Author Topic: Advantages A Moped Has Over An Electric Bicycle  (Read 1380 times)


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Advantages A Moped Has Over An Electric Bicycle
« on: November 11, 2017, 06:39:06 PM »
A gas crisis in the United States during the 1970's caused people to look for cheaper transportation. This created a market in which mopeds became very popular. Even Harley Davidson's parent company at the time, AMF, got in on the moped craze with their Roadmaster series of mopeds. Sometime in the early 1980's the moped craze began to take a down turn and by the end of the decade it was over. Fast forward to today, and I only know of one moped manufacturer, Tomos, still selling new mopeds in the United States. While mopeds in the US have almost disappeared, electric bicycles seem to be growing in popularity.

Electric motors for bicycles first appeared on the scene as conversion kits. They featured either a front or rear wheel electric hub motor, and were powered by a heavy lead acid battery. The battery was usually attached to a rear bicycle rack sitting over the rear wheel. This made the bicycle so top heavy you had to be careful parking the bicycle with a kick stand or it would fall over. Now days most electric bicycles are purpose built by bicycle manufacturers and feature a mid drive motor instead of the older wheel hub motor. They are powered by a lower weight lithium battery and many of these batteries are integrated into the bicycle frame, or attached to the frames water bottle holder braze-on's on the down tube. Electric bicycles have improved over the years along with their popularity. There are many reasons why the market for electric bicycles has grown, but whats not so clear is why you don't see more mopeds on the road.

A moped is a two wheel vehicle with a gas powered engine and pedals for pedaling. Mopeds usually have a step through type frame with 16 inch rims making it easy for a rider to get on and off the moped and giving the moped a low center of gravity. They are powered by a 49cc two stroke engine, single speed or automatic 2 speed transmission, and pedals for pedaling and foot support. The pedals on a moped work just like a bicycle by transferring human energy to the mopeds rear wheel to propel the moped forward, and are also used to support the riders feet while riding. Mopeds have a top speed of anywhere from 20 to 35 mph. Most moped's can easily be modified to reach a top speed of 40 mph or more, but this may make it illegal to ride the bike on city streets as a moped. Mopeds are very similar to an electric bicycle in that they have pedals for pedaling and have another power source to propel the bike forward. With a moped the power source is a gasoline internal combustion engine and with an ebike its an electric motor and battery. A moped's overall design and internal combustion engine gives it several big advantages over an electic bicycle, so why are you not seeing more of them on the street? Its probably because most people don't know mopeds exist, or they confuse scooters for mopeds. If the public knew more about mopeds to do a side by side comparison with electric bicycles, and know all their options before purchasing, I think you would see more mopeds on the road. Here a list of advantages a moped has over an electric bicycle:

COST -  A used moped can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, and a new Tomos moped for $1700. Most new ebikes are $3000 or more and can go as high as $10,000. The lower priced electric bicycles have cheaper components, lower capacity battery and sometimes a lower wattage electric motor. Cheaper bicycle components will effect the bikes durability, and a lower capacity battery will effect the range. The lower wattage motor will effect top speed, and may mean having to pedal harder in certain situations. Some people might think the initial cost difference between a moped and electric bicycle can be reduced by not having to buy fuel. Lets assume you do a 100 mile commute every week and the electric bicycle gets 30 miles per charge and the battery life is 500 charges. That means over a 5 year period you will spend $85 to charge the battery (10 cents per charge), and around $700 to replace the battery just short of the 3 year mark. The battery replacement cost depends on the battery, and I have seen them as high as $1000 or more, so I think $700 is reasonable. For a moped that gets 100 mpg and assuming fuel is $2.50 per gallon, over a 5 year period you will spend $650 in fuel cost and $67.50 for the absolutely cheapest 2 stroke oil you can buy (around $200 for better oil if you buy in bulk). The total cost for a $3000 electric bicycle and charging the battery over a 5 year period for a 100 mile weekly commute is $3785. The total cost for a new moped and fuel/oil over the same time period and mileage is $2417.50. So in this example it is actually cheaper to buy gas and oil for a moped over a 5 year period than it is to recharge an electric battery for an electric bicycle. Even if you use the manufacturers claim of 130 mpg for Tomos mopeds and the higher $200 oil cost, the moped still comes out cheaper.

