Motorcycles, Mopeds, and Scooters


What’s the difference between a motorcycle and a motor-driven cycle? Is a moped the same as scooter? Here you’ll find the answer to these questions along with registration and driver licensing requirements for using motor-powered cycles.


Image of two examples of motorcycles 150cc or larger (one moped, one motorcycle).

A motorcycle has 2-3 wheels and an engine size larger than 150 cc.

Motorcycles with 3 wheels or a side car require only a Class C driver’s license. California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12804.9

Motor-Driven Cycles

A green motor-driven cycle standing beside a blue motor-driven cycle
  • A motor-driven cycle has 2-3 wheels and an engine size smaller than 149 cc. CVC §405
  • You must register a motor-driven cycle, and you must have a motorcycle license (M1) to drive one.


A red moped sitting on a paved driveway
  • Also known as a motorized bicycle, a moped has 2-3 wheels and an electric motor with an automatic transmission that produces less than 4 gross brake horsepower.
  • Some mopeds have pedals so you can ride them when the motor is off. CVC §406
  • You must have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2) to drive a moped.
  • You must be at least 16 years old or older to drive a moped, and you must wear a helmet while you ride.
  • You do not need insurance to register a moped, but you do need special license plates and an identification card, along with a one-time $23 registration fee.

You do not have to renew your moped registration in the same way as you register other vehicles.


A blue electric scooter
A red motorized scooter
  • A motorized scooter has 2 wheels, a motor, handlebars, and a floorboard that you can stand on while riding it.CVC §407.5
  • You can only drive motorized scooters on a bicycle path, trail, or bikeway, not on a sidewalk, and you cannot exceed a speed of 15 mph.
  • You do not need to register motorized scooters.
  • You can drive a motorized scooter with any class driver’s license.
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