The Best Electric Mopeds You Can Ride in 2022

Keen to avoid the petrol pump, road tax and congestion charges? Try one of these electric mopeds.
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The pandemic has brought upon a seismic shift in how we travel and where we travel to. Our regular routines have been disrupted and as we’re still emerging and finding our feet (and wheels) we’re looking at alternative modes of travel. 

The meteoric rise (and success) of the pedal electric bike is now trickling over to consumer mopeds and scooters: zero emissions bikes for modern consumers keen to avoid the petrol pump, road tax and inner city congestion charges.

WIRED has selected a set of electric mopeds across the spectrum, all suited to commuting and city riding in general. All come in under the 50cc (equivalent) engine size, and all share a modest top speed (up to 28mph) and range. Prospective riders only need a pre 2001 car licence to pilot one without L plates, and can take a pillion passenger. Riders with a post 2001 licence or only holding a provisional licence will need to take a one day motorbike CBT (compulsory basic training) course before slinging a leg over one. WIRED took the course and would heartily recommend all riders take it regardless.

WIRED tested the bikes on varying journeys around central London, and on a regular 5 mile (8km) commute from East London into the busy West End, with and without a pillion passenger. All batteries were charged in a home environment.

Electric mopeds are exempt from UK road tax (VED), London ULEZ and Congestion charge so after the initial cost of the bike,  insurance will be riders' biggest outlay - at least for the first year (when a no claim will reduce the following premiums). From there on, running costs should be modest, depending on the energy provider. WIRED secured the bikes using a Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit chain and angle-grinder proof HipLock D1000

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Piaggio 1

WIRED Recommends: The cut price, lightweight runabout by the Italian bike giant sets a new standard for modern city travel.

It’s so plastic. It’s so small... It only costs that much? Whatever our first impressions, the Piaggio 1 (£2,500) looks like a real game changer for both Europe’s biggest bike manufacturer and the entire e-bike market. It's a diminutive electric moped with removable battery that comes in at just over £2K. Yes, that’s less of an outlay than many regular e-pedal bikes - and pretty much all of the bikes in WIRED’s best electric bikes for commuting edit.  The 1 is available in three models: 1 (a 50cc moped equivalent), 1+ (with increased battery capacity) and beefier 1 Active (a 125cc scooter equivalent).  

Jumping on the Piaggio you immediately realise how small and low the seat is. It's 77cm high. Great for confidence inspiring standover height, not so great for very tall riders. The saddle is comfy enough and although modest in size, will accommodate a passenger (again, of a modest size). WIRED did multiple trips across the city with an adult comfortably riding pillion. Yes, tight manoeuvring in heavy traffic is easier ‘one up’, but the size of the bike meant even with company those moves were well weighted and predictable. 

A keyless fob unlocks the bike and brings that flashy 5.5-inch colour LCD display to life (think a shrunken Tesla control-unit for teenagers). From a handlebar mounted button you then toggle through three riding modes. Eco is for battery saving riding in heavy traffic at modest speeds (up to 18mph / 30kph). Sport, with a modest top speed of 40 kph (Piaggio 1) or 60kph (1 Active), is the mode which will suit pretty much all riders, all of the time. Finally, Reverse mode. Select this to manoeuvre the bike for parking. Although the Piaggio 1 is so light compared to a regular 125cc scooter you’ll probably never have to trouble it. 

All of this motion is powered by a 1.2kW rear hub mounted motor (2kW on the Active), which opens up valuable under-seat storage for an open face helmet. The motor is in turn powered by a removable (loaf of bread sized) lithium-ion battery. Open the seat, pull it out and plug it in with a mains charger for empty-to-full 6hr charge. As well as liberating riders from those horrible trailing charging cables or the need for off-street parking, the bike is far harder to steal (having no power source). The company says the battery is good for 800 cycles, at which point the charge is down to around 70% the capacity of new. If you’re using the bike for commuting you can obviously charge at work as well as home. 

Out on the road the first impression is one of nothing. Silence. Complete silence. There’s virtually no hum from the motor and the acceleration is buttery smooth. Prepare to use the horn more than usual, purely to let pedestrians know there is a bike coming. The experience is oddly calming and a marked contrast from the vibration and noise from even a modest sized petrol scooter. 

