Mopeds are a class of low-powered motorized vehicles, generally two-wheeled. Moped classification is designed to allow the use of small motorised vehicles, avoiding the safety restrictions and licensing charges required of larger motorcycles. Some motorized bicycles, small scooters, and small motorcycles fit the definition of a moped. In many countries microcars like Aixam and Piaggio Ape are classified as mopeds because of their low top speed and small capacity engine.
In legal literature, mopeds are normally defined by limits on engine displacement, speed, power output, transmissions, or the requirement of pedals. In some countries, the legal driving age for a moped is lower than for larger motorcycles, and consequently mopeds are popular among the youth. Typically, mopeds are restricted to 30-50 km/h (19-31 mph) and engines less than 50 cc. Some localities require pedals, thus making them a form of hybrid vehicle, using both human power and machine power. Because of their small size, many jurisdictions consider them "limited speed motorcycle."
Early moped, a bicycle with a helper motor on the rear hub.
The earliest mopeds, introduced in the early 1950s, were standard bicycles with a helper motor in various locations, for example on top of the front wheel; they were also called cyclemotors. An example of this type is the VéloSoleX brand, which simply had a rubber roller driving the front tire. A more innovative design was known in the UK as the Cyclemaster. This had a complete powered rear wheel which was simply substituted for the bicycle rear wheel, which originated from a design by two DKW engineers in Germany. Slightly larger machines, commonly with a 98 cc engine were known as autocycles. However, some mopeds, such as the Czech-made Jawa, were derived from motorcycles.
A further category of low-powered two-wheelers exists today in some jurisdictions for bicycles with helper motors—these are often defined as power-assisted bicycles or motorized bicycles; see full article there. Some jurisdictions, however, may categorize these as a type of moped, creating a certain amount of confusion.
Some mopeds have been designed with more than two wheels, similar to a microcar, or the three wheeled (two front, one back) transport moped.
Mopeds and the United States
In 1974, the United States was in the midst of a national fuel crisis due to the OPEC oil embargo. Travellers were forced to wait in lines for hours just to get a tank of gas. Most cars at that time were not very fuel-efficient and people looked for a new method of transportation, which could allow them to travel efficiently and reasonably.
The moped, which was half bicycle / half motorcycle had existed for years in Europe but had not made it to the United States, in part because of safety restrictions implemented by the Department of Transportation. In 1972, Serge Seguin of France wrote his Masters thesis on the European moped. After receiving two mopeds and a small amount of money from a company called Motobecane, Seguin travelled throughout the United States promoting the vehicle. After lobbying Congress on its fuel efficiency benefits, Seguin was able to get more than 30 states to devise a specific vehicle classification for the bikes.
The bikes had very small engines and often could not exceed 40 miles per hour. What they could do, however, was run for up to 220 miles on one tank of fuel. Because of the problems caused by the aforementioned energy crisis, mopeds quickly became popular, with more than 250,000 people in the United States owning one in 1977. However, as gas prices eventually moved down and automobile companies devised more efficient cars, the mopeds popularity and usefulness began to fade.
The original moped – a bike equipped with a motor
The word moped was coined by a Swedish journalist in 1952, as a portmanteau of motor and pedal. It is however often claimed to be derived from "motor velicioped", as velicioped is the translation for bicycle in other languages such as Russian. According to Douglas Harper, the Swedish terms originated from "(trampcykel med) mo(tor och) ped(aler)", which means "pedal cycle with engine and pedals." (the earliest versions had auxiliary pedals).
Other terms used for low-powered cycles include: Mofa (Motor-Fahrrad, German for motor-bicycle), Mokick (equipped with kick-start), Motorbicycle, Motorized Bicycle, Motor-Driven Cycle, and Goped (motorized inline skateboard with T-bar).
In Southeast Asian countries, mopeds are classified as small motorcycles similar to Honda Super Cub, sometimes called underbones, they are also known as kapchai in Malaysia. A kapchai moped is usually powered by small 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines ranging from 50 cc to 125 cc, but recently the displacement range was increased to 135 cc with the introduction of the largest displacement kapchai model, Yamaha Y135LC.
In Thailand, the regulation of motorcycle in city is different from the regulation for home used. Motorcycles in the city must paid road tax and have a valid license plate number. However for the motorcycle for home use, a motorcycle might not need to register and the motorcycle will only be able to be used in farms or a small town. Wearing helmet is a must when riding on a major road and in the city. There is no limit of maximum pillion riders on the bikes even in the city.
