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Best cars

Best electric mopeds 2023

We run down the best electric mopeds you can buy, ranging from some mainstream models to some not-so-well-known names

Silence

Electric mopeds could be the future of urban transport. Urban restrictions on private cars are already gathering pace, with Oxford and Bristol recently joining London in charging petrol/diesel cars to drive in the city, while the capital is about to radically expand its Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ. So we'll have to find alternatives, and e-mopeds will be part of the mix, along with bicycles (both pedal-powered and electrically assisted), kick scooters, ride sharing and public transport. 

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So what's available? Until recently there was nothing between a few feeble electric mopeds aimed at the likes of Uber Eats delivery riders, and BMW's full-power CE 04. But the last couple of years has seen a new generation of smarter e-bikes arrive, capable of zipping silently up to 50 or 60mph, with bigger batteries for a better range and a tad more sophistication.

Highlights are the Bluetooth-enabled Niu and the bargain basement Lexmoto Yadea. Big names are getting in on the act too, with Vespa and Honda both launching electric scooters.

When buying, look for a battery warranty of two to three years (more is good) and qualification for the government's Plug-in Grant, which offers 20% off the up-front price, up to a maximum of £500. The top trend at the moment is for smaller twin batteries rather than one big one, enabling them to be lifted out for recharging – important if you live on the seventh floor!

BMW CE 02

BMW CE 02 – from £6,422

This is the latest electric offering from BMW. The CE 02 slots in as a smaller alternative to the motorcycle-sized CE 04, which needs a full motorcycle licence and is happy on motorways, though range is just 65 miles. By contrast, its newer younger brother is decidedly urban, and looks it – BMW reckons this isn’t a ‘scooter’ or a ‘moped’ but an ‘e-Parkourer’.

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Under the skin, it’s got a good up to the minute spec with keyless ignition, regen braking and a reverse gear (for getting out of tricky parking spots). There’s also a long list of options including a fairing (the standard bike leaves you a bit exposed to the weather), heated handlebar grips, and luggage. Mechanically it covers both bases, available in 4kW (50cc-equivalent, 28mph) and 11kW (125cc-equivalent, 60mph) guises. You can still ride the 11kW CE 02 on an A1 licence (so no need to take the full motorcycle test) and a 20-80% charge takes one hour 40 mins, with a claimed range of 56 miles. Despite the price, it’s made in India by BMW’s partner TVS.

Silence

Silence – from £3,325

Silence has been making electric mopeds since 2013, made in Spain and on sale in the UK, with a range of four bikes from the 50cc-equivalent S02 urban to the 125cc-equivalent S02, offering up to 68mph from a 7.5kW motor, 5.6kWh battery and claimed 85-mile range. It also reckons the S02 will sprint from 0-30mph in 3.9 seconds, so it’s pretty nippy for urban running.

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The Silences are aimed at delivery services as well as commuters, and all can carry a rider and passenger, with quick-release lift-out batteries for recharging from any 240V supply. There's also an on-board SIM to communicate with the Silence smartphone app, while all models feature regenerative braking, to put a little energy back into the battery when slowing down. Warranty is a decent three years. We've seen the factory (which, unusually, builds its own batteries) just outside Barcelona – this is one of the few European-made electric mopeds.

Lexmoto

Lexmoto Yadea – from £2,040

Lexmoto offers the cheapest electric moped on the UK market – that is, the cheapest one from a well established brand with a proper dealer network, rather than a random online seller. Based near Exeter, this high volume importer outsells everyone else in the 50cc and 125cc petrol markets, and in late 2020 it launched a range of electric mopeds.

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The E-Lex model we rode has everything you would expect from a modern electric moped. The twin batteries live under a hinge-up seat but easily lift out for charging – they'll also charge in situ. One nice point is that there’s still a bit of space left over for shopping, especially if you leave one of the batteries at home – with both on board, it’s heading for a range of around 40 miles. Reflecting the price, instrumentation is fairly basic and unlike many e-mopeds it’s not Bluetooth-enabled, so security is limited to a traditional key and steering lock. Still, at just over £2,040, the e-Lex Yadea undercuts all the opposition and will be cheaper to run than any petrol scooter.

