The Vintage Moped Experience

You slide your fingers into a pair of worn gloves and fan out your hand to equalize its position. Looking down at your feet, you search for a loose lace but only see a few small spots of grease that have been permanently tattooed near the arch of your shoe.  Ignition on, fuel on, choke pushed in. No matter how many times you have repeated this routine in the past, each time the succession leaves you feeling as if you have omitted a part of the ritual. You pause and then push off. As you reach the end of the driveway, you squeeze in on the clutch lever and everything comes to life. A gentle twist on the throttle and a repositioning in the saddle; you are set free again.

I have met many new friends over the years who all share a similar interest; revitalized old mopeds. It is amazing how those small smokey and outdated machines can bring so many smiles to those who get to experience the thrill of cruising around on one.  With age no boundary, I see a face that lights up when that person takes possession of a restored Puch, or the smile that stretches across someone’s face when they test ride a Motobecane for the first time. For some, it’s a trip back to their youth. For a brief moment, they are transported to that simpler time before cell phones and computers. For others, it may be their first time ever experiencing a motorized two-wheeled vehicle and a chance to feel wind and freedom at the same time. No two people have the same reaction or the same feeling every time that little under-powered engine sparks to life with a few cranks of the pedals.

Perhaps there is something about traveling effortlessly on a moped at 30 mph along a tree-lined river road that you just can’t experience or appreciate any other way. There is a fragrant aroma mix of fresh-cut fields and the musky river water that you have never noticed together before.


You see panoramic views of land formations that you are sure never existed before that day even though you have traveled that same road many times in the past by car. There is this strange feeling of indifference towards anything but the machine you are riding and the senses that no longer lay dormant.

Tour a city by moped and you will have an understanding as to why there is no better way to explore. Sights, sounds, smells; everything is so unlike anything that you have ever experienced before. You feel a connection to the streets you travel and the strangers that pass before you.

You wait for a brief moment at an intersection, and during that moment in time, you meet a few new people. You may not have introduced yourself with words, but you made eye contact and exchanged smiles while they hurriedly made their way in the cross-walk. You told them more about you with your slight head nods and your chosen method of transportation than few words ever could have.

As you leave that intersection and pull off to the side of the street next to a little sidewalk cafe destination, you carefully park your bike next to the curb and close to a table.

Your arrival causes a patron to look up from her half-eaten calzone as she tries to stare without notice. Others point and whisper to their dining companions with little concern for stranger etiquette.  As you begin to dismount the machine that draws in so much attention, a smiling and inquisitive person approaches you and wants to tell you about the moped that was once given to him by his grandfather many years ago.

Vintage mopeds don’t appeal to everyone, and by some right, that’s what enhances the appeal to others. I, for one, don’t want something that everyone else has. I like the idea of being different from the masses. Some may find mopeds to be a bit too unsophisticated when compared to machines of today’s technology and they don’t find comfort in its outdated nostalgic presence. However, others may feel it demonstrates that simplicity in design and engineering can be associated with useful permanence even after 35 years.

You can debate and theorize, but there is no one single reason why people have re-discovered mopeds from the 70’s. Each reason is as unique as the person riding one.