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Find helpful facts about mopeds and get moped resources.

Learn about mopeds, a cost effective and convenient travel option. [© Jupiter Images, 2009]
© Jupiter Images, 2009
Learn about mopeds, a cost effective and convenient travel option.

With rising fuel prices and a mounting environmental crisis, alternative means of transportation are a hot topic. One popular alternative to a car or truck is a moped. Mopeds are relatively cheap, efficient, and usually don't require a driver's license to operate.

Moped Classification

Defining a moped can be tricky. What some people call mopeds others call motorized scooters, and what some people call electric bikes others call mopeds.

Traditionally, mopeds were two-wheeled vehicles equipped with pedals and low-powered engines. As technology improved, pedals disappeared on some mopeds, and were replaced by footrests. In the United States, the definition of a moped is left up to individual states. Although these definitions can vary, most states define a moped as a two-wheeled vehicle that:

• Has engine of less than 50cc (engine displaces less than 50 cubic centimeters)
• Reaches a top speed of less than 30 mph
• Produces less than one horsepower.

However, some states, such as Ohio, define mopeds as vehicles that reach top speeds of less than 20 mph, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Others allow moped engines to have up to two horsepower.

It's important to research state laws before purchasing a moped. Anything above state limits causes the vehicle to be classified as a motorcycle. Motorcycles require more insurance and different licenses than a moped, so failing to do research can be costly.

Regardless of how a moped is defined or classified, all moped drivers need to follow the same rules of the road as other motorized vehicles.

Advantages of Mopeds

Mopeds have a number of advantages over other forms of transportation. They are faster and easier to ride than bicycles, but don't cost as much or use as much fuel as cars or trucks. Additionally, because they are much less powerful than motorcycles, they are generally safer when used properly.

The moped's biggest advantage is fuel efficiency. Most mopeds can get between 80 to 90 miles per gallon, compared to the 25 to 30 that even the most efficient cars get. For a moped rider who travels 20 miles a day to and from work, this translates to about $600 dollars per year in gas savings.

Before buying a moped, it's important to find out exactly what is considered a moped in your area. One excellent resource is moped2.org, a Web site devoted to moped information and moped enthusiasts. It even has links to state laws regarding mopeds, as well as lively discussion forums for people interested in discussing all things moped.

Additionally, you can get an official list of rules and regulations about mopeds by contacting the DMV. Remember to find out what kind of safety gear is required for riding a moped — some states require helmets, eyewear or reflective clothing.

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