Idaho - The Rules, Common Sense, and My Experience

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by DuctTapedGoat, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Member

    So, living in Boise Idaho when I first began riding Motorized Bicycles, I investigated the Idaho Code, and what it says about our favorite vehicles.

    To be considered a Motor Vehicle, it would need to meet one of these qualifications;

    *50cc and larger is a motor vehicle.
    *Speeds in excess of 30 MPH.
    *No pedals.

    I did as most people did and contacted many officials. The common consensus stated that (as most riders have discovered themselves), "It is a grey area, and it's up to the officer."

    I have came into police contact 4 times in two and a half years.

    One time, I was told I was operating illegally. Of course, then the officer stated that he smelled alcohol on my breath (I haven't had a drink in over 3 years). After he realized that wasn't getting anywhere, he hassled me for unburnt fuel coming out of the exhaust. Needless to say, I was bugged for 5-10 minutes and was on my way without any tickets.

    Another time I was stopped in a parking lot... the officers thought it was the coolest thing they'd ever seen and asked the same questions that we all get asked (MPG, top speed, price, etc). I was on my way in under 5 minutes.

    If you know Boise, then you know Garden City... I was stopped right at Veterans and Chinden (like, 20 feet into Garden City). I was questioned thoroughly, threatened with many violations of the law (No License, No Registration, No Insurance), and peristantly badgered. I simply told him that the motor size deemed it unnecessary to register, and due to that fact, no license and no insurance would be needed to operate it on a public roadway, given that I respect the bicycle laws. We argued back and forth and he left stating that, "We could do this all night, and you know what... I could be wrong, you could be wrong, and neither of us have a copy of the Idaho Code to hash this out with. I suggest you study up on it." After 20 minutes, I was on my way.

    The most recent time, I was simply told that "Those bikes are illegal." I told him that they weren't, and that there was Idaho Code that deemed them legal to operate. After reciting the now usual speech of engine size and top speed as it pertains to the code, he surprised me by responding with, "Really? How much does it get to the gallon? Where'd you get it?" Within 5 minutes, I was on my way.

    Now, here's a really cool thing about operating these motorized bicycles. Idaho doesn't have any "Motor Assisted Bicycle" laws, and thus they fall under bicycle law. When reading these, do remember to do these things safely, and not to abuse these small priveledges.

    *At a stop sign, a bicycle doesn't have to stop, only yield. (In other words, you have the right of way, but seriously, don't push it. 50 MPH car - bike collision via t-bone is a terrible way to go.)
    *Where there is a left turn lane, either at a light or in the roadway, a bicyclist can use it. (I have made many left turns at traffic lights with police cars directly in front of me, either across the intersection or traveling in front of me in the turn lane. Never have I been stopped a single time.)
    *Bicycles must ride to the extreme right of the road, as far as possible given road conditions. (In other words, if there is so much snow you can't see the bike lane, ride in the right tire track. And if you're a serious a rider as me, you'll know that those **** cars are driving over your snow covered bike lane anyways!)
    *(my favorite) Hand turn signaling is not required if both hands are needed for operation of the bicycle. (Because the clutch is needed to brake before turning, you'll never have to use hand signals.)

    Of course, Idaho Code mentions that you cannot operate anything with a motor on sidewalks, regardless of size and speed, and if you're living in Boise, stay off the Greenbelt, seriously. You're not allowed to, you can pull every card in the book, don't bring flak down on other riders. The Greenbelt is for bicyclists going 15 MPH so they can reach destinations quickly. If you're motored, you're going at least 30-35, so use the roads! You're already a huge step ahead of the game as far as bike transportation is concerned.

    This is a big one, RIDE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE ROAD. This is for all bicyclists, this is not an opinion, it is not a suggestion, it is a fact and it is a law. If not for following the rules, then for your own safety.

    As well, from dusk until dawn, a front light that can be seen for 200 feet must be turned on, and a rear reflector (not the one in the wheel) must be installed or you will be issued a ticket. That front light law is not so that you can see, it is so that you can be seen.

    I have one last story to tell you here, and this applies to all MxB riders.

    There was a time I was riding along minding my business. I'm in the bike lane. I'm doing 40 with a tail wind. I'm hitting a Jeep Cherokee making a left hand turn off the street in front of me. I bail from the bike, getting my knees to clear the handlebars and roll across his windshield. Of course this dude, he's freaked out by now, he thinks he killed me. I got off his hood, and walked over to my bike and his driver side door. He asked if I was okay, if I needed a doctor, if my bike was okay, etc etc. I hit this guy hard enough to send my front tire back past the frame, those forks were toasted. I told him I was okay, not to worry, I don't want to press charges, I don't need your insurance info and plate number. I disengaged the v-brakes in the front, cranked the front forks backwards via the gooseneck and handlebars, and motored my way home.


