Motorcycle Handbook Two Wheel Vehicle Operation

The basic rules of the road contained in the California Vehicle Code apply to all two–wheel vehicles which include motorcycles, motor–driven cycles, mopeds, or bicycles with a motor attached. 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, licensing, and operation requirements, if required. Any person registering a two–wheeled motorcycle is required to obtain a Class M1 or M2 driver license prior to operating the vehicle.

It is illegal to ride a moped on a freeway. Additionally, it is illegal to ride a moped 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 has a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels.

Motor–Driven Cycles

A motor–driven cycle is a motorcycle with a 149 cc or less engine size.

NOTE: You may not operate a motor–driven cycle on a freeway if signs are posted to prohibit motor–driven cycle operation.

Motorized Bicycles

There are two definitions for motorized bicycles (mopeds). A motorized bicycle 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))
  • 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 bicycle safety helmet.
  • Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver license, and moped plate requirements. (CVC §12804.9)

May ride a moped in a bicycle lane at a reasonable speed. Be careful of bicyclists using the lane.

Motorized Scooter

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 driver license. A motorized scooter may not be used to take a Class M1 or M2 skills test. The motorized scooter’s exhaust system must not be modified or altered.

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