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.

Did you know motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and ebikes have different rules on the road? Download the California Motorcycle Handbook to learn more!


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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