Mopeds, Scooters and Motorcycles – What’s the Difference?

If you’ve been considering buying mopeds, scooters or any other kind of motorized two wheel conveyance, you may be confused as to what the difference is between mopeds, scooters and motorcycles. The difference are real and each term has a very specific definition, however we tend to confuse them and laws which govern mopeds, scooters and other two wheel vehicles do tend to make like even more confusing.

The Basics

The basic difference when considering mopeds, scooters and motorcycles is that mopeds officially are supposed to have the ability to be pedaled whereas a scooter is much more like a motorcycle in that it’s designed to powered exclusively under its own engine power. The catch however is that many municipalities will class mopeds, scooters and even some kinds of e bikes together as a single category of non motorcycle types of vehicles. That’s because they are trying to convey that certain types of vehicles have rules governing them which allow them to be used only by those with a motorcycle license while others are able to be used by anyone.

The Rule of Thumb

The rule of thumb is that anything in the category of mopeds, scooters and other conveyances which has over a 50cc engine is going to be classed as a vehicle which requires a license while those under 50cc will be considered more like a toy or a bicycle. However, even though 50CC is the cut off point (by the way, the CC refers to the engine’s power), most professionals say that a 50CC bike is really little more than a toy and should be avoided since it’s not a very reliable or safe conveyance.

So Why Do Some Companies Call Mopeds Scooters and Vice Versa?

The reason is quite simple actually. It’s a marketing thing. Most people don’t understand that there is in fact a difference between mopeds, scooters and other forms of two wheel vehicles (they have a vague sense that a motorcycle is more powerful, which is true, though a motorcycle is much more than that). Because of that, many companies, trying to capitalize on search engine results will list mopeds, scooters and other kinds of two wheel vehicles together and will even use the terms interchangeably in order to sell to people who have only a vague idea of what they want but who think that a moped is more “adult” than a scooter.

What about Motorcycles?

We did title this article by saying that we’d talk about the difference between mopeds, scooters and motorcycles for a reason. That’s because there is also a clear distinction between a motorcycle and the mopeds/scooters which proliferate on the Internet and in other places. While all three kinds of vehicles generally will require that you obtain a motorcycle license in order to operate them (in some cases there is a special mopeds/scooter license, though many states just lump them all together for licensure), in many cases, only a motorcycle will be legal for highway travel whereas traveling within the city is fine even with mopeds scooters.

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