Moped Trip website

How I Did It

Page 4 of 9
Previous    Next


General riding & traveling notes


Get used to being stared at. A fully laden moped traveling along the highway is an unusual sight, and it does attract attention. Most people are just simply curious. However, there is a certain proportion of the population who like to ridicule you for riding a moped. Some people will laugh and point. It is perceived by some as being "sissy" and not a "man's bike". All nonsense, of course, but this stuff does come at you. 

On the other hand, traveling by moped is a great way to meet people, as they are naturally curious about you and your mode of travel, and will stop to talk.

People will constantly stop to ask you questions (see below), and to see if you need any help (which is of course often just an excuse to stop and chat). There is a sort of "Murphy's Law" about moped travel: People will stop to ask to ask if you need any help when you don't need it. When you really do need help the whole world speeds on past, and no one stops!

The questions that people ask are generally the same questions over and over. It's easy to get impatient with them for always asking the same questions. But, of course, they don't know that you've just been asked that very same question (whichever one it is) 36 times already that day!

On paved roads I tried to ride on the pavement, even when traffic was approaching. In prior years I had always jumped onto the gravel shoulder when traffic passed, but I was once stopped by a police officer who told me not to do that. He said I had every right to be on the pavement as a motor vehicle, and said it was dangerous to always be going off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder. However, I always tried to stay as far as possible to the right to avoid being in the way, and out of consideration to the faster vehicles on the road. But.... if trucks approached from both directions simultaneously and they were going to pass me at the same time, I always got off the pavement onto the gravel shoulder - carefully, of course!

Many paved roads now (2002) have paved shoulders, or a small paved margin that is ideal for mopeds and bicycles. But almost none had that back in 1978.

A mirror is essential to see who is approaching from behind. I got a bicycle mirror and bolted it on to the handlebars.


I found that I could maintain a steady speed of 25-30 miles per hour (mph) on flat roads, steady, hour-after-hour. The moped could go faster downhill or with a tailwind, but if I tried to maintain a faster speed, such as 35 mph, the spark plugs would clog up with carbon and the speed would be brought down due to that.
[TIP: In June 2004 I received an email from a moped user by the name of Eldrige. He found that when he used synthetic oil in his fuel mixture the spark plug on his Motebecane moped would stay clean and last longer.]



Riding on unpaved roads


Generally speaking, if I was traveling on an unpaved road and it was raining, I stopped and waited it out. See the Weather section for more info. One reason was that the bike could get incredibly filthy, even to the point that the wheels would get locked up by the mud packed on the inside of the fenders.

Gravel roads often have a "washboard" surface. This really robs a moped of power, because it steals your traction.

Be careful using the front brakes on gravel roads. It is much easier to spill on a gravel surface due to excessive front braking than it is on paved roads.


This picture shows the moped at Whitehorse, Yukon, after riding on a wet gravel/mud/dirt road.

It took a good two or three hours to clean this mud off. Note how the mud is jammed up into the front fender. I had to walk (drag) the moped to my destination, which was fortunately a friend's place!




Technique for ascending steep and/or long hills on unpaved roads on a moped


Momentum is very important. Gain as much momentum as possible before the hill. Run full out if possible - it may not be possible, though, due to loose gravel, curves, etc. The steepness of the hill will determine how quickly your momentum runs out. The length of the hill will determine how long it is before you need to pedal (if you do need to pedal). Avoid washboard surfaces, loose rocks, any gravel (if possible) and any bumps. These rob you of traction and therefore kill your speed quickly. Keep on as smooth a path as possible. And, keep on as straight a path as possible.

If the hill is curved and you are starting to run a bit slow, you may be able to gain (or maintain) speed by riding down the slope of the curve from top to bottom, thereby lessening the grade - ie, cutting across the road from left to right, or from right to left. Be extremely alert for traffic popping over the brow of the hill if you are on the left side!!

Once you start pedaling, and if you must pedal hard, it may help to wobble the front wheel, in rhythm to your pedaling.

Concentrate 100% on the road - don't look at scenery or you will wander into bumps, gravel, etc.

Steep hills in general

If the hill is steep enough, you may have to get off the moped and walk beside it, while it pushes itself under its own power.



Fuel mileage


In the first part of the trip (2800 miles), while the moped was relatively new, I averaged about 176 miles per gallon (CDN gallons) (=147 mpg US).

In the last part of the trip, when the moped had aged, I averaged about 146 mpg (CDN gallons) (=122 mpg US).

Overall, for the whole trip I averaged about 148 mpg (CDN) (=123 mpg US).

The Mobylette had a two-stroke engine. This means that special oil had to be mixed in the correct proportion with the gasoline to lubricate the inside of the engine. The advantage of this is that I never had to do an oil change. The disadvantage was that the oil-gasoline mix had to be in the right proportion, and the exhaust was dirtier. I used a one-gallon gas can for mixing the gas and two-stroke engine oil. I would start with an empty gas can, purchase exactly one gallon of gas, pour in the right quantity of oil, and shake them to mix. I would then fill the gas tank from this gas can.

I was able to get different sized jets for the carburetor before I left. The bike came with a 220, which I swapped for a 230 shortly after the start of the trip - see the maintenance section -- but then settled on a 225.



Most common questions ("FAQs") that people asked me about the moped and the trip

  • Do you pedal much? ("only on very steep hills")

  • Do you get hit by many rocks? (on gravel roads) ("sometimes")

  • Do you camp out? ("always")

  • How many miles per gallon do you get? ("between 150 and 200")

  • Does the dust bother you? (on gravel roads) ("no, not really, it's part of where I'm traveling")

  • It will be nice to get back onto paved roads, won't it? ("yes, but they're busier too")

  • Have you been to all those places? (referring to the stickers on the moped) ("yes")

  • Get any flat tires? ("yes, a few")

  • Do you get wet? ("only when it rains")



More pictures of me and the moped


Very near the end of the trip.

The sweater was essential to keep warm while traveling into the breeze at about 30 mph, if the temperature was much below 65 degrees F.

P.S. I look a bit unhappy here because it's the morning of the last day of the trip!!


Here I am at the end of the trip in Toronto, wondering what on Earth I am doing back here, and missing the open road.

How I Did It:  Previous    Next


The material on this page is copyright © by the original author/artist/photographer. This website is created, maintained & copyright © by Walter Muma
Please respect this copyright and ask permission before using or saving any of the content of this page for any purpose

Thank you for visiting!