Niu GT electric scooter

Niu Mqi+ Sport – from £2,699

Niu has created a little niche for itself as one of the smarter electric moped makers. The MQi+ Sport is one of latest variants on the theme, a moped limited to 28mph, but Niu also offers it in faster form with a 3kW motor, claimed 60-mile range and 47mph top speed, which makes it easily quick enough to keep up with urban traffic.

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Claimed ranges of electric mopeds can be about as accurate as the fuel economy aspirations of petrol cars, but one Niu we rode in 2019 lived up to its official figure – the test bike had 35% battery left after 44 miles, so we were heading for a credible 65 miles to empty. The faster Nius have two batteries, both of which can be charged in situ or taken indoors to plug in.

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A full charge from flat takes 3.5 hours according to Niu, and the battery warranty runs to three years/20,000 miles, which is good. Bluetooth is one of the Niu's selling points – it links to your smartphone to show GPS, real-time diagnostics and an anti-theft alert – but the moped won't swallow a week's worth of shopping because all the under-seat space is filled with battery. At £2,699 after the government's Plug-In Grant, the MQi is well priced.

Zapp electric scooter

Zapp i300 Carbon – from £6,995

The Zapp i300 is not exactly undersold. Designed in Britain and built in Thailand, the publicity refers to “superbike-type acceleration and riding dynamics...five patent applications relating to motorcycle fundamentals and 50 new-to-industry advanced features.” The motor is a 'Super Twister' and the two batteries are 'Turbo Twins.'

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Behind the hype, the Zapp really is a high performance two-wheeler. The motor offers 14kW and a massive 587Nm of torque, backing up official claims of 0-50kph (31mph) in 2.3 seconds and 0-100kph (62mph) in 4.9 seconds – this is true motorcycle performance, although top speed is limited to 60mph. The chassis has a superbike flavour too, with two-sensor ABS, fully adjustable suspension at both ends and a distinctive exoskeleton frame. 

The twin batteries (sorry, we can't call them Turbo Twins) are very small, giving a range of only 37 miles. But Zapp reckons that with average European city daily mileage being only 12 miles, that's likely enough for many, and the smaller, lighter batteries are easier to carry up to the office or flat for a recharge. Zapps are sold direct to the customer online, rather than through dealers, with annual servicing performed at the owner's home by, wait for it... 'Zappers.'

Cezeta electric scooter

Cezeta – £TBC

Do you like retro? Who doesn't, but the Cezeta isn't some ersatz copy. Instead, it's a faithful reproduction of an original Czech-made scooter from the late 1950s. Over 100,000 of these were sold across the Eastern Bloc from 1957-64 and in 2017 its Sputnik styling was reborn with an electric motor in place of the old 175cc two-stroke.

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Only sixty of the first series Cezeta were made, and they’ve all sold, so if you want one you’ll have to wait for the new Type 507 model, due in 2024. Underneath the composite bodywork is a galvanised steel frame, disc brakes, and a choice of motors giving 5.7kW to 9.2kW with batteries of 4kWh, 6kWh, or 8.5kWh. We haven't tested the Cezeta, but the maker claims top speeds of 52mph to 75mph and ranges of 52-105 miles, depending on the motor and battery combination selected. 

All can be ridden on an A1 licence, so you won't need a full motorcycle licence to ride one, just your CBT, theory and practical tests. The Cezeta won’t be cheap but it's a unique machine that'll certainly turn heads.

Vespa electric scooter

Vespa Elettrica – from £6,350

A Vespa is the ultimate scooter for many and 18 million have been sold since the original was launched in 1946. Modern incarnations are still being made in Italy and the Elettrica was added in early 2019. Outwardly it could be mistaken for a petrol Vespa (apart from some subtle blue pinstriping and lack of an exhaust) but underneath it's very different.

