help with registration in california. vin number required.


sergio riveros

I was told I needed to get license plates for my motor bicycle since it has a motor.

I went to motor vehicle and I was required to pay a fee of $53 per year, and I was asked to call the California highway patrol to assign a VIN number for the motorized bike.

The California Highway Patrol said they do not assign VIN numbers to motorized bikes.
The California Highway patrol said that a motorized bikes needs stop lights, turn signals, etc, which I do not think it is required.

The bike was inspected by DMV and they told me it needed a VIN.

I have been told that the registration should be much lower for a motorized bike, and not $53 per year, can someone confirm how much is the actual registration.

What is the process for registering the bike in California??
Right now I am stuck with a temporary permit for 30 days? and DMV and the California Highway Patrol will not assign me a VIN number either for the engine or the bike.

All help will be greatly appreciated, if someone went through this process please let me know how it was done.

The bike does not have a number, it is a GT mountain bike, that was purchased used.
Wow! how did you get yourself into this mess!

in order to get a VIN, you do need turn signals/break lights. But you shouldnt be required to get them for your motorized bike. This thing is considered a "motor assisted bicycle" and not a moped.

I would just do nothing, tell the dmv to go f*** themselfs and that you dont need a vin or to register it. Cause if you register it, you have to insure it too.
The problem is that according to the law in California is has to be registered it says that is under section 5030.

"5030. A motorized bicycle, ad defined in Section 406, is required to display a special license plate issued by the department."

The California Highway Patrol said they would not issue a VIN since they do not do motorized bicycles, the DMV said they do not issue VINs for motorized bicycle, however they require registration and a VIN.

It does not make sense to require a VIN and not provide one, but that is how things work as I have been told.

My personal guess is that they want to see a number, and since my bike does not have a serial number the easiest way out of this mess is probably to buy another bike with a serial number and then transfer the motor to that bike, and then finish the registration process, the only problem with that is that the bike would have to be reinspected, and I am not sure even if I had a serial number if it would be enough or if they would continue to insist on a VIN.

If someone has gone through the process of registration in California it would be great to know how they did it.

If I did not have to register I would not, but I really like the idea of a motorized bike since it is a lot cleaner for the environment and an economical way to travel, but I have been harassed by the lack of registration.

The California Highway Patrol has no clue of what a motorized bike is, according to officer Aleta they are not legal, but that is clearly wrong.

Any help is appreciated.
How about going down to the toy store and picking up one of those little toy license plates that kids put on their bikes, the ones with their name on them. Get one that says Sergio.

HAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAH thats so funny, but true.

They have no right to put you in that position, where its impossible to do anything. I have been stuck in a circle like that with the DMV before, and its not fun.

Hugemoth said:
How about going down to the toy store and picking up one of those little toy license plates that kids put on their bikes, the ones with their name on them. Get one that says Sergio.

I just built it and drove it. No registration or anything. Print this out and keep it with you:

Motorized Bicycles
4020. A motorized bicycle operated upon a highway is exempt from registration.

Added Ch. 987, Stats. 1975. Effective January 1, 1976.

The California vehicle codes are so messed up that they are impossible to interpret for a motorized bicycle. It says that you must register it and that you don't have to register it. I got a registration and insurance ticket, and was going to fight it in court, but the judge just threw it out and it never got that far.

No promises this will work 100%, but as long as you don't do anything crazy, you should be OK. It's just a big legal mess. It helps to remember that "moped" and "motorized bicycle" are not mutually inclusive; that is to say, it can be one without necessarily being the other. This is evident because the vehicle codes sometimes use one term without referring to the other.

Anyway, good luck. The laws are too messed up to definitively use one way or the other.

(interesting note- 30mph speed limit for motorized bicycles, as opposed to 20mph speed limit for scooters in CA)
Oh, and as for the officer being "clearly wrong" about them being illegal, nothing is actually "clear" in the vehicle codes.

