What’s in a Name? – Electric Bicycles vs. Electric Scooters vs. Mopeds

electric bicycles

Names of electric vehicles can all be confusing even when it comes to electric scooters, electric mopeds, and electric bicycles. But, you may be wondering – aren’t these all synonyms? While many people still tend to use the terms interchangeably, it would be interesting to know the technically correct term in describing each of them. The truth is – you may be calling your ride an electric bicycle when it fact it is  a moped. You could possibly be praying for an electric scooter when what you have in mind is actually an e-bike. Today, let’s go back to the basics and brush up on electric vehicle vocabulary.

To clear out the confusion, it is necessary to understand that these electric vehicles are different in so many areas – from the basic functions, riding style, the benefits, and even to the legal requirements of owning and using them.   While they may appear quite similar or can simply be categorized as a two-wheeled or three-wheeled electric vehicles,  you may be surprised that there ae several factors that one must consider before the ride can be classified as a bike, scooter, or moped. The difference may also be dependent on how a particular state define each of them. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will be able to call your own accurately. Let’s go check the meanings!

The General Description of  Electric Bicycles

The electric bicycles  or e-bikes is basically a bicycle that has an integrated electric motor which the rider can use for propulsion. While there are different types of electric bicycles, one common feature is the integrated small motor which is intended to assist the rider’s pedal power. These e-bikes are also often referred to as pedelecs. These electric bicycles , regardless of how powerful the motor installed in them, leaves the ability for the vehicle to be pedaled by the user.   The presence of this ability is what essentially makes it a  bicycle, and not a moped or scooter.

Most electric bicycles are equipped with lithium-ion batteries that are rechargeable. While there are e-bikes with the speed of less than 20 mph,  the typical speed of electric bikes is usually within the range of  16 mph to 20 mph (25 kph to 32 kph). The speed of the e-bikes and its overall usage are dependent on the specific regulations of the country or state. For instance, electric bicycles in the UK is legal as long as the rider is at least 14 years old. In  Canada, the UK, and the US, licensing is not required to use the bikes. In the members of European Union, they have implemented a comprehensive legislation on the safety and use of the electric-pedaled assisted cycles (EPAC).

The General Description of  Electric Scooters

Electric scooters are plug-in vehicles which are powered by electric motor. They may either hand two wheels or three wheels. The power comes from a rechargeable battery pack system which drives the motor/s installed in it. Electric scooters generally have step through frames. One distinct difference between a scooter and a moped is the absence of pedal.  Based on appearance, there is a close resemblance between an electric scooter and a motorcycle. To be able to use these electric scooters, one must obtain a license. This is particularly  true in countries like the Canada, the US, and many European nations. Most of the time, one is also required to obtain an insurance before  he can even use an electric scooter.

The General Description of  Moped

The term ‘moped’ is coined after combing two words that are essential components of this vehicle – the ‘motor’ and the ‘pedal’.  This vehicle is, therefore, dependent on two forms of powers – conventional pedaling and motor. This characteristic makes it quite similar to e-bikes. However, the frame of the body is utterly different from the electric bicycles. Mopeds may come in either step-through or step-over  designs.  Mopeds may come in fuel tanks that are installed between the head tube and the saddle. They generally come with a ‘backbone’ frame similar to those of motorcycles.  Many usually get mopeds mistaken for motorcycles. To be able to use mopeds, one must obtain both a license and a registration. Mopeds are widely used in China, too. In the recent years, there has been an influx of  electric mopeds users in Europe as opposed to gas-powered mopeds.

Electric bicycles vs. electric mopeds

As electric bicycles and electric mopeds are similar in their core components,  many often debate on which mode of transportation is better. While they are both economical to use, the e-bikes offer an added value as it allows riders to manually ride them. This is a massive plus for those who are after a healthier way of transport.  There is also a greater flexibility with the use of electric bicycles as riders may opt to use them in a number of places including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, parks, etc. In addition, as many states or countries do not require riders to have a license to use them,  it is easier and far more convenient to own e-bikes than mopeds.

From  the aspect of functional range, having an e-bike is also more advantageous. When the battery charge depletes, a rider can simply move to complete manual pedaling.  Many electric bicycles now also come in truly compact designs making them lightweight and extremely easy to transport. Modern models of electric bicycles usually come with apps where speed, battery life, and other essential stats can be monitored via a smartphone.

Electric scooters vs. electric bikes

While many see e-bike as an healthier options, it cannot defeat electric scooters when it comes to range and speed.  However, both electric scooters and electric bikes are great for commuting and are both quite sustainable to use. On the other hand, electric scooters have become widely popular for commercial purpose. Many delivery services in  the biggest cities in China, for instance, are now using electric scooters to transport or deliver their goods to the clients. This cannot be easily done using a bicycle.  Many electric scooters also come in smart technology which enables riders to determine when their battery charge is about to be depleted. With the growing popularity of electric scooters,  you can now easily find some charging points that are strategically located.  Gone are the days when people need to worry about losing power in the middle of the road. Technology has made riding rather convenient for electric scooter users.

Another advantage of electric scooters over electric bicycles and mopeds is that they can be used by individuals  with specific medical needs. Electric power chairs or electric three-wheeled scooters are now used for medical purpose. These specialized electric scooters are designed to help those who have lost their mobility or limb function. While some of these electric scooters for a medical purpose are quite pricey, users may double check if insurance may cover their purchase.

Final Words

It is a colossal advantage for many individuals of today’s era to have a wide range of electric vehicle options now. Choosing whether to purchase an electric bicycle, electric scooter, or  a moped highly depends on the purpose. If for personal leisure or hobby, a moped or an electric bicycle can be your option. If it is for daily commuting, business, or simply cruising around the neighborhood, an electric scooter can be an excellent option. Regardless of the option, it is good to highlight that using any of these vehicles means traveling contributing to harmful carbon emission.  If you intend to purchase any of these, prepare a checklist of points you need to verify including  quality of the battery, overall quality of parts,  speed and range, minimum age requirement and legal  driving requirements.  Lastly, take the time to read useful reviews on-line. Go ahead and learn more about electric bicycles, electric scooters, and mopeds, and be equipped with accurate information about them.

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