Motorized bikes in Utah

License Required & Registration Not Required

  1. snppla

    snppla New Member

    I'm planning on getting a 50cc engine for my mountain bike here in Provo. My understanding is that I do not need to be licensed or registered. Do you just ride in the bike lanes except when turning or it's unreasonable? Can we ride where bikes can? Like bike trails and sidewalks with and without the engine running.

  2. loquin

    loquin Active Member


    Here's the location to review your laws on the subject.

    I searched for bicycle, and as far as I can tell, there IS no motorized bicycle definition.

    It APPEARS that it will need to be operated as a moped. In Utah, even an electric assisted bicycle is classified as a moped.

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  3. jtotton770

    jtotton770 New Member

    So it seems in reality that you are really talking about a motor assisted scooter in legal terms and so exempt from registration . It has been my experience with the law never use the term moped when talking to a cop . Your position can not defended from that point on .
  4. grndslm

    grndslm Guest

    Sounds like you need an electric bike permitted by federal law... or a scooter permitted by state law.

    And I'm pretty sure you can ride even gas motored bikes in bike lanes. Only places they should be permitted is national parks and places where you really don't wanna disturb wildlife and such.
  5. revelstone

    revelstone Member

    does anyone in this thread live near clearfiled utah. just getting started and wanted to know if i was the only crazy person in the state.
  6. Tachyon

    Tachyon New Member

    New in Utah

    Just joined and live in Clinton, Ut. Still designing my ride, no purchases yet.
  7. Skyliner70cc

    Skyliner70cc Active Member

    As long as you aren't drinking a coke or a "hot beverage" while you are riding, you should be fine :)

    Your best bet is to befriend the local police officers you will encounter. For example, yesterday I rode up to two police officers who were catching stop sign violators at the intersection by my house. I introduced myself, offered them liquid refreshments and food and then struck up a conversation. They said they had no problem with my bike and thought it was neat. I then thanked them for catching those pesky folks who don't even slow down at the stop sign (rolling stops are ok with them). I can now ride around in my n'hood with no worries.

    Good luck, have fun, and don't sweat the legal stuff. There's no death penalty yet for riding a MB.
  8. revelstone

    revelstone Member

    riding in utah

    i took a picture of my completed bike to the clearfield police. the leutentant in charge at the time said as long as the motor was not over 49cc, it was a bicycle. period. so if your in clinton, have fun. :smile:
  9. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    That's a very useful statement from the leutentant - be nice to get that on paper !!.. I have a couple of statements from law enforcement - stating close to the same - ok to ride - to be treated as bicycle - I have their comments printed out - carry with me while riding.. May help in time of need ?

    Ride That Thing - Mountainman
    Spencer Lazer 5 likes this.
  10. Roadmaster

    Roadmaster New Member

    I'm not crazy

    I have ridden my bike to work four times about 26 miles to and from and many short trips around the neighborhood. I have yet to know if its legal but so far the several sheriffs I have passed just sorta stared so I can only assume as long as I follow the rules of the road I am ok.
    Spencer Lazer 5 likes this.
  11. revelstone

    revelstone Member

    wouldn't hurt

    to take a picture or your actual bike to the kerns police dept. at the very worst they'd make you walk it home. but then you would know and you could quit worrying about it.
  12. Roadmaster

    Roadmaster New Member

    Sorry Revelstone i didnt check with the sherrif department, there is no kearns police department btw. But according the the dmv if it is not within their classification of a moped then it has to be registered, which by them is:
    My guess is since the motor assited bicycle vs the electric motor assited bicycle is still new it will still be classified as a moped until they rewrite somethings.
  13. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    usually -- most states

    while engine is on
    not allowed on sidewalks or bicycle trails

    Ride That Thing - Mountainman
  14. jbbishop

    jbbishop New Member

    Utah Laws for Motorized Bicycle

    Is it just me, or is Utah law regarding the Motorized Bicycle vexing on purpose?

    I would really like to understand the correct answer to this question because it seems to me that the consequences of being wrong on this issue could be very expensive if one were fined for driver's license, insurance AND registration issues in one go, and possibly drunk driving laws as well.

