Ever popular, scooters and mopeds have been zipping around city streets all around the globe for decades. Here is a quick guide to the main categories under the scooter and moped umbrella.
Cyclemotors are some of the most basic scooters on the market. They are also quite rare outside of their native France, where they were primarily produced by VeloSolex after the 2nd World War. Around 8 Million VeloSolex cyclemotors were produced by the time production ended. France was cash strapped after the end of the 2nd World War, and the French people needed an economical way of traveling. VeloSolex cyclemotors proved to be just the ticket with their tiny, fuel-efficient engines. Collectors prize examples from the early 1960s when production standards were high. Don’t expect to reach dazzling speeds if you do manage to get your mitts on one of these contraptions, though – they don’t go much faster than a pushbike. The first model had an engine that only produced 0.3 hp!
Mopeds are typically under 50cc and have bicycle pedals as well as a motor. Traditionally mopeds could only be started by pedaling, although modern versions have kickstarts or electric starter motors. Perhaps the most famous and well-loved moped of all time is the Honda Cub 90. The Honda Cub range of mopeds were innovative for their time. They did not require pedals to start, barely used any fuel, and could withstand all kinds of neglect and roughhousing. Around 100 million Honda Cubs have been produced, and the C90 is now considered to be one of the most enduring automobile designs of the 20th Century.
In the United Kingdom, the 1970s saw an increase in legislation designed to keep teenagers from using high-powered motorcycles. Café racer culture was extremely popular and extremely dangerous in mid 20th Century Britain. Teenagers would race each other on custom high-powered bikes and try and reach the ‘ton’ – 100 mph. This, of course, led to plenty of accidents, and teenagers were banned from riding high-powered motorbikes. Manufacturers retaliated (perhaps a little irresponsibly) by marketing ‘sports mopeds‘: low-powered bikes that teenagers could legally ride but that were optimized for speed.
Scooters have a distinctive shape, a long history, and a place in cultural history. Scooters are defined by their step-through frame, which differs from motorcycles or mopeds. Although they have been about since the early 20th Century, they really took off just after the 2nd World War, when Italian manufacturers Vespa and Lambretta released their iconic models. Vespa still release versions of their classic design, and they are still popular with road users. You can take a look at some of their latest releases over at bmgscooters.com.
Although scooters and mopeds are very fuel-efficient, they still release pollutants into the air. As the price of fossil fuels goes up, their legendary cost efficiency will also begin to fade. Manufacturers have started releasing electric models to combat this.