Forum home Commuter cycling forum Commuting chat

125cc moped for alternative days...

My commute is 16miles each way, 1100ft elevation gain, average 15-16mph, 60-65min journey. I can do every other day (3x week) at max, but also time is of essence with a young family... I don't think it's realistic to cycle aim every day. I’m still going to carry on 3x week bike commute to keep my fitness and for my sanity.

The current alternative is my vehicle, which is a dirty diesel van ('98, 2.5TDi, 40mpg…). I REALLY hate driving the empty van just to commute. The environment, fuel, rush hour traffic, battle of parking space at work (they're going to implement £28/month charge for staff parking soon!)... I just can't find a good reason.

So I’m gearing towards getting a 125cc moped / small bike. The cost I calculated so far:

125cc Moped £700-1,000
CBT £130
VED £20
MOT £30
Insurance? No idea.
Gear? Full helmet, hard shell + trousers, boots, gloves

I’m sure others have gone through this sort of decisions with commuting (there’s one interesting thread about e-bike for 50mile commute). What do others do, in particular the running cost of moped / small bike commute as alternative to bike commuting?
«1

Posts

  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    What's the traffic like on your commute? If it's reasonably heavy there might not be much of a time saving to be had.

    In SW London traffic bikes and mopeds travel at pretty comparable speeds; I was level-pegging with a moped for the first 9 miles of my commute last night, until our routes diverged.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,962
    CBT will only be valid for 2 years, as 125 isn't classed as a moped. To carry on riding this indefinitely you'll need an A1 licence.
  • @prawny Might be able to give you an idea of this, IIRC he switched from cycling to mopeding a similar distance.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    Why not 50 cc?
    I'm also not sure Mopeds are environmentally much better than a diesel car...
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714

    Why not 50 cc?
    I'm also not sure Mopeds are environmentally much better than a diesel car...

    Most of the stats I've seen put mopeds CO2 emissions per passenger kilometer at about the same as travelling by bus - for example here:
    https://www.co2nnect.org/help_sheets/?op_id=602&opt_id=98

    That's obviously ignoring other forms of pollution, but I'd have thought they scale in a similar way.

    One thing that annoys me about these stats is that they all rate the CO2 emissions due to walking and cycling as zero. They're presumably a lot lower than burning hydrocarbons or using electricity, but they're definitely not zero!
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • tgotb said:

    One thing that annoys me about these stats is that they all rate the CO2 emissions due to walking and cycling as zero. They're presumably a lot lower than burning hydrocarbons or using electricity, but they're definitely not zero!

    Presumably because motor vehicle emmisions don't include a CO2 figure for the driver and and any passengers, in addition to CO2 produced by the vehicle itself under engine power.
    ================
    2020 Voodoo Marasa
    2017 Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc 2016
    2016 Voodoo Wazoo
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714

    Presumably because motor vehicle emmisions don't include a CO2 figure for the driver and and any passengers, in addition to CO2 produced by the vehicle itself under engine power.

    Which is misleading, because the CO2 emissions of the driver and passengers will be the same, regardless of which form of motorised transport they use (or even if they stay at home), whereas a pedestrian or cyclist will emit additional CO2, the quantity depending on their mode of transport (and how fast they're going).
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    Get a decent e-bike. No hassle with road tax, MOT, insurance, CBT, helmet, clothing etc. My wife used to commute by small motorcycle but an e-bike was better for her 15 miles each way route. She bought it on bike to work scheme and it had paid for itself within 18 months, as I said in the other e-bike debate. I would not bother with something like an Orbea Gain for a commute like this. Road e-bikes like that have small batteries and relatively feeble rear hub motors and are designed for roadies who want an occasional boost to get up hill or keep up with mates. A European-style commuter e-bike with a big battery and mid-mounted crank motor such as Bosch will give a range of 70 miles or more, using constant power, and will have mudguards, lights and carrying ability for your work stuff. I can tell you from experience that the range of your battery will diminish with use. My wife’s first e-bike had a range of 50 miles when new which was fine for her 30-mile round trip. After a couple of years she had to recharge it in the day at work to ensure she got home with power.
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714

    Get a decent e-bike.

