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Oft-ridiculed in the U.S. for being girlier than a hot pink VW Cabrio, mopeds and scooters are typically shunned for bigger, more powerful motorcycles here. Across the pond and in Asia, however, they’re not only abundant, but a good choice in the crowded, narrow streets found in many of the countries there.

And Elliot Ortiz loves mopeds. A product design student of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco who’s currently working via student placement at one of the UK’s most prominent design firms, Ortiz spends some of his free time repairing and tuning old, classic mopeds, in one case more than doubling a bike’s performance using an original motor.

Traveling abroad, Ortiz noticed that, unlike here in the U.S., scooters and mopeds are ridden quite extensively, especially in old-world countries where the roads are small and automobile traffic can become dreadfully dense during rush hour.

“I was in Milan Italy and noticed that during rush hour the intersections crowded with scooters each slipping past lines of cars up to the very front of the pack, it was quite inspirational to see them being used so effectively in rush hour traffic.” Ortiz told

On another trip, to Seoul, Ortiz was equally inspired by the use of motorbikes as delivery vehicles, but was less enthusiastic about their cobbled-together nature: Large wooden boxes were strapped to the backs of the bikes. That’s when the idea for his funky-cool Cargo scooter concept hit him:

“I thought to myself why has no one even tried to pose the idea of a light cargo vehicle? That is what Cargo was created to do, to put a new idea in peoples heads and get people thinking outside (or inside in this case) the box.”

And we love it, too. Minimalist with functionality designed-in, we think it’d be pretty darn cool to see these zipping around the streets of London, Florence or Hong Kong.

The only thing that worried me was the relationship of the seat to the frame, as it seemed like a quick stop might render a male rider’s manly bits somewhat less than useful. Ortiz assured me that it shouldn’t be a problem, seeing as how that setup is derived from (and used currently in) various modern motorcyles.

Good thing, too, because if the family jewels aren’t safe, whatever other cargo you happen to be hauling probably won’t matter much.