Motorcycles vs. Scooters vs. Mopeds

In the world of two-wheeled vehicles, there are a lot of different terms that float around.

Considering many of these types of “motorcycles” may seem similar, there are some key differences between them. The differences are largely dictated by state laws regarding licensing and registration requirements.

Scooters vs. Motorcycles

The main difference between scooters and motorcycles is the design.

For the purposes of licensing and registration, scooters and motorcycles are the same.

Motorcycles are defined as having two-wheels and an engine of at least 50cc.

Scooters fit this definition too, however, scooters are also defined by:

  • A step-through frame.
  • Smaller wheels.
  • Typical engine size of about 50cc to 250cc (they can be bigger).
  • Automatic transmission.

You will need a motorcycle endorsement to operate a scooter and you’ll need to title and register it just like you would your motorcycle.

Moped vs. Scooter

For state laws, a moped is in a category of its own.

Mopeds are typically defined as:

  • Having a small engine no more than 49cc.
  • May include pedals for human power.
  • Being able to travel no more than 30 mph.

Most states do not require a motorcycle endorsement to operate a moped, you’ll just need a valid driver’s license. However, some states do offer moped-specific licenses to younger riders.

Depending on your state, registration may or may not be required too. If it is required, moped registration fees are usually pretty cheap.


Scroll to Top