Motorcycle, Scooters, Mopeds, Motorized Cycles, and Motorized Bicycles

With the rising cost of gas, the growing awareness of energy conservation and global warming, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, motorized cycles, and motorized bicycles have all been gaining popularity as transportation alternatives. However, these different modes of transportation come with the differences in laws, responsibilities, age requirements and training requirements., which are not obvious nor easy to navigate.


The California Highway Patrol (CHP) defines motorcycles as, "a vehicle whose motor displaces more than 150 cubic centimeters (cc) [...] designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and weighs less than 1,500 pounds. But what many may not know is that under this definition, mopeds could be defined as motorcycles because they can have engines of greater than 150cc.


What we commonly think of as a moped may actually legally a motorcycle because of the power of the engine. Mopeds can be both less than 150cc engines or bigger than 150cc engines, which adds to the complexity of following the laws that are applicable.

Mopeds can be even more similar to a motorcycle, and even legal on freeways, and they may require similar driving skill training and motorcycle safety classes as well as the same M1 California driver license.

A moped driver must have insurance , insurance and require a motorcycle helmet to operate the moped legally.

The CHP defines, "A motor-driven cycle as a motorcycle whose motor displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters."

If the moped has a smaller than 150cc engine it would be Then, we have to considered a moped, or a motor driven bicycle. Some mopeds also have bicycle-like pedals, but not all mopeds.

First, the California Vehicle Code, Sections 406(a) and 406(b) are the source of these definitions for moped or a motor driven bicycles. Different rules apply to mopeds and motorized bicycles depending on the maximum speed of the vehicle. If the mopeds can reach speeds of more than 30 mph on level ground it is likely the rules applicable to a motorcycle will be applied.

For both, there are speed limits as well as power limitations of the vehicle. For a moped or a motorized bicycle that has pedals for adding human pedal power, plus a motor and an automatic transmission, "[...] capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground." However, a motorized bicycle, among other definitions, the maximum speed on level ground with or without the use of the human power pedals in addition to the motor reaches a speed of maximum 20 mph.

If you're riding a moped ,scooter, motorized bicycle or a motorcycle, you have to follow the California Vehicle Laws pertaining to these vehicles., and you want to be safe. In many ways the moped, scooter and motorized bicycle laws are similar to motorcycle safety and regulations. For motorcycles, mopeds, and some motor driven bicycles, you need the safety regulation standard basic motorcycle helmet. These approved motorcycle helmets are tested and have incredible properties are designed to prevent crushing ,and absorb impact and protect your head from injury. However, for the slower (under 20 mph) motor driven bicycles and scooters, the slower less powerful vehicles, you only need only a bicycle helmet is required. Make sure you understand what you are riding and make sure that you have a safe and well fitting helmet. Bicycle helmets need to be adjusted and fit properly in order to protect your head from injury.

You will also need to understand your ride in order to understand where you legally can ride. Do you ride in the bicycle lane? Can your moped go on the freeway? Are you restricted to roads with speed limits less than 30 miles per hour?

Mopeds with more than over 150cc engines can go on freeways but most suggest that you test your moped and make sure that you can reach freeway speeds and feel comfortable. Many motorcycle safety experts believe that more powerful motorcycles actually help skilled motorcyclists avoid accidents by giving them the power to maneuver and avoid accidents. On the other hand, the super powerful motorcycles, have been blamed for accidents in the hands of inexperienced riders.

Moped and scooter riders need to work on their operating train their skills just like as well as motorcyclists. The Hurt motorcycle crash study, the only comprehensive motorcycle crash study done to date, suggested that motorcyclists who were extremely experienced, having ridden dirt motor-cross motorcycles as well being experienced on their street bikes, were less, much less, likely to be involved in motorcycle accidents. Many motorcycle accidents, the same USC Hurt motorcycle crash study showed, often were a result of not handling the motorcycle in an accident avoidance maneuver, going into a turn too fast, over compensating by over turning or over braking. In addition, it is different to handle a two wheeled vehicle at slow speeds verses faster speeds because of the gyroscopic behavior of the wheels. This means that a motorcyclist, scooter rider, moped user should all be capable of handling the motorcycle or moped, etc., in places like parking lots as well as roads; i.e. at slow speeds as well as high speeds.

Do you need a California driver license to operate your moped, scooter or motorized bicycle (motorcyles yes, of course), or motor driven cycle?

YES. In many cases yes. You may also need a special driver's license. There also can be age restrictions for acquiring a driver's license for one of these types of rides. In addition. A great resource for the details of this information is the California DMV Driver Handbook.

The DMV Driver Handbook defines a, Motorcycle Class M1 License as follows: "You may operate any 2-wheel motorcycle, motor driven cycle, or motorized scooter." In order to get a M! License you may also have to complete a motorcycle safety/skill class requirement, and pass a law test for the M1 license.

The M2 Class license, DMV definition states as follows: "You may operate any motorized bicycle, moped, any bicycle with an attached motor, or a motorized scooter." In addition, you may have to pass a rider skill test at the DMV.

Do you need auto insurance to operate your moped, scooter, or motorized bicycle?

YES. The best resources for answers to these questions is the DMV and the California Driver Handbook, especially as the usage of mopeds, scooters and motorcycles increases, these laws may change quickly.

Always talk to the DMV if you have questions. The DMV will be best suited to keeping you informed about the laws.

Resources / References
CHP Motorcycles and Similar Vehicles

California Driver Handbook

San Diego motorcycle attorney has demonstrated results fighting for motorcyclists and bicyclists, and going the extra mile in order to get the injured injured rider the maximum compensation they deserve.

If you've been injured in a motorcycle, scooter, moped or motorized bicycle accident, talk to Dean Goetz about your legal rights before you decide what to do.

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