In Malaysia, kapchai bikes may apply the same highway speed limits as cars and larger motorcycles since modern kapchai models are capable to reach the top speeds of about 120-130 km/h, therefore all kapchai bikes are allowed to be used on public roads and expressways. However in Indonesia, mopeds are not allowed to be used on Indonesian tollways. In the Philippines, many underbones, especially the Honda XRM are modified, some are "pimped out" with stereo systems and neon lights, while others are tuned for illegal street racing.
In Vietnam, mopeds can be seen everywhere. In the main cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, mopeds are by far the preferred method of transport, due to the narrow nature of many of the streets, and the sheer volume of vehicles on them. In fact, many of the shops along these streets are designed such that these mopeds are parked inside of the shop.
In Brazil, the definition of moped (locally called "ciclomotor") and the regulations regarding its use has been varying throughout the years. From 1985 to 1997, a moped was defined as human propulsion vehicle aided by an engine displacing less than 50 cc, no more than 3 hp, having a maximum speed of no more than 50 km/h and having pedals similar to those found in a bicycle. No license was required.
From 1997 onwards, the legal definition of moped changed to "a two or three wheeled vehicle having an internal combustion engine with displacement inferior to 50 cc and maximum factory speed of less than 50 km/h. The 1997 New Code of Transit also stated that any person aged 14 or older could ride a moped provided that person could read and be physically able. However, in 1998 the minimum age limit was changed to 18 years, since Brazilian Law doesn't allow minors to be criminally responsible, which contradicts the 1997 New Code of Transit, that states that being a criminally responsible is a requirement to be able to get a license.
Note that by the current Brazilian regulations, electric mopeds are currently classified as "motorcycles", which require a type A driving license, as they have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine.
In Canada the Moped has been repealed from the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. Nevertheless the vehicle itself is still legislated within various provinces.
In Alberta, Canada, mopeds require a class 6 (motorcycle) or class 7 (learner's permit) licence and must have engines under 50 cc. In addition to this, they must not have a driver-operated transmission. They are allowed to carry more than one person. Mopeds are subject to all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles, and all riders must wear helmets.
In Ontario, Canada, "a moped is a motor-assisted bicycle fitted with pedals that can be operated at all times and has a maximum speed of 50 km/h." A motor assisted bicycle is a bicycle:
(a) that is fitted with pedals that are operable at all times to propel the bicycle,
(b) that weighs not more than fifty-five kilograms,
(c) that has no hand or foot operated clutch or gearbox driven by the motor and transferring power to the driven wheel,
(d) that has an attached motor driven by electricity or having a piston displacement of not more than fifty cubic centimetres, and
(e) that does not have sufficient power to enable the bicycle to attain a speed greater than 50 kilometres per hour on level ground within a distance of 2 kilometres from a standing start; (“cyclomoteur”)
Since 28 November 2005 moped drivers require either a full M licence or a restricted class M licence to legally ride on road in Ontario. Prior to that date riders only required a G licence. The G licence is a "general" licence for automobile drivers such as cars, small vans and trucks.
Mopeds in Denmark are divided into "Small mopeds" and "Big mopeds", 'Small' mopeds have a speed limit of 30 km/h, and 'Big' mopeds have one on 45 km/h. A moped license is needed and the driver must be at least 16 to operate a small one. A car driver's or motorcycle license is needed and the driver must be at least 18 years old to drive a big one. All new mopeds (both types) bought after 1 June 2006 must be registered with a license plate, and have insurance. The older models are not required to have a license plate.
Both models have a maximum of 1-1.2 bhp (750-890 W) and 50 cc but nearly 75% of all Danish mopeds are illegally unrestricted.
There is yet no law for mopeds commonly throughout the European Union; each country has its own laws. However, there is a moped called the EU-moped that has the same speeds and other properties and is widespread over Europe. It has a maximum speed of 45 km/h and must have a license plate.
Mopeds can be driven with an M-class driving licence, which can be obtained at the age of 15. People born before 1985 can drive a moped without a licence.The power of an internal combustion engine moped is not limited, but the speed limit is 45 km/h and engine capacity can be a maximum of 50 cc (with electric motor maximum power is restricted to 4 kW). Mopeds are allowed to carry one passenger with the driver, if the moped is registered as having two seats. Both driver and passenger are required to wear helmets. After Finland joined the European Union, EU regulations increased the maximum weight of moped and speed limit was increased from 40 km/h to 45 km/h.