So who’s the bike really for? Rider looking for a clean, easy-to-charge zero-emissions bike. City-locked riders happy with modest speeds up to around 30mph (40kph). Riders looking for a light, simple introduction to motorbikes albeit with a limited range, regardless of whether they fit that Gen Z demographic or not. Riders looking to take longer journeys over 30 miles or riders tackling roads with a speed limit over 30mph… keep moving... 

Piaggio One: £2,500 (£2,011 with UK EV Grant) | Piaggio 

Piaggio One Active: £3,000 (£2,411 with UK EV Grant) | Piaggio 

Vespa Elettrica

High-end traditional scooter style 

The Elettrica (from £5,480) is an electric moped that looks and feels like a ‘real’ moped. It’s Vespa sized, it’s Vespa weight, and jumping on the bike feels like a regular Vespa in the best possible way. The styling matches the brand’s classic Primavera model, with the main body panels in silver and a choice of six accent colours - the Azzuro Elettrico ‘eco’ blue piping subtly suggesting, ‘yes, I’m riding an electric scooter’.

As soon as you put the bike in drive mode though everything changes. None of that Vespa physical petrol engine feel or Vespa petrol noise… but, also in the best possible way. The Elettrica is quiet, not ‘near silent’ like the Piaggio 1, but close. More of a hum than a whisper. It’s quiet enough to surprise pedestrians who are used to that regular Vespa shape and sound.

WIRED tested the Elettrica 45kph (30mph), the more modest of the two bikes in the range, and as a 50cc equivalent it can be ridden on a regular UK drivers licence. Similar to the 1 the Elettrica is suited to the city where the modest top speed isn’t an issue - often that less lively acceleration (in 20 and 30mph zones) actually represents a speeding-ticket saving virtue. It needs to be noted though that the steady acceleration did give us a few moments where we backed off from overtaking, knowing that ‘oomph’ wouldn’t be there at the last moment. 

Come to park the bike and you’ll now notice the Elettrica weighs 130kg. It's not a crazy weight for a bike, but that’s 15kg more than the ‘equivalent’ petrol Vespa Primavera, and 45kg more than the Piaggio 1 (also reviewed here). On the road, this manifests itself in sturdy and planted handling, but when parking or lifting the bike it’s noticeable heft. 

Charging the Elettrica is a different experience to the Piaggio 1 and Cake Osa, in that it features an integrated coiled charging lead and plug. It's smart and well designed, but literally tethers the bike to a ‘close to home’ parking spot. It’s a clean and fuss free solution, but with a new generation of mopeds using removable batteries and now that Piaggio have joined KTM, Honda and Yamaha in a global consortium for a swappable battery standard, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see all e-motorbikes adopt a more future-proof removable battery standard.

The Elettrica is a quality bike suited to riders looking for that traditional, classic Vespa style and build-quality, but with the climate conscious modernity of an emissionless ride. It’s a high end product, well suited to anyone who has access to a ‘tethered’ charging point close to home (or work), rather than riders looking for more value or that home-charging capability. 

Price: From £5,480 (£4,295 with UK EV grant) | Vespa 

Cake Osa+

Ingenious versatility and a love it-or-loathe it industrial aesthetic

If the Piaggio 1 looked on first impression like an oversized toy, and the Vespa Elettrica looks like a regular scooter, the Cake Osa+ (from €8,500), looks more like… Well, like… no other bike we’ve ever seen. Part science project, part science fiction the Cake is a clever bit of Swedish engineering that’s as innovative as it is peculiar looking. Real Marmite aesthetics here.

Cake’s Osa+ is billed as the ultimate-performance utility bike and it’s hard to argue with that. The custom aluminium frame cradles an almost microwave sized powerpack (more on that later) and modular accessories can be mix-and-matched to the ‘unibar’ toptube with a clever proprietary quick release clamp. This flexibility of build really does make the Osa+ a Swiss-Army-Knife of motorbikes. Adding platforms to take camping kit, racks for surfboards, a tool kit and baskets is a cinch. Only one problem with this ingenious solution. Someone may want to clamp it off too. 

