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CA Motorized Bicycle Laws and Registration
Last Updated: 12/18/2015

Is My Bicycle With a Engine on it Legal?

(California Motorized Bicycle Laws and Regulations)

Is my motorized bicycle legal? It is one of the first questions one would ask when considering owning or building a gas powered bicycle. The answer is not as strait forward as the question. The laws are different in every State, county and city. Remember that it is always necessary to check with local law enforcement on any laws, don't rely on information from the Internet. Also new laws and regulations change all the time, just because the law is this way now doesn't mean it will stay the same. As always obey local speed and traffic safety laws.

Since our company is located in Southern California, we have collected all the information we could to try and answer some local questions about owning and operating a gas powered bicycle.
We do ride and operate these Motorized bicycle on a close corse racing environment. but when using them on our local streets we do make this Recommendations.

  1. Always obey traffic laws and use good judgement
  2. Wear appropriate shoes and clothes
  3. Wear a D.O.T approved helmet (will have the department of transportation D.O.T sticker on it)
  4. Register you motorized bicycle with the DMV (Reg 230)
  5. Have a valid M-1 or M-2 license with the DMV
  6. Check with your insurance provider if you are covered against injury or property loss or destruction
Below are the vehicle codes and definitions we could find on Motorized Bicycle in California in 2015. These laws can an do change on a regular basis.

The following was available on the CA DMV Website in late 2015, the information can be different by the time you are reading this article.

V C Section 406 Motorized Bicycle

406. (a) A “motorized bicycle” or “moped” is (1) a two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, or having no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy, and an automatic transmission and a motor (2) that produces less than (3) 4 gross brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on level ground. >

(b) A "motorized bicycle" is also a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that meets all of the following requirements:

(1) Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts.

(2) Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on ground level.

(3) Is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour.

(4) Every manufacturer of motorized bicycles, as defined in this subdivision, shall provide a disclosure to buyers that advises buyers that their existing insurance policies may not provide coverage for these bicycles and that they should contact their insurance company or insurance agent to determine if coverage is provided.

(c) The disclosure required under paragraph (4) of subdivision (b) shall meet both of the following requirements:

(1) The disclosure shall be printed in not less than 14-point boldface type on a single sheet of paper that contains no information other than the disclosure.

(2) The disclosure shall include the following language in capital letters:


Amended Sec. 1, Ch. 406, Stats. 2014. Effective January 1, 2015.
The 2014 amendment added the italicized material, and at the point(s) indicated, deleted the following:
1. “any”
2. “which”
3. “2”

This page on the CA DMV website defines what a Motorcycle, Modes and scooter are.

Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Defined
Cycles Defined, Registration and Driver Licensing Requirements


  • 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

  • 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


A "motorized bicycle" or "moped" 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))

Driver must have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2).

  • A "motorized bicycle" is also defined as 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 properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
- Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver license, and moped plate requirements (CVC §12804.9).
  • A motorized bicycle is issued special license plates and identification cards, which requires a one-time $18 fee. No renewal is required.


  • 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. More Information CVC §407.5
  • Motorized scooter does NOT have to be registered. A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.

Quick Links:

CA DMV Motorcycle Handbook

Motorized Bicycle CA DMV Registration Form REG 230 Explanation Page

REG 230 PDF Form

CA DMV V C 406

CA DMV Motorcycle , Moped and Scooter Definition
Tags: DMV

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