Mopeds vs. Motor Scooters: The Great Debate
By most accounts, mopeds and motor scooters are the same vehicle. However, there are some distinctions between the two.
In the United States there are only two classifications of motorized cycle. Cycles with an engine below 50cc of power are considered mopeds. Engines that are over 50cc are considered a motor scooter even if they are not traditionally what one would think of a motorcycle. As far as manufacturing some makers will consider a moped a motor scooter even if it is under 50cc of power.
Mopeds are usually equipped with a pedaling system. Many states require this pedaling system. A number of mopeds can still be operated with only the pedaling system if necessary. Motor scooters do not have a pedaling system, they rely fully on the use of their electric or gas powered motor. Motor scooters also have foot wells to add protection to the operator.
In states where motor scooters are considered motorcycles, a helmet is required for any age of operator. For mopeds, in most states, a helmet is not required for operators passed a certain age. Additionally, a moped license can be acquired at an earlier age than a motor scooter license if the scooter is indeed considered a motorcycle.
The origin of motor scooters and mopeds are different. Mopeds were derived from a need to add a helper motor onto a bicycle to increase pedaling power. Motor scooters were developed as a precursor to the modern motorcycle. The first �motorcycle� was the Hildebrand & Wolfm�ller built in 1894. By modern standards this motorcycle would have been considered a scooter. The maximum speed of the Hildebrand & Wolfm�ller was only 25 miles per hour.
The motor aspects are very different. Modern mopeds still employ the use of chain engines (that is when the chain will propel the moped). However, most modern motor scooters have two or four stroke engines powering them, much like their larger motorcycle counterparts.
The popularity of mopeds and motor scooters are similar. In the United States motor scooters seem more popular than the traditional moped. However, in Asia, a certain type of motor scooter called an �underbone� has grown significantly in popularity, often used for illegal street racing.
Both scooters and mopeds have options for customizing, but mopeds tend to be more customizable, considering they are more of a skeleton than a scooter. One can change a moped into a motor scooter if the engine capacity is available.