Friday, April 6, 2012

Get Your Motor Running

But before you head out on the highway, you might want to do a little review. For those of you who are thinking of enjoying the freedom of a pocket bike or mini motorcycle or if you are thinking about giving one to your 8-year-old, this blog’s for you.

Let me start by telling you that a “motor vehicle” by definition is any vehicle, other than a motorized bicycle or wheelchair, which is self-propelled, but not operated upon rails. Most of you know, without too much thought, that you must have a license, insurance and registration to operate a motor vehicle.

Having the above definition in mind, I’ll begin this review with “mopeds”. Mopeds, or motorized bicycles, may be propelled by human power or a helper motor. They cannot produce more than 3.5 horsepower and have no larger than a 130 cc motor. It must also have an automatic transmission. These vehicles have a maximum design speed of no more than 30 mph.

By definition, a motorized bicycle is not considered a “motor vehicle”. They are allowed on city streets and while they don’t require vehicle tags, they must have insurance. Many people try to classify a “pocket bike” or “mini motorcycle” as a moped; however, to put it as simply as possible, you don’t pedal a pocket bike, which means it is not classified as a moped.

So how about those pocket bikes? You might think it would be cute to give Little Johnny his own little “toy sport bike” but, believe it or not, a pocket bike is by definition a motor vehicle. Most pocket bikes are 49 cc and run from 4-12 horsepower. If they are more than 5 horsepower, they are a motorcycle, no matter how small. If they are under 5 horsepower, they fall into that motor-driven cycle classification. Pocket bikes and mini dirt bikes, might look like toys, but they are classified the same as the motor scooters or Vespas you see running around town operated by adults.

As for those motor scooters and pocket bikes, you might be surprised to learn that they require a license plate, insurance, and a driver’s license. If they are over 5 hp, they even require a motorcycle endorsement. What’s more is they are subject to the same equipment regulations as any other motor-drive cycle. They must have a head lamp, tail lamp, brake light, horn, muffler, and so on.

The early warm weather has already brought about a few calls regarding kids on pocket bikes. Hopefully this clarifies the laws regarding the operation of these motor vehicles, so we don’t see too much of this on the street …