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Motorbike or motorcycle? Same same, or different?


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Motorbikes, motorcycles…..what’s the difference? Although some say there is a difference, having this conversation can end in confusion and mixed results, depending on who you are talking with. As many use such vehicles in their daily lives here in Thailand, the topic often comes up in some way, shape, or form. But, that topic is usually discussed between expats, who bring their home country’s lingo with them upon arriving in the Kingdom. Same same? Or different? Although the 2 terms are quite similar, many argue that they are, indeed, different. Some say that the difference is in the size and […]

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There is also a school of thought that says if you have to lift your leg over to mount it’s a motor bike and if it’s walk through it’s a scooter. If this definition is correct then most of the vehicles here in Thailand are scooters not motorcycles or motor bikes. If not what is the definition of a scooter? 

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Language can be funny. In dutch we have several types of motorbikes, cycles, whatever.

Motorfiets, or motor, over 50 cc engine, you need a helmet, you must be 18+, and you need a drivers licence for it. I would translate this as motorcycle, or motorbike.

Bromfiets, under 50 cc engine, you need a helmet, you must be 16+ and you need a different (simple) type of drivers licence. Max speed is 40 km per hour. This one translates as moped.

Snorfiets, like a bromfiets but no need for a helmet and max speed is 16 km per hour. Nowadays most are electric. This one also translates as moped even though it is quite different from the previous moped.

We also know a speed pedelec, which is basically an electric bicycle. With a maximum speed of up to (well over....) 50 km per hour. You dont need a helmet officialy but it is wise to wear one.

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I was a motorcycle mechanic as we called it in the u.k. Generally speaking motorcycle, motorbike it's the same thing but some countries adopt a different way same as tomato in u.k and tomato in the u.s.

There are also 4 main categories of 2 wheel motorized vehicles [bikes whatever]

1:Moped [motorized bicycle]  49cc with pedals, lightweight frame design.

2 Scooters as some call them [main difference is smaller wheels and engines mostly pivot acting as the swinging arm, normally not more than 200cc, most had a 4 speed gearbox with twist changing on handlebar and a pivoted front suspension design, frames were sheet steel or tube design.

3:Motor scooters as we called them because they have smaller wheels but are a mixture of motorcycle and scooter but most have automatic drive systems and small to large engines normally 100cc-600cc and engines acting as the swinging arm same as scooters and telescopic front fork suspension design as with motorcycles/motorbikes

4:Motorcycle/motorbike [tomato/tomato] Larger wheeled,tubular or box frame design, engine fixed to frame,up to a 6 speed gearbox, independent swinging arms, telescopic front forks, small to large 50cc to 2000cc in some custom machines but up to 1300cc were popular sizes.

There are other designs but those are the basic four.

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43 minutes ago, stuhan said:

I was a motorcycle mechanic as we called it in the u.k. Generally speaking motorcycle, motorbike it's the same thing but some countries adopt a different way same as tomato in u.k and tomato in the u.s.

There are also 4 main categories of 2 wheel motorized vehicles [bikes whatever]

1:Moped [motorized bicycle]  49cc with pedals, lightweight frame design.

2 Scooters as some call them [main difference is smaller wheels and engines mostly pivot acting as the swinging arm, normally not more than 200cc, most had a 4 speed gearbox with twist changing on handlebar and a pivoted front suspension design, frames were sheet steel or tube design.

3:Motor scooters as we called them because they have smaller wheels but are a mixture of motorcycle and scooter but most have automatic drive systems and small to large engines normally 100cc-600cc and engines acting as the swinging arm same as scooters and telescopic front fork suspension design as with motorcycles/motorbikes

4:Motorcycle/motorbike [tomato/tomato] Larger wheeled,tubular or box frame design, engine fixed to frame,up to a 6 speed gearbox, independent swinging arms, telescopic front forks, small to large 50cc to 2000cc in some custom machines but up to 1300cc were popular sizes.

There are other designs but those are the basic four.

I reckon motor scooter came from the platform  in the middle of the conveyance aka childs scooter. 

Now of course there are a couple more variations; the bicycle, the scooter and the skate board with electric motor assistance. 

Or perhaps the skateboard should be considered a motor car since it has 4 wheels :)

Edited by Disenfranchised
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  • KaptainRob changed the title to Motorbike or motorcycle? Same same, or different?

Growing up in the 80s in the US, we had these things called "mopeds", so named because you could either pedal or use the tiny little onboard motor, which was something akin to a lawn mower motor.  Teens could ride them and I don't think a license was required as long as it was off-road.  You didn't dare call it a motorcycle unless you wanted to be soundly laughed-at.  They were like the pre-pubescent versions of the enormous Harley-D type motorbeasts. 

If a moped fell over, you could right it single-handed.  However if a motorcycle fell over and you were unlucky enough to be in its way, there's a good chance you'd be going to the hospital for some stitches.

Motorbikes are like that little wisp of upper lip hair that a 14 year-old boy grows to show off his newfound manliness.  You can't really call it a mustache with a straight face.

But yeah, there's a difference.

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In the UK, I don't recall the use of the word motorcycle in general use, it was always motorbike. A scooter was never referred to as a motorbike, always scooter.

I do recall the word moped, there were quite a few of those about when I was a kid...

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