Mopeds The Other Motorized Bicycles Mopeds The Other Type of Motorized Bicycle The Moped, usually has only a vestigial pedal drive fitted primarily to satisfy legal requirements, and suitable only for starting the engine or emergency use. Another class of motorized bicycle, popularly termed motor-assist or pedal-assist bikes have the pedals as the main form of propulsion. What are Mopeds and their history As early as 1903, motorized bicycles were being fitted with larger and heavier loop frames designed to specifically accommodate larger displacement engines, which produced higher speeds. The new frame designs soon incorporated a new riding position which no longer centered the rider over the pedals, but instead moved the rider's feet forward, where they rested on pegs or platforms. This new riding position was designed to increase rider comfort and control when using the motor for propulsion, and soon motorized bicyclists began relying on the gasoline motor for all but emergency use. Front suspension and (on some machines) rear suspension increased control at higher speeds. By 1915, some manufacturers were omitting pedal propulsion entirely, resulting in the introduction of the first true modern motorcycle. The early days of the bicycle and the invention that revolutionized the 20th century - the internal combustion engine. Put one of these into a coach and you have an automobile; mount it on a bicycle and presto, you have a moped ( motor + pedals ), the precursor of all motorcycles. The pedals were omnipresent on all, used both as a starter device and as emergency fallback on human power. As engine sizes got bigger and bigger, it looked as if the half-bicycle-half motorcycle mopeds were just a short-lived early development phase (like a tadpole) that progress simply left behind. History however proved it otherwise. The moped's evolution can be broken down into 4 distinct periods 1. Prior to the beginning and up to the end of the first world war (WWI), 2. The period between the two wars, 3. The phase after WWII to the early '90s, 4. And finally today. ( Circa 2010 ) The definition of a moped Is a cross between a human-powered bicycle and an engine powered motorized cycle, equipped with a (usually) under-50cc gasoline engine (although some early models used 98cc displacements as well). After the end of WWI, with Europe's map completely redrawn, the short period until the Great Depression of the '30s was not conducive to the development of the moped. While motorcycle manufacturing boomed, largely fueled by the rapid re-armament needs on all sides, it seemed that the low-cubic, low-speed moped would become extinct forever. Except nobody factored in WWII. After the war ended in Europe, the demand for simple and economical, means of transportation skyrocketed. Nobody could afford a car, or even a motorcycle. Most factories were in ruins anyway. In Southern European countries, like Italy and France, people got around on bicycles. This was fertile breeding ground for the rebirth of the moped and also gave us the other Italian cultural icon, the scooter. Bicycle makers (most of which were also motorcycle manufacturers) all started offering small auxiliary engines for their bicycles. Motobecane, Peugeot, Ducati, Moto Guzzi all got into the act. The first giant leap forward was the appearance of the Velosolex, a giant among the dwarfs. If you ever rode a Velo, either with its engine running or as a bicycle, you'll appreciate how well that entire machine was constructed. Originally equipped with a 33cc engine (later to grow to 42 then 49) it had a friction roller over the front wheel. You could engage-disengage the power with a lever. You had to help sometimes going uphill, but that was part of the experience. The Solex became a genuine cult idol, and rightly so. Amazingly, after more than 50 years, its' still going strong. Mopeds & The U.S. Government! Prior to the 1970s, use of mopeds in the United States was relatively rare due to legal restrictions on the devices in many states. In 1972, Serge Seguin, after writing a masters thesis on the European moped, received two mopeds and a small amount of money from the French company Motobecane to promote the vehicle. After lobbying Congress on its fuel efficiency benefits, Seguin was able to get more than 30 states to devise a specific vehicle classification for mopeds. Produced by U.S. manufacturers such as AMF, mopeds had very small engines and often could not exceed 30 mph (48 km/h). What they could do, however, was run for up to 220 miles (350 km) on one tank of fuel. Because of the problems caused by the 1970s Oil / Gasoline Crisis, mopeds quickly became popular, with more than 250,000 people in the United States owning one in 1977. However, as gasoline prices eventually moved down and automobile companies devised more efficient cars, the moped's popularity and usefulness began to fade. Moped Legal Terms and Definitions Mopeds or low-powered bicycles vary from state to state and may or may not include "Moped", "Motorized Bicycle", "Motorscooter", "scooter", "Motor-Driven Cycle", and or others. A moped's or motorized bicycle's speed generally may not exceed 30 mph (48 km/h) on level ground, even if it is capable of going faster. In a few states this number is 20 or 25 mph (32 or 40 km/h), and in most states, the maximum engine capacity is 50 cc (3.1 cu in). However, Kansas ("Motorized Bicycle" K.S.A. 8-126, 8-1439a) allows up to 130 cc (7.9 cu in). Some states, like California, require pedals, while others do not. Virginia allows mopeds to operate at up to 35 mph (56 km/h). Some states, like North Carolina, require there to be no external gear-shifting mechanism. The term "moped" now only applies to low power (often super-economy) vehicles, but pedals were a sign of sophistication when first fitted to the early motorized cycles, such as the 1912 Douglas. Pedaling away from stationary was a great improvement over "run and jump" and LPA (light pedal assistance) was valuable for climbing hills. Better transmissions with wider ranges, better clutches and much better engine performance made pedals obsolete on all serious motorized cycles by 1918 but the pedals on mopeds remained valuable for their original purposes as late as the 1990's, or even mopeds produced in today's market. Continued in Next Post!