Motorcycle Handbook Two Wheel Vehicle Operation
The basic rules of the road contained in the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicles including, but not limited to, motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, mopeds, or motorized bicycles. Minibikes, tote-goats, trail bikes, and similar vehicles may fall within the definition of motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. If any of these vehicles are operated on a highway, they must meet applicable equipment, registration, financial responsibility, licensing, and operational requirements, if appropriate.
It is illegal to ride a motor-driven cycle, moped, motorized bicycle, or electric bicycle on a freeway or expressway if signs are posted to prohibit operation. Additionally, it is illegal to ride a moped, motorized bicycle, or a Class 3 electric bicycle on a bicycle path or trail, equestrian (horse) trail, hiking trail, or recreational trail unless that path or trail is on or next to a road, or permission to use the trail or roadway is granted by local law.
A motorcycle is a motor vehicle with a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels.
A motor-driven cycle is a motorcycle with less than a 150 cc motor size.
NOTE: You may not operate a motor-driven cycle on a freeway or expressway if signs are posted to prohibit motor-driven cycle operation.
A motorized bicycle or moped is a two or three-wheeled device, capable of no more than 30 miles per hour (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.
- No pedals if powered solely by electrical energy (CVC §406(a)).
- Motorized bicycles may ride in a bicycle lane if authorized by local authority or ordinance.
An electric bicycle is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. Three classes of electric bicycles have been established:
- Class 1: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor which provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.
- Class 2: A low speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor used exclusively to propel the bicycle and NOT capable of providing assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.
- Class 3: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a speedometer, and a motor which provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 28 mph is reached.
The operator of a Class 3 electric bicycle:
—Must be 16 years old or older.
— Must wear a bicycle safety helmet.
— Must not transport passengers.
— May ride an electric bicycle in a bicycle lane if authorized by local authority or ordinance.
All electric bicycle classes are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, DL, and license plate requirements (CVC §24016).
A motorized scooter is defined as any two-wheeled "device" with:
- A motor, handlebars, and a floorboard for standing on when riding, and
- The options of having:
—A driver seat which cannot interfere with the operator's ability to stand and ride.
—The ability to be powered by human propulsion.
NOTE: A motorized scooter may be driven with any class DL. A motorized scooter may not be used to take a skills test.
A motorized scooter's exhaust system must not be modified or altered.