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So, you have been thinking about getting an old vintage 1970’s pedal moped for some time now, but you are just not quite 100% sure where to start and you probably have a few basic questions but really don’t know who or where to turn to for answers. I hope this following information will be of some benefit before you and provide some answers to your questions. It is best to start at the beginning with a quick history lesson about pedal mopeds.

First off, what exactly is a moped and are they the same as a scooter like a Vespa?

Most vintage pedal moped owners will be quick to clarify the difference. They will tell you that a moped has large wheels like a bicycle, usually pedaled like a bicycle to start the engine and you ride it like a bicycle or motorcycle with your feet on the pedals or foot pegs. A scooter normally is associated with having small wheels, most often surrounded in sheet metal or plastic body panels, you ride it with your feet placed directly in front of you and typically you start it with kick lever or built-in electric engine starter. There is however now a general international classification of a moped as being any small 2 wheeled motorized vehicle with a 50 cc’s or smaller engine. But for the point of this information, we will refer to mopeds in the more traditional sense as those with pedals and resembling more of a bicycle.

Can pedal mopeds be ridden like a bicycle if I run out of gas?

Technically yes, but realistically no. They can be quite difficult to pedal. The pedals are really used start the moped in most cases and a place top put your feet as you are riding it.

Where did pedal mopeds originate?

As Europe struggled to financially right itself after WWII, desperately needed affordable transportation was exceedingly difficult to come by. Most people could not afford a cheap motorcycle let alone a car. Like all great ideas, someone probably found that you could crudely attach a small spare engine over the top of a bicycle wheel and create your own motor bike. A few companies like Solex began producing cheap small 2-stroke engine kits specifically designed to mount to bicycles. Those popular kits inspired manufacturers to develop fully integrated and ready to ride mopeds using small lightweight engines. The original mopeds being produced remained simple in design and free of most accessories and options to keep the cost to the consumer at a minimum. The mopeds evolved as many, many companies in Europe began to produce their own versions of the exceedingly popular motorized bikes.

By 1949, French motorcycle manufacturer Motobecane, who was already building inexpensive single cylinder motorcycles, introduced the first commercially made moped known as a Mobylette. By the late 1950’s, mopeds could be found just about everywhere in Europe and were also beginning to show up in the United States.

When did pedal mopeds start appearing US?

Between the late 50’s and 60’s, most mopeds that were available in the US were ones that were being sold through large department and mail order stores like Sears and Montgomery Ward. These stores were selling re-branded and cosmetically altered European made mopeds like Puch, Benelli and Motobecane. Sales were minimal at best and really were only being offered by the retailer to be a full-service product provider for their customers. The demographics of those who were buying mopeds at this time varied as much as the different regulations each state imposed. This made it tough for the whole moped industry to take hold. Many of the early mopeds sold through the retailer were purchased by folks of all ages in rural communities who used the mopeds to travel between farms and into town for quick errands. Though the sales were predictable, both retailers quit selling mopeds by 1970 for lack of sales.

Since most mopeds I see for sale are between 1977 and 1979, was there a resurgence then?

Yes. In 1975, lobbyists for the industry and manufacturers were sent to the US and began to lay out to Congress the important benefits of these low-cost and highly fuel-efficient vehicles with the hopes of creating or expanding on a market that was barely in existence. The timing could not have been better because the US was still reeling in the effects of the 1973 oil embargo against it and how inefficient vehicles greatly contributed to the crisis. The government was in the mist of creating new fuel consumption regulation within the automobile industry and was receptive to new ideas on transportation energy savings. As lobbyists laid out their cause, most states in the US were agreeing to come up with specific classifications and regulations for mopeds which would allow manufacturers to produce new mopeds custom tailored to meet the needs of the US market.

Several moped manufacturers even began to set-up small networks of dealerships for their machines with the expectation that moped sales in the US would be jump started with the lobbying effort going on. Sales of mopeds from Puch and Solex were very meager between 1975 and 1976 and only a few thousand combined were sold.

By 1977, the moped industry hit a perfect storm of good luck. The federal government began deregulating what gas suppliers could charge which drove the price of gas up at the pump. The economy was ailing, there was high unemployment and inflation was on the move. It did not take a lot to get people to understand that the newly imported vehicles called mopeds were not only inexpensive to buy but to operate as well. Low maintenance, high gas mileage, mild regulation and overall fun made them extremely popular, very quickly. Young and old alike were enjoying the thrill of traveling by moped which required no special endorsement like motorcycles.

With moped sales taking off and expected only to increase, Montgomery Ward and Sears got back into the action and began selling mopeds again. Even JC Penney wanted a slice of the market and began to sell mopeds. There were many reputable European moped manufacturers exporting mopeds to the United States like Motobecane, Puch, Sachs, Tomos, Peugeot, Garelli, Batavus, and Derbi. The Japanese motorcycle company Honda also jumped on the bandwagon and began exporting new models of mopeds to get their share of the exploding US market. Even the North American company AMF started producing a rear engine moped. AMF was the only US company to fully manufacture a moped within the United States.

