Wisconsin Motorized Bicycle Laws.

License Required & Registration Required

  1. i4tas

    i4tas Guest






    -thats what i derived from searching the Wisconsin DOT.

    Identification emblem on certain slow moving vehicles.
    347.245 (1)
    (1) After January 1, 1970, no person may operate on a highway, day or night, any vehicle or equipment, any animal-drawn vehicle, or any other machinery, including all road machinery, that usually travels at speeds of less than 25 miles per hour or any vehicle operated under a special restricted operator's license issued under s. 343.135, unless there is displayed on the most practicable visible rear area of the vehicle or combination of vehicles, a slow moving vehicle (SMV) emblem as described in and displayed as provided in sub. (2). Any towed vehicle or machine is exempt from this provision if the towing vehicle is visible from the rear and is in compliance with this section. All road machinery is excluded when it is engaged in actual construction or maintenance work either guarded by a flagman or clearly visible warning signs. Except as provided in s. 347.21 (1), the requirement of the emblem shall be in addition to any lighting devices required or permitted by law. Mopeds and motor bicycles are excluded from the provisions of this section unless they are operated under a special restricted operator's license issued under s. 343.135. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are excluded from the provisions of this section. The SMV emblem need not be displayed on vehicles moving directly across the highway.

    347.39 (1)
    (1) No person shall operate on a highway any motor vehicle subject to registration unless such motor vehicle is equipped with an adequate muffler in constant operation and properly maintained to prevent any excessive or unusual noise or annoying smoke. This subsection also applies to motor bicycles.
    347.39 (2)
    (2) No muffler or exhaust system on any vehicle mentioned in sub. (1) shall be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device nor shall there be installed in the exhaust system of any such vehicle any device to ignite exhaust gases so as to produce flame within or without the exhaust system. No person shall modify the exhaust system of any such motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that emitted by the muffler originally installed on the vehicle, and such original muffler shall comply with all the requirements of this section.
    347.39 (3)
    (3) In this section, "muffler" means a device consisting of a series of chambers of baffle plates or other mechanical design for receiving exhaust gases from an internal combustion engine and which is effective in reducing noise.

    Lamps and other equipment on bicycles, motor bicycles, and electric personal assistive mobility devices.
    347.489 (1)
    (1) No person may operate a bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device upon a highway, sidewalk, bicycle lane, or bicycle way during hours of darkness unless the bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device is equipped with or, with respect to a bicycle or motor bicycle, the operator is wearing, a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device. A bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device shall also be equipped with a red reflector that has a diameter of at least 2 inches of surface area or, with respect to an electric personal assistive mobility device, that is a strip of reflective tape that has at least 2 square inches of surface area, on the rear so mounted and maintained as to be visible from all distances from 50 to 500 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector.
    347.489 (2)
    (2) No person may operate a bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device upon a highway, bicycle lane, or bicycle way unless it is equipped with a brake in good working condition, adequate to control the movement of and to stop the bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device whenever necessary.
    347.489 (3)
    (3) No bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device may be equipped with nor may any person riding upon a bicycle, motor bicycle, or electric personal assistive mobility device use any siren or compression whistle.

    License Required
    (c) No person may operate a moped or motor bicycle unless the person possesses a valid operator's license or a special restricted operator's license issued under s. 343.135 or a restricted license issued under s. 343.08. A license under this paragraph does not authorize operation of a moped or motor bicycle if the license is revoked, suspended, canceled or expired.
    Applicability to persons riding bicycles and motor bicycles.
    (a) Subject to the special provisions applicable to bicycles, every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway or shoulder of a highway is granted all the rights and is subject to all the duties which this chapter grants or applies to the operator of a vehicle, except those provisions which by their express terms apply only to motor vehicles or which by their very nature would have no application to bicycles. For purposes of this chapter, provisions which apply to bicycles also apply to motor bicycles, except as otherwise expressly provided.

    Traffic Lights
    4. Notwithstanding subd. 1., a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle , or bicycle facing a red signal at an intersection may, after stopping as required under subd. 1. for not less than 45 seconds, proceed cautiously through the intersection before the signal turns green if no other vehicles are present at the intersection to actuate the signal and the operator of the motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle , or bicycle reasonably believes the signal is vehicle actuated. The operator of a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle , or bicycle proceeding through a red signal under this subdivision shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicular traffic, pedestrian, bicyclist, or rider of an electric personal assistive mobility device proceeding through a green signal at the intersection or lawfully within a crosswalk or using the intersection. This subdivision does not affect any authorization for a bicyclist under subd. 2.

    Use of controlled-access highways, expressways and freeways.
    346.16 (1)
    (1) No person shall drive a vehicle onto or from a controlled-access highway, expressway or freeway except through an opening provided for that purpose.
    346.16 (2)
    346.16 (2)(a)
    (a) Except as provided in par. (b), no pedestrian or person riding a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle and no person operating a moped or motor bicycle may go upon any expressway or freeway when official signs have been erected prohibiting such person from using the expressway or freeway.

    Special rules applicable to bicycles.
    Whenever a bicycle is operated upon a highway, bicycle lane or bicycle way the following rules apply:
    346.79 (1)
    (1) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto.
    346.79 (2)
    346.79 (2)(a)
    (a) Except as provided in par. (b), no bicycle may be used to carry or transport more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed.
    346.79 (2)(b)
    (b) In addition to the operator, a bicycle otherwise designed to carry only the operator may be used to carry or transport a child seated in an auxiliary child's seat or trailer designed for attachment to a bicycle if the seat or trailer is securely attached to the bicycle according to the directions of the manufacturer of the seat or trailer.
    346.79 (3)
    (3) No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars.
    346.79 (4)
    (4) No person riding a bicycle shall attach himself or herself or his or her bicycle to any vehicle upon a roadway.
    346.79 (5)
    (5) No person may ride a moped or motor bicycle with the power unit in operation upon a bicycle way.

    (4) "Automobile" means any of the following: 340.01(4)(a)
    (a) Type 1 is a motor vehicle designed and used primarily for carrying persons but which does not come within the definition of a motor bus, motorcycle, moped or motor bicycle.

    (b) Type 2 is a motor vehicle capable of speeds in excess of 30 miles per hour on a dry , level , hard surface with no wind , designed and built to have at least 3 wheels in contact with the ground, a power source as an integral part of the vehicle, a curb weight of at least 1,500 pounds, and a passenger and operator area with sides permanently enclosed with rigid construction and a top which may be convertible.

    (30) "Motor bicycle" means a bicycle to which a power unit not an integral part of the vehicle has been added to permit the vehicle to travel at a speed of not more than 30 miles per hour with a 150-pound rider on a dry , level , hard surface with no wind and having a seat for the operator.

    (7) "Motor vehicle" means any automobile, truck, trailer, semitrailer, tractor, motor bus or any self-propelled or motor driven vehicle, except a motorcycle, moped, motor bicycle , electric personal assistive mobility device, or vehicle operated on rails.

  2. Tom

    Tom Active Member

    Thanks. I don't know if we have that many members from wisconsin, but I am sure plenty of people will find that helpful!
  3. i4tas

    i4tas Guest

    looks like there are a few people from Wisconsin here, but i noticed the majority of motor bicycles are in the southern US.

    Nice site MotoredBikes
  4. Ki11Billy

    Ki11Billy New Member

    Additional Wisconsin Legislative Info

    I have spent quite a bit of time researching Wisconsin laws as well. The above info is correct and very accurate, but I wanted to add the official statutes regarding registration of motor bicycles as well as verify the definition of motor bicycles in WI. All excerpts are from Wisconsin Act 54 as of Feb 29, 2008. If you want to do your own research, you can use the following link and do a search for "motor bicycle" (quotes included).


    340.01 “Motor bicycle” means a bicycle to which a power unit not an integral part of the vehicle has been added to permit the vehicle to travel at a speed of not more than 30 miles per hour with a 150−pound rider on a dry, level, hard surface with no wind and having a seat for the operator.

    341.05 When vehicles exempt from registration. A vehicle, even though operated upon a highway of this state, is exempt from registration if any of the following applies:

    (23) The vehicle is a motor bicycle or bicycle, except as provided in s. 349.18.

    S. 349.18 states the following:

    349.18 Additional traffic−control authority of counties and municipalities. (1) Any city, village or town, by ordinance, may:

    (a) Designate the number of persons that may ride on a motor bicycle at any one time and the highways upon which a motor bicycle or moped may or may not be operated.

    (2) Any city, town or village may by ordinance enacted pursuant to s. 349.06 regulate the operation of bicycles and motor bicycles and may by ordinance require registration of any bicycle or motor bicycle owned by a resident of the city, town or village, including the payment of a registration fee.

    (3) Any county, by ordinance, may require the registration of any bicycle or motor bicycle owned by a resident of the county if the bicycle or motor bicycle is not subject to registration under sub. (2). Such ordinance does not apply to any bicycle or motor bicycle subject to registration under sub. (2), even if the effective date of the ordinance under sub. (2) is later than the effective date of the county ordinance. A county may charge a fee for the registration.

    History: 1977 c. 116, 288; 1983 a. 243, 288, 343, 538; 1985 a. 135, 197, 298, 332; 1989 a. 167; 1993 a. 246; 1995 a. 138; 1997 a. 27.

    Cities and villages cannot license bicyclists, create bicycle courts, or impound bicycles in the absence of express legislative authorization. 66 Atty. Gen. 99.

    So even though Wisconsin does not require registration, check with your county, village, etc., to see if it is required locally (as noted by i4tas).
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2008
  5. jblunt67

    jblunt67 New Member


    Thanks guys, this was very helpfull.
  6. llamaboydave

    llamaboydave New Member

    i am, southeast wisconsin (watertown, near oconomowoc)

    just to clear this up, im about to be 16 and im starting drivers ed tomorow, once i get my liscense i can ride my motor bike (80cc) without having it registered and it will be legal?
  7. Bill555

    Bill555 Member

    I haven't looked at this topic for a while but I thought motor bicycles were a subsection of the moped class and 50 cc was the limit.
  8. heyitstimmer

    heyitstimmer New Member

    Tim from Appleton WI, thanks for the info, Anybody else from the Valley with a motored bike? I have been zippin around town for a year, havent been bothered yet by da law.
  9. Terens

    Terens New Member

    Hi Tim, I'm in Appleton too! I haven't quite motorized yet, but have plans to (OCC Stingray)
  10. heyitstimmer

    heyitstimmer New Member

    Hey terens, I have set up about 8 people now in the valley, so you should see more as time goes by. I just set a new speed record coming down the Oneida st bridge yesterday..............41mph!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( a couple mods) Love my motored bike, when you are ready to pull the trigger contact me at www.affordable-bike-repair.com here in Appleton. I will give you some tips. Found Ebay seems to have the best deal, $115 and free shipping.
  11. pedal4416

    pedal4416 New Member

    ill have my bike done soon, im in madison and id be down to meet up for a ride sometime.
  12. bikeshox

    bikeshox New Member

    Is a "bicycle way" the same as a "bicycle lane." I live in grafton and we have alot of bike lanes. If the definition is the same then I cannot ride in the bike lane.
  13. arkives1

    arkives1 Member

    I haven't found a definitive answer on that one either so I just assume that it is the same and stay off them. They aren't going anywhere I can't get to on a street. The information given here is identical to what I have. I also had a conversation with a DOT attorney and was told that there is currently NO engine size limitation on a motorized bicycle as long as the engines is an added part and not an integral part of the bike. The 30 mph top speed does apply. There is also no restriction on gearing through the bikes derailleur or multispeed hub. Some states do restrict motorized bikes to single speed gearing. We are fortunate to have such liberal laws to work within. Let's not screw it up with violations...like doing 41mph anywhere other than a designated track. That's a sure way to attract attention we don't want and leads to further restrictions. I haven't seen many riders in the Milwaukee area, I know there are a few at least. I haven't been bothered at all by police other than to answer questions about these bikes.
  14. solitus3989

    solitus3989 Member

    I was pulled over today, and i live in appleton, wisconsin.

    he quoted me on statute 346.80(3), which is as follows.

    (a) Persons riding bicycles or electric personal assistive mobility devices upon a roadway may ride 2 abreast if such operation does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. Bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device operators riding 2 abreast on a 2-lane or more roadway shall ride within a single lane.

    (b) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than 2 abreast except upon any path, trail, lane or other way set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles and electric personal assistive mobility devices.

    (4) No person may operate a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped upon a roadway where a sign is erected indicating that bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped riding is prohibited.

    (5) Except as provided in ss. 346.23, 346.24, 346.37, and 346.38, every rider of a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device shall, upon entering on a highway, yield the right-of-way to motor vehicles.


    I don't really think this makes any sense at all, but he was explaining that i had to have turn signals and it was impossible for me to license it to make it street legal. granted, it was 2am and it was a community service officer (the 'fake' cops in vans) but he pretty much gave me the warning and said if im caught again ill have a boat load of tickets to deal with.

    I first saw the cop going downtown between a bunch of blinking red lights, stopping at each one. i got to a corner and turned right, hoping i had lost him. about 5 minutes later, he finally caught up with me, and told me he 'clocked me doing about 30 back there', when in reality, i wasn't going more than 15 at any given time at that entire road, since i was stopping often because of the many stop lights, and they were all blinking red. (like i said, 2 in the morning.)