RANGE -  Most mopeds will have a 1 gallon fuel tank and get at least 100 mpg (its probably closer to 120 mpg). That gives the moped a range of 100 miles or more per tank of fuel. You just can't get that much range on a production electric bicycle without spending a ridiculous amount of money or building your own battery. A typical electric bicycle will get 20 to 30 miles per charge. The range you get from an electric bicycle will depend on how much work the motor does, so the more you pedal, the greater the range will be. I have only seen one production electric bicycle that claims a range of 110 miles, and that bicycle is a Stromer ST2 S and costs over $10,000. Can you just imagine how much Stromer will markup the cost of a replacement battery for a ST2 S....Yikes!

DURABILITY - Most electric bicycles on the market today use a mid drive motor. A mid drive motor is attached to the bicycle where the bottom bracket goes, or where the pedal cranks arms are located, and power from the motor is transferred through the chain to the cassette or freewheel, depending on how your bike is setup, and then to the rear wheel. Or in other words power from the motor is transferred through the bicycle drive train to the rear wheel. The problem with this setup is electric bicycles are still dependent on components made for regular bicycles. This makes electric bicycle drive train components more vulnerable to failure caused from higher torque produced by the electric motor. For this reason these components on electric bicycles have a high failure rate, and you will be replacing them frequently. The drive train parts on a moped were designed for mopeds or motorcycles. They are designed to withstand the torque produced by a 49cc two stroke engine that you find on mopeds. Therefore, these parts won't prematurely fail. Mopeds are more reliable than electric bicycles.

SPEED - A moped will go at least 25 mph on a level street until the fuel runs out. The motors on most electric bicycle's will cut out at 20 mph, and 28 mph for a speed pedelec. The problem with a speed pedelec is you must pedal for the motor to engage. I doubt anyone is willing to pedal a speed pedelec bicycle at 28 mph for a long distance, and pushing an electric bicycle at its maximum output will put the most strain on the battery and deliver the worst possible case amount of range. So if you have a long distance to travel I think your going to get there faster on a moped.

PRACTICAL TRANSPORTATION - Mopeds will get you to your destination without you have to break a sweat. A mopeds two stroke engine will power you through almost any riding condition without the rider needing to pedal. Some electric bicycles only feature pedal assist, which means you need to pedal to move the bicycle forward. On a hot summer day an electric bicycle with pedal assist is going to make you sweat. This makes some electric bicycles impractical for certain situations. Also, if your bicycle battery completely discharges, than you will probably be forced to pedal yourself back home. With a moped, the problem of running out of  gas is fixed by going to your local gas station, and there everywhere.

I'm not against electric bicycles, and in fact, I own one which I made using a mid driver motor kit with a 11Ah lithium battery and a low cost department store bicycle. I have owned several electric and gas powered bicycles in the past including a purpose built moped. Both mopeds and electric bicycles are very fun vehicles to own and ride. I would love to see more of them on the road and less cars and trucks.

This is a new Tomos moped powered by a 49cc two stroke engine. It has a one gallon fuel tank capacity, two speed automatic transmission and a top speed of 30 mph. The MSRP is $1700.

This is a 1978 AMF Roadmater 110 moped. The two stroke engine sit on top of the rear wheel and uses friction drive to connect the engine to the rear wheel. This moped is often called a Harley Davidson moped, but they are built by AMF and not Harley Davidson.

These are 1981 AMF mopeds. I believe the engine was manufactured in Italy for AMF. They look more like your typical moped design and not like the 1978 model 110.

This is an Easy Motion electric bicycle powered by a Brose mid drive motor. The lithium battery is integrated into the bicycle frame giving it a clean look. The problem with buying a bicycle with the battery integrated into the frame is your dependant on the bicycle manufacturer when it comes time to buy a replacement battery. That can be expensive

This is a Stromer ST2 S electric bicycle that costs around $10,000. Notice this bicycle uses a rear wheel hub motor and not a mid drive motor. Hub motors do have advantages over mid drive motors, and a big advantage is your not sending motor torque through the bicycles drive train. Notice how the lithium battery is integrated into the frame down tube for a clean look.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 01:39:44 AM by adminjoe »
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