I'm going to California for a few weeks, largely the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas, and to save money (and time considering LA traffic) I plan to bring a bicycle with me and use that and public transport to get around.

Seeing as a lot of the rides are long and hilly, and I have a good deal of electronics experience, I'm strongly considering mounting a motor to the bicycle to make my commute a bit easier. Would a bicycle with a motor manually attached be street legal in California, specifically in Los Angeles and San Francisco?


There are state laws pertaining to the operation of motorized bicycles (Vehicle code 21207.5.

no motorized bicycle may be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established pursuant to Section 21207, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over such path or trail permits, by ordinance, such operation

However, section 405 of the vehicle code distinguishes motorized bicycles and motor-driven cycles. Per 405:

A "motor-driven cycle" is any motorcycle with a motor that displaces less than 150 cubic centimeters. A motor-driven cycle does not include a motorized bicycle, as defined in Section 406.

It does not matter if you do it yourself.


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