Mopeds, which are a common sight in Europe, are finally starting to become more popular in the states. In fact, forecasters predict the North American electric scooter and motorcycle market will grow by more than 28% by 2024.
Gas prices may be to blame, at least in part. However, the lure of cruising down a bustling, post-pandemic city street could also be a key motivator for many Americans.
After a year trapped inside, people are ready to get outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of city life again. What better way to do that than on a moped?
Since many scooters are relatively affordable and easy to drive, most consumers don’t think twice about shelling out the cash for one. However, there are a few important factors to consider before adding this shiny new toy to your garage.
Mopeds can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, which is obviously much more affordable than a new or even used car. Plus, they don’t require as much maintenance, although you’ll have to check the oil more frequently.
Still, most consumers consider mopeds to be significantly large investments, especially when compared to the price of small electric scooters and e-bikes. Luckily, many dealers offer to finance so your bank account doesn’t take a nosedive. Banks may also offer loans for recreational vehicles, which can apply to mopeds in some instances.
2. License and Registration
Of course, you should also factor license and registration into the overall cost of buying a moped. Every state in the U.S. expects drivers to have a license, which will cost about $20 depending on where you live.
Meanwhile, some states like Wyoming have special rules that require moped drivers to get a motorcycle license. In this case, drivers may want to pay for a motorcycle safety class just to pass the test and earn their permit.
Additionally, some drivers must pay for a license plate and registration. Often, your engine size and geographical location will determine whether or not you need these two things. However, any associated fees will still be cheaper than a car’s.
Most states require moped owners to have some form of liability insurance before hitting the road. Luckily, many insurance companies now cover mopeds under their motorcycle policies. They may also offer optional coverage for residual medical payments if you were to get into an accident. Read the fine print to determine what each policy covers and to choose one that works best for your situation.
Overall, moped insurance policies are less expensive than auto policies. For example, a New Yorker could pay as little as $312 to cover their Vespa for a year. However, if you want full coverage, it may cost just as much to cover two wheels as it does to cover four. Compare quotes to find the best coverage and rate for your personal situation.
4. Engine Power
Innovators created motorized scooters before traffic laws, which inevitably led to reckless teenage drivers. Eventually, countries passed laws to prohibit them from driving at breakneck speeds. The scooter industry responded in kind by making bikes that couldn’t go fast enough to break these laws. For this reason, mopeds are slower and less powerful than cars and motorcycles.
Therefore, if your commute involves highways, driving a moped might not be the wisest choice. However, if you mainly take city streets and backroads, a Vespa or Askoll will serve you well. Will you be traveling slower than 40 mph? Opt for a moped with a 50 cc — or less powerful — engine. Otherwise, you may need a 150 cc or 200 cc scooter to move a bit faster.
5. Mileage and Driveability
Sure, they might be a little slower than cars, but mopeds are superior in regards to gas mileage. Some can even squeeze 100 miles or more out of a single gallon of unleaded. This level of fuel efficiency is good for both your wallet and the environment, as you’ll use fewer resources and minimize emissions while saving money at the pump.
Mopeds’ excellent driveability also makes them an easy option for teenagers who are just learning to drive. An automatic transmission is much easier to master than a motorcycle’s manual setup. Plus, they often provide enhanced maneuverability, which is a must for city-dwellers with little room to drive and park.
Most parts of the U.S. and Europe require moped drivers to wear helmets while out and about. Moreover, the helmet must comply with safety standards. In places like Canada, authorities can even examine riders’ helmets to ensure their roadworthiness. Therefore, it’s crucial that you don the proper safety gear before mounting your steel steed.
Look for closed-face helmets to protect your head and face from injury and pads that will shield your knees and elbows in the event of a crash. Gloves are a wise choice, too, as they prevent your hands from sweating and allow a tighter grip on the throttle and breaks.
Complete the look with closed-toe boots and a leather jacket, both of which will keep you safe if you accidentally eat dirt.
While some people buy mopeds out of pure utility, others do so because they think mopeds are just plain cool. What these owners don’t realize is that motorized scooters are a lot less comfortable than cars or even motorcycles.
Unlike a typical four-wheel automobile, mopeds don’t come with temperature control, cup holders, or trunk space. Their roofless design also means you’ll have to endure bad weather and extreme temperatures from time to time.
However, if you have protective gear or a backup vehicle, inclement weather won’t be much of a concern. Plus, you’ll find that the vehicle’s floorboard is much more comfortable than a motorcycle’s tiny footrests.
Motorcycles, mopeds, and motorized scooters all have something unique to offer motorists. Thus, if you can’t decide between the three, it’s wise to assess your lifestyle and personal situation. What does your commute look like right now? How many bikes can you afford to buy? These considerations and the factors above will ultimately help you determine which option is best for you.