Back to the future: Retro electric scooters, bicycles and mopeds

CZ electric scooter

The original ČZ Čezeta scooter was powered by a 175cc two-stroke single and its distinctive snout-like fairing earned it the nickname ‘pig’. Now, 54 years after production of the pig came to an end, scooter fanatic Neil Eamonn Smith has revived the bike as a battery powered replica.

The new Čezeta is powered by an 11 kW electric motor that can manage 74.6 mph and accelerate 60 in 3.2 seconds. If everything goes according to plan, 600 of the electric scooter will be built by hand and sold at prices starting at €7,640.

electric scooter

The rider can select one of four power settings including a reverse gear that will make backing the 147 kg scooter out of parking spots easy – even on a hill.

Most interestingly, the scooter features a throttle designed to roll forwards beyond its resting position to operate regenerative engine braking.

It seems like if commuters are to be convinced the electric bicycle is more than a toy for weekends, the answer might be to disguise it as something older, smokier and nosier. Lohner Stroler electric bikes are another example of a contemporary electric commuter disguised to look like a small motorcycle of the 1950s.

Lohner Stroler electric bicycles

A narrow tank and whitewall tyres: Every inch the 1950s motorcycle

The Lohner family has an illustrious automotive history including collaboration in 1900 with Ferdinand Porsche on the first electric car in the world. After working on aircraft construction, propeller manufacture & electric trams, Lohner has turned its attention to the electric bicycle.

Made in Austria to order, and if appearance is anything to go by to a high build quality,  it has an electric motor hidden in its back wheel, a battery under the saddle and an eight-litre storage compartment in its faux petrol tank. A full battery charge takes six hours after which it will whisk you along at 15 mph like all conventional electric bicycles.

In keeping with its motorcycle styling, the Stroler has built in mudguards and lights, but downsides includes an almost-moped like weight of 36 kg and retail price of £2,990.

Available in black, white, red, blue or silver. For more information, go to

Turn up the nostalgia

juicer 48 electric bike

Mopeds are rarely thought of as anything other than a stepping stone towards car ownership for teenagers or a death-defyingly speedy way of delivering pizza, but an appetite for good-looking electric vehicles that look good and won’t break the bank is breathing life into the low-powered, two wheeler market.

The Juicer 48 is a custom-built electric bike and a moped in the classic sense – a low-powered motor and pedals to help get the machine moving at low speeds.

The bike has been built very deliberately with styling as a priority – its appearance borrows heavily from American motorcycles of the 1920s.

The bike can manage 13 miles at 20mph, but can reach an unrestricted top speed of 46mph.

Many electric mopeds or e-bikes are lighter and offer a better range, but unfortunately mopeds are subject to different classifications and a bewildering array of regulation depending on where you are in the world. For example, any power-assisted bicycle capable of more than 15 mph must undergo the onerous task of being registered as a motorcycle. By contrast, a good-quality road bicycle – without an electric motor – can cruise easily at 25 mph but is not subject to the same regulation.

A spokesperson for the ETA, which insures conventional and electric bicycles, said: “The promotion of electric vehicles is back to front; the government appears blind to the wider benefits of electric bicycles and mopeds that do not need the investment in technology and infrastructure required by electric cars.”

Cycle insurance for electric bicycles

On the face of it, one cycle insurance policy is much like another, but the devil is the detail. How much excess you will be charged is just one of the things that varies wildly between providers. Another is so called ‘new-for-old’ replacement – many insurers use this term, but if your bicycle is more than a few years old, devalue it severely. This means you are left out of pocket when you come to replace it.

ETA cycle insurance has a low standard excess of 5% (minimum £25) and offers a new-for-old for life – how ever old the bike, if it’s stolen you get enough to buy a new model. The policy covers electric bicycles as standard and includes a breakdown service for your bike and you that will take you up to 25 miles if you suffer a mechanical problem or puncture. Your battery is covered against theft as standard.

For over 26 years we have been providing straightforward, affordable bicycle insurance. Whether you use your bike to commute, shop, race or amble in the park, ETA Cycle Insurance has you covered. We never devalues bikes no matter their age, allow you to buy your replacement bike wherever you like, replace stolen quick release components and we handle claims in-house. Can your insurance provider say the same?

