July 31, 2004
Several people have asked me recently about pocket bikes used on City streets in their neighborhoods. The short answer is that they are illegal to operate on City streets. The following information is from the California Highway Patrol:
In response to concerns relating to the increased operation of mini-motorcycles (pocket bikes) on California's streets and highways, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) provides the following guidelines with the intent to enhance public safety on all roadways and to obtain compliance with the California Vehicle Code (VC) (www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html).
These mini-motorcycles or "pocket bikes" are not manufactured with a conforming 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN), indicating the manufacturers intended they be operated on private property (with owner's permission) and not for use on a highway.
Since they are not manufactured with a 17-digit VIN, they cannot get registered as a legal motor vehicle or as an off-highway vehicle, which makes them illegal for use on the highways or as an off-highway vehicle.
Definition of Highway
This is incorrect
information. There is nothing in the vehicle code that allows a
motor-driven cycle to be operated on the highway that is less than
50cc's. Any motor-driven cycle less than 150cc's is required to be
registered, meet the equipment standards of a motorcycle, and the
operator must have an M1 driver license.
What will happen if I'm stopped by the CHP while riding my pocket bike on the streets?
If a person is stopped
by a CHP officer while operating a mini-motorcycle (pocket bike) on a
highway, that person may be cited for no driver's license or lack of
proper motorcycle endorsement, unsafe vehicle, or helmet use, and the
bike may be impounded which would require tow and storage fees be paid
by the violator.
My pocket bike was advertised as a toy, so wouldn't that make them legal to ride?
No. These vehicles can
travel at high speeds (20 to 50 mph) and
ARE NOT TOYS. They are
I thought my pocket bike was a motorized scooter.
No. Pocket bikes meet
the definition of motor-driven cycles and within the definition of
"motorized scooter", Section 407.5 VC, it states that ". . . for the
purposes of this section, . . . a motor-driven cycle, as defined in
Section 405 VC, . . . is not a motorized scooter."
Where can I legally ride my pocket bike?
The pocket bikes were
manufactured for paved closed circuit racing courses. They may only be
operated on private property with the owner's permission.
Can my 10-year old child ride a motorized scooter?
The operator of a motorized scooter must be at least 16 years of age even if the motorized scooter is powered by electric energy.