    The posts in this thread are extremely helpful and informative about what others have encountered here in Utah and my own experience has so far been similar. This is my own approach -- drive defensively. If you see a cop, hit the kill switch and pedal. I know someone who was stopped by a cop a couple of years ago and the cop asked him how many cc's his motor had. He lied and said he thought it was supposed to be 49. The cop scratched his head and said "okay." I think the laws are so confusingly ambiguous that most officers (not being trained as lawyers) would be hard pressed to know what the laws are in this regard to understand what their enforcement duties should be and are likely to avoid the problem owing to this confusion.

    When I called the DMV a couple of years ago, I was informed that a "moped" or motorized bicycle having an internal cumbustion engine of less than 50cc was not subject to a motorcycle endorsement but that laws related to drivers license and insurance and registration would apply. I was not successful in finding out how one would go about registering and insuring such a vehicle, however. They told me that there was an exception for the electric bikes and that these would "NOT" require licensing and insurance.

    This statement now seems to be in conflict with the following:
    According to Utah Code ( (line 108) a motor-driven cycle means:
    Every motorcycle and motor scooter, moped, electric assisted bicycle, motor assisted scooter, and every motorized bicycle having an engine with less than 150 cubic centimeters displacement or having a motor which produces not more than five horsepower. (Essentially, an electric bicycle is classified as a motor vehicle.)

    However, I think there is a Federal exemption on this issue.
    According to Utah Traffic Code 53-3-202 a person must be licensed to operate any motor vehicle on public roads. The definition of a motor vehicle under UCA 41-6a-102 states: a “motor vehicle means a vehicle which is self-propelled…” There are two exceptions to this. One is the “motor-assisted scooter” and the other is the “electric personal assistive mobility device”.

    What is a motorized bicycle? (Moped)
    There are two types of motorized bicycles, defined in Utah’s Traffic Code section 41-6a.
    1. Moped – A motor-driven cycle having pedals to permit propulsion by human power and a motor which produces not more than two brake horsepower. The motor is not capable of propelling the cycle at a speed in excess of 30 MPH on level ground. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters and the moped must have a power drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting by the rider after the drive system is engaged.
    2. Electric assisted bicycle – A moped with an electric motor with a power output of not more than 1,000 watts and is not capable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 MPH on level ground, or increasing the speed of the device when human power is used.

    A driver license is required to operate a motorized bicycle; however a motorcycle endorsement is not.

    The only REAL exception appears to be in this definition of the "motor assisted scooter" and the laws were changed about 8 years ago to ban a variety of small unlicensed scooters. See:
    What is a motor assisted scooter?
    A motor assisted scooter is a self-propelled device with at least two wheels in contact with the ground, a braking system capable of stopping the unit under typical operating conditions, and a gas or electric motor not larger than 40 cubic centimeters. It also must either have a deck designed for a person to stand on while operating the device, or a deck and seat designed for a person to sit, straddle, or stand while operating the device. The motor assisted scooter must be designed for the ability to be propelled by human power alone.
    No license is needed; however, a person under 15 years of age may not operate a motor assisted scooter, using the motor, unless the person is under the direct supervision of the person’s parent or guardian. A person under 8 years of age may not operate a motor assisted scooter with the motor running on any public property, highway, path, or sidewalk.
    No person may operate a motor assisted scooter:
    1) in a public parking structure,
    2) on public property posted as an area prohibiting skateboards,
    3) on a highway consisting of a total of four or more lanes designated for regular vehicular traffic,
    4) on a roadway with a posted speed limit greater than 25 miles per hour,
    5) while carrying more people at one time than the number for which it is designed, or
    6) that has been structurally or mechanically altered from the original manufacturer’s design.

    The following information appears to have been pulled out of somebody's ***. It is true of about 47 states but Utah doesn't seem to be one of them:
    Utah. No registration or insurance required. The DMV said what makes the legal requirement for a moped depends on the H.P. and the CC's. No more than 2 H.P. and no more than 50 CC's. Pedals are not a requirement for registration exemption.

    In the final analysis, the apparent distinction between a moped (of 50cc or less) and a motor assisted scooter (of 40cc or less) is that, while both may have pedals, the motor assisted scooter must have, additionally, a deck for standing on.