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The 50 or 125cc petrol motor is replaced by a 4kW electric motor (quite beefy for what is a moped-class bike) and generously sized 4.2kWh battery. So although the standard Elettrica is limited to 28-30mph, it gets up to speed pretty quickly and holds it up hills, something not all mopeds can manage. There's also a faster 45mph version, which costs only £300 more. Being a Vespa, the dynamics are good – the Elettrica is light and manoeuvrable, quick to steer and easy to ride, plus has the Vespa heritage.

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The TFT dash will integrate with your smartphone via the Vespa app, which enables you to make or receive calls, and has a sat nav and various other goodies. As you'd expect, the battery can be charged in situ or lifted out. The Elettrica is one of the most expensive electric mopeds on the market, but it's undeniably stylish.

Honda electric scooter

Honda Benly e: – £TBC

Honda was a pioneer of electric mopeds, launching its first back in 1994, but it was an on/off participant and turned back to petrol power. Now it’s back with the Benly e which went on sale in Japan only, aimed squarely at small businesses such as fast food delivery, and there's no sign of it coming to the UK for the time being. 

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It's a fairly conventional delivery moped, with flat luggage platforms front and rear plus a reverse assist feature for getting out of tight spots. The twin swappable batteries are small (1kWh each) and must be returned to Honda for recycling when they reach the end of their lives.

The Benley e comes in e:1 (moped equivalent) and e:II (5.7PS) forms, both available in basic or 'pro' spec, the latter bringing a front basket, rear carrier, hand protectors and footbrake. With those small batteries the range is limited, Honda quoting about 55 miles at 18mph for the e:1 and about 26 miles for the e:II. That's not much, but these smaller power packs reduce weight and cost, while business customers will have spare batteries on hand for rapid swaps. For heavier loads, there is even a tilting three-wheeler, the Gyro.

Super Soco CPx electric scooter

Super Soco CPX – from £3,749

Super Soco isn't a household name in the UK yet, but its smart little motorcycle-style electric bikes are selling like hot cakes, topping the electric two-wheel charts for two years running. The range now includes the CUX moped, which features a built-in camera to record your commute and the CPX, a bigger 125cc-equivalent scooter built for longer commutes.

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Physically bigger than the Niu, it should carry two people comfortably. With a 4kW rear hub motor delivering 171Nm, it tops out at 56mph and has a claimed range of 44 miles, or 87 miles for the optional twin-battery set up. Keep to a steady 25mph and Super Soco claims you can ride up to 112 miles, but maybe not in the real world.

There are convenient touches like a reverse function, LED headlight and a USB charge point. As with an increasing number of electric mopeds, the battery can be recharged on or off the bike – Super Soco reckons a full charge takes 3.5 hours and the battery has an excellent four-year warranty.

Artisan electric scooter

Artisan – from £2,995

Artisan is one pioneer electric scooters, available in the UK since 2016 and starting out with a low price and low tech lead-acid batteries. It has since progressed to the industry standard lithium-ion cells and the price has gone up, but it's still one of the cheaper options. Artisan also offers a tilting three-wheel moped aimed at fast food deliveries.

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If you like faux-Vespa styling then you'll love the Artisan. The cognoscenti will notice that the bodywork is plastic (not metal, like a genuine Vespa) and that there's a bit too much chrome, but it does come in a wide choice of colours (for the seat as well as the bodywork). This is a moped-class scooter, so it's limited to 28mph, which can feel vulnerable on a busy road, but that's endemic to all mopeds, whether electric or 50cc petrols.

Claimed range is just 25 miles, but the good news is that the battery lifts out for indoor charging and a second battery (£500 extra) slots in beside it to extend the range. Two and three-year battery warranties are becoming the norm, so the Artisan's 12-month cover is a bit thin. But then, it is still the budget option.

Note: We've used 'moped' here as the generic term, as 'scooter' can be confused with stand-up scooters. Legally, 'mopeds' refer only to the smallest machines, limited to 28mph. ‘Scooter’ refers to any machine with automatic transmission and a step-through frame – most are mopeds or A1-class machines with up to 11kW, with a few larger scooters available.

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