In Greek slang mopeds are referred to as "Papakia" (Greek: Παπάκια) - meaning "Ducks". They are usually powered by small 2-stroke or 4-stroke engines ranging from 50 cc to 125 cc. They are very popular among youngsters due to their small price and maintenance cost, and are widely used by all age groups, usually 13 and up. The most known "Duck" was the 80's Honda 50 cc moped, which is still in use today. (the use of these bikes require license and relevant exams taken before attaining it)
Mopeds can be driven with any class of driver licence. Mopeds are classified as having an engine capacity not exceeding 50 cc and a maximum speed not exceeding 50 km/h. Electric mopeds must have a motor between 600 and 2000 watts. Mopeds do not require safety testing (known as a Warrant of Fitness in NZ) and are subject to lower licensing costs than motorcycles, though one still needs the right equipment (Helmet etc.).
InPortugal Moped is a two or three wheel motor vehicle with an engine of 50 cc or less, or having an engine with more than 50 cc but with a maximum speed of no more than 45 km/h. For driving a Moped is necessary a A type licence, which can be obtained at the age of 14 years old.
Russian moped ZiD-50 "Pilot"
The moped is legally defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with engine displacement of no more than 50 cc and maximum speed of no more than 50 km/h. Such vehicles require no licensing. Pillion passengers are not allowed.
In Spain a moped is defined as a two or three wheel motor vehicle with an engine of 50 cc or less with a maximum speed of no more than 45 km/h. The license needed for driving a moped is the 'LCC' or 'Licencia de Conducción para Ciclomotor', which can be obtained at the age of 14 years. The driver is not allowed to transport passengers on the rear seat until 16 years of age.
Mopeds are available in two classes. Class 1 (also known as EU moped as it was introduced to comply with European Union rules) is a moped designed for a maximum speed of 45 km/h powered by an engine of 50 cc or, if it has an electric motor, has a maximum power of 4 kW. A driver's licence type A (motorcycle) or B (car), a driving licence for tractor or a class 1 moped licence (when you're 15 years old) is required to ride a class 1 moped. In traffic class 1 mopeds are regarded as motorcycles (but may not be driven on freeways or motorroads) and has to be registered and have a licence plate. They are however tax free. Class 2 is a moped designed for a top speed of 25 km/h and has an engine with maximum 1 kW. No licence is required, but the driver has to be above 15 years and wear a helmet. In traffic they are regarded as bicycles unless there are signs explicitly forbidding mopeds. Mopeds registered before June 17, 2003 are called legacy mopeds and they are subject to the same rules as class 2 mopeds, but may have a top speed of 30 km/h.
A moped is considered to be a two wheeled vehicles that has pedals, a motor which is less than 50 cc and a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph). The moped must be registered and must have a number plate with a sticker for that year indicating that the vehicle is road taxed and insured. Insurance is handled by the government. These vehicle are regarded bicycles in traffic and are therefore not allowed on motorways. To drive this vehicle one must have a Category M licence (which comes with every car and motorbike licence) as well as a motorcycle helmet. A Category M licence is obtainable at the age of 14. At the age of 16 one can obtain a A1 licence to drive a 50 cc motorcycle which does not conform to the 30 km/h limit.
The term moped describes any low-powered motor driven cycle with an engine capacity of less than 50 cc and a maximum design speed of no more than 30 mph. If used before 1 August 1977 it must be moveable by pedals and although it must be 50 cc or below, it does not have to conform to the 30mph speed restriction. (This is where the original name 'moped' is derived - Mo = motor, Ped = pedals). A provisional licence, full motorcycle or car licence is needed to operate a moped. An additional Compulsory Basic Training certificate is also required to ride a moped on public roads, except for anyone who obtained their full car driving licence or motorcycle licence before 1 February 2001. A provisional moped licence may be obtained at the age of 16, whereas standard car and motorcycles licences are only available at the age of 17. Provisional licences require learner plates and expire after two years if the licence holder has not upgraded their licence. Mopeds are subject to all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles. All motorised cycles/motorcycles/mopeds under 50 cc are excluded from using UK motorways.
