Moped vs Motorcycle – 2021 Comparison

| Last Updated: March 14, 2021

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There’s no denying that when you think of a two-wheeled vehicle, what comes to mind is a motorcycle or perhaps a moped.

Both are wonderful forms of transportation but have you wondered what the differences are between a moped vs. motorcycle. While they are aesthetically similar, what are the fundamental differences that distinguish them?

If this question has been weighing on your mind, then you’ve come to the right place.

Buckle up as we explore the ins and outs of a moped vs. motorcycle to permit an informed decision on the type of two-wheeled transportation that will be most ideal for your riding situation. Read on!

What is a Moped and What is it Best for?

As a combination of the terms pedal and motor, a moped is a bicycle-type vehicle with a low-powered engine and pedals. In turn, it’s one of the most economical ways of transporting and commuting.

Often confused with scooters, mopeds are not as popular in the US. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that you’ll frequently hear riders claiming that the two vehicles are the same, with size being the only difference.

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Given that you require using bicycle-like pedals to propel a moped for its motor to start, the engine is typically smaller than 50cc, and its speed doesn’t exceed 28 mph. The slower speeds also mean that it’s illegal to ride a moped on highways.

After all, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with ongoing traffic, putting you and others on the road in grave danger. Nonetheless, mopeds are perfect for short distances and are most suitable for zipping around town on roads with a low-speed limit.

You require an M2 or M1 motorcycle license to drive a moped. Moreover, you must be at least 16 years old to drive it and wear a helmet during your short commutes.

How Many Different Classes of Mopeds Are There?

Here’s a breakdown of the variations of mopeds in terms of style, size, and speed.

50 cc Gas Moped

With a four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, this moped has a fuel limit of one gallon and can reach a speed of 37 mph. The generic features on a 50cc gas moped are 10-inch premium alloy wheels, a weight limit of 220 pounds, and a front hydraulic disc brake.

150 cc Gas Moped

The electric start system of this moped uses a 12-Volt 7AH battery with a larger fuel capacity and a top speed of 1.75 gallons and 60 mph, respectively.

Furthermore, it has a weight limit of 360 lbs. and uses a belt-drive system with a variable-speed control throttle.

50 CRP

Given that this moped uses clutch-less and automatic transmission, riders don’t need to change gears. Courtesy of the four-stroke, 50cc engine, the 50CRP moped can comfortably reach a speed of 30 mph.

Furthermore, it has a mono-shock rear suspension, rear and front drum brakes, spring-activated fork front suspension, a steel frame, and a maximum weight capacity of 185 lbs.

250 cc

With a double-cylinder, four-stroke, 250cc engine, there’s no doubt that this moped is more powerful than its predecessors. While the transmission is manual, this vehicle has a chain drive driveline coupled with an electric system.

It has rear and front disc brakes, an air absorber rear suspension, a maximum weight limit of 380 lbs., and a steel tube frame.

What is a Motorcycle and What is it Best for? 

Dating back to the early 1900s and soaring in popularity, motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles with a powerful motor and lack pedals.

Compared to mopeds and other two-wheelers with superior acceleration characteristics, motorcycles are built with high speeds in mind.

Motorcycle design significantly varies to accommodate a vast assortment of purposes, ranging from off-road riding, commuting, and sports racing, to long-distance travel.

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Moped vs Motorcycle Similarities and Differences

Are you curious about which is more maneuverable or easier to ride? Read on to learn more about the differences between a moped and a motorcycle.

Moped vs. Motorcycle: Similarities

Let’s delve into a couple of commonalities between a motorcycle and a moped.


Both are classified as two-wheeled vehicles with engines.


As per the moped and motorcycle state laws, riders must be at least 16 years of age to legally own and ride them. Therefore, they require an M1 or M2 license.

Moped vs. Motorcycle: Differences

Here are a few aspects that set a motorcycle and moped apart.

Engine and Speed

A moped typically has a smaller engine of 50cc along with a maximum speed of 28 mph. This low-speed ability makes them dangerous and illegal to be ridden on highways as they cannot keep up with traffic.

