Where do you turn when your two-wheeled EV ambitions outgrow an e-bike? The world of electric mopeds and motorbikes is a fledgling one, and electric power here is nowhere near as common as in cars or bikes.
The movement is beginning, however, with a generation of students, takeaway delivery specialists, and even commuters coming round to the joys of cheap running costs and an almost total lack of maintenance. As with electric cars, though, we’re still waiting for the infrastructure to catch up with the electric moped, as home charging is no good if you live on the eighth floor, and no one wants to spend four hours waiting in a car park for their moped to charge - watch out for removable batteries.
If you can run one, an e-moped is a good value solution to personal mobility around a city or on a short commute, capable of speeds of up to 70mph (though many are limited to 28mph/45km/h to comply with licensing restrictions), they’re the equivalents of the 50cc and 125cc bikes learners have been using for decades. And you can ride them with a provisional licence too, as long as you’re 16, are insured, have completed compulsory basic training (CBT), and use L-plates. Many e-mopeds attract the government’s OLEV grant too, knocking a chunk off the purchase price.
Here are some of the best around:
Of course there had to be a Vespa in this list, and luckily it’s an excellent e-moped. Impossible to ride without at least thinking ‘ciao’ as you zip along, the limited top speed of 28mph on this model only slightly ruins the romantic dream that you’re actually in the back streets of Rome (there’s a 45mph model too).
With a range of 60 miles and a peak power output of 4kW, you’re getting a little more oomph than a 50cc would provide, all helped by the torquey and immediate nature of electric motors. Rather than be completely silent, there’s a distinct whine from the motor that will help pedestrians who stray into the road know you’re coming, and a 4.3in screen (which connects to your phone over Bluetooth) keeps you informed about things like charge levels and the proximity of the nearest espresso bar. Maybe not that last one, you’ll need the optional smartphone mount for that.
Being Vespa, a huge range of accessories is also available to go with your e-moped, so if you want a matching helmet, mirrored goggles, or handlebars and leg covers for those chilly mornings, nothing is out of reach. The Elettrica might be a little expensive in the world of e-mopeds, but sometimes a bit of Italian style is just what you need.
Speaking of Italian style, Ducati might know a bit about that sort of thing. Half the price of the Vespa, you don’t get quite so much zip from the Super Soco’s 2.7kW motor. You get a top speed of 28mph, a range of 40 miles between charges and a charge time of 3.5hrs. The batteries are removable, meaning that having a spare on charge while you’re out and about is a possibility.
A large, bright, central display gives you all the info you need, such as current speed and how much charge is left, while an optional upgrade integrates a 1080p action cam into the front of the moped just below the handlebars, allowing you to record video or still images at the touch of a button.
The LED lights are just the right kind of stylish, managing to look modern without any ambiguity about what you mean by that left indicator. There’s cruise control, too, for those long, lonely stretches of highway.
Hand-built to order in Poland and with only one UK importer, this modern take on an East German classic may be the most exclusive e-moped on this list. This is ironic, as Simson’s original Schwalbe, or ‘swallow’, was a 50cc moped released in the communist dictatorship in 1964, and was so popular that 200,000 were made in a year.
Bang up to date for the 2020s, Govecs’ version comes in two models, with top speeds of 28mph and 55mph respectively. The 8kW batteries are from Bosch, and charge in five hours, from which you get a range of up to 60 miles. Disc brakes come as standard, as does a smartphone app, and you can get a double battery as an optional extra.
A word, too, for its aesthetics. Not as perfectly formed as the Vespa, it instead oozes character, even the LED headlamps styled to resemble their Cold War predecessor. Available in five colours, including an absolutely searing yellow, it’s an e-moped you’re not going to miss.
Small and light, to suit a similar type of rider, the G5 has small wheels and is available in a small choice of colours. Are you sensing a theme?
The price is small too (especially after the government OLEV grant), as is the amount of paperwork required to ride one - 16-year-olds on a provisional licence can hop aboard one of these. The 2.3kW motor means that the top speed also qualifies for what’s apparently our new favourite word, at just a shade under 28mph, as does the range at 55 miles. But the removable battery means you can keep a spare (useful, as the charging time of 6.5hrs is larger than many) and the suspension is soft, making up for the small wheels and giving a comfortable ride.
The LCD screen is big, clear and prominent, there’s a phone app, a hook for your shopping bag, but very little in the way of security - just a steering lock. The G5 is a great choice for anyone just starting out in moped riding, as long as you keep your journeys within its limitations.
Spanish firm Silence produces 10,000 e-mopeds and similar machines a year, yet has been almost unknown in the UK. They’re here now, however, thanks to a new import deal, and deserve to make some noise.
With slightly more aggressive styling than most e-mopeds (unless you add the optional large windscreen, which rather ruins the look, but if you need it you need it) the S01 is equivalent to a 125cc motorbike in the eyes of the law, meaning you’ll need to hit higher licensing and age targets to ride it than others on this list.
Possibly the neatest thing about the S01 is the way the entire battery pack is not only removable, but has drop-down wheels and a collapsible handle so it can be easily moved to the charger (which has a built-in heater to help it in cold weather). You’ll need this, as the pack weighs 44kg. Luckily, its low position on the e-moped’s frame does wonders for the ride and centre of gravity, making for a nimble mode of transport.
Top speed is 60mph, or 43mph in eco mode, and while a range of almost 80 miles is claimed, this will very much depend on rider weight and riding style. A full charge takes over eight hours, as the charging rate is capped to protect the battery in the long term.