Is an Electric Bike a Moped? (Differences Explained)

Electric bikes have motors just like a moped but there are some big differences, especially when it comes to the legal side, that separate electric bikes from mopeds. In this article, I will explain what those differences are and clear up any confusion!

No, an electric bike is not a moped, even an electric bike with a throttle. Electric bikes can be ridden like a regular bike and have gears just like a regular bike. Modern mopeds are simply low-powered scooters.

Mopeds were originally two-wheeled, gas-powered, bikes that had pedals and a chain but the pedals were mostly used to crank start the motor.

Old school moped with tank
This is a cool old school style gas moped

You could actually pedal an old-school moped like a regular bike, but is nearly impossible and just didn’t work very well.

So basically the term “Moped” is a pretty confusing mess and mopeds these days are really nothing like electric bicycles.

What Is the Difference Between an Electric Bike and a Modern Moped?

Electric bikes can be ridden like a regular bike but have a motor that will help assist with pedaling up to a certain speed. Modern mopeds are just low-powered scooters that you sit on and use the throttle for propulsion.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say on the matter –

In my opinion, Wikipedia is not always a great source for clearing things up. 🙂

Most mopeds these days just look like regular scooters and some look like motorcycles.

modern electric moped
Here is what modern electric mopeds look like

Whereas modern electric bikes are looking more and more like regular bikes as motors get smaller and more powerful and batteries get smaller with longer life spans.

Plus, you can actually ride an electric bike like a regular bike if you really have to. Here is an article all about this → “Can an Electric Bike Be Used Like a Regular Bike?”

Do You Need A License for an Electric Bike?

In the US there are only 3 states that still require a license to ride an electric bike, Alaska, New Mexico, and Massachusetts. In any other state, as long as you have a Class 1, 2, or 3 electric bike, you do not need a license. 

Electric bikes are great because you can ride them like a regular bike and don’t need to have a license, registration, or insurance.

This is another area in which riding an electric bike can save you a lot of money. 

Here is an article I think you might like → “Can An Electric Bike Replace a Car?”

What is an Electric Moped?

Modern electric mopeds are basically low-powered scooters that have a max speed of around 25pmh, no pedals, and depending upon where you live, may not require a license. 

These modern electric mopeds are quite different than the original moped, which was a gas-powered bicycle that you could also pedal like a regular bike if you ran out of gas and you could use the pedals to start to motor.

Mopeds never really gained much popularity here in the US, but in some countries, they were everywhere.

Nowadays, electric mopeds look just like gas-powered scooters but have smaller motors that only supply enough power to go about 25mph.

Electric mopeds do not have pedals and the rider will just sit there and use the throttle to get moving.

Are Electric Mopeds Legal to Ride on the Road?

Electric mopeds are only legal to ride on roads with a speed limit of 25pmh or less, otherwise, you need to use the bike lane.

I would also test out your new moped on hills, since these do not have as powerful of motors as scooters, you may notice that you go pretty slow up inclines and have to veer over into the bike lane.

Electric mopeds are not like electric scooters. Electric mopeds are designed to be much lower power with speed limit restrictions and allow for some states not to have to require licenses or registration.

If you plan to buy an electric moped, I would check with local state laws first and see what their requirements are.

Are Electric Mopeds Legal to Ride on Bike Paths?

No, they are not. Electric mopeds are considered motorized vehicles and not allowed on multi-use bike paths.

This is something to really take into consideration before buying an electric moped. You will have to ride on the road and most of the time, in the bike lane.

There is a reason that few folks decide that an electric moped is a way to go in the US. You kind of get the worst of both worlds.

They are not powerful and fast enough to ride on most streets in traffic and not allowed on bike paths and multi-use paths so that you take the scenic route.

Should I Buy an Electric Bike or a Moped?

Now that there are many electric bike options that include a throttle, there is really no reason to buy a moped. Even if you have a throttle on your ebike, you will still be pedaling a bit and getting some exercise, which is always good!

With an electric bike, you can use bike paths and multi-use paths to find much better routes to where you need to go.

You will also find, that over time as you pedal more often, you will start to get into better shape and feel healthier.

If you do just want something like an electric moped and your state will require a license and insurance anyway, then I would just look at getting a more powerful electric scooter that you can ride in traffic with.

If price is your main concern, there are many electric bike options that include throttles, that won’t break the bank. My Lectric XP 2.0 was $999 and has a throttle, but you can also pedal it like a regular bike.

For the best options in electric bikes, you should check with your local bike shop and see what they have. Getting an excellent mid-drive ebike from your local dealer is going to be the best ebike experience you can have.

At the End of the Day

I am a big fan of electric bikes and I don’t really see the benefit of an electric moped.

Riding an electric bike can give all the benefits of riding a regular bike without many of the drawbacks. 

Riding an electric moped just seems like a slow way to remain stuck in traffic.

If you are still torn between the two, then you can always go to your local bike shop and test ride an electric bike for free. You can also rent electric bikes in just about every major town these days.

Finding an electric moped you really test out before you buy is going to be challenging.

Plus, if you buy your electric bike from your local dealer you will always have someone, in-person, that can help you with any maintenance issues and questions you may have.

As always, stay safe out there and Keep on Riding!