    I kept the cops out of it. I could have sued him for a few grand, and got a plasma screen - but I know that I am not the only MxB rider in Boise. I don't want to bring any flak down on other riders, I don't want any extra laws that would require licenses and registration for MxBs, and how we can avoid new laws is to stay out of the spotlight. Get to where you're going and enjoy yourself, but please, don't be that guy who tries to get the spotlight and take legal action against a driver, brings attention to the MxB community and ends up being the straw that broke the camels back and gets new laws in place. If you want to be that guy, go buy a Lambo and drive around bar parking lots at 2am.

    Anyways, that's the gist of it out here in Boise Idaho. Ride safely, show respect to the local MxB rider you'll never meet, know your rights, know the code, and respect those 2000 pound vehicles that could cream you and your tiny motor in an instant.

    EDIT : I did forget one final thing! It involves freeway and highway use. In Idaho, you cannot operate a moped on the highway or freeway if it cannot go over 50 MPH or if it's displacement is under 50cc. This I'm sure is a liability addendum to the registration article in the Idaho Code. If it is too small to be registered, it's too small for the highway/freeway, as well, this prevents uninsured MxB riders on 48cc bikes from getting into collisions.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2010

  2. professor

    professor Active Member

    DCt, guys like you are the reason this forum is so good.
    Great attitude and common sense! Thank you for posting.
  3. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    I'm in Boise, Idaho and find what DTG has to say to be true, at least around here. We have a lot of bike paths so getting around town is pretty easy. Still lots of high traffic areas without paths so if it looks dangerous I will take to the sidewalks, engine off.

    I haven't been stopped, yet. And where I ride there's a good deal of police traffic but it's most likely because of others who have paved the way for me :)

    edit: There is a gray area about highways. The way I understand it if there's no other practical way to get somewhere you can use the freeway. I have seen many bike tourists on the highways here with their flags flying on the Interstate heading to Salt Lake City :)
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  4. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Member

    So, I just got done talking with the DMV Investigator. The first three sections are the gist of it. I was unable to find the braking requirements for motorcycles at the supposed location. As well, he didn't mention about the power drive system by the moped - I gather it means it's legal if it's an automatic as opposed to manual shiftkit? A VIN can be assigned to the bike here in Idaho, though it seems tricky. You have to be able to get it over 50MPH, pass inspection as far as braking is concerned, and get all required vehicle equipment (

    There are 4 classifications, but one I can't find info on, which is motor-driven cycles.

    *Has Pedals
    *Less than 50cc AND does not exceed 30MPH
    *At least one wheel with a brake
    ~Street legal, no licensing/registration required.

    *Has Pedals
    *50cc or more
    *At least one wheel with a brake
    ~Not street legal, can be registered/titled for offroad use only.

    *No pedals
    *Any sized motor
    *Brakes comply with Idaho Code (?) 49-933 (?)

    "Moped" means a limited-speed motor-driven cycle having:
    (a) Both motorized and pedal propulsion that is not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed in excess of thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground, whether two (2) or three (3) wheels are in contact with the ground during operation. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement shall not exceed fifty (50) cubic centimeters and the moped shall have a power drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged; or
    (b) Two (2) wheels or three (3) wheels with no pedals, which is powered solely by electrical energy, has an automatic transmission, a motor which produces less than two (2) gross brake horsepower, is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground and as originally manufactured, meets federal motor vehicle safety standards for motor-driven cycles. A moped is not required to be titled and no motorcycle endorsement is required for its operator.

    "Motorbike" means a vehicle as defined in section 67-7101, Idaho Code. Such vehicle shall be titled and may be approved for motorcycle registration pursuant to section 49-402, Idaho Code, upon certification by the owner of the installation and use of conversion components that make the motorbike compliant with federal motor vehicle safety standards.

    "Motorcycle" means every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three (3) wheels in contact with the ground that meets the federal motor vehicle safety standards as originally designed, and includes a converted motorbike, but does not include a motor-driven cycle, a motorbike, a tractor or a moped.

    "Motor-Driven Cycle" means a cycle with a motor that produces five (5) brake horsepower or less as originally manufactured that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards as originally designed, and does not include mopeds. Such vehicle shall be titled and a motorcycle endorsement is required for its operation.
  5. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    Well, then I have nothing to worry about even though I have a 66cc motor. There's no way it will go over 30 with the gearing I have. The cops seem to not care about the clutch though. It's one of those rediculous things that get added to laws and are never enforced. I mean, really, what difference could it possibly make as to if the clutch is automatic or manual? I can say this: auto trans in cars rob power and gas milage. :/
  6. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    Over 50cc and over 50 MPH makes it a motorbike? I'd be scared :poop:less if I rode my bike that fast:ack2:
  7. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Member

    Nope, just over 50cc OR speeds in excess of 30mph makes it a motorbike legal for offroad use only. I thought I put that in there. Either way, remove the pedals and you have a motorcycle.

    Your bike has to go at least 50mph to be able to run on the freeway.

    I want to do state to state rides sometime - but I need to VIN it, get approved brakes, and get the shift kit to reach the speeds I want to hit.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  8. Dave C

    Dave C Member

    Then how do the bike tourists on the interstate get there and not be bothered? I have seen countless of them on I-84... :/ As far as I know if there is no other practical way to get to somewhere the Interstate is ok, I just can't see being prohibited because I have a motor.

    The bikers I've seen the most are between Boise and Mt Home. There is no other way to get to Mt. Home except the Interstate
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2011
  9. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Member

    Honestly, I haven't been able to find any actual sourced documentation as far as the major freeway laws.

    When I first got into motorized bikes, I remember finding the 50mph rule, but I don't remember the exact location of the sourced info.

    I'll do some looking into it later on this evening, hopefully I am able to find something. I do recall there being easily accessible info about pedestrians on the freeway - hopefully that will be enough to jumpstart me to where I need to be.
  10. Stan4d

    Stan4d Banned

    From what I have found the minimum highway speed varies from state to state. If I remember correctly on 35 and 20 here in DFW it is 45.
  11. DuctTapedGoat

    DuctTapedGoat Member

    Since moving to Nampa Idaho, I recently checked city code and found this. No confusing stuff regarding mopeds and technicalities and whatnots.

    6-5-1: DEFINITION:

    The term "bicycle" is defined as a vehicle consisting of a tubular metal frame mounted on two (2) large, wire spoked wheels, one behind the other, and equipped with handlebars and a saddlelike seat. It is propelled by foot pedals or, sometimes, by a small gasoline motor. (Ord. 2362; amd. Ord. 2716)

    In the same county and one city over is Caldwell. Here's some good stuff from there.

    09-17-15: TRAFFIC LAWS APPLY:

    Every person riding a bicycle shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as those provisions of law which by their nature can have no application. (1962 Code, Section 11-14-8)

    09-17-21: SPEED:

    It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing. (1962 Code, Section 11-14-11)


    (1) Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500') to the front and red reflector on the rear of a type which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet (50') to three hundred feet (300') to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light from a distance of five hundred feet (500') to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

    (2) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the brake wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. (1962 Code, Section 11-14-17)
  12. jamesburr36

    jamesburr36 Member

    I live in Gem County - Emmett to be more precise. I was stopped by the local sheriff on my maiden voyage to town on my 4-cycle build. The officer informed me that my vehicle is classified as a moped under Idaho code and thus required a valid Idaho driver's license to operate it on Idaho roadways. He stated that lights (unless riding at night) horns and mirrors were not required and that I couldn't go over 30 MPH. He seemed like he was well informed and knew the law (or had experince with other moped conversion riders). After I produced my driver's license he told me to ride safe and beware of Emmett's speed limits. Some streets are 20 MPH while others are 25 MPH and that the city police will ticket me for speeding if I chose to do so through town.

    This is my most recent experience with the police while riding in Idaho. It seems that the interpretation of the law varies from town to town and even from cop to cop. I'm always keeping a copy of Idaho title 49 and a motocycle rider's handbook with me at all times and suggest other riders in idaho do to.
  13. papa

    papa New Member

    Sorry I'm late to the party. I'm also a Idaho resident.

    I believe the officer was mistaken or misinformed. Idaho does not recognize the moped as a "motor vehicle", nor does it require a driver's license for any vehicle that is exempt from titling & registration - which clearly applies to the moped because it is exempt from titling & registration.

    You can verify the info at:

    49-123 (g) and 49-114 (9) (a) and (b)