As a result, this can jeopardize your safety. Mopeds are typically designed for urban streets or short in-city commutes.

A boatload of motorcycles has engines of 250cc or more and an optimum speed of approximately 186 mph. With such high speeds, they are not only perfect for long-distance travel but also cruising on highways.


Motorcycles are not only larger than mopeds but also heavier. The average weight of a motorcycle is 600 pounds whereas that of a moped is about 220 pounds.

While mopeds offer superior maneuverability than motorcycles as they are lighter in weight and smaller, it’s illegal and impractical to ride them on a highway.


A motorcycle is larger, heavier, and ultimately more powerful than a moped. It’s, therefore, no surprise that ensuring it is significantly pricier.

While the exact price varies from one state to another, the average cost of motorcycle insurance is $702 per annum. It’s nearly ten times more than moped insurance that starts at $79 per year.


It’s no secret that the cost varies from one brand to another, with the most renowned ones being the most expensive. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct your due diligence by checking out the wealth of options before hastily selecting the first bike that captures your attention.

Motorcycles are generally pricier than mopeds. If you’re investing in a new motorcycle that’s perfect for beginners, then it’ll set you back anywhere between $5000 and $10,000. However, you can expect to pay up to $3300 for a new moped, whereas a used one may cost you about $2000 or less, depending on the condition it’s in.

Top Pick Between Moped and Motorcycle

While it comes down to preference, there are instances where a motorcycle outshines a moped and vice versa.

Speed and Engine Size

Here’s where motorcycles take the crown. They have the largest engines that range from 150cc to a whopping 2000cc. On the other hand, mopeds have low-powered engines that typically don’t surpass the 50cc mark.

It, therefore, shouldn’t come as a shocker that motorcycles can soar to speeds of 249 mph, but a more practical limit for use on the road is 186 mph. Mopeds usually don’t exceed an average speed of 30 mph.


The common assumption is that motorcycles are not safe due to their fast pace. However, it all boils down to the rider and the safety measures they implement on the road.

While mopeds are unarguably slower and are therefore presumed to be safer, they can quickly become a safety hazard if not used properly.

It’s for this reason that riders should take personal responsibility by ensuring they drive cautiously, adhere to the road rules and regulations, and wear protective attire and equipment.

Gas Mileage

When it comes to fuel efficiency, it’s no secret that mopeds shine through. A 50cc engine will get you about 100 miles per gallon, which is almost four times the average fuel efficiency of motor vehicles. Contrarily, motorcycles usually have a gas mileage of 35 to 40 miles per gallon.


Now that you understand the comparison of a moped vs. motorcycle, you’re ready to purchase from a knowledgeable standpoint. As you do so, consider your preferences and needs, and more importantly, the riding regulations and laws in your jurisdiction.

People Also Ask

In this section, we’ll delve into the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Is a 150cc Moped Considered a Motorcycle?

Yes! Mopeds have a small engine size that is typically below 50cc with a maximum speed of 30 mph. Engines that exceed this marker with higher speeds are categorized as motorcycles.

Is a Moped Considered a Motor Vehicle?

Yes, as it has automatic transmission coupled with an electric motor, it is considered a motor vehicle. Legally, you will find that a moped is defined as a motorcycle that has an engine no bigger than 50cc and also has a maximum speed of at least 28mph. The meaning of the word moped is a cross between motor and pedal. So, the moped started as a basic motorcycle with pedals.

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Is a Motorcycle a Vehicle?

Yes, it is defined as a three or two-wheeled motor vehicle with a seat or saddle that can soar to speeds that surpass 30 mph on a flat road.

How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

Although motorcycles account for a mere 3% of the vehicles on the road, 14% of all crash-related tragedies are bikers. Moreover, riders are 28 times more likely to die in car crashes compared to vehicle passengers, and more than 80% of these kinds of crashes usher in fatalities or serious injuries.

Are Mopeds Dangerous?

Yes, as there is minimal protection for a rider if an accident occurs. More often than not, accidents at any significant speed typically lead to fatalities.

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.