Comparing Electric Bikes and Mopeds: Which Suits You Best?

In the last decade, electric bikes went from being an anomaly to a massive market. This boom in popularity has also encouraged waves of new development and improvement in space, which has started closing the gap between bicycles and mopeds. So, picking between the two can be difficult, especially if you don’t know the essential differences between an e-bike and a moped.

The big difference between a moped and an electric bike is that an e-bike motor assists you in pedaling the bike. Most mopeds, especially gas mopes, are only propelled by their motor. E-bikes are typically slower than mopeds, but mopeds are heavier, more expensive, and require a driver’s license.

The differences between electric bikes and mopeds are substantial, so you must be sure that you pick the right one for your needs. But don’t let the pressure of deciding stress you out because we’ll walk you through the significant differences you need to be aware of.

How Is An Electric Bike Different From A Moped?

You could be forgiven for wondering if an electric bike isn’t simply just a moped with pedals, and while there is some truth to that, it isn’t the whole story. While they both have two wheels, mopeds are more closely related to motorbikes, and e-bikes are an evolution of traditional pedal bicycles.

How they fit into their respective family trees defines their DNA and their differences.

Most Electric Bikes Are Pedal Driven

The first glaring difference between the two lies in what their motor was designed to do. Electric bikes have come along as a natural evolution of a pedal-driven bicycle. So, the motor’s purpose is to assist the rider and help them pedal.

So, apart from a few manufacturers that offer a throttle-driven motor, an e-bike still needs to be pedaled.

Mopeds, like motorbikes, are entirely motor-driven and don’t require any work from the rider apart from turning the throttle. The big advantage of this is that if you are commuting, you don’t need to worry about being sweaty or tired when you arrive.

But exercise is also great for your physical and mental health. So, an e-bike is really a life companion more than just a commuter because it helps keep you in shape.

On the other hand, an electric bike is still a bicycle, which means that even if your battery runs flat, you can still pedal the bike home. If your moped runs flat or runs out of fuel, you’re forced to push it to the nearest gas station or phone a friend for help.

That said, there are a few electric mopeds that have built-in pedals, but these can easily weigh 110 pounds or more, which makes pedaling them an extremely difficult task. Even if you decide to try and push your moped, remember that pushing that much weight, especially uphill, may not even be physically possible.

Mopeds Are Faster Than Electric Bikes

Another major difference is that both gas- and electric-powered mopeds are considerably faster than electric bikes. Sure, e-bikes can reach insane speeds if you ride them down a mountain pass without touching the beaks, but when it comes to which one’s motor goes faster, mopeds win hands down.

Most electric bikes will pedal assist up to a speed of around 20 mph, after which any speed increase is entirely up to how well you can pedal.

Mopeds’ speed is determined by the size of the engine, or in the case of an electric moped, the battery’s size plus the motor’s power. The smallest mopeds have a top speed of around 28 mph, and bigger ones can reach speeds up to 70mph.

So, a moped could be the way to go if you want to shave time off your commute. But you should remember that mopeds aren’t typically allowed in the bike lane, meaning that during your commute, you will need to compete with the rest of the traffic on the road.

Most electric bikes are permitted to use the bike lane, so while you may not be able to go as fast as mopeds, you could potentially go around the ones stuck in traffic.

Electric Bikes Are Typically Cheaper Than Mopeds

We get it; times are tough everywhere, and for most people, the cost is a significant consideration, and when it comes to price, we must give the win to e-bikes.

While it’s true that there are basic mopeds available for the same entry price as a basic electric bike, their quality is somewhat questionable. Plus, seeing as how most mopeds don’t have a “pedal home” function, you should be wary of buying a bad-quality one that can leave you stranded. Even the mopeds that can technically be pedaled should come with a sign that reads, “Good luck trying.”

This means that at the bottom end, you are looking at paying in the region of $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 for a decent moped as opposed to the $ 800 to $ 1,500 for a bottom-end e-bike.

Then there are the additional costs. After purchasing your moped, it needs to get registered and licensed, and before purchasing it, you will need to get whatever driver’s permit your country or state requires. You will also need to get hold of protective gear, like a proper motorbike helmet, which can be pretty expensive.

In the case of the e-bike, you only really need a good bicycle helmet, and then you’re good to go. There may be some age restrictions in your area regarding what type of e-bike you may ride, but there isn’t a cost or license to get around that.

Mopeds, especially gas mopeds, aren’t things that you can service in your garage, meaning that you will have to pay a professional for the maintenance work, further growing the bill.

Mopeds Can Take Baggage

The last important consideration is that most mopeds have some form of storage bin, usually located in the seat. While it isn’t a massive amount of storage, it is handy. With an electric bike, you will unfortunately need to take a backpack.

Backpacks are fine, but they also have their limitation with some menial tasks. For example, you can stick a loaf of bread in a backpack and expect to come out looking fine. Backpacks are also exposed to the weather, so unless you have a waterproof pack, whatever you put inside will get wet. This isn’t the case with a storage bin, which is sealed off from the elements.

Most mopeds also allow you to take a passenger with you, whereas taking a passenger on an e-bike requires some ultra-uncomfortable balancing skills.

Conclusion

The goal of an electric bicycle motor is to assist the rider with pedaling the bike forward. Mopeds, on the other hand, are entirely driven by their engine or electric motor. This allows mopeds to reach higher top speeds but also makes them more expensive and heavier. Electric bikes can still be pedaled if the battery dies, but most mopeds may very well be left stranded.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles