Electric bike vs Moped

Last Edited
November 6, 2021

Electric bike vs Moped

Christian Angelo - September 10, 2021

Electric bike and moped - you may think that these two vehicles look the same. In fact, there are states in the US that legally define both an electric bike and a moped in one category. The main difference between the two is that an electric bike is powered by electricity, while a moped is run by fuel. 

What is an electric bike?

An electronic bike, or e-bike, is basically a bicycle that is integrated with an electronic system - an electric motor that is no more than 750 watts, a battery, a sensor, and an electronic display. You still need to pedal to move forward but the electric motor provides additional power to assist you in pedaling. 

There are two types of assistance: pedal assist or pedelec, and throttle mode. The pedal assists only activate when you push the pedals. While the throttle mode can be used to exclusively propel the bike forward without pedaling. 

The integrated low-speed electric motor provides a power boost to help you climb hills, ride longer, and encourage more rides. E-bikes come in different shapes and sizes and types - commuter, mountain bike, cruiser, fat bike, touring, recumbent, tandem and others.

While most states have a distinct set of laws for an electric bicycle, states that do not implement one usually categorize it under the vehicle class where a moped or a motorized bicycle belongs. 

What is a moped?

A moped is a two-wheeled vehicle that looks like a scooter but should not be confused with such. Traditional mopeds are equipped with a low-powered engine and pedals that can help start the motor or be manually used in case the engine runs out. Mopeds nowadays are built with a step-through frame that may or may not include pedals.

In most cases, mopeds are equipped with a motor that is smaller than 50cc. They can reach up to a maximum speed of 28-31 miles per hour. The engine is the main provider of power and you need fuel to start it. How mopeds are defined in different states may depend on the engine size or maximum speed.

To drive a moped, you need to start the engine, and use the throttle to move forward. 

Electric bike vs Moped



  • An e-bike is powered by electricity
  • A moped is powered by fuel, unless it is an electric moped

Physical effort

  • Pedaling is required in electric bikes even with the provided assistance
  • Pedaling is not required in mopeds unless it is used to kick start the engine or the engine fails to work
  • You can still get a great workout from an e-bike, but not from a moped.

Legal maximum speed

  • The legal maximum speed wherein the electric motor’s assistance can be used is 20 miles per hour for Class 1 and 2 ebikes, and 28 miles per hour for Class 3 ebikes
  • The legal maximum speed for mopeds is 30 miles per hour.


  • Average range per charge of a regular e-bike is 40-80 miles, depending on variety of factors
  • Average range per full tank of a typical moped is 100 miles, depending on variety of factors

Allowed and Prohibited to drive

  • Generally, electric bicycles are usually allowed in places where regular bikes can be operated. Electric bicycles may be prohibited on trails that are designated for non-motorized activities.
  • Mopeds are permitted on all roads, except interstate highways and trails.


  • E-bikes may or may not require licensure or registration depending on the implementing state.
  • Moped operators are required to have a valid driver's license.


  • Regular commuter ebike: $1,000-$3,000; High-end ebikes: $4,000-$6,500
  • Mopends tend to be cheaper than ebikes because they have been in the market for quite some time now. Cheap models: $500; Average moped: $1,000-$2,500

Maintenance Cost

  • E-bikes have lower maintenance costs

Power Cost

  • Average price per e-bike charge: 4 cents
  • Average price per full tank: $4-$7


  • An ebike is easier to store since they are lighter, it can be brought inside the house or a room.
  • A moped can only be parked outside, or stored inside a garage.


  • You may need an additional bike lock to secure it when leaving it in a public place.
  • Mopeds require a key to start the engine and can be locked as well.


  • Both vehicles have low emissions because they produce low power, but e-bikes are more eco-friendly than mopeds


  • Traffic rules and definitions for both electric bicycles and mopeds vary significantly from state to state.
  • Both vehicles have two wheels 
  • Both vehicles are easier to navigate on roads since it takes less space.

Comparing specific products

To understand more about the differences and similarities between an ebike and a moped, let’s take a look at these specific products with similar prices:


Price: $1,999 MSRP

Weight: 74.2 lbs

Top speed: 20mph

Motor: 750 watts

Average range: 25-45 miles

Wheel size: 26 in


Price $1,879 MSRP

Weight: 203.9 lbs

Engine: 49cc

Max speed: 46mph-49mph

Your decision

Before purchasing your new two-wheeled vehicle, you must first consider the reasons for buying.

Choose the electric bicycle if:

  • You want to engage in a more physical ride
  • You are a cycling enthusiast who enjoys riding on trails
  • You want to spend less on power and maintenance costs
  • You want a more eco-friendly commute
  • You don’t want additional requirements like licensure and registration

Choose the moped if:

  • You need to travel faster on different roads
  • You need to carry a passenger behind
  • You want an easier, longer ride
  • You want a more secured vehicle
  • You have license to operate it

Through the years, the moped has been the more preferred vehicle among commuters. The advent of electric bikes has allowed people to enjoy a more high-tech bicycling experience to ride easier on hills, enjoy the city, and have fun in parks and trails. The e-bike is more eco-friendly than the moped. Overall, buy the vehicle that perfectly suits your lifestyle, and allows you to enjoy most of its benefits.

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