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MotorScooterShopper.com - The Motor Scooter Buying Guide 
50cc - 150cc - 250cc                                    Information, Resources, and Tips to Help You Buy the Right Motor Scooter  
Motor Scooter

Mopeds and Scooters – What’s the Difference?


When you’re shopping for a motor scooter, you may find that some of the models you are considering are labeled as “mopeds”. If you narrow your choices down to two, and one is listed as a motor scooter and one is listed as a moped, you may wonder if they are labeled differently because they are two completely different types of motorized bikes. Don’t fret. Odds are pretty good that they are both very similar motor scooters and you’d be fine choosing either, but one has intentionally been listed as a moped. The question is “why”?

There are significant differences between mopeds and scooters. In fact, there are more similarities between motorcycles and scooters than there are between mopeds and scooters. But those differences are not why the one model of motor scooter has been listed as a moped. There is a reason it has been listed as a moped despite it not being a moped, and we’ll explain why a little later. But first we’ll explain the differences between mopeds and scooters.

The term “moped” is derived from the two words “motor” and “pedal”. Thus a two wheeled moped vehicle would be a bike that is hybrid of both motorized and human (pedaling) power. If the motor scooter you are considering does not have the capability of utilizing pedaling power, then obviously that motor scooter would not fit the derived definition of the word “moped”.

However, some states have included in their laws that mopeds are defined by their engine size, and even other states have defined them by the maximum speed the vehicle can go. So even a motor vehicle that doesn’t utilize pedaling power legally qualifies as a moped as long as it’s small enough or slow enough.

The purpose of these laws is to define what motorized vehicles people under the legal driving age can operate. In most states a person can legally operate a moped vehicle two years before they can operate an automobile. A good rule of thumb is any motor scooter with a 50cc engine or larger does not meet the legal requirement of being a moped.

Now there’s a good chance that the motor scooter you are considering that’s labeled as a moped has a 50cc engine or larger. So it is not a moped, neither by the derived definition of the word “moped”, nor by any state law. However, calling it a moped is done intentionally, and it’s a result of this thing called the internet.

When a person gets interest in buying a motor scooter, one of the first things they’re likely to do is use their favorite internet search engine and type in the word “scooter”. The problem is the term “scooter” applies to far more products than just motor scooters. In fact even the phrase “motor scooter” applies to a wide range of products beyond the basic motorcycle type vehicles being searched for. As dealers of motor scooters design their websites to be found by the search engines they’ve found that their websites were lost in a slew of other products like Razor kick scooters (especially the motorized kind), electric motor scooters, motorized mobility scooters, and more.

Users of search engines usually don’t go through pages and pages of results when the search engine responds with such a wide variety of responses. They usually type in a different word or search phrase that’s more specific to what they’re looking for. In the case of motor scooters, that word more often than not has been “moped”.

It’s not some conspiracy. Nor is it some kind of accident. Essentially it’s nothing more than a natural phenomenon. By searching for the word moped, users were able to find the dealers who sold both mopeds and motor scooters, ultimately finding the motor scooter they were looking for. The dealers that sold both mopeds and scooters reaped so much success from the search engines that the dealers that only sold motor scooters (and no mopeds) were motivated to call their motor scooters “mopeds” in order to get the those internet search engine users matched to their product.

And ultimately that’s what the purpose of the internet search engine… to match users to the item they’re searching for. In this case, the users weren’t looking for a moped. They were looking for motor scooters. Nor were the dealers selling mopeds (at least the majority of them). They were selling motor scooters. But by use of the word “moped”, the users were matched via search engines to what they were looking for.

So when you are comparing two models of motor scooters and one is listed as a moped, don’t fret over the differences between mopeds and scooters. There’s likely not much different at all between the scooters you are considering. It’s just a natural phenomenon of human nature that words assume new definitions as time progresses, and you can blame the internet search engine for this one.



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