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Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Defined


Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Defined

Cycles Defined, Registration and Driver Licensing Requirements


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


Picture of a moped

California Vehicle Code 406(a) defines a "motorized bicycle" or "moped" as:

  • 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 four gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission.
    • An electric motor, with or without pedals for human propulsion.

To operate a motorized bicycle or moped, you must:

  • Be 16 years of age or older.
  • Have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2). Exception: A person who holds a valid California driver license of any class may operate a short-term (48 hours or less) rental motorized bicycle or moped without taking a special examination for the operation of a motorized bicycle and without having a class M2 endorsement on their driver license.
  • Wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
    • Motorized bicycles and mopeds are issued special license plates and identification cards, which requires a one-time fee. No renewal is required.


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. Click here for 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

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