Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) back to Homepage

This is where you should answer the most common questions you might have. We have compiled a list of the most common questions we are asked. Feel free to message us if you do not see the question you have in our list.

Use of Powered two-wheelers

There are two main groups of PTW: mopeds with 50cc engines and restricted top speed and motorcycles. As a result, mopeds are used for short trips compared to motorcycles. The minimum age for riding a moped is 16 years and 18 for motorcycles in most countries. The requirements for training and testing are not as strict for moped riders as for motorcycle riders. But there are many differences between countries in the details of their legal requirements. E.g. Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland have a minimum age for mopeds as low as 14. Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium also have a light moped with lower maximum speed. Except for Sweden the riders of this light moped do not have to wear helmets. Most European countries recognise a separate category light motorcycle with 125cc engines and a minimum age of 16. However, in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Greece this minimum age is 18. Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Austria allow the use of a 125cc motorcycle with only a car licence. The Netherlands have no 125cc category. In most countries motorcyclists start with motorcycles with restricted engine power and access an unlimited motorcycle at a later age. Some of these details will be discussed in following sections.

PTW's have a number of characteristics which are relevant to their use and their safety. Compared to cars, mopeds are an economical means of transport. For younger age road users they provide the only means of powered transport.

Mopeds and motorcycles are also relatively small, which makes them attractive in areas with dense or congested traffic where they can pass lines of cars and be parked more easily. Their small size and their position in between (lanes of) cars make them less detectable and predictable to car drivers, which may cause conflicts or accidents.

With two wheels in line, PTW's are unstable and require body coordination and careful control by the rider in particular at low speeds, when cornering and in emergency situations. With only two wheels, PTW's are more likely to loose friction between tyres and road surface and are therefore more vulnerable to poor road surfaces. Braking is further complicated because most PTW's have separate controls for front and rear wheel brakes

In the absence of much bodywork, PTW's give little protection to the rider against adverse weather and against injuries in the case of an accident.

Motorcycles have powerful engines (even if restricted by law) and in combination with their low weight are capable of higher acceleration and a higher top speed than many cars.

Together these characteristics make riding a PTW, in particular a motorcycle, potentially more dangerous. At the same time riding a motorcycle gives a completely different sensation to driving a car, which is attractive to some groups of riders

The above considerations lead to the suggestion that the motives for riding a PTW can be different to those for driving a car and can vary between groups of PTW users. They also lead to the suggestion that riding a PTW is relatively dangerous. The level of danger again can vary between groups of PTW users. Definitive conclusions have to be based on actual accident data and empirical research and care has to be taken when applying the results of studies on one group of riders to other groups of riders in other regions or in different time periods.

The use of PTW's varies between countries. PTW's are more popular in southern European countries. Greece is at the top with 150 mopeds and 100 motorcycles per 1000 inhabitants. In most countries the number of mopeds is decreasing although at different rates or has stabilised. The trends for numbers of motorcycles are quite different. Almost all countries experience an increase in number of motorcycles, again at various rates. The increase is stronger for older motorcycle riders. Middle European countries show an ongoing downward trend in number of motorcycles.

How many people own one?

The rates below refer to the year 2005, but there have been remarkable changes in the past. In the southern countries, the rate of mopeds per 1000 inhabitants increased slowly during the last 20 years with the exception of Portugal which showed a decrease over the last 10 years. Most western and northern countries had a strong decrease from 1980 till 1995, followed by a relatively stable period. Czech Republic had a decreasing rate since 1990, but is still relatively high in 2005.

The trends for motorcycles are quite different. Almost all countries experienced an increase in motorcycle rates starting between 1990 and 1995, some with a strong increase (e.g. Austria, Germany and Greece), and some more slowly (e.g. France and Portugal). In contrast the available information from middle European countries indicates an ongoing downward trend in motorcycle ownership rates. Information on ownership per age group per country is not generally available, but it is likely that the age distributions of moped and motorcycle owners is quite different between countries. There are indications that the increase in numbers of motorcycles is stronger for older riders (25+) and that the proportion of scooter type mopeds as well as motorcycles is growing. However, exact figures are lacking.

PTW/1000 inhabitants
  moped motorcycle
Austria 36 38
Belgium   33
Czech Rep. 43 31
Denmark 12 18
Finland 25 27
France 19 22
Germany 22 46
Great Britain 2 19
Greece 150 101
Hungary   11
Ireland (incl. moped)   8
Italy (2004) 90 79
Netherlands 34 33
Norway (2004) 32 21
Poland   20
Portugal 40 14
Slovenia 17 7
Spain 53 42
Sweden 18 26
Switzerland 24 80