    The OP's said their average speed on a regular bike is 15-16mph, and they're hoping to save time (ie faster average speed). That's not going to happen on a road-legal e-bike where the power assist is limited to 15mph.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    edited March 2020
    tgotb said:

    Get a decent e-bike.

    The OP's said their average speed on a regular bike is 15-16mph, and they're hoping to save time (ie faster average speed). That's not going to happen on a road-legal e-bike where the power assist is limited to 15mph.
    True, OP won’t save much time. Legal e-bikes are limited to 15.5 mph before power assistance is supposed to cut out. However, OP does have 1100 ft elevation gain on commute. On any reasonably long uphill stretch, an e-bike will leave a fit roadie for dead - I know from experience. An e-bike will run at 15.5 mph assisted whether you are riding uphill or on the flat. When the road goes downhill, an e-bike will go just as fast as a road bike depending on gearing even when power assistance cuts out - gravity is your friend. And in traffic, a small motorcycle is not that much quicker than an e-bike or even an enthusiastically ridden road bike.

    But my main point, having experience of both motorcycle and e-bike commuting, is that an e-bike is cheaper, less hassle and more practical and well worth considering as an option for a 32-mile round trip - as long as you are mature enough to ignore old school roadies sneering at you!
  • stn5stn5 Posts: 36

    tgotb said:

    Get a decent e-bike.

    An e-bike will run at 15.5 mph assisted whether you are riding uphill or on the flat.
    Maybe on a shallow hill but surely on anything remotely steep 250w it won't achieve 15.5mph?

  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    stn5 said:

    tgotb said:

    Get a decent e-bike.

    An e-bike will run at 15.5 mph assisted whether you are riding uphill or on the flat.
    Maybe on a shallow hill but surely on anything remotely steep 250w it won't achieve 15.5mph?

    You’re right. On a long relatively shallow climb near our home, my wife can maintain her assisted 15.5 mph all the way up, whereas I’m puffing and panting trying to hold 12 mph on my 7kg carbon bike. On steep climbs, her speed drops, but so does mine. A friend and I, both reasonably fit riders on lightweight bikes, once raced my wife on her European sit up and beg e-bike from Lake Vyrnwy to Bala and back via the Bwlch-y-Groes and Hirnant passes in Mid Wales. Once the road ramped up to 12 per cent and above (25 per cent or so), she left us for dead. We took all sorts of risks on the descent but only managed to catch her on the final flat stretch around the lake where we could hold a steady 20 mph.

    There’s a big variation in the performance of legal e-bikes, even though they are all nominally rated at 250w. For example, the Orbea Gain has a claimed 40 Nm of torque, compared with the 70 or 80 Nm claimed for the best mid-motor models which have an assisted range of up to around 120 miles depending on terrain and level of boost.
  • tgotb said:

    What's the traffic like on your commute?

    8 miles of hilly, twisty country lane and 8 miles of town back lane cut-through. Traffic-wise, hardly any car most way until the last 2miles through town. So, I'm assuming that 125cc would be a timesaver for me, especially considering the wasted time of queueing to get in the car park and finding a space.

    CBT will only be valid for 2 years, as 125 isn't classed as a moped. To carry on riding this indefinitely you'll need an A1 licence.

    That was my mistake. I first started looking at 50cc but soon understood that 50cc and hills aren't friends and probably won't make a significant difference in time saving aspect compared to cycling. Quite confusing on DVLA website and local motorcycle training websites. I had the impression that I could just renew CBT every two years. Eventually I would do a full licence at some point but not at the beginning.

    Why not 50 cc?
    I'm also not sure Mopeds are environmentally much better than a diesel car...

    Do you have any evidence for this? I just find it hard to imagine the absolute value of air pollution caused by 0.05L and 2.5L engine being the same... I

    However, OP does have 1100 ft elevation gain on commute. On any reasonably long uphill stretch, an e-bike will leave a fit roadie for dead - I know from experience.

    I know the e-bike assisted speed limit speed. But as you say, if I can get up the steep hills at 15.5pmh, then my average mph would ramp up accordingly. Most realistically 10min faster journey? Won't be as fast as 125cc bike I doubt?