    I recall the lady at the DMV describing something similar to this but I don't know of any kit manufacturers that make an engine this small. Yes, I have seen the 49cc stamps on the faceplate you can buy to put on your 80cc engine. I don't know how much that would help us here in Utah, however. I don't know where you can buy anything like this "motor assisted scooter" here in the U.S. if the requirement is that the thing have pedals (which is what she told me). In actuality the rule above doesn't state that it must "have pedals," only that it is "capable of being propelled by human power alone..." in that sense any boogie board with a clutch mechanism would qualify, or something like an "Amish" type scooter with a motor on board would be perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, this would be prohibited under Amish Ordnung.


    In China they have to sell the small scooters with pedals to qualify for an exemption and the pedals are put on the things to sell them "mainly for show" in order to comply with applicable laws. After people buy them they take the pedals off and just drive them around like a regular scooter. Maybe they could ship the extra pedals here to Utah and then we could buy one of those little scooters like they used to sell at Checker and just glue the extra pedals on them?

    So, finally, here's the only type of motorized vehicle that appears to be legal without registration and insurance in Utah that you can actually purchase anywhere:


    The city of Spanish Fork, Utah specifically publishes a document that attempts to clarify the definitions here:

    Unfortunately they are clearly mistaken on a couple of issues. A motorcycle endorsement is NOT required on ANY scooter in Utah if the engine is 50cc or less. I wouldn't want to argue the point with the Spanish Fork police, however; since they have apparently been trained to believe just the opposite. Also, they seem to believe that if you stick a seat on the motor assisted scooter even if the engine is only 39cc then it becomes a motorcycle and that is NOT how I read the laws.

    I think these laws, if I understand them correctly, suck. I wish Utah were like those other 47 states on this issue.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2009
  15. BoltsMissing

    BoltsMissing Active Member

    This section here,
    In particular this part of sentence,

    Is contradictory.
    The "system" is engaged by having a clutch. Or it will be a safety dilema if the bikes were a constant direct drive. It would cause the bikes to be in-operable and unpractical.
    so we are here in DownUnder Land, but we are all enduring cost of oil for cars etc. Cost of living has skyrocketed etc etc etc....,

    I don't think, generaly speaking, the law is paying too much attention at the moement on motorized bikes. Cos if they did and treated it as some sort of capitol crime and banned us from riding our bikes, then those who use the bikes to get to work, will not be able to get to work because the cost of running a car is unsustainable.
    It's catch 22 in our favour.

    Ride safely, and yes use the kill switch so you don't attrract attention, instinctively. Common sense prevails.

    I don't knbow about most of you guys, but even if they ban these THINGS outright, I for one would keep Mtr-riding and whatever the consequences so be it, nothing to lose so they can't take something I ain't got.
    It ain't a capitol crime to ride a motored bike is what I'm trying to say,
    just ride it, sensibly.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015
  16. loquin

    loquin Active Member

    BoltsMissing: to me,
    means that you COULD have a clutch, but once it is engaged, there would be no MORE clutching/shifting to make the moped go. What they're implying is that you can't have manual gear shifting needed for normal operation. So, the 49cc HT would be legal, from this viewpoint.

    jbbishop: The link you provided ( is to a house bill, and not a law. Was this bill ever passed by the legislature, and was it signed into law by the governor? A lot of house bills never make it into the law books... Some of the lawyers who post here could a more thorough explanation, I'm sure.

    Also, note that state law trumps federal guidelines. The federal guidelines cover what safety equipment is required on vehicles and consumer products, and NOT how a device is to be registered by the state. The federal guidelines state that motorized electric bikes should be treated as bicycles (and thus, their required safety equipment is defined by the consumer products safety council,) and not as a motor vehicle, (which have THEIR safety equipment defined by the DOT,) as far as federal safety regulations go. The states can require more restrictive safety equipment.

    If the federal government really wants state highway laws changed, they have withheld federal highway funds to states which haven't adhered to some federal standards. (case in point - during the arab oil embargo of the late 70's, highway funds were withheld from states which did not lower the speed limit to 55.)

    BTW - your link.above, to motorcycles and similar devices, was bad - this is the one you were refering to, I believe.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009
  17. So can someone just give like a sentence long wander if it's legal on streets, bike lanes and sidewalks?
    Spencer Lazer 5 likes this.