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How to Ride a Moped


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Scooters and mopeds are a great introduction to learning how to ride larger motorcycles, and a great method of transportation themselves. 

However, just like any new skills, you’ll need to take the time to learn about safety and proper riding techniques to make sure you’re able to control the scooter the right way. 

Taking the time to learn how to ride will ensure you’ll be able to have fun and stay safe while doing so. 

Use the tips and links on this page to get started! 

Learning How to Drive a Scooter

If you know how to ride a bicycle, you’ll be well on your way to riding a scooter or a moped. 

Before you even get on a bike, there are some steps you’ll need to take. 

Step 1: Preparing to Ride

First, you’ll want to get yourself the right safety equipment. This includes:

  • A DOT-approved helmet. 
  • Protective pants and jacket. 
  • Eye protection. 
  • Gloves. 
  • Proper footwear (closed toe shoes with good support). 

Next, you’ll want to choose a moped/scooter that’s right for you. 

Since most scooters are smaller and lighter, this should be a fairly easy task. You’ll want to make sure to select one that:

  • Allows you to reach the controls comfortably while sitting on the seat. 
  • Allows you to plant your feet on the ground when stopped. 
  • Is easy for you to control and lift on the center stand. 

Once you’ve got the right scooter and the proper safety gear, you’re almost ready to ride. 

Next, you’ll want to give your moped a pre-trip inspection to make sure there is no damage and that it’s safe to ride. 

Finally, you’ll be ready to start the scooter. (How to Start a Scooter/Moped).

Step 2: Balance

Like a bicycle, balancing is more difficult at slower speeds. 

As you speed up, the moped’s gyroscopic effect will do the balancing for you. 

Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Keeping your feet on the ground when you are stopped. 
  • Making smooth adjustments on the throttle and brake. 
  • Maintaining an upright body position.
  • Using your head to look in the direction you are riding. 
  • Pressing on the handlebars rather than “turning” them.

Step 3: Acceleration

Another benefit of most scooters and mopeds is their automatic transmission. 

This means that all you’ll need to do is twist the throttle to go. You won’t need to worry about using the clutch and shifting gears. 

Acceleration is achieved by twisting the throttle with your right hand. 

Twisting it back towards you will open the throttle and make you speed up. Twisting it forwards will close the throttle and slow you down. 

Be sure to work the throttle smoothly and gradually. 

With the throttle closed, keep your wrist in a flat, neutral position. This will prevent you from opening the throttle unintentionally, and give you better control.

Step 4: Braking

Proper braking technique is a very important skill to master. 

Your brake levers are located on the handle bars, just like a bicycle. Some types of mopeds may also feature a rear brake lever near your right foot. 

When braking, you should operate both the front and rear brake at the same time. 

Just like the throttle, you should squeeze the brake levers smoothly and gradually. 

This will give you better control and prevent you from locking up either wheel. 

You should be sure that the scooter is positioned upright when you use the brakes as well. 

Step 5: Cornering and Turning

Another important skill to master is cornering and turning on your moped. 

Unlike turning the steering wheel of a car, turning a scooter requires your entire body and a slightly different technique. 

At very low speed, you can turn the handle bars to control the direction, but as speed increases, the turning technique changes. 

It is the same as riding a bicycle at higher speeds. 

To turn, you’ll need to press the handlebars in the direction you intend to go. 

At the same time, you’ll want to turn your head to look in the direction of the turn as well. 

Next, you’ll need to lean with the bike. (In low speed turns, you may need to counterlean). 

Slow down before you enter a curve, and roll on the throttle to accelerate through it. 

Take some time to practice your cornering techniques to ensure you can maintain your lane position. Improper cornering is a major cause of scooter accidents. 

Step 6: Scanning for Hazards

Finally, but maybe most importantly, you’ll need to become an expert in looking for and avoiding trouble. 

Your eyes should constantly be looking ahead, around, and behind you and anticipating the potential for danger. 

If you spot something that could become a problem, take the necessary steps to avoid it. 

This could mean changing your lane position, accelerating, slowing down, or coming to a stop. 

Good advice is to pretend that you are completely invisible to other vehicles on the road. This will force you to double check for hazards and avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations on the road. 

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Is it hard to ride a moped?

Luckily, scooters and mopeds are some of the easiest 2-wheeled motorbikes to ride. 

With their small size, light weight, and automatic transmissions, riding a moped is much closer to riding a bike than a standard motorcycle. 

With a little practice, you’ll be comfortable riding pretty quickly. 

The main things you’ll need to practice include:

  • Proper braking techniques. 
  • Turning and cornering. 
  • Correct body positioning. 
  • Smooth acceleration. 

Do you need lessons to ride a moped?

If you are brand new to riding, lessons can be a smart idea, but are typically not required for smaller scooters (under 50cc). 

Your best bet is to find a Basic Rider Course in your area. These courses are designed for brand new riders and will cover everything from motorcycle traffic laws, safety, and riding techniques. 

In many states, completing an approved course will waive your testing requirements to get a motorcycle endorsement. 

Do I need a license to drive a scooter?

While a motorcycle license may or may not be required to ride a moped/scooter in your state, completing a course and getting your endorsement is your safest option. 

In general, most states will require a motorcycle endorsement for scooters with an engine size of over 49cc and a top speed greater than 30 mph. 

For smaller mopeds with a 49cc engine or less and top speeds of no more than 30mph, a standard driver’s license is often all that is needed. 

However, most of the same safety precautions, gear, and techniques apply to both mopeds/scooters as they do to motorcycles – regardless of engine size. 

Applying for your full motorcycle endorsement is the best idea. 

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