In need of help with Oregon Laws!

Discussion in 'Laws, Legislation & Emissions' started by onij, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. onij

    onij New Member

    I need help on Oregon laws! I'm new to motor bicycling but am very excited to try. I currently bus/ride to work everyday which takes me about an hour, but I will be moving out in Gresham soon, and it will take me 2+ hours to bus/ride to work. The only alternative to a car seems to be to get an engine kit. I will be able to get to work in 40 min with the kit. It seems that they are very strict when it comes to putting a motor on your bike. Can someone help me figure out what is legal to buy, or suggestions on how to buy a bigger engine and get away with it? Thanks.

  2. Zev0

    Zev0 Member

    We have plenty of Oregonians here, someone will come up with an answer for you.
  3. miletwo

    miletwo Member

    The long and short of it is, rack mount is pretty much your only option while still staying "legal". All of the chinese engine kits are over the 35.01cc limit imposed by our DOT. Golden Eagle (ad to your left) has kits that are under the limit which should bolt on easily but they're a bit more spendy. Expect to pay $495 to $695 depending on the kit. A GEBE four stroke will be less hassle and more dependable than a chinese 2-stroke kit though, so the extra cost may be worth it to you.

    Now if you're super mechanically inclined and willing to build something yourself, you can get away with rigging a friction driven weed whacker engine (like me) and do the whole thing for around $75+ time to build.

    You could help all of us by writing your local legislature to request reclassification of motor assisted bicycle to match the federal limit of 50cc instead of the 35cc limit. Unfortunately Oregon lumps motorized bikes in with scooters which gives us a bad rap. However, they do classify electric assisted cycles on their own which may give us a boost in changing the law.

    Good luck and Welcome!
  4. onij

    onij New Member

    Is a rack mounted kit the only option because they are generally under the 35cc limit, or is it because that is the only place we are allowed to have an engine installed?
  5. miletwo

    miletwo Member

    Only because of the size. I've yet to find a frame mounted kit under 48cc. There are plenty of r/c plane engines in the range we need but nobody puts them in a kit.

    There are no restrictions in the law (that I've found) with respect to how the propulsion is mounted.

    You could "technically" use larger than 35cc kit but it would require you to register your bicycle as a "moped" which then requires a VIN number and DOT certification of frame, etc. Basically, not gonna happen.

    Good luck. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer. I researched the ODOT laws a bunch before I built my bike. Look for the thread "31cc Yardman in Progress" and you'll find my build. I just finished the mounting last night but have yet to fire it up. I'm hoping to do that tonight and post some more pics tomorrow.


  6. onij

    onij New Member

    Thanks for the help!
  7. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    Both GEBE & Staton have kits with < 35cc engines. They're both around the same price.
  8. Zev0

    Zev0 Member

    Correct Lou. Gebe has a 25cc and a 33cc.
  9. miletwo

    miletwo Member

    True the above. My only beef with GEBE and Staton are that they are rack mounted and take away valuable hauling space. I have no doubt that there is a way to create a similar to HT kit in < 35cc range that frame mounts. My next project will be a custom frame mounted, clutched, chain driven, 23cc r/c motor. Probably with a staton gear box though... cuz those things are just cool.


  10. miletwo

    miletwo Member

    So, an update to this for anybody interested. I recently wrote my senator about the law regarding this whole thing wherein I suggested that the law be revised to increase the allowed engine size to 50cc from 35cc to match the federal regulation... and wouldn't you know it, they found out how I can get a VIN and title for my bike and then classify it as a Moped. Gee thanks senator.

    So, anybody interested should look up DMV form 550 which will allow you to register your bike as a custom built moped and receive a VIN decal from the DMV. After which, you can then add lights, blah, blah, blah, and get insurance, and whatever else... then you're legal.

    Not a hassle at all, right?


  11. seabillco

    seabillco Member

    Oregon law unclear

    I'm an attorney in southern Oregon and recently completed my home-built, friction-drive, Ryobi, 31cc, rear-mounted, motorized, mountain bike. (Man, that's a mouthful!) I've researched Oregon law and find nothing directly on point.
    Oregon has a nice pamphlet that summarizes the law well. It's a PDF file here:

    Again, I've researched the law and I believe this "Pocket Bike Guide" correctly summarizes the state of Oregon law at the moment. You'll notice that there is simply no mention of a gas motor-assisted bike.
    One could argue that the "Electric Gas Scooter" laws apply but, if you just look at the picture in the pamphlet and dig further into the background of those specific rules, you will probably conclude, as I have, they were written to address the concerns of young people zipping around downtown sidewalks on motorized Razors. That was a problem for a while and, as usual, the 'man' spazzed out and enacted a bunch of laws since that's the only thing they know how to do.
    Deeper thought leads me to conclude that gas-powered, motorized bicycles are much more like Electric Assisted Bikes since they have much more in common than not. The only difference is that one runs on electricity and the other runs on gasoline. I don't believe that makes any significant difference to the safety issues addressed by the laws. (The only significant difference I can think of relates to possible pollution regulations and does not directly reflect on any safety issues.)
    If that's the persuasive argument, then you must be 16 years old, wear a DOT approved bike helmet and have lights, if visibility is restricted. The pamphlet simply says "Lights - Yes" but that's misleading since the actual law says if visibility is restricted. Max "capable" speed is 20 mph. But, you don't need a license, registration or insurance. Also, you can't ride one if your license has been suspended, revoked, etc. (So, you can't beat a DUI suspension by riding your motorized bike for a year.)
    One could argue that a motorized bike is a "Moped" under Oregon law if the engine size is greater than 35.01cc and 50cc or less. But, the moped law specifically excludes electric assisted bikes and motor assisted scooters. Moreover, in my case, my engine is less than 35.01cc so does not fit the definition of moped.
    In sum, there is no clear answer. I live outside city limits and have been riding for 2 weeks in the Josephine County area without a problem. But, the truth is, I haven't seen a cop yet. When I go into the city (Grants Pass, Oregon, pop. 30,000), I turn off the engine and disconnect it and ride with the pedals. I just don't want the hassle of getting a ticket, going to court and arguing with some local judge as to which law applies.
    If anyone has any more information, questions, comments, disagreements, etc., I'd like to hear it. :smile: I'd especially like to hear from someone in Oregon who has gotten a ticket on a motorized bike and dealt with it.
    BTW, federal law doesn't apply (in Oregon) on this point at this time and any municipality may enact their own laws, to a point. If someone wants more on this topic, please let me know. So, for example, your city might adopt laws on this topic and you'll have to obey or challenge them depending on what they say vis-a-vis the state laws.
    I hope this helps a little. But, frankly, it's clear as mud.

    Grants Pass, Oregon
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2008
  12. onij

    onij New Member

    Wow, thanks a lot. That was super thorough. I appreciate your knowledge on the law, you've been very informative.
  13. seabillco

    seabillco Member

    Hi, onij
    You're most welcome. I'll post more if anything comes up. I hope it helps.
    I printed the "Oregon pocket guide" and stuck it in my bike's front bag so I can show it to a cop if I get pulled over. It will be interesting to see which catergory a cop thinks I fall under...

    Steve G
    Grants Pass, Oregon
  14. russ22k

    russ22k New Member

    oregon laws

    I've registered mine as a moped. I had to set it up with lights, turn, brake, license plate light and a horn. I have it insured as a moped. It was abit of work to find all the parts. I've used LEDs for all brake and turn signals as well as the license plate light. I use LEDs for the headlight low beam and halogen for the high beam. I works great, and looks great too. I get lots and lots of, "Wow, where can I get one!". It's all quite legal. I downloaded all the regs from the
    DMV website and spent a few hours going over them.
    hope this helps.
  15. seabillco

    seabillco Member

    russ22k did it the careful way and won't have to worry about legal problems.
    But, to me, part of the appeal of MB is that you don't need all that junk on the bike and you don't need permission from 'The Man' and you don't need to pay for insurance, wear a helmet, stick tags on the bike, pay fees, have inspections, etc., etc.
    I have a street motorcycle and, if I'm going to go through all that stuff, I'll just ride the motorcycle.
    Also, in Oregon, a moped is between 35 and 50 cc. So, a 31cc Ryobi such as I'm using on both of my projects (motorized mountain bike and motorized recumbent), doesn't fit the moped definition.
    Again, in Oregon, you're in a gray area if you strap a small engine to a bicycle. My guess is that the legislature will take it up this next session (2009) because of the increasing popularity of MB. Hopefully, they won't screw it up too badly. But, given their track record, I wouldn't bet on it.
    Until then, you'll have to decide how you want to deal with it. A careful person who doesn't want ANY problems with 'The Man' will do exactly what russ22k did and legal up.
    A rebel, a la James Dean, will just ride and take his chances...
    Of course, we all know what happened to James Dean!

    Steve G
    Grants Pass, Oregon
  16. seabillco

    seabillco Member

    Oregon law - my approach

    This is a follow up to my earlier post about the law in Oregon. In that post, I concluded that Oregon law is unclear with respect to gas motorized bicycles with engines less than 35cc.
    I've decided to take the position that my MB is a gas scooter. As such, according to Oregon's "Pocket Guide", which can be found at:

    I need to wear a helmet and can't exceed 15 mph. Also, the maximum speed the bike is capable of cannot exceed 24 mph. Also, in cases of 'limited visibility' I need a front white light and a rear reflector or red light. I've ordered such lights and will install them and use them at all times just so there's no argument about whether visibility was limited.
    For my riding, federal law would almost never apply (don't ride on federal freeways, parks, enclaves or Indian reservations) and I haven't found an applicable city ordinance (for MB) when I go into the nearest city of Grants Pass. In the unlikely event someone cares, the bicycle ordinances in the city of GP can be found here:

    I've been riding in Josephine County Oregon for 3 weeks now and still haven't been pulled over. To date, I've been passed by a Sheriff going the opposite direction. I started pedaling as soon as I saw his car and he seemed to have no interest in me at all.
    Again, when I go into town, I disengage the engine (it's a friction drive) and turn it off. At that point, I'm just hauling the engine around on a rack. As far as I know, there's nothing illegal about that unless the fuel is a hazardous substance, etc., etc. I'm willing to take that risk.
    I'm hoping that, if I ride sanely and have safety as my #1 concern (helmet, lights, speed), it will go over best with "The Man." In my experience, that's about all you can do at the street level. If you get a ticket despite this, you can bring out the bigger guns and start arguing about the law and technicalities with a judge. I've never known that approach to work well with a cop at a traffic stop...
    And again, if anyone has any other thoughts or experiences to share, please do so!
    Finally, a philosophical observation that I can't help making: Do we really need all these laws for bicycling? Helmets, lights, max speeds and caution are all good ideas and, frankly, I've been practicing them my entire life (more than 50 years). I've ridden my bicycle to Los Angeles from Oregon and up to Canada and back with no accidents. But, I really don't want laws about all this stuff. If I, as an adult, decide to ride to my neighbor's house 500 yards away on a country road without a helmet, I should be able to do so without fear of getting a fine from The Man. We have FAR TOO MANY LAWS in this country and we submit to them too easily, IMHO. What's next, the Flossing Police?

    Steve G
    Grants Pass, Oregon
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2008