    Thanks everyone for chipping in, very useful forum. Investigation continues.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    I think you’re right, cheesemonkey. A 125cc motorcycle would I’m sure be the quickest on the route you describe. A decent e-bike would shave a bit off your time on an ordinary bike - perhaps five minutes. I used to commute on a 125cc bike and liked it. I’m retired now but if I were to make the choice again, I’d go for an e-bike. The latest ones are fantastic.
  • Charlie_CrokerCharlie_Croker Posts: 1,104
    To be clear, a moped is 49cc anything 50cc and above (like a 125cc) is classed as a motorcycle.
    You have a car driving licence, so you can ride a moped without L plates*
    *depending on when you passed your car driving test, if before 01.02.2001 no problem, if after 01.02.2001 you’ll need to complete a compulsory basic training (CBT) course, then you’ll be good to go.
    If you want to ride a motorcycle (50cc and above) you’ll need to look at passing your motorcycle test(s) not just the CBT which is time limited
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,321
    I believe, but I'm not sure, faster electric bikes are classed as a moped rather than a motorcycle. If that is the case that might be a good half way house - faster than a bike, still relatively cheap to insure etc and you'd avoid having to take your test. You'd have to wear more than a cycle helmet though I suppose.

    But then maybe an actual electric moped would make more sense.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • cheesemonkeycheesemonkey Posts: 16
    edited March 2020
    duplicate post... a glitch.
  • cheesemonkeycheesemonkey Posts: 16
    edited March 2020
    another glitch...
  • john80john80 Posts: 1,839
    I bought a 125cc honda about 18 months ago. About 90-140 miles to the gallon depending how fast you go. Keeps up with traffic in national speed limits easily bit you can't overtake above 40mph. Dont get a 50cc unless your entire journey is flat and inside a 30mph limit or you will get the same hassles with cycling in dangerous overtaking. By the time you buy the bike, ppe and go for a cbt every 2 years you dont save any money from driving a car but i like the flexibility of it.
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,962

    CBT will only be valid for 2 years, as 125 isn't classed as a moped. To carry on riding this indefinitely you'll need an A1 licence.

    sorry, it was implied but yes re-taking your CBT every 2 years is an option I believe
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    CO2 emissions are part of the problem, in the grand scheme of things whether you use a vehicle or not won't make a huge difference. Eat less beef and you're going to break even.

    NOx and particulate emissions are the big culprits for urban pollution... while cars are fitted with decent catalytic systems (which occasionally even work), mopeds are less effective
  • cheesemonkeycheesemonkey Posts: 16
    edited March 2020
    I came to conclusion that, from cost perspective, it's not viable for me to go the moped/light motorbike option. From emvironmental perspective, I'm still pursuing realistic options. It's so complicated with too many variables to clearly lay out what is environmentally "less costly".

    For now, I'm considering 3x week full cycle commute and other days drive 1/2 - 3/4 leg and cycle the rest and see how physically I can cope with more cycling. Part drive-part cycle saves me about 10-15min depending on the drive-cycle ratio...

    Definitely worth investigating so thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    Don't feel guilty if you HAVE to drive... unfortunately the country is designed around car ownership and electric cars are still not practical for those who don't own their own garage.
    As I said, eat less beef and lamb and you'll do more good for the environment than if you stopped driving
  • Charlie_CrokerCharlie_Croker Posts: 1,104

    ...eat less beef and lamb and you'll do more good for the environment than if you stopped driving

    That’s a bold statement, do you have any facts and figures to back that up?
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689

    ...eat less beef and lamb and you'll do more good for the environment than if you stopped driving

    That’s a bold statement, do you have any facts and figures to back that up?
    There are plenty of calculators you can use to work out your carbon footprint. Try replacing the national average of 90 kg of meat per year with say 10 kg of meat and try removing X-miles on the car and see where is the sweet spot.

