Mopeds are small engine motorcycles that have been outfitted with pedals. They were designed to provide cheap and easy transportation without the strict licensing requirements of traditional motorcycles. Mopeds have evolved and changed over the years, as have the requirements to drive and license one.
There really isn’t a good universal definition of a moped. They are not federally regulated so each state is allowed to define a moped as it sees fit. The majority of states define a moped as a two-wheeled vehicle with less than 2 horsepower or 50ccs, a top speed of less than 30 mph and is powered by an automatic transmission.
Each state has separate requirements for licensing and operating a moped so it is best to check with your local DMV for the specific guidelines of your state. The majority of states require that you have a valid drivers license, some states require a motorcycle license.
Early mopeds often had pedals in addition to a small motor so they were considered motorized bicycles. Users were allowed to operate them without a license. In the early 1970s some states created a moped license, which required a user to be 14 years old and pass a written and road test.
The earliest moped dates back to 1912, but it was not until the 1950s that they became popular in Europe. The moped did not ultimately gain acceptance in the United States until the 1970s. Gradually, demand dropped and mopeds were replaced with the scooter.
Since the decline of the moped a number of collector enthusiast groups have popped up. According to Guinness, the largest parade of mopeds took place in 2004 in the Netherlands. The parade included 674 mopeds.