Despite what people might try and tell you, there’s no better way to gain road confidence, freedom and experience than by riding a scooter. In most of Europe a moped can be ridden legally at 14, unfortunately our teenagers have to wait until they’re 16 to get out on the road.

A fifty isn’t just for 16 year olds though; if you passed your car test before 2002 you’re allowed to ride a moped with no further training. If you passed after that, haven’t got a car licence and you’re 16 or over you’ll need to do a CBT – Compulsory Basic Training course. It only takes a day though and costs around £100-£120 so isn’t too daunting.

What is a moped?

The legal definition of a moped is a machine of 50cc or less, restricted to 28mph. It can be a geared 50cc bike or a scooter.

Can it be derestricted?

Most mopeds can be derestricted to liberate more power and speed. If you’re 16 years old then it’s illegal and will invalidate your insurance. If you’re over 16 it’s a great way to make a moped much more useable and arguably safer too. A derestricted moped will do 40mph and give you more chance of getting out of danger; it’ll be more fun to ride too. You do need to make it comply with motorcycle legislation though and inform your insurance company if you derestrict yours.

Top ten

Our top ten is made up of some of the current best and most affordable mopeds on the market. They’re listed in order of price, rather than popularity.

Vespa Primavera 50 2T: £3200

With timeless Italian styling and that iconic Vespa shape you can’t beat a Vespa for authentic retro chic. There are many pretenders but there is only one Vespa. The Primavera comes at a premium, thanks to its heritage but they’re currently the only manufacturer to still build metal scooters. It’s a practical scooter too; unlike most machines you can fit a full-faced helmet beneath the seat.

Aprilia SR 50: £2400

If you’re looking for a ped to impress your mates then the SR 50 is a good place to start. The SR 50 is powered by a two-stroke, liquid-cooled Pure Jet engine, so it’s quicker than a lot of 50cc scooters on acceleration. The styling is bang on as well and the sports exhaust, graphics and twin discs give it a sporty feel.

Yamaha Aerox R 50: £2349

If you’re looking for a stunningly good looking, well finished 50cc sports scooter the Aerox is one to bear in mind. It’s probably one of the best-looking 50cc scooters on the market. It’s not particularly quick off the mark for a liquid-cooled two-stroke but it looks the part.

Peugeot Speedfight 4: £2099-£2349

Still going strong and celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Speedfight helped kickstart a new generation of auto scooter riders back in the late 1990s. It’s moved with the times though and looks superb, it’s on a par with the Aerox for sex appeal and price. Available in both air and liquid cooled options the Speedfight 4 also comes in a variety of finishes, including an anniversary special edition. If you can afford it go for the liquid-cooled option though, it’s an extra £200 but well worth it.

Honda Vision NSC 50 E: £1999

There are a couple of things Honda are well known for, one is quality and the other is economy. The Vision 50 boasts 146.9mpg from its fuel injected engine, it looks as good as you’d expect from a Honda and is likely to last forever. The large 14” wheels also add stability and it comes with CBS - Combined Braking System for added safety.

Peugeot Tweet 50: £1799

A more sensible commuter might be swayed by the large-wheeled Peugeot Tweet 50. It’s powered by an air-cooled four stroke engine so is cheap to run. Four stroke mopeds are usually a little more sedate than their two-stroke peers. It’s not all bad news though; they are less hassle (no messy two-stroke oil to top up) and will run forever. The Tweet currently comes with a free accessory pack worth up to £168 making it even better value for money.

Piaggio Zip 50 2T: £1700

The Piaggio Zip 50 is a great choice for a first ‘ped’ it’s relatively cheap, lightweight and rides well. It’s also powered by a two stroke, it’s easy enough to derestrict and has plenty of tuning potential - obviously if you’ve got a licence for that extra power of course...

SYM Symply 50: £1370

As the name suggests, the SYM Symply is a no-frills fifty. It’s an air-cooled four stroke with conservative styling. It makes an ideal commuter for the rider who only has a few miles to ride in a morning. SYM are a brand that is well known and respected around the world.

Lexmoto WY 50 QT-58 FMR 50: £999.99

A brand new scooter for less than a grand, surely not? In fact there are quite a few scooters around at this price point but be aware that some come from less reputable sources than the Lexmoto FMR 50. Beware of buying a scooter delivered direct to your door in a crate with little or no warranty. The Lexmoto comes from an established firm with a decent reputation, a dealer network and it also comes with a one-year warranty.

Longjia LJ 50 QT-3L Echo 50: £949.99

This scooter has been at the top of the sales charts all year and at just £949.99 you can probably understand why. It’s another scooter from the Lexmoto stable so although you’re buying what is essentially a bargain basement scooter you have got the back up of the largest Chinese motorcycle specialist in the country behind it.