    Each serving of beef roughly is worth 3 kg of CO2, so two servings a day means 6 kg of CO2.
    It's about the same as a gallon of petrol, or 40 miles for the average car...
  • Well... I just discovered that there are loads of companies selling DIY ebike conversion kit... front hub, rear hub, mid-mount, throttle or not, what a minefield.

    If a conversion kit is not that complicated to fit on a 80s touring frame and can actually assist me on the hills, this sounds like the ticket for being able to cycle daily?

    Any experience of DIY kit and any recommendation?
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,388
    https://ebiketips.road.cc/content/advice/features/how-easy-is-it-to-convert-your-bike-to-an-e-bike-640

    ebiketips is a useful resource for electric bikes, with advice, reviews etc including the above link to a DIY conversion, plus the best e-bikes for under £1,000. The site mainly looks at regular e-bikes but you can do a search there on conversion kits. Another site is https://www.pedelecs.co.uk/

    I’ve ridden one non-legal high power converted mountain bike with hub motor operated by a trigger on the bars. Much faster than a legal e-bike but tricky to ride with its sudden, jerky response and no link between pedalling and power delivery. It was also temperamental and the owner kept having to fiddle with the electrical connections to keep it going. It only cost him a few hundred quid. He was aware it could get him into trouble with the law but was willing to take the risk. It was nowhere near as good as a proper pedelec with mid motor.
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    edited March 2020


    But my main point, having experience of both motorcycle and e-bike commuting, is that an e-bike is cheaper, less hassle and more practical and well worth considering as an option for a 32-mile round trip

    Agreed. And you still have to do CBT before riding any motorbike or moped on the road even if you have a full car licence.

    It's a long time since I rode a 100cc motorbike but it was certainly cheaper to run than a car. An air-cooled 4-stroke, I got ~100mpg and it topped out at 55mph. I could do the 14 miles to work on A-roads almost as quickly as in a car and it was also more fun.

    But for the OP's journey I'd argue that an e-bike ticks the most boxes. In the meantime 2 days per week in the van (and maybe just 1 during the summer months?) might be the simplest option for now. But saving £336 a year on parking plus around £300 on fuel is a good incentive and I'd also argue that the physical and mental health benefits of cycling outweigh the 15 minute saving.

    eat less beef and lamb and you'll do more good for the environment than if you stopped driving

    But it's a different story if you look at the immediate effects of vehicle pollution, noise and the potential harm to other road users. If you remove 100 people driving a diesel car or van off that route it will benefit everyone living, working or travelling on/near it far more than 100 people eating less meat (though I don't disagree that reducing meat and dairy intake is worth doing for the overall impact on your CO2 footprint).
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498

    Well... I just discovered that there are loads of companies selling DIY ebike conversion kit... front hub, rear hub, mid-mount, throttle or not, what a minefield.

    If a conversion kit is not that complicated to fit on a 80s touring frame and can actually assist me on the hills, this sounds like the ticket for being able to cycle daily?

    Any experience of DIY kit and any recommendation?

    I've installed a couple of front wheel drive conversions - inexpensive (rather than cheap) - main issue is really the amount of cables involved. Key one is the brake trigger - you don't want to brake whilst the motor is powering on - this involved removing the existing brake levers - which is fine, except some are integral to the gear shift - may be not so bad if you're after a downtube shifter ... ?

    16 miles though - even if you can up the average speed to 18-20mph with the assistance uphill - it's still 3/4hr + changing time. But I guess with a £28/month parking charge coming in it'll be worth changing for an ebike just for the expense!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,689
    simon_e said:



    eat less beef and lamb and you'll do more good for the environment than if you stopped driving

    But it's a different story if you look at the immediate effects of vehicle pollution, noise and the potential harm to other road users. If you remove 100 people driving a diesel car or van off that route it will benefit everyone living, working or travelling on/near it far more than 100 people eating less meat (though I don't disagree that reducing meat and dairy intake is worth doing for the overall impact on your CO2 footprint).
    Of course, there are many added benefits to reduce vehicle usage.
    But if that proves too inconvenient (say a 30 minute commute becomes a 2 hour ordeal) and the OP wants to reduce their CO2 emissions, there are other ways of doing it, which are less inconvenient, that's my point

Sign In or Register to comment.