Listen to the podcast

If you do, congratulations! Not many people know the difference. 

If you don’t know, however, – this episode is for you. 

Tune in to discover:

  • The definition of a “moped” (and why it’s called a “moped” in the first place)
  • The definition of a “scooter” (and about a special class of scooters)


Hello and welcome to 30-minute motorcycling, a podcast for new, aspiring, and returning riders, we’ll you’ll learn something new about motorcycles and other two-wheelers in 30 minutes or less.


Have you ever looked at a Vespa thinking “nice moped!”?


Well, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not moped – it’s a scooter.


But it’s easy to make that mistake, so in this episode, I’m going to set the record straight once and for all by talking about the differences between mopeds and scooters.


Let’s begin with mopeds.


What is a moped?


Simply put, a moped is a two-wheeler with a small engine that’s made from a bicycle or motorcycle-like frame.


The word itself is actually a combination of the words “motorized” “pedals” – a term coined by Swedish automotive journalist Harald Nielsen. 


The very first mopeds were bicycles with engines attached to them. To start the engine, you had to be a human starter motor by pedaling for a while before the engine started. 


In addition to a bicycle or motorcycle-like frame, a moped also has:


  • Large wheels and 
  • A manual gearshift


With mopeds, there’s may or may not be a legal aspect to consider, which mainly depends on:


  • The country you’re in, 
  • The engine size and top speed of the moped, 
  • and the features of it, 


As a prime example, in Sweden, if you have a moped with a top speed of 45 km/h, it’s classified as a “Class 1” moped and requires a moped license for you to ride it


However, if you have a moped with a maximum top speed of just 25 km/h, it is classified as a “Class 2” moped, and all you need to ride it is a special permit.


For more information about the differences between the Swedish Class 1 and Class 2 mopeds and scooters, check out Episode 6 of the 30 Minute Motorcycling Podcast.


Anyway, that’s what a moped is: it’s a vehicle with a small engine and large wheels made from a bicycle or motorcycle frame. 


So what about scooters?




The biggest tell-tale sign of a scooter is the fact that it doesn’t have any pedals. Instead, there’s a footrest for you to put your feet on while you’re riding.


The frame itself is also quite bulky – this is to protect your legs from rain and wind while you’re riding – and also to make room for a very useful storage compartment under the seat.


Scooters also usually have much smaller wheels – typically no more than 10 inches.


As well as a CVT gearbox or an automatic gearbox – as such, you don’t have to change gears manually, and as such, they don’t have manual shifters.


One of the most well-known examples of a scooter is the Vespa – which became hugely popular in the 1960s, and whose iconic design is still used today.


If you’d like to read more about the Vespa, I’ve included a link in the show notes to an article on The Dual Wheel Journey about the History of the Vespa.


One last thing – there’s a special subclass of scooters known as “Maxi Scooters.” These scooters have an engine displacement of over 600cc.


And because of this, if you want to ride a Maxi Scooter, you’re going to need a full motorcycle license in most cases. 


And those are the differences between a moped and a scooter – so the next time you see either one, you’ll be able to tell them apart from each other.


Until next time, keep your helmet on, and your eyes on the road. Bye!