When I said the vehicle codes have a lot of grey area, the judge told me:

The vehicle codes are ALL grey area. If you take an infinite amount of monkeys banging away on an infinite amount of typewriters for an infinite amount of time, sooner or later you will get Hamlet. Cut that in half, and you get the California Vehicle Codes.

At least he had a sense of humor about it.
Thanks that information on code 4020 really helps, and it is a contradiction of code 5030.

Now since I have already paid my fee of $53 dollars, I have 3 options either get a refund, have DMV provide me the plates and adjust the price since that fee is wrong anyway, or worst case if they keep my running in loops just assume the loss of the $53.

On Tuesday I ran into another problem, I was crossing the border from Mexico to California in San Ysidro, the immigration officer at the post told me
"you are not going through here with that bike"
me: I then replied to him that this is not a bike, it is a motorized bike.
Immigration officer: shut up, you are not going through here with that bike.
me: I do not have a bike according to code VC 231 which defines a bicycle, I have a motorized bike and showed him my temporary 30 day permit from DMV.
Immigration officer: you must go inside the building with the pedestrians.
me: I can not go inside a federal building since it is a violation of fire code, since I have a gasoline tank, and a hot engine and it is a safety hazard taking a motorized vehicle inside a zone full of pedestrians with a very hot engine.
immigration officer: shut up, and do what I am telling you.

At that point I was surround by at least 10 immigration officers, and I was lucky one of them knew what a motorized bike was, and gave me the OK go through the checkpoint.

But a few meters after the checkpoint the supervisor stops me, since according to him whenever a group of officers get together that is an incident, so I was detained for about an hour, they told me I would have to go back to Mexico I them I would not agree since I was born in Michigan, then they threaten to confiscate the motor bike for not going inside the federal building, I told him if I went inside the building with a motor vehicle my motor vehicle would be violations several vehicles codes, such as fire codes, and motor vehicles are not allowed in sidewalks.
Then the supervisor said they would call the California Highway Patrol, I had no option but to wait since I was detained without a reason.
After they spoke to the California Highway Patrols, and did a background check, I believe
everything went fine since I was told that everything was fine, and that it was good that I was doing things according to the law, and I was allowed to enter the USA, but I got no apology for the harassment they gave me.

During the harassment one officer told me to start the engine but not go anywhere, I told him that is impossible, which shows how little they know about motorized bikes.

The border is a little bit more complicated, since according to them it is not California law, but federal law, but they contradict themselves by saying that they do things according to California law, and by calling or threatening to call the CHP it would seem to imply that it is California law. I do not really know if they really called CHP since that is what they told me, but they lie a lot, on the other had I was allowed to drive the vehicle seems to indicate that the CHP said things were fine.

I would like to point that in Mexico, Tijuana I have not had a single problem with my motorized bike, and the people seem to like them a lot, there are no bike lanes, the roads are in very bad shape, but it appears that in Mexico people do like the idea of a motorized bike.

The irony in life, today I crossed the border with my motorcycle 750cc that burns oil and I had no problems, but if I crossed with a tiny engine that is great for the environment since using synthetic oil it burns very clean I risk having massive problems.

California claims to be a clean air state, but facts show otherwise, I remember years ago when I first had to register my converted van running on propane, it was a true nightmare, it took a full month worth of paper work to getting it legal, in New Mexico it was a simple process of one visit to DMV.

going back to the code 4020.
code 4020 is great not only it avoids registration, it also says it is highway legal, this is the type of document to carry with me at all times.

Most problems in California seems to be on the border, once I am out of San Ysidro, and have reached either Chula Vista, National City, or San Diego I do not have problems riding the motoredbike.

Thanks, everyone for the help
When the vehicle code says "highway", that just means a public road. Do not ever try riding this thing on a freeway. Even if you DID think it was legal to drive a motorized bike on a freeway, actually trying it would redefine the term "bad idea".