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Mopeds are a type of low-powered motorcycle designed to provide economical and relatively safe transport with minimal licensing requirements. Mopeds were once all equipped with bicycle-like pedals (the source of the term, motor-pedal), but moped has been increasingly applied by governments to vehicles without pedals, based on their restricted engine displacement, speed, and/or power output. Mopeds occasionally resemble powered bicycles, but most are now step-through designs (of both kinds, having either large or small wheels) and step-over designs similar to a regular motorcycle. Although mopeds usually have two wheels, in some jurisdictions low-powered three or four wheeled vehicles are also classified as mopeds.

In most countries, the legal driving age for a moped is lower than for regular motorcycles and cars. Mopeds are typically restricted to 50 km/h (30 mph) from a maximum engine displacement of 49 cc (3.0 cu in), though there are a few variations.



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 motorcycles[citation needed], such as the 1912 Douglas in the photograph. Pedalling 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 motorcycles by 1918 but the pedals on mopeds remained valuable for their original purposes as late as the 1990s.

The earliest mopeds were bicycles with a helper motor in various locations, for example on top of the front wheel; they were also called cyclemotors. An example of that type is the VéloSoleX brand, which simply has a roller driving the front tire. (See picture, below left.)

A more innovative design was known in the UK as the Cyclemaster. This had a complete powered rear wheel which was simply substituted for the bicycle rear wheel, which originated from a design by two DKW engineers in Germany. Slightly larger machines, commonly with a 98 cc (6.0 cu in) engine were known as autocycles. On the other hand some mopeds, such as the Czech-made Jawa, were derived from motorcycles.

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