Skip to main content

Owning a car makes getting to your destination easier than walking or using a rideshare service. However, some people may live in a crowded city where cars aren’t as practical. Other vehicles like motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters are more appealing.

These motorbikes are much lighter than cars, perfect for those who may not feel comfortable operating a larger machine. They also get much better gas mileage than cars. To the untrained eye, these bikes may all seem like the same thing, but key differences set each one apart.

What is the aesthetic difference between a moped, scooter, and motorcycle?

You can usually tell a motorcycle apart from a scooter by looking at it. The engine is located in the front of the bike. There’s no footrest, so you need to swing your leg up and over the side to get on. A motorcycle’s engine is louder, and it has more options for accessories like spoilers. It also has a dual-clutch transmission as opposed to the automatic transmissions found in smaller motorbikes.

It’s easier to get mopeds and scooters confused since they look so similar. Unlike motorcycles, they both have a footrest platform and engines located in the back. They are both smaller than motorcycles, which makes them better for beginners. However, a moped has pedals, while most modern scooters don’t. 

The Motorcycle Legal Foundation points out another key difference between the three involving wheel size. Any bike with wheels measuring over 16 inches is considered a motorcycle. Mopeds and scooters can have wheels measuring anywhere from 10 to 16 inches. Larger wheels are generally more popular among cyclists because they can handle high speeds. But, since mopeds and scooters don’t go as fast as motorcycles, they can afford to have smaller wheels.

What is the engine size for a moped, scooter, and motorcycle?

If the motorbike has an engine size of 50cc or less, it’s considered a moped. Scooters have a bigger range of engines, with the most common being 50cc, 150cc, and 250cc. Anything with an engine above 250cc is classified as a motorcycle, and some can even have engines of 1000cc or over.

As with cars, you need to be a certain age to operate a motorbike. Even if it’s a moped or a scooter, you still must get a motorcycle license if you want to legally drive any of the three. Drivers aged 14 to 16 can get a moped or scooter permit, but future motorcyclists must be at least 16 in every state.

If the engine size is small enough, you may not need a license to drive it, but this depends on where you live. In some states, like Virginia, you have to be 18 or over before you can get an official license. All states require you to have insurance that covers injury and liability, no matter the bike. Head and eye protection is required for all scooter drivers. Moped and motorcycle drivers can ditch the helmet if they’re over 19 or 21, depending on the state — although this is incredibly unsafe.

Are motorcycles faster than mopeds and scooters?

The top speed of your motorbike will vary depending on its engine size. The only exception is a moped, which usually clocks in a maximum of 28 miles per hour. Because of this, it should only be used in cities. A scooter with a 150cc engine can get up to 50 or 60 miles per hour. This makes them ideal for use on city roads. Since motorcycles have bigger engines, they’re the only motorbikes recommended for regular highway travel.


Electric Off-Road Scooter Can Take You Anywhere