Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters Defined

Cycles Defined, Registration and Driver Licensing Requirements


Pictures of motorcycles over 150 CC
  • A motorcycle has more than a 150cc engine size, and no more than 3 wheels.
  • A motorcycle has to be registered and the driver must have a motorcycle license (M1).
  • M1 license holders may operate any motorized bicycle, moped or motor scooter without an M2 endorsement.

Motor-Driven Cycles

Pictures of motorcycles under 150 CC
  • A motor-driven cycle has 149cc or less engine size. CVC §405
  • A motor-driven cycle has to be registered and the driver must have a motorcycle license (M1).

NOTE: Three wheeled motorcycles or a motorcycle with a side car require only a Class C driver license. California Vehicle Code (CVC) §12804.9


Picture of a moped

A "motorized bicycle" or "moped" is:

  • A two or three-wheeled device, capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground, and equipped with:
    - Fully operative pedals for human propulsion.
    - A motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission.
    - An electric motor, with or without pedals for human propulsion. (CVC §406(a))

Driver must have a motorcycle license (M1 or M2).

If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of CVC §406(b), you:

- Must be 16 years of age or older.
- Must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet.
- Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver license, and moped plate requirements (CVC §12804.9).
  • A motorized bicycle is issued special license plates and identification cards, which requires a one-time $18 fee. No renewal is required.


Picture of a scooter
  • A motorized scooter is a two-wheeled device that has handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood upon when riding, and is powered by a motor. Click here for more information CVC §407.5
  • Motorized scooter does NOT have to be registered. A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.

Motorcycle Handbook