Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Defined

Cycles Defined, Registration and Driver Licensing Requirements


Motorcycles
Pictures of motorcycles over 150 CC
  • A motorcycle has more than a 150cc engine size, and no more than 3 wheels.
  • A motorcycle has to be registered and the driver must have a motorcycle license (M1).
  • M1 license holders may operate any motorized bicycle, moped or motor scooter without an M2 endorsement.
Motor-Driven Cycles
Pictures of motorcycles under 150 CC
  • A motor-driven cycle has 149cc or less engine size. CVC §405
  • A motor-driven cycle has to be registered and the driver must have a motorcycle license (M1).

NOTE: Three wheeled motorcycles or a motorcycle with a side car require only a Class C driver license. California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12804.9

Mopeds
Picture of a moped

A "motorized bicycle" or "moped" is:

  • A two or three-wheeled device, capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground, and equipped with:

    – Fully operative pedals for human propulsion.
    – A motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission.
    – An electric motor, with or without pedals for human propulsion. (CVC §406(a))

Driver must have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2).

  • A “motorized bicycle” is also defined as a vehicle with pedals and an electric motor (not more than 1,000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power. (CVC §406(b)).

If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of CVC §406(b), you:

    – Must be 16 years of age or older.
    – Must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
    – Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver license, and moped plate requirements (CVC §12804.9).
  • A motorized bicycle is issued special license plates and identification cards, which requires a one-time $18 fee. No renewal is required.
Scooters
Picture of a scooter
  • A motorized scooter is a two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by a motor. More Information CVC §407.5
  • Motorized scooter does NOT have to be registered. A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.

Motorcycle Handbook (PDF)