How long did the moped resurgence last?

By 1980, just a few years after mopeds hit the US with amazing acceptance and an excellent outlook, the demand for mopeds suddenly dwindled as fast as they became popular. The reason for their demise varies as vastly as their rise. Just as mopeds were peaking in sales, automobile manufacturers started selling low-cost economy cars that were getting good mileage and at the same time, gas prices were declining. These were not the only factors but certainly they were major contributors.

Are vintage mopeds still a reliable and economical way to commute?

Not really! Though they are extremely fun to own, ride, maintain and customize, they are still crudely manufactured by today’s standards and take a lot of maintenance to keep them on the road. They suffer from poor lighting and other safety features. Most never came with turn signals either so riders need to use hand signals. The maintenance is basic and anyone with a slight bit of a mechanical aptitude can easily keep them running and rideable, however, they are a poor choice if someone is looking for cheap and reliable transportation. A more modern scooter with fuel injection and electric start would be a far better choice.

If they are a poor choice for commuting, why are vintage mopeds so popular again?

Because they are extremely fun to ride as a hobby! Most people who acquire a moped for the first time end up owning several. There are few things as enjoyable as riding with your friends in a group on vintage mopeds.

So how much does a vintage moped cost?

Currently, most basic running and complete vintage mopeds are selling between $700 and $1200 but that truly changes every 12 months and is also seasonal especially in colder climates where the first sign on Spring after a long Winter can send both the demand and prices very high. Mopeds values are worth whatever the market has determined them to be worth and not a penny more or a penny less. The only thing that is certain about moped values is that the market value is different depending on what region they are being purchased or sold in. You will find that in large metropolitan areas like San Francisco or New York, the value of a vintage moped could easily be double in comparison to smaller Midwest cities like Kansas City, Des Moines or Minneapolis for the exact same bike. Average higher incomes, higher demand, and fewer surviving mopeds available in coastal cities all certainly play a major part in placing a value on a moped. In Midwestern and northern US states, mopeds were put away in garages, sheds, and barns as soon as the first sign of winter appeared and remained there for 6 months. In areas along the southern Pacific and Atlantic coasts, mopeds tended to be ridden much longer during the year and spent much more time in the salty air resulting in less quality preserved machines. Rarity of certain models in certain regions of the US also plays into determining values and can offset regional price differences. A desirable, clean, and original Derbi or Peugeot top-tank moped could bring upwards of $3500.00 in San Francisco where many were originally sold but few survived. Very few ever made it into Midwestern dealerships so that same moped in Milwaukee could still garner that amount even though that city traditionally sees lower values. Different regulations and laws that each state sets also helps determines value as well. A non-titled moped in Iowa is worth far less than an untitled moped in a state that does not require titles like South Dakota. So, do some research and watch the ads in your area. We cannot possibly tell you what every moped value is in every state, and neither could anyone else. The following is just an educated opinion and is based solely on our own experiences in the Upper Midwest region of the United States and includes North and South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

What should I consider when looking for my first moped?

Here are a few tips we hope will help you find your first vintage pedal moped:

  • Study and Research about vintage mopeds all that you can. They are not for everybody. You need to fully understand that riding, owning, and maintaining a vintage 2 stroke moped is the same as riding or owning a modern 4 stroke scooter.

  • Watch Craigslist and FB Marketplace and be prepared to buy immediately. The best moped deals are gone within hours or even minutes so you will have to be ready to scoop it up or someone else will.

  • Do not get attached to a moped before you purchase it. You will probably pay too much.

  • Be prepared but be patient. There will almost always be mopeds for sale. Do not feel that if you do not buy a certain moped that there will never be another one for sale.

  • Talk to local moped club members. They know where a lot of the mopeds that are available are or who to purchase from.

  • Do not buy a non-running moped. You have no idea what it will cost to repair.

  • Avoid moped flippers. These are people who buy a moped off Craigslist and turn around the next day and re-list it for more money. It does not mean that it could not be a great deal but the person selling it has no real connection to it and knows nothing of its history other than what they were told. They are just looking to make a quick buck.

  • Do not buy a moped off eBay. You need to be able to see, feel and ride it first. Pictures can be very deceiving.

  • A good used running and tuned moped that is complete and in original and unmodified condition should not cost more than $900.00 if the tires are good. If the tires are original and need to be replaced, subtract $100.00. If the engine needs a tune up, subtract another $100.00.

  • The best first 1st moped is a Puch Maxi with single speed E50 engine. Other mopeds to consider would be a Honda PA50II Hobbit, any Piaggio/Vespa moped, any Italian moped with a Minarelli V1 engine or any moped with a Sachs engine. Repair and performance parts are readily available for all of these.

