Electric bikes and mopeds are both motorized vehicles that can be used to get around. They both have pros and cons and differ in the way they power themselves as well as their portability, size and versatility in terms of riding options, but there is no clear winner between the two.
In this blog post I'll explain the difference between an electric bike and a moped, how each type of vehicle is powered, and which one might be better for you based on what your needs are.
So which one is the best for you; an electric bike or a Moped? This depends solely on your needs as a rider. In this post, we'll be going over how each cycle works and, hopefully, help you decide on which motorized bicycle best suits your riding style.
What are the differences between electric bikes and mopeds
Before diving into their differences, let's first find out how each vehicle works.
What is a moped?
The term "Moped" was originally used to identify low-speed motorcycles with bicycle pedals. (The word itself is derived from the combination of "motor" and "pedal"). Nowadays, identifying a moped isn't as simple as it used to be since most manufacturers no longer include pedals in their frames.
This is why most people confuse mopeds with scooters. Scooters are faster and way more powerful than Mopeds. They (scooters) can attain speeds of 70mph while Mopeds are mostly limited to speeds below that threshold (between 25 and 30mph).
An electric bike is a motorized bicycle. An e-bike's electric motor provides boosts to the rider when certain conditions are met.
For pedal-assist electric bikes (Pedelecs), the rider has to pedal before the motors are engaged. Once activated, the motors spin the wheels faster than the rider's pedaling cadence.
In the case of throttle-assisted electric bikes, the rider can request power from the motor without the need to pedal the bicycle. By simply engaging the thumb, twist, or finger throttle, the controller sends power to the motor which then spins the wheel(s).
So, what are the differences between the two?
1) Mopeds are more powerful than electric bikes
The average wattage of an electric bike — the average for e-bikes that are still considered bicycles according to law — ranges between 250W and 750W.
There are Mopeds whose motors can generate up to three times that amount of power at peak power. This is why Mopeds can attain speeds of over 50mph.
2) Weight and portability
Electric bikes weigh considerably less than Mopeds. The average weight of an e-bike lies somewhere between 45 and 50 pounds (18-22 kg).
Mopeds on the other hand could weigh up to 180 lbs (80kg). This is understandable considering the fact that they (Mopeds) are more powerful and have bigger motors.
3) Legal restrictions
In most U.S states there is no minimum age requirement for riding a bike, however, anyone who wishes to ride a Moped must be 17 or older. Mopeds need to be registered and insured especially if you're riding above the 30mph speed limit set for Mopeds.
Mopeds aren't allowed on bike lanes mostly because their speed is throttle-activated. They are banned from mountain bike trails as well.
4) Mopeds don't need to be pedaled
Unlike pedal-assist cycles that only provide assistance when the rider pedals, Mopeds provide power on-demand and don't require any form of activity from the rider (except when twisting the throttle) to propel the bike.
Class 2 e-bikes are an exception though. They have both pedal-assist and throttle-assist systems. This allows riders to switch between pedaling for assistance and using the throttle.
Tabular representation of the differences between electric bikes and mopeds
This varies by state, but once you're able to ride a regular bike, you can ride an e-bike
You have to 17 years or older to ride a moped.
E-bikes typically weigh between 45-50lbs
Mopeds are heavier than e-bikes
Most e-bike motors don't exceed 750W of nominal power
1500W+ of power since they have bigger motors.
Are e-Bikes worth it?
This depends on the use-case. Electric bikes are a more versatile form of transportation than most vehicles.
In fact, there are some e-bikes, like the Juiced Hyperscorpion, that can be ridden as pedelecs, throttle-assist bikes, and electric mopeds. So, as I mentioned earlier, it all comes down to what you're looking for in a two-wheeler.
If the main goal of purchasing an e-bike is to become physically fit, there are many high-end pedelecs that let riders select how much assistance they want the electric motors to provide.
Switching between levels of pedal assistance will either reduce or increase the amount of force you will need to exert on the pedals to propel the bike.
And if you're someone who commutes by bike, a throttle-assist electric bike will get you to your destination(s) without the need to pedal. With the electric motors providing power on-demand, you can cruise through town conveniently, traveling from one location to the other without breaking a sweat.
Electric Bikes Pros
1) Electric bikes are eco-friendly
Unlike Mopeds that are mostly powered by gas engines that emit fumes, electric bike motors receive power from rechargeable batteries. If you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, purchasing an electric bike might just be the best choice for you.
2) They require very minimal effort from the rider
Since a rider's input is boosted by the bike's motor, almost anyone can conquer the most demanding riding conditions with very little effort. Newbies to mountain biking, people with physical limitations; electric bikes make cycling easy and fun.
This doesn't mean e-bikes are a bad cycling option for people looking to lose weight. As I mentioned earlier, riders can tweak the amount of assistance they want to get from their e-bike's motor.
Selecting the lowest level of pedal assist will require more effort from the rider to push the bike forward. It'll almost be like riding a normal bike.
Electric Bikes Cons
1) They are heavier than traditional human-powered bikes
An electric bike can weigh up to two times the weight of a regular bike. This is because an e-bike is a regular bicycle with an integrated motor and a battery.
If you consider e-bikes too heavy for your commuting needs, a powerful conversion kits offers a lighter alternative since they add only a few pounds to your regular bike's weight.
2) They are very expensive
Even low-end electric bikes cost between $600 and $1000. Not to mention the higher-end ones that could cost you in excess of $11,000 - that's not a typo.
The same thing applies to the bicycle's battery. The higher the battery capacity the more money it'll cost you to purchase the e-bike.
Do you have to pedal an electric bike
If you don't want to limit your riding options, yes. According to federal laws in the U.S., as long as you're not using full electric power (throttle), you can ride your electric bike anywhere a conventional bike is allowed. In some states, e-bike riders are completely prohibited from using throttles.
However, as we all know, there are electric bicycles with throttle-assist functionalities. You don't NEED to pedal these kinds of bikes to propel them.