Electric mopeds: how fast do they go, how long do they last and should you buy one for your commute?

Electric mopeds are on the rise, just like their four-wheeled counterparts. Here are some of the answers to your most pressing questions

Niu GT electric scooter

As electrification continues to make waves across the car industry, the two-wheeled market hasn't been left out. As with electric cars, government crackdowns on emissions – particularly in built-up areas – are likely to result in increased consumer interest in alternatively fuelled scooters, motorcycles and mopeds.

Mopeds are a common sight on most city roads and in the UK their users largely fall into two categories – commuters and delivery riders. Manufacturers of electric mopeds know this, so it's common to see bikes aimed at one or both of these demographics. 

In this short guide, we'll cover all the frequently asked questions surrounding electric mopeds and help you decide if they are right for you. If you're in the market, it's also worth checking out our list of the best electric mopeds you can buy in 2020.

How long do electric mopeds take to charge?

Electric mopeds have two main advantages over electric cars in this respect – their smaller batteries can often be removed for charging. This means you don't always need to find a relevant parking spot, while also opening up the possibility of multiple battery packs for quick and easy 'refuelling'. 

While electric mopeds use much smaller batteries than electric cars, most do without the fast-charging capabilities of bigger vehicles (although there are some exceptions to this rule). The majority of models use a traditional three-pin plug and take a few hours to fully recharge; SEAT's eScooter125, for example, uses a 5.6kWh battery that requires an overnight charge to provide its 77 miles of range. 

What licence do you need to ride an electric moped and from what age can I ride one?

As with conventionally powered motorcycles, electric mopeds in the UK are categorised by the Department for Transport (DfT) depending on their power output and top speed. This means that most are either built to fit into these categories or speed-limited depending on their intended use.

Any moped that has pedals and motor power of less than 250W is limited to 15.5mph and occupies the same bike category as most e-bikes, licence category A1.

BMW C-Evolution electric scooter

The next category is AM, limited to 28mph – the same that applies to 50cc petrol mopeds and scooters – while any electric bike with a top speed of more than 28mph and a power output of 11kW or less comes in under the A1 category along with 125cc internal-combustion bikes. You must be 17 or older, hold a full driving licence and have passed your CBT test.

Any electric motorbike or moped with up to 35kW will require an A2 licence for those aged 19 and over, while a full A licence will cover all electric bikes as long as you are over the age of 24.

How fast does an electric moped go?

Your electric moped's top speed depends on which licence category it occupies, as detailed above. However, thanks to the linear nature of electric motors, acceleration is effortless and performance more easily accessed than on some internal combustion powered alternatives. 

A good example is SEAT's forthcoming MÓ eScooter 125, which boasts 12bhp, a 0-31mph time of just 3.9 seconds and a 59mph top speed. The larger, more expensive BMW C evolution, meanwhile, has 47bhp and a 2.8-second 0-30mph time.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an electric moped?

The main advantages of electric mopeds are clear – zero local emissions, far less noise and instant power and torque from even the smallest electric motors, plus far fewer moving parts to service or fix. And then there's the benefit of fuel savings, plus the ability to swap out batteries on some models.

However, as is the case with electric cars, initial purchase costs can be comparatively high compared to petrol-powered mopeds – but this does depend on which model you pick. There are a huge number of cheaply made electric mopeds on the market, but prices rise as more established brands get in on the action. It's worth making sure your chosen model is covered by the Government's Plug-in Grant, which will reduce the price by 20%, up to a maximum of £1,500. 

Range may be a concern for some, but these concerns can often be solved with the help of multiple- battery ownership. And even with one battery, some models can hit very useful ranges; the spartan Rieju Nuuk, for example, can manage up to 70 miles on a single charge.

Are electric mopeds good for commuting?

Put simply, yes. With their flexible charging options and high two-figure ranges, most electric mopeds could easily stand in for a petrol-powered equivalent on most people's urban commute. The fact that you'll get to work in a more serene manner can only be a bonus – and if your route to work is particularly hilly, it's good to know you have the torque of an electric motor at your disposal. 

Do you need insurance for an electric moped?

Yes. Just like their internal-combustion counterparts, electric mopeds must be insured to be legally ridden on the road. Most specialist bike insurers will offer cover, but as with electric cars, expect premiums to run a little higher.