    I have 2 mounted flashlights as headlights, and a blinking rear reflector. either the cop was a ****, or we are all screwed. i'd carry those statutes in your pocket when riding, if i were you. maybe you can get off with a warning..
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  15. solitus3989

    solitus3989 Member

    Reposted, search "Pulled over in appleton, wisconsin"
  16. arkives1

    arkives1 Member

    Wisconsin Laws

    What was the specific violation he accused you of? That was rather vague and kinda lame in my opinion.
    I just re-read the entire section of Wisconsin Statutes pertaining to motorbicycles and there is absolutely nothing in there about turn signals. By definition it is still a bicycle. The statute does say a wet battery charged from the engine or a generator is required, but a conversation early this year with John Sobotik of the Wis Dot general counsels office early this year indicates that they think that part is past due for change as we have new batteries now that last much longer especially with LED lights. So the turn signal thing is bogus, they are not required. Perhaps on a moped which is a different classification than a motorized bicycle entirely. He may have the two classifications mixed in his head. I'm basing this on my conversation with John two-three months ago. He did say that one of the attorneys was in Madison concerning legislation on our bikes so maybe something new has been passed. I'd call the DOT's General Counsels Office and ask them directly. 1-608-266-8810. They were very nice to me both times I called them with questions, and they didn't seem to know a great deal about these bikes so he had a lot of questions for me as well. I felt it was a very positive conversation for the future of our hobby. John also told me that rides a bicycle, not motorized but was very interested in them. So he does have an understanding of how we have to ride in traffic etc.
    Sounds to me like the "community service officer" is a cop wannabee and a ******* too.
    I have the entire statue in a text file if you want to read all of it. Feel free to message me if you like. Woody
  17. solitus3989

    solitus3989 Member

    Thanks, woody!

    He pretty much told me that it was a moped and that i needed blinkers, i needed to license it, and it simply couldn't be done because it wasn't a moped. i printed off the statutes listed at the beginning of this thread, and i looked on the wisconsin DoT website, and i KNOW im in the right.

    A moped is defined as tons of stuff, but the big one is where the engine IS an INTEGRAL part of the vehicle. Since it's pedal assisted and the engine is NOT an integral part, it is not a moped, as long as it doesn't exceed speeds of 30mph with a 150lb rider on a flat level surface with no wind, not exceeding 50cc for mopeds, and 130cc for bikes... i thought i was illegal with an 80cc. turns out the wisconin DoT gave us a break. :)

  18. arkives1

    arkives1 Member

    Actually they gave us more of a break than we think. That 130cc does not apply to motorized bicycles if the engine has been added to a normal bicycle.
    In fact there is absolutely 0 cc limit on motorized bicycles, and I discussed this with John in our phone conversation. That was one of the things they were discussing with legislators in forming statutes pertaining to motorized bicycles. This was the case AT THAT TIME. Things could have changed since then but I seriously doubt it, he mentioned that there hadn't been a rash of accidents or serious speed violations. He asked me what I thought was a reasonable cc limit for bikes. I told him that I felt that that in most cases 80cc was reasonable but for some who live in extremely hilly areas 110 would be a better choice and that it could still be geared to not exceed 30mph. So we'll see what develops, right now I'm enjoying the sensible laws we have. You just ran into a doofus. The cops I've met on the road here ask questions and are curious like everyone else but I've never been bothered by them. I sometimes have coffee with two local motorcycle cops, and two bike patrol men all of whom are now pretty well informed on these bikes. Lets hope all law enforcement officers get educated instead of passing really restrictive laws.
  19. solitus3989

    solitus3989 Member

    I agree. I think he confused what a moped was. I printed off two things and placed them in my wallet.

    From the wisconsin DOT website, i printed off what a moped was. (50cc max, has to be integral of the bike), and it also explains that motored bikes are not mopeds. (http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/motorcycle/mopeds.htm)

    The second thing i printed off was also from the DoT Website. From Section 346.01(4) Rules of the Road. It specifically states that, quote, ".. provisions which apply to bicycles also apply to motor bicycles, except as otherwise expressly provided". (http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0346.pdf)

    Upon doing further reading, the only sections that do not apply to motored bikes are sections 346.37(d)2. and 346.38.

    Those two sections explain when one can enter an intersection (green arrow directionals) and motored bikes cannot use crosswalks and assume the right of way.

    Thats it, folks. Ive done my homework. Rather than make a big deal of my written warning, ill just carry those two proofs with me so if i get pulled over again i won't get any tickets.

    Thanks for all your help and support, guys! Keep on riding!
  20. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    you will be seeing me around hopefully within a couple weeks... everything is coming next week!