Moped Mania!! All This Issue!!

“Do You Got Training Wheels on That Thing?”

Laying down the law by the old courthouse.
Image by: Kristina Uffe
Laying down the law by the old courthouse.

There is beauty in owning a moped. A machine of grace, half-bicycle and half-motorbike, the moped defines pure metallic manliness.

The product of years of engineering studiousness, the culmination of all that modern science has in store for us, civilizations of the future will look back on the moped and think of how advanced a people we were. Mopeds. Like the cultural equivalent of those pyramids in Egypt, except more mobile. Precision, metal, and craftsmanship — the moped.

Okay, so I exaggerate somewhat. It’s not so much metallic manliness as it is a bike with a lawnmower engine attached; not so much a marvel of modern science, more like a throwback to a simpler form of motion like the horse and buggy. But man, do I love it.

I’ve got a 1977 Cady — bright yellow. It’s a French moped with all original parts (except the sparkplug). It has a 49.9-cc engine (just under that 50-cc limit, beyond which a motorcycle license is required) that hits top speed at about 50 km/h… downhill.

The moped. How does it compare to the scooter?

They’re similar in several ways: both are really cheap on gas and fun to ride. They will both get you in between cars on a crowded downtown street, and neither will pose much of a difficulty in terms of parking. From strangers, they both attract comments and stares.

A moped has a couple of advantages over that other mini-bike, however. For one, a moped gets better gas-mileage than a scooter. It may not seem like a big deal, but over the long-term it makes sense to save as much as you can (if only to keep those gas barons in the Middle East from lining their pockets). If I’m on the thing for an hour or two each day, it costs me about ten bucks a month in gas-oil mixtures. It doesn’t get any cheaper.

Second, a moped has a switch on the motor that allows you to convert from an engine-based power source to a human-based power source. It changes from a motorcycle to a bicycle quickly. This is useful if something goes wrong; you do not have to abandon it or count on someone other to help you out like those nice folks at the CAA. If your engine cuts out, you run out of gas, or your carburetor busts on you, you have a way of getting home to fix it.

Third, if you’re keen, you can find a moped that doesn’t require a motorcycle license. Those buggers at the Ministry of Transportation are always interested in finagling a couple of bucks out of you, left, right and center. Every inch of the road is blocked by mounds of paperwork and the various associated costs. Most of us already have a car license. We don’t really want to go to the length of passing more tests and filling out more paperwork and remembering to collate the various permits, registrations, insurance costs and so on. A 49.9-cc engine is the highest allowable rating without needing a separate license. You can’t find scooters with an engine that small, but you can spot old mopeds like that.

Finally, the moped is just a whole lot sillier than the scooter. Now, you think to yourself, why would I want to look that ridiculous? Good question. But think about it, you’re already going to look somewhat sketchy on those toddler-machines, so why not go the whole nine yards? There is a threshold for stupidity, I assure you, a grey area, requiring subtle insight. Cross the line on one side or the other and it’s alright; get stuck somewhere in the middle and you are certain to breach accepted standards of decorum. Take the bellbottom pant, for instance. It’s crucial that bellbottoms are used in combination with something else ridiculous (like a polyester work shirt) in order for the stupidity factor to cancel out. Refuse to adhere to such rules and you will look ridiculous; not in a way that incites chuckles, but rather shakes of the head and contemptuous grunts. If you’re going to damn the torpedoes and be silly at all costs, you’ll want to avoid the shakes and encourage the chuckles. In this case, the moped is an ideal vehicle. The scooter is not.

For both scooters and mopeds, there is an additional element that adds to their appeal. Both, with few exceptions, put smiles on the faces of passersby and give them a story to tell, even if it is at your expense. You may get flustered at the thought of being the butt of jokes, but take comfort in the fact that you’ve brightened someone’s day.

So go ahead, laugh, point, stare. Get wrapped up in a general hullabaloo. I can take it. But you best be running if I ever stop this shiny yellow stallion of mine. That’s right, you best be running. Pray you got good sneakers you jerks, cuz if I catch you little bastards I’ll open up such a can of whup-ass that your mothers won’t recognize you. Yeah, I see you, you little KCVI weasel. You and your buddies are the height of comedic classiness, aren’t you? Laugh it up big boy, but know that you’ll be pumping my gas. You’ll be pumping my gas! Won’t your parents be proud. Pumpity pump pump. No tip. Last laugh… HAHA! I’m done.

Peter Jaworski is a moped enthusiast. He will never, ever live this down.

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