In California, a motorized bicycle or moped is a 2 or 3 wheeled vehicle equipped with pedals, a motor that generates less than 2 brake horsepower (or an electric motor that cannot be bigger than 1,000 watts), and has an automatic transmission.
The registration and license requirements of a Motorized Bicycle in California depend on which category it falls into:
Moped Type CVC 406(a)
The vehicle must be equipped with:
- Operative pedals for propulsion by the rider, or no pedals if powered solely by electrical energy.
- An automatic transmission.
- A motor producing less than 2 brake horsepower (hp), capable of propelling the vehicle no faster than 30 MPH on level ground.
A valid Class M1 or M2 motorcycle license is required for a motorized bicycle that meets the definition of CVC 406(a).
A motorized bicycle that meets the definition of CVC 406(a) needs to be registered with special license plates and id cards for a one off fee of $18.
Moped Type CVC 406(b)
A CVC 406(b) moped is a motorized bicycle defined as:
- A vehicle with pedals and an electric motor with an output of not more than 1,000 watts.
- Incapable of reaching speeds of more than 20 MPH on level ground, even if assisted by human power.
You don't need a license to ride a motorized bicycle that meets the definition of CVC 406(b); however, you must be at least 16 years old and you must also wear a helmet.
Mopeds that meet CVC 406(b) do not need to be registered or insured.