Another view of the 'moped' problem

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by trawe, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. trawe

    trawe New Member

    Being a retired mechanical engineer, I trust my view on the legality of riding an engine assisted bicycle might be of help to someone.

    From briefly viewing replies on this website and the laws, which constantly want us all to be 'mopeds', I seem to feel the laws may not quite be applicable. I see a 'moped' as a nickname of the motored pedal bicycle. I also see the 'enginped' as a nickname of the engined pedal bicycle. These two are quite different in reality - see if you agree.

    If I may , a picture. Under the hood of an auto is an engine. Usually there is only one engine under each hood. However, there may be several motors - windshield wiper motor, fan motor, fuel pump motor, heater fan motor, etc. Now none of the motors are plugged into the fuel tank and the engine is not plugged into the battery. Engines convert chemical energy in fuel into power in the combustion chamber, while motors convert electrical energy from batteries or generators into power on the armature. Motors and engines operate by different principles of design, although the law tries to make us 'enginpeds' into 'mopeds'. Maybe we have the 'moped' name because of our ancesters, who wrote many of the laws. And we seem to suffer sometimes because there is simply bias against us assisted bicycle riders by the makers of the laws and enforcers of the laws (see BICYCLING & THE LAW, by Bob Mionski, JD, chap. 5)

    Perhaps this view on the subject just might help clarification and better definition in the laws, thereby removing those grey areas of personal interpretation by the police officers and judges.

    I mean no harm or insult to this website, its owners or its members. Neither am I interested in starting a war. If you read this far, I sure appreciate your time. Suggestions and comments are welcome. The state of Virginia has accepted my 'enginped' riding so far, but there are some areas where engines are not accepted, if it is on. Turn it off, disconnect the drive and pedal on in - you are welcome.


  2. mabman

    mabman Member

    Doubtful in that context. But let us know when you get up and running.
  3. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I didn't get your point. I dont' think so, anyway.

    Though an auto does have a handfull of motors under the windshield, they aren't part of the basic operation of the auto.

    Are you hinging your distinction on the difference between an engine and a motor?

    It seems to be true that electric powered bikes are more solidly recognized by the law than gasoline powered bicycles. But it's not clear to me that that was your point, anyway.
  4. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member


    no problem here in Calif USA

    a motorized bicycle is an understood legal THING

    as we all -- ride those THINGS
  5. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    While an interesting viewpoint, it won't roll. Historically, the sequence of development went bicycle, motor-assisted bicycle (mopeds)/motorcycle , full on motorcycles as a seperate and discrete category from bicycles. The fortunes of each category have waxed and waned over the last century and a quarter, and electrically powered "mopeds" and electric motorcycles are recent developments (save the rare oddity) which have arisen due to improvements in electronics and battery technologies.

    Motor assisted bicycles (mo-peds) first reached popularity in post WW II Europe for several reasons, primarily the cost of fuel. The "motors" for the first 80 years plus were gasoline engines (rarely, diesels; even more rarely some other source such as steam), not electric motors. Your analogy to automobiles doesn't roll, either. Simple fact: "automobile" is a compound word made of two precursors; auto (self) and mobile (moving or capable of moving from place to place) - no reference to power source is made or implied, and in fact the historical record supports electric powered "automobiles" long before electrically powered motorcycles appeared - and obviously enough motor-cycle does not imply electrically powered.

    The legal category of mo-ped was created during the 1950's, with mopeds of that time being capable of pedal power with an engine assist, and it meant a motor assisted bicycle, regardless of drive type (friction, or various other options). Take a look at the early products of Honda, Vespa, and others.

    We are in a transitional state at this point - the law lags technology development virtually inevitably, and right now the practicality of your distinction is just becoming a realistic reality. Developments in metallurgy, the spread of machine tool technologies world-wide from their points of origin, the rise of the average "wealth" of the world's population (to be able to afford a self-propelled vehicle of any kind), the cost of fuel (and even electricity requires fuel) all are driving the prevalence of very small power plants which are practical as "prime-movers" for transportation. Power to weight ratios have advanced considerably in the last 30 years, across the board, making a 35cc engine capable of practical application in more than city streets.

    So, while an interesting viewpoint, it doesn't work.
  6. HoughMade

    HoughMade Guest

    I guess I don't know what is being suggested. I agree that generally speaking, the term "motor" refers to and electrical device that produces rotational force while "engine" refers to a fuel powered device. I would even agree that that usage is more proper. However, that distinction is not universally and uniformily made.

    As examples:

    ...But if the discussion is about laws, how would any distinction make any difference? Please enlighten us!

    I may not be an engineer, but I have a passing familiarity with law having been an attorney for over 10 years and a legal educator at the undergraduate, graduate amd law school levels for several years.
  7. I have seen dual engines

    when I was young there were auxilliary engines that bolted to the differential to add power anyone old enough to remember the adds in popular mechanics? 1 guy in neighborhood had one but I didnt know him well

    look for major gray areas on cars. customs, & kit cars. are they still what they were originally? or are they now the new look? but if an ilegal copy couldnt be licensed & since car was reconstructed shouldnt it now be a newer car & have to meet all new laws safety & emmisions?

    legally most of cars sold at barrett jacksons have been 100% dissasembled & reasembled & now shold have to be retitled as a reconstructed vehicles.

    there is more but I dont have time before I go to work

  8. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Possibly, a better distinction between mopeds and motorized bikes is this: a moped is designed, from the ground up, as a motorized vehicle, with the pedals tacked on for emergency use, seemingly as an afterthought. They can move under engine power uphill on just about any grade that a paved highway can have.

    A motorized bike, though, is at its heart, a bicycle. It begins life with functioning pedals, and a motor is bolted on afterwards. In almost all cases, on steep grades, a motorized bike which can travel at 20-30 mph on level ground, cannot ascend without a significant amount of peddling. In other words, it cannot be operated continuously without peddling. In many cases, you need to peddle at 'take-off.'
  9. Revorunner

    Revorunner Member

    The LAW is still the Law.Even if it's wrong.After all we are the ones who created the LAWS in the first place.Ask the same question to ten different people and you will get ten different answers.:thinking::thinking::thinking: