Email from Washington State DOT

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by Rain City, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. Rain City

    Rain City Member

    To: Paul
    From: Equipment
    July 16, 2008

    This is in response to your e-mail originally sent to the Department of

    If a motorized bicycle is electrically powered it would be classified in
    the state of Washington as an Electric Assisted Bicycle and would be
    able to operate in most places a bicycle can be operated provided that
    there are no local restrictions.

    If however your motorized bicycle is gas powered, by definition it would
    be considered a moped and would be required to meet all moped
    requirements and be licensed as a moped in the state of Washington. In
    addition the operator would be required to hold a valid drivers license
    in order to legally operate the vehicle on the roadway.

    A listing of the requirements for each of these types of vehicles along
    with the restrictions as outlined in the law can be found on the
    Frequently Asked Questions page of our Web site at:

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    So... is there any real rebuttal for this? I can't go put turn signals, liscense plate ETC, cause then I would would just go get a motorcycle of some sort. Thoughts?

  2. pumpbuilder

    pumpbuilder Member

    I think it depends if the kit allows you to switch "on the fly" from the power assist mode of the engine to pure pedel power. Then what you have is a bicycle with a power assist. As most kits I have seen use a centrifiacl clutch or by using belts and chains the engine never quits having the ability or requirement to power the bicycle.

    I have ridden the one as my avatar for more then 10 years all over the place,[Tacoma one week about 8 years ago.] and gotten pulled over but by showing the operational disconnect with the lever system never had an issue. I used to carry some old DOT papers I had found on .com that explained that position as how the federal rules applied. It might still be there.

    I now see that website I mentioned as a source is junk now. So I have deleated its name leaving just the .com.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  3. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I don't know if this will help, but I simply refuse to go to anyone from my state, County, village, etc asking if my bike is legal for fear that they'll give me the easy (for them) answer;

    "It's a moped. Now go away".

    It's bound to happen, but they're not necessarily right about it.
    That's not the answer that I want.

    What I'm saying is that maybe that's what happened to you. I'd ignore it. When you ride, send out that "body language" that says "I'm being cool. You don't have to worry that I'll run down little old ladies and children".

    And I wouldn't ask anyone from the DMV again.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  4. Zev0

    Zev0 Member

    I totally agree. It was insane to ask someone in the State. In fact is was even MORE INSANE to give them a link to this forum. All we do here is talk about how we can fool the police with fake CC motor plates and how we can make it go really fast. The police and legislators can and do read the internet for ideas. Don't you know that?
  5. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    I hear you ZevO -- there truly are those who's job is to think of ways to tighten laws and add more taxes and they are looking everywhere -- this is what we do not need -- more laws or more taxes... For the gentleman above -- maybe -- print out some parts of the Fed laws that seem to approve -- then -- go for it --- Happy Riding from - Mountainman
  6. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    Federal laws are essentially meaningless and moot in regards to the central question here. Cops don't generally know them, and don't care - quite rightfully so. It is a state law and local code issue.
  7. Warner

    Warner Member

    I'm in agreement with you now. I tried to do everything the "right way" and just got completely blown off, even when I did get a response from someone. You're's easier for them to just say "NO". When I called the Secretary of State's office, they knew much less about the laws with these things than *I* did! Disappointing to say the least. My take at this point is the same as yours.....don't ride it like an A-hole and follow the basic traffic laws and nobody will mess with me. We'll see if that plays out in practice. I DID come up with another possible idea though. I thought (and am still thinking!) about applying for a title for my bicycle. On the title application, I would state that it is a "Staton-Trek" moped (or whatever language made them happy) that was 43cc's, yada-yada. IF they titled it, then I could apply for the moped plates and be good to go. I don't know what all of the requirements for the title application are (and it's NOT a form that they have on-line available for download). We'll kit is arriving today and I want to get it together and then see how I feel.....

  8. pumpbuilder

    pumpbuilder Member

    I went on a fishing trip to Lincoln City OR. We took a bunch of motorized bikes and one guy that was a moron. He managed to get a ticket on US 101 but from a city cop. At first we got blown off by the local PD etc. I sent a copy of the Federal regs to the judge pointing out he was traveling on a federal route and the ticket was dismissed w/o a court appearance.

    So Sometimes the federal regs do work. This was in 2004 or 5.
  9. Rain City

    Rain City Member

    After my $1700 battle with the law for my last traffic ticket(s) involving having old MI plates after moving to WA, I'm a little paranoid, oh and broke.

    So motor bikes are like "don't ask don't tell" ?
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2008
  10. duivendyk

    duivendyk Guest

    FOI :private messages have their place !!
  11. Zemus DE

    Zemus DE Guest

    If the issue was takin to court, they typically would have to follow the Federal law because they cannot just clump a Gas-Engine Assisted Bicycle with Mopeds. It is not very hard to prove that a motor assisted BICYCLE is very diferent then a Moped. Most to all bicycle engine systems rely on the human as the primary form of propulsion. For the moped the human is there to only start the engine(try pedaling it more then 2 blocks w/o engine running).

    I am sure in the months and years to come(so long as gas prices stay high), many states will have a legal definition of a gas-engine assisted bicycle. Much like AZ., where as long as the displacement is under 48 ccs, there are no liscencing regulations.

    Just my 2 cents from past experiences.
  12. wavygravy

    wavygravy Guest

    im with zevo on this one! useing our new forum vendor hype, youth speed,over 50cc, multi geared, non epa compliant,carp. seriously hurts our goal of motoring bikes for the masses. useing this cluster---- of a forum it has become as a referece for the law to base there opionions on is crazy. is there anybody out there anymore who takes our motoredbikes seriously? i know a lot of you are but we get over run with the cool toy ,go fast illeagal motoredbike syndrome! chime in if ya feel the same! just my 2 cents!!
  13. wavygravy

    wavygravy Guest

    i thought so! china wins! & your all out of work! huh imagine that!
  14. SimpleSimon

    SimpleSimon Active Member

    wavy, give folks a chance to see the post.

    I think I've made my position clear, but I'll reiterate - you want speeds in excess of, say, 30 mph, get a motorcycle. Wear a helmet - everytime your leg goes over the bar, helmet ought to be on your head. Use a muffler - you have NO RIGHT to blast other folks just because you like the noise. Buy and use compliant engines. Put lights on your bike - not to comply with the law, but to increase your own safety. Obey the traffic laws, and stay off the sidewalks! Have (and use) rear view mirrors.

    Most of all - act like a responsible adult, not a child.
  15. wavygravy

    wavygravy Guest

    please forgive my impatient attitude on this subject simon ! im just getting very burned out on doin my best to be a good ambasador for motoredbikes & following all laws & epa compliance to have my efforts dashed by rabid vendors & go fast attitudes. im just trying to promote afordable transportation for the masses. for a lot of us its not a toy but a way of life! again i apoligize in advance for any misunderstood intention. now if we can get all to follow the laws includeing rabid vendors who promote high speeds & non compliant activity we might get positive attention from the law makers ect! huh imagine that? let the soulition be the revolution!
  16. pumpbuilder

    pumpbuilder Member

    My 43cc setup is fine for me. Pulls me up a 6-8% grade so I can go anywhere. No motor mods and fed spec wise is legal.
  17. Here's my take.

    Not wanting to get hassled or worse after spending a fair amount of money and beau coup time in my garage building a moped from a kit, I got on the web and read the WA regs. They are pretty clear: a gas-powered vehicle with less than 50cc that has an operable bicycle drive train and goes no more than 30 mph is a moped. I don't need a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license but the bike needs all of the lighting etc. of a motorcycle, and it needs a vehicle license. At first I thought "what a pain" and then I thought "when I ride my self-powered bike in the streets of Seattle, I try to be as visible as possible. If I'm riding a bike that goes twice as fast and is twice as heavy, why scrimp on lights and a horn?" And why go to this trouble to get a stupid little license plate? Because if I'm caught riding an unlicensed motor vehicle, not only do I get to make a mandatory court appearance, but I get my nice little ride impounded. Talk about a freaking waste of time and money... Another thing - all licensed vehicles need to be insured in the state of WA if they are out on the streets. Insurance is only about $90/year, but every time you get pulled over in this state the second thing the cop asks for (after your driver's license) is proof of insurance. If you no got, it's (you guessed it!) a mandatory court appearance. Again, what a waste of time...

    Now this is just my position, and I know there are plenty of folks who disagree with me, and who live for the chance to wage guerilla war against The Man. But I think getting whacked will be a dang pain in the butt. When I was 20, I had more time than money, and spending a couple of days of my life farting around with the court system wasn't a big deal, but the ticket and the impound charges would have stung. Now that I'm 47, I have more money than time, and could easily absorb the ticket and impound costs, but I don't want to spend a minute of the rest of my life walking home after having my ride taken away, going to court to explain to a judge why I didn't bother to get a license even though I knew better, and getting my wife to drive me to the impound yard. And then having to get all of the stuff anyway. I figure the cheaper and quicker way is just to get the license etc. In Seattle, where I live, the number of scooters of all types is exploding and will just continue to do so. The cops have undoubtedly started noticing them, and most cops aren't stupid. (I'm biased though - my cousin's wife is the acting Chief of Police in Sequim -- she is also a total motorhead, loves going real fast in that hopped up car with the lights on the top). At some point some cop is going to ask me some questions if for nothing else than just curiosity, at which point I'm going to be able to school him or her on the regs, and impress him or her with my ride. Then I get to zoom off, and he or she will be less inclined to needlessly hassle the next rider on the road.

    So, I'm almost done with my first build - a Hua Sheng 49cc 4-cycle put onto a Trek mountain bike. I've spent about $50 and about 20 hours building the light system (turn signals and brake light required some motorcycle parts) - all 3V battery powered with mostly LEDs. On Wednesday 8/20/08 I'll make my appearance at the WSP for vehicle inspection to get a VIN, which I need to get a license, which I need to get insurance.

    By the way, the old guy I talked to at the State Patrol says he can't wait to see my new ride. He intentionally scheduled my inspection for a day when he will be there. I'm betting that they will all gather around and gawk at it, somewhat because it will look like a pro job, but mostly because most cops are motorheads and it's got a gas motor and wheels.
  18. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    I'm curious. Ask the cop, when you have the bike inspected, how he would handle an out-of-state rider (from Arizona, say, where it's legal to ride under 20mph, under 48cc, without license, registration, or insurance - the bike is a bicycle...)
  19. Will do. I'm interested in the concept of long-distance touring on a motored bike, and it would be a pain to run into a problem hundreds of miles from home. I think that as these new (to our country anyway) forms of ultra-high-fuel-efficient transport become more common, it behooves us to come up with at least national standards about what can be on the road. We've figured this out for cars and motorcycles...
  20. washington state likes to get its grubby little fingers into our pockets with that moped ****. these are not mopeds! my chopper is closer to a moped cause the pedals are welded! lmao and even then i dont need registering!
    these bikes will soon become so popular that the government will recognize the fact that they cant stop them forever. the biggest reason for these bikes having problems her in washington is the fact that any old person at a retirement home has to complain about a simple engine assisted bike going by no matter how quiet.
    and simply put if your bike is ENGINE ASSISTED it is for a fact not NOT a moped wich is a MOTORIZED vehicle. a motorized vehicle as defined by WASH DOT laws STATES that it is e bike or four wheeled vehicle that HAS AN ENGINE OF 50CC AND ABOVE.

    simply put they do whats easier which is just bann them or make it hard for you to make them legal which lowers the intrest for these bikes.
    what we need is somone to represent us and our bikes of washington state.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2008