Legal terms and definitions of low-powered cycles vary from state to state and may or may not include "Moped," "Motorcycle," "Motorized Bicycle," "Motorscooter," "Goped," "Motor-Driven Cycle," and or others. The Honda Metropolitan scooter is designated as a "Motor-Driven Cycle" on its VIN sticker and by states like Kansas (K.S.A. 8-1439). A moped's speed generally may not exceed 30 mph (48 km/h) on level ground, even if it is capable of going faster. In a few states this number is 20 or 25 mph (32 or 40 km/h), and in most states, the maximum engine capacity is 50 cc. However, Kansas ("Motorized Bicycle" K.S.A. 8-126, 8-1439a) allows up to 130 cc. Some states require pedals, while others do not.
Derestriction and performance tuning
In juristrictions where mopeds are limited by power output or top speed, it is common for mopeds to be restricted in some capacity. Some mopeds are restricted by simple means, such as plates or washers which may be removed to increase speed--some dealerships will derestrict a moped for free or at minimal expense. Some mopeds are restricted by washers in the variator which prevent it from being able to close fully at high speeds, limiting revs, while others are electronically limited by their CDI unit which works similarly to an ECU in a car. Other mopeds, however, are restricted by their design as a whole. Such mopeds require aftermarket parts to increase performance. Common means for increasing performance on 2-stroke mopeds include adding an exhaust pipe with a larger expansion chamber, installing a larger carburetor, and/or installing a speed kit with a larger cylinder or with reed valves.
The speed gained by such modifications varies greatly on the specific engine and on the combination of modifications performed.
Most mopeds can be upgraded without problems to a 70 cc engine by replacing the original cylinder with an aftermarket cylinder - Mainly produced in Italy by Polini, Malossi, Athena, Hebo (sub-producer of Athena), Metrakit etc. These companies are specialists in producing 'racing' or sports kits (which last better, and do not require extreme maintenance - good for every day mopeds) for many kinds of 2- and 4-stroke engines. They also offer great sponsor deals for licensed racers, who race on certified racetracks.
The problem with riding tuned mopeds by teens in countries where their top speed and/or engine capacity has to be limited to allow driving without or with an M-class EU driver's license is that technically, a moped that has been upped in power or top speed is a motorcycle, which requires different tax paying, insurance and an A-class EU driver's license, which can be obtained only by an adult, which makes riding one punishable as driving without a license.
In Finland, the police have increased the number of surprise checks in schools and teenager hot spots to cut down the problem.
As mopeds and repair parts have become scarcer, and as a certain nostalgia has grown around mopeds (not unlike that of classic scooters), enthusiasts have formed an increasing number of organizations devoted to moped collecting, repair, and lifestyle.
The Moped Army is a moped gang comprised of local branches from the United States. Different branches put together annual rallies around the country.
The Moped Riders Association is an international organization which sponsors events and rides throughout North America.
The National Autocycle and Cyclemotor Club ( NACC) cater for all types of mopeds in the UK and are affiliated to the Vintage Motorcycle Club (VMCC).
A number of unaffiliated local and regional organizations also exist, such as the RCMP from the Greater Toronto Area, Rocket Ship Tomos from Japan, and The Variators, which were formerly a branch of the Moped Army, from Ottawa.
In 1978, Walter Muma set an unofficial world record for distance travelled on a true moped in a single trip. The trip took 97 days and began in Toronto, Canada, taking him a total of 11,518 miles (18,660 km) through Yukon, Canada; Alaska, USA; Inuvik, Canada; and back to Toronto. He rode a Motobecane moped, and carried most of what he needed (clothing, food, spare parts, fuel, etc.) on the moped itself. Over the entire trip, he spent only $106 (Cdn) on fuel.
Riding a moped safely has similar considerations to motorcycle safety, however, some concerns are exacerbated on a moped. Their smaller size, while offering finer control than larger bikes, also makes them harder to see.Therefore, many mopeds are equipped with reflectors and other accessories that makes them more visible in the street - especially in the dark.
Many mopeds are styled to look like motorcycles. This may encourage inexperienced riders to act as if they were operating such a machine, bringing it into situations or expecting performance it is not capable of negotiating (such as attempting to ride a moped on a high speed interstate). This also increases the risk from automobile drivers as they may think a moped is a motorcycle and misjudge its speed.
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