What is an e-moped?
As alternative, more environmentally-friendly, battery-powered options for short-distance travel continue to arise left and right, we’ve seen everything from the e-bike to the e-scooter and even the hoverboard. But one of our personal favorites in the electric micromobility vehicle world continues to be the e-moped (even though we’ve noticed it gets far too little praise). We created this guide on everything you need to know about electric mopeds, from the purchase to ownership to becoming their number one fan.
What is an e-moped?
The word moped itself comes from the Swedish term “trampcykel med motor och pedaler,” which literally translates to “pedal cycle with motor and pedals.” However, most modern interpretations of the word moped refer to a motorized two-wheel vehicle without pedals. But this definition varies from state to state and should be checked with your local DMV/RMV for confirmation. Taking this concept one step further, an e-moped, or electric moped, uses batteries as a source of energy instead of gasoline.
Most e-mopeds can reach up to 30 mph and have anywhere from 1 to 3 horsepower. On the larger side of the electric micromobility vehicle spectrum, e-mopeds drive similarly to a motorcycle but provide riders with the ease of use of an electric scooter. They are ideal for replacing daily commutes to the office in style, grabbing a few last-minute items from the grocery store, and dodging traffic effortlessly. And because e-mopeds are 100% battery-powered, they are cost-efficient and emission-free.
Additionally, e-mopeds have a few defining design characteristics that set them apart from other electric micromobility vehicles. They have a step-through frame where the rider sits on a lower seat, places their feet in front of them on the floorboard, and reaches slightly higher for the handles. This makes it so that e-mopeds have a more comfortable riding style that can be effortlessly adaptable for beginners.
E-mopeds are the perfect vehicle for the urban resident that wants to commute daily within city limits (10-15 miles) on local roads or use their moped as a second vehicle for shorter distance trips such as going to the grocery store, the gym, or to social events.
What do you need to consider before purchasing an e-moped?
When thinking about purchasing an e-moped, there are a few factors to consider:
Commute Distance - Electric mopeds are perfect for medium range (10-20 mile) commutes where you need more speed than an electric scooter or bike and more efficiency than driving a car through traffic. If your commute distance is shorter or longer, an alternative electric micromobility vehicle may be a better fit.
Outfitting - Because e-mopeds are ridden outside and at higher speeds, you will need to wear appropriate safety attire. This includes a US DOT standard helmet. We also recommend gloves and close-toed shoes.
Maintenance & Equipment - Like any other vehicle, e-mopeds will require routine maintenance and the replacement of parts. One of the most important pieces of equipment for any electric vehicle is the battery, which will need to be replaced on a regular cadence. Or with SomEV’s battery leasing program, you can simply pay a monthly leasing fee for the battery so that if you run into any maintenance issues, you can easily exchange it for a new one.
Storage & Security - Lastly, you’ll need to make sure you have enough storage space to keep your e-moped safe and sound when it’s not in use. It is also recommended to pick up either a front brake disc lock, a grip lock, or a chain lock to keep your vehicle from would-be thieves when stationary. Additionally, it may be a good idea to pick up a waterproof motorcycle/moped cover to minimize weather damage, especially if you’re storing your vehicle outside.
Pros and cons of purchasing an e-moped.
Owning your own electric moped comes with several advantages, including:
Easier commuting. Due to their small size, e-mopeds are more nimble than automobiles and can easily weave in and out of traffic. Additionally, many states (such as Massachusetts) also allow mopeds to pass cars on the right and travel in the bicycle lane. This effectively gives them "front-of-the-line" privileges at traffic lights and makes commuting around the city fun, easy, and traffic-free - even during rush-hour!
More cargo space. Most e-mopeds have a storage holding area or seat compartment. This is especially valuable if you wish to use your electric vehicle to run errands, carry groceries, or hold supplies.
More cost-effective. Compared to cars and non-electric vehicles, e-mopeds are cheaper to use as electricity for charging is relatively inexpensive.
Less noise pollution. Unlike gasoline-powered mopeds, e-mopeds use an electric motor that is completely silent. Not only does this provide a more “zen-like” riding experience that sometimes feels more like floating than driving, it also increases your situational awareness by allowing you to better head what’s going on around you.
Sustainable. With an e-moped, you'd be well on your way to freedom from fossil fuels!
On the flip side, there are a few details to be aware of when choosing an e-moped over alternative electric micromobility vehicles:
Restricted access. Since e-mopeds are a bit larger and faster than other micromobility options, they are typically only allowed to travel in non-recreational bike lanes and streets. E-mopeds are not able to ride on the sidewalk or on highways.
Doesn’t require exercise. So if your goal in purchasing an electric micromobility vehicle is to implement health benefits, an e-moped might not be best for you as it does not require physical exercise to aid in travel.
Heavy lifting. E-mopeds weigh more than electric scooters and bikes, which make them harder to carry up any type of stairs to charge. Therefore, you either need space to charge the vehicle on the ground floor or enroll in a program like SomEV’s for swappable batteries.
What is the difference between a gas moped and an electric moped?
When it comes to the world of mopeds, there are two main types: gas and electric. If you were to picture a moped in your head, it’s highly likely you envision a gas moped. Gas mopeds are popular in European culture and mainstream media as a way to jet through bustling city streets and lavish Italian countrysides. However, gas mopeds run on a gas engine and resemble more closely to motorcycles than electric scooters.
Alternatively, e-mopeds utilize a battery and electric motor for power. First gaining traction in China, e-mopeds are now popping up around Europe and North America as a more eco-friendly option. Gas mopeds emit pollution, whereas e-mopeds do not, and are more expensive to refill rather than charge.
What is the difference between an electric moped and an electric scooter or electric bike?
With the rise in popularity of electric micromobility vehicles, there is often confusion between the differences of electric mopeds, electric scooters, and electric bikes. All three types of vehicles are typically two-wheeled and battery-powered, but they each vary in terms of speed, model design, lifestyle benefits, and legal requirements.
Electric scooters may be the most widely popularized electric micromobility vehicle option in the US, with the rise of rental services like Bird and Lime in many major cities. They are also the easiest to confuse with an e-moped. However, e-scooters are about half as fast as e-mopeds, require the rider to remain standing, and can only carry one person at a time. Due to this, e-scooters are less efficient but are easier to widely access as they have fewer restrictions and do not require any type of license.
E-bikes are considered bicycles. This means that they do not require any type of license or registration to operate. It also means they are much different in terms of function. By combining manpower with battery power, e-bike speed can vary, but is generally limited around 20-25 mph. Electric bicycles still have pedals and provide riders with a form of exercise while commuting. Additionally, e-bikes are generally permitted to travel on bike paths, sidewalks, and off-road.
Do I need a license and insurance to ride an e-moped?
In the US, e-mopeds and e-scooters typically do not require a motorcycle license, a valid driver’s license will suffice.
In Massachusetts specifically, e-mopeds require registration through the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Service Center that needs to be renewed every two years. When registering, you must bring the e-moped bill of sale (or the manufacturer’s certificate of origin for new vehicles) and two copies of the Application for Moped Registration form.
In terms of insurance, e-mopeds are not required to be insured as long as the vehicle is in accordance with Massachusetts law. However, by law, riders must wear a US DOT standard helmet when operating an e-moped. Some riders also prefer to insure their vehicle anyways or take out medical insurance coverage in case of an accident.
Additionally, in MA, if an e-moped can exceed 30 mph, it may be classified as a motorcycle or a limited-use motorcycle, both of which have different sets of laws and restrictions.
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