A new mode of transportation has hit the market and the streets of Santa Clara County. Pocket bikes are small motorcycles powered by 40-49cc gasoline engines or electric motors. They are being marketed and sold improperly as “motor scooters”. Pocket bikes meet the definition of a motorcycle as defined by California Vehicle Code 400(a):
CVC 400(a): A “motorcycle” is any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for use by the rider, designed to travel on not more then three wheels in contact with the ground, and weighing less then 1500 lbs.
As the motors on pocket bikes are under 150cc, they are further defined as a “motor driven cycle” per CVC 405:
CVC 405: A “motor driven cycle” is any motorcycle with a motor that displaces less then 150 cubic centimeters.
A motor driven cycle must be registered with the DMV for use on a public roadway or off-street public parking facility. The rider must be issued a valid driver's license with an M1 (motorcycle) endorsement per CVC 12500(b) and CVC 12804.9(a). The rider must wear an approved motorcycle helmet per CVC 27803. The motor driven cycle must also be equipped with all required safety equipment.
The DMV is not currently registering “pocket bikes” due to a lack of required identifying numbers (Vehicle Identification Number and Engine Number). This means that “pocket bikes” may not be driven on any public roadway or off street parking facility.
If pocket bikes are properly registered (if the DMV permits registration at a future date), riders must follow all rules of the road and applicable equipment requirements as would any other motorcycle or vehicle and are subject to citations for violations observed by officers of this department. Pocket bikes may still be used on private property (areas not open to public vehicular traffic) and the Sheriff’s Office urges those riders to obtain training in the safe operation of these vehicles and wear appropriate safety equipment. For further information regarding laws relating to pocket bikes, please contact us at (408) 868-6600 and ask to speak to a traffic officer.
Can I buy my child a pocket bike?
Yes. They are legal to purchase.
Can they be driven on the street?
No. They are not recognized by the DMV as a street-legal vehicle.
Can they ride them to school and back?
No. Again, because they are not recognized by the DMV as a street-legal vehicle.
Can they be driven on the sidewalk?
No. They are motorized vehicles which are prohibited on sidewalks.