Explanation of the legalities surrounding Mopeds
A Moped, by law, is a geared or automatic bike that does not have an engine size larger than 49cc (often called a 50) and cannot do more than 28mph. Mopeds sold pre-2003 were capable of 30mph and are no longer strictly mopeds since the 19th January 2013 when the 3rd EU Driving Licence Directive was introduced; you will see this as category “P” on your driving licence. A moped must weigh less than 250kg.
When you are 16 you can ride a moped. When you pass a UK car test then you automatically get given a full moped licence (shown as category “AM, Q” on your licence. On older licences this will show as category “P”). This means that you can ride a moped without L-plates and you can take a passenger. However, if you only passed your car licence after February 2001 then you will have to first complete a CBT course. However, you will only need to do this once as a CBT certificate will last the life of your full car licence for riding a moped.
If you have taken a Moped test after December 1990 you will not need to have a CBT certificate, or display L-plates. The Module 1 test is modified for moped tests so that the speeds required for the emergency stop and avoidance exercises are reduced from 50kph to 30kph.
1/. If I put a race can on my moped and it now does 45mph what does that mean?
It means that it is no longer a moped, and potentially you violate your insurance and licence. This could be a serious problem in the event of an accident.
2/. So an 80cc moped (like a Honda Vision 80 or Honda Cub 80) is not a moped?
No, anything above a 49cc bike is considered to be a motorcycle.
3/. So what is a scooter then?
A scooter is a generic term for an automatic motorcycle. So all the laws that apply to motorcycles apply to scooters.
4/. Can I take a test on a moped?
Yes you can; but you will need to a CBT and Theory Test first. In practise very few people do this as the cost is the same more or less as it is to take a Restricted Licence.
5/. If I do my CBT on a moped will I be able to ride a motorcycle when I am 17?
Yes, once you are 17 you can ride up to 125cc on the same CBT certificate (as the certificate lasts for two years).
6/. Can I take a moped on the motorway?
7/. If I have a car licence (and done the CBT if I need to) I can take a passenger on a moped but not on a 125?
Yes, because you will have a full licence for a moped but only a provisional for a motorcycle.
8/. My moped says it is a 50, so is it not a moped?
Manufacturers like to round things up so that 49cc gets called a 50. Look on your log book (V5) and you will see that it is actually only 49cc and so still a moped.
9/. Why is the law so stupidly complicated?
Good question; in part because things are rarely retrospective so layer upon layer of legislation is added to existing legislation, but also because very little imagination has been used in its application. Suffice to say that for much of the time even the DVLA don’t know what they are talking about.