  • Mopeds to avoid for first timers are anything with a 2-speed automatic engine including Puch, Kreidler and Tomos mopeds. Other higher maintenance machines like Motobecane 40 and 50V’s, Batavus Regencies and Peugeot mopeds should also be avoided. These are all excellent machines but probably not the best for first timers. These would be highly recommended as your second or third moped. You will eventually own around 9 of them on average!

  • Do not buy a rear engine AMF moped, period.

  • Avoid Japanese no-peds like Honda Expresses, Yamaha QT50’s and Suzuki FA50’s. These are the small bikes that are the predecessor to the current scooters and have foot pegs for your feet and no pedals. They are technologically advanced and great bikes but have too complicated of electrical systems for the average person to repair themselves. And besides, real mopeds have pedals!

  • Be prepared to travel an hour or so if you can to purchase a good moped. It will be worth it many times over in the long run.

  • What things should I observe when I am when looking at or negotiating a moped to buy?

  • Cosmetic condition. This tells quite a bit about how a bike has been taken care of and stored over the last 30 or so years.

  • Use a small flashlight to inspect inside the fuel tank for rust.

  • Twist the throttle and squeeze the brake levers. Everything should be free and work.

  • Pedal the moped or spin the wheels with your hand. Wheels should not have any wobble to them.

  • Inspect the exhaust and make sure it is not rusted through anywhere.

  • Look for gas leaks at the carb or shut-off valve (petcock).

  • Ride the moped and squeeze the brakes. It should stop without squealing. If you hear loud squealing, the brake pads have become too hard over time and will need to be replaced or conditioned.

  • Have the seller demonstrate that the headlight, brake light and taillight all work. If the bulbs are burned out there is a reason for it. Often the generator system (magneto) is putting out too much voltage and replacing the bulbs will not cure it, they will just keep blowing. Magnetos can be expensive to repair by an hourly rate shop.

  • Mopeds that have original tires from the 70’s or early 80’s need to have new ones installed without exception. It is a safety thing.

  • Inspect the title. Do not take the sellers word for it that it has a clear and transferable title. If it were filled out in someone else’s name or has errors on it that were changed or crossed out, you could have a difficult time ever registering it.

  • A lot of mopeds being sold do not have a title for various reasons. Make sure you know the laws in your state regarding mopeds, titles and obtaining new ones.

  • A few other things you may want to consider and study up on before buying a moped

  • Some French manufactures like Peugeot and Motobecane mainly built and sold their own Mopeds under their own name with little re-branding. Highest quality of all bikes but also require the most maintenance expense.

  • Other European manufacturers like Vespa/Piaggio, Batavus, Derbi, Kreidler, Tomos, and Garelli built and sold bikes under their own name.

  • Most Puch mopeds were sold under their own name with their own engines, but they also licensed and allowed major retailers like J.C. Penney (Pinto/Swinger) and Sears (Free Spirit) along with bicycle company Murray to sell their own versions but with different frame modifications and other parts. Though these bikes look different, almost all the parts were the same ones that were used in the Puch models and are interchangeable. These are all excellent all-around good bikes for the value.
  • Many Italian mopeds were just heavily re-branded with many, many different names for essentially the same bike. Manufacturers basically purchased frames, engines, wheels, and controls and assembled them with only subtle differences like paint and decals. Most Italian mopeds came with either a Morini or Minarelli single speed engine and used one of about 6 frame designs. Do not get too caught up in the name of the moped because it has little to do with the value or performance.

  • The following is just a partial list of some of these generic Italian mopeds:

    Aprilia Aspes Atala Baretta Beta Bianchi Bimotor B.M. Casalini C.F. Chiordo Cimatti, Cimatti City Bike Everton Fantic Motor F.M.B. Gabbiano Gadabout Gazelle General 5-Star Gerosa Gimk Gitan Gitane Giulietta Gloria Intramotor Italjet Legnano Malanca M.B. Milani Mebea Mondial Moto Bimm Moto Gori Motomarina Motron MZV Oemmeci Omer Otus Pacer Peripoli Power Rieju Rocvale Romeo Safari Sulky Technomoto Testi Torpado Yankee Peddler AIM, Aprilia, Arciero, Bianchi, B.M., Chiorda, Cimatti, Cosmo, D.M.T., Gloria Intramotor, Italjet, Italtelai, Italmotri, Italvelo, Itom, Lazer, Lem, Malaguti, Monark (MCB) , Motomarina (Motobecane), Moto Gori, Moto Meteora, Moto Müller, Moto Villa, Negrini, NVT, Omer, Oscar, Pacer, Peripoli, Rivara, S.W.M., Scalambra, Scorpion, Tecnomot