WIRED tested the bikes in a central London environment and we’d suggest riders wanting to keep kit on their bikes might want to look to anti-theft bicycle solutions, like locking quick release systems and ball-bearing filled hex-bolts for long term peace of mind. That massive powerpack (with a replacement value of €3,500) is also handily removable, and only secured to the bike with a velcro strap - so we’d either remove it from the bike at night (to charge), or lock to the frame (with the carrying handle) when parked on the street.

Starting the Osa+ doesn’t require a key either, not even a fob. Simply turn on the battery, flip the handle-bar ‘kill switch’ and push the button on the display. You’re then prompted for a three digit security code. From this point you have the option of selecting three driving modes and two braking modes. Driving mode 1 is suitable for heavy traffic and limits acceleration and speed to 19mph (30kmph). Mode 2 increases acceleration and extends top speed to 30mph (45kph). Selecting Mode 3 maximises acceleration further for that ‘off the ‘lights’ power boost. The braking modes toggle between 1. Zero regenerative braking (the bike freewheels when the throttle is released - 2. Motor brake is activated when you release the throttle for steady deceleration.

The 4kw motor powers a traditional spoked motorbike style wheel with near silent Gates belt drive, keeping the drivetrain clean and quieter than a regular chain. The regular battery will power you for a range of roughly 40 miles, the larger for around 65 miles, obviously depending on rider weight and riding style. Zero to full charge time is muted as 3 hrs. The smartest feature of the battery is that it’s actually a ‘powerpack’ meaning you can use it to power anything that will plug into a 5v outlet like phones, tablets etc, or 10v like laptops, speakers etc. Perfect for setting up really remote working. 

Riding the Cake is fun, fun, fun. The grin-inducing acceleration has a ‘real’ motorbike feel and although the power runs out at a mere 28mph with Ride Mode 3 selected you’d at that 28mph in just over 2 seconds (depending on your weight). On the road this means you’ll often beat 125cc bikes off the lights (till you meet that top speed!) giving you confidence to hold your position around the city. That torque equates to a ride experience that is head and shoulders above the competition, the bike is just fun to ride. 

Price: From €8,500 | Cake 

Super Soco CUx

A light, easy to park bike for smaller riders 

The Super Soco (from £2,699) takes the dinky, high plastic aesthetic to another level. This truly diminutive mini-moped is either the perfect bike for small and lighter riders, or just-a-bit-too-dinky for a regular sized adult. Yes, the CUx will take a passenger (it sports flip out foot rests) but ferrying a pillion around the city meant lots of ‘budge up!’ and ‘can’t you give me a bit more room?’ conversations. At 70kg the Soco is the featherweight of the test but it’s also a cinch to park, reposition, lug up a kerb or tuck into a front yard.

The narrow front fairing subtly places the bike in a different category to bigger mopeds like the Vespa Elettrica with an aesthetic that is less ‘motorbikey’ more ‘e-bikey. Bringing the CUx into a genre of bikes that only just warrants a number plate and insurance of a ‘motorbike’. 

Featuring a Bosche centre hub motor (not dissimilar to the Piaggio 1) the Cux achieves a max power of 2.8kW and also tops out at a restricted 28mph. Another example of the modest and occasionally frustrating acceleration and top-speed that comes along with the class of bike (with the accompanying benefits of ease of access with a regular car licence).

The bike has the option of three riding modes, WIRED often selecting mode 2 (Eco) when riding in strict 20mph zones to limit our speed, rather than conserve battery power. Empty to full charge using the removable battery is a mere 3 hours.

The CUx also boasts a host of tech. LCD instrument panel, GPS and cellular access, USB charging point and wireless alarm. The bike also has an option of a faring integrated dash-cam, which is unique in this market and a clever touch for city riding and is operated by a handlebar mounted control. 

Got big bike aspirations? Not content with the stock colour schemes? You can always opt for the look-at-me Red and white limited edition Ducati branded CUx. Just don’t try and race other Ducati’s off the ‘lights. 

Price: From £2,699 (£2,249 with UK EV grant) | Super Soco