc or less), output and speed (around 28mph). 

People often ask “are mopeds faster than motor scooters?” A moped’s initial acceleration is good, but they could only hope to match the entry-level scooter for speed. Certainly, the bigger-engined scooters would leave a moped in its wake. 

However, mopeds are a great bike on which to learn the rules of the road as they are so simple to ride. Most have “twist and go” automatic transmission, are smaller than scooters but with bigger wheels and are very maneuverable. 

Another added bonus, you will usually find that mopeds are cheaper than scooters. Here’s a guide on how to pick your first moped.

This is a moped

What is a scooter?

A scooter, like a moped, usually has a step-through frame but scooters don’t have limitations on engine size. Scooters start at 50cc but they can go up to 750cc. 

Basically, if there’s a platform on which to rest your feet while on the move, what you are riding is a scooter. If it’s under 50cc then legally it’s classed as a moped.

Generally, scooters are more expensive than mopeds, because of the increased power, engine size, sophistication, acceleration and top speed. Here’s exactly how fast scooters can go.

Scooters normally have smaller wheels than mopeds and they can be automatic or manual transmission.

Is a Vespa a scooter or a moped?

A Vespa is an iconic Italian bike and many people asked if it is a scooter or a moped. The truth is, it’s both.

Vespa is an uber cool bike brand manufactured by Piaggio, founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, and now headquartered in Pontedera, Italy. The company initially produced locomotives and railway carriages but began making bikes in the 1940s and they quickly became a runaway success. 

 Vespas can be moped or scooter because it produces machines as small as 49cc — a moped-sized engine —  right up to the GTS300 with a 278cc engine and qualifies it as a scooter.

This is a scooter

What licenses are needed to ride a moped or scooter?

You will need two documents to legally ride a moped or scooter on the open road as a learner. They are a provisional motorcycle licence and a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate. 

These will enable you to ride a motorcycle, moped or scooter of up to 125cc not exceeding 11kw. At 16 you can only ride a 50cc, at 17 you can then ride upto 125cc. You must display L-plates at all times and are prohibited from the motorway or from carrying passengers.

The CBT lasts for two years at which time it expires and you will need to make the decision whether to take it again or to get an AM moped licence or A1 motorcycle licence.

Read: Your first moped: everything you need to know about CBT

The AM moped licence

The AM allows you to ride a moped with a maximum engine capacity of 50cc and a top speed of 28mph without the need for L plates and you can take passengers.

The A1 motorcycle licence

With an A1 licence, you can ride motorcycles up to 125cc and not exceeding 11kw, including scooters without the need for L plates and you can take passengers.

You will also need valid insurance to cover you and your moped or scooter in the event of an accident.

What’s the difference between moped and scooter insurance?

Mopeds are generally less expensive to insure than scooters because, having smaller engines, less power and a more modest top speed, they are deemed to be a lower risk, even for new and inexperienced.

Either way, scooters and mopeds tend to be a more cost-effective option than a full-sized motorcycle when it comes to paying for insurance.

To get the very best deal on your moped insurance or scooter insurance it makes good sense to go to a specialist bike broker such as Bikesure who will assess your very individual needs and find suitable cover from a wide panel of insurance providers. 

Bikesure’s best deals are usually available over the phone so call 0330 123 1028 for a free no-obligation quote or, if you are on the road or otherwise busy now, book a call back at a time that suits you. 

Thinking of going electric? Check out our ultimate guide to electric scooters and mopeds

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August 8, 2023