Furthermore, every cycle insurance policy you buy helps support the work of the ETA Trust, our charity campaigning for a cleaner, safer transport future.

The Bolt electric moped promises the convenience of a scooter with the environmental performance of an electric bicycle.

Electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 offer a tantalising glimpse of silent and low-pollution motoring, but they cost so much to buy that battery-powered motoring remains an exclusive club. No surprise then that the first production run of the £3,500 Bolt electric moped has already sold out.

Bolt electric moped

An appetite for good-looking electric vehicles that won’t break the bank is breathing life into low-powered, two-wheelers like the Bolt M-1.

The Bolt is built to conform to Californian electric bicycle regulations so it has an economy mode that restricts its top speed to 20 mph. A sport mode boosts the top speed to 35 mph.

The bike has a range of 50 miles in economy mode, or 35 miles in sport mode. If you run out of battery power, you can put the Bolt onto its centre stand and charge the batteries by pedaling. However, the sensible option would be to simply pedal it home.

How practical is the Bolt electric moped?

Electric motors have very few moving parts to go wrong and don’t produce the vibrations of an internal combustion engines that can loosed bolts over time. There is no oil to change. Maintenance is much more like a bicycle – the chain needs adjusting and tyres need replacing once in a while. The bike’s Lithium Iron Phosphate cells are rated for over 2000 cycles, which equates to 30 miles a day, every day, for 5.5 years. According to Bolt, most riders can safely assume the battery will last 8-10 years. With a price tag of around $5,000 it’s no surprise that the first production run of the Bolt electric moped has already sold out.

Bolt electric moped

Bolt electric moped – available in any colour as long as it’s black

Mopeds are rarely thought of as anything other than a stepping stone towards car ownership for teenagers or a death-defyingly speedy way of delivering pizza, but there was a time when teenagers would count the days to their sixteenth birthday and a first taste of powered personal transport. Before 1977, mopeds had to have pedal-assistance, but now the term describes any motor-driven cycle with an engine not bigger than 50 cc and a maximum speed of no more than 28 mph.

The earliest mopeds were bicycles fitted with a small petrol engine. In the case of the iconic Velo Solex, the motor sit above the front wheel and a roller sits against the tyre. It’s still possible to buy a tiny petrol motor to fit to a bicycle, but in Britain this means registering your bike as a motorcycle – the rigmarole and expensive of which means you’re better off simply buying a conventional scooter. Electric bicycles with motors more powerful than the 250W European limit have the potential to offer commuters a fast, cheap and environmentally friendly alternative to scooters, motorcycles, buses or cars. However, these bikes are also subject to the same registration and licensing restrictions as motorcycles.

What licence do I need to ride a moped?

If you have a provisional licence or car licence with the category AM and a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) certificate you can ride a moped on public roads. If you passed your driving test  before 1 February 2001, you are not required to have the CBT certificate.

If you are riding a moped on a provisional licence, which you can from the age of 16, you will need to display learner plates. After two years you need to pass a driving or motorcycle test, or extend your provisional status by another two years by retaking the CBT.

More information about the Bolt electric moped at


  1. Mary Fisher


    I like the idea of an electric scooter but you say, ” … disguise it as something older, smokier and nosier. … ”
    We have a Honda scooter, a few years old, it is neither smoky nor noisy, certainly not as noisy as a car and not at all smoky at any time, unlike many cars.
    I’m getting fed up of ETA making silly claims like this.

    • The ETA


      Mary, the phrase describes the electric bike in the article that has been styled to look like moped from the 1960s. At that time scooters and mopeds were pretty smoky and noisy by today’s standards.

  2. Simon fuller


    We have record loss of polar ice linked to global warming caused by Co 2 from burning fossil fuel. The climate is unstable and this warming could raise sea levels by metres over the next 100 to 200 years. Governments need to act now to cut emissions. We have the technology to cut emissions by 90 percent over a few years but action is needed. Electric bikes scooters and cars are a big big opportunity. We need to just do it.

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