I along with many others in California have successfully registered my Sur Ron as a Moped. Each state varies in its requirements, so this only covers California.

From the California DMV Website:

Mopeds

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.

Some of you may have seen this post by CurrenteBikes.com:

Before getting too excited about the absence of Maximum Motor-Assisted Speed (MPH) just because there is not a limit on their chart, the CA DMV is very specific that a moped cannot exceed 30 MPH as outlined above.

I have highlighted the areas on the form you need to fill out and how to answer.

This link takes you to the PDF Moped application.

Many people run into the issue of the VIN not being 17 digits. My insurance company called to verify that my VIN was 15 digits. Unlike some who add letters or numbers to make their VIN 17 digits I did not. Nor did I try to ‘cheap out’ to get the lowest premium possible through online companies. Nope, my primary concern is liability if I hit someone or destroy property. Of course I would be concerned if someone stole my bike, but the real exposure to my hard earned assets is liability. Up to you to decide. Just remember cheap insurance is expensive if during a claim you are not covered well.

And in CA liability insurance is required for a moped!

OH and moped plates in CA do NOT require annual registration. So once paid you are good for life! How great is that!?

Formerly mundane errands are now fun not to mention saving wear and tear on my car. Make no mistake, my primary use for the Sur Ron is off-road and now with a valid CA Plate it is legal at all CA OHV parks too! To have it serve as a dual sport electric bike is incredible!

Just a simple piece of aluminum slightly bent is what I use to mount my moped plate to the rear tail light bracket. I use wingnuts so I can easily remove the plate when “I just wanna be a fancy electric bicycle.”

15 Comments

  1. Hey thank you so much for this! What insurance company would you recommend?

    • I use State Farm through my regular “human” agent.

      • What do you mean by “human”?

        • I suggest you address that question to the State of California since it is their statement, not mine.

          • Lol ok, so do I just hit up one of these “human” agents? State farms seems so different then all the other insurance quotes I got. Also do you know that they will pay out on a theft claim? I saw someone with progressive who had his Sur Ron stolen and progressive wouldn’t pay because he didn’t have a title but was registered as a moped.

          • Hahahaha, hey Rami I have used State Farm for decades. I CANNOT speak first hand about being reimbursed for a theft claim because I’ve not had a theft. I will say that I’ve had a house fire, three vehicles totalled, and two accidents in my lifetime. IN EACH AND EVERY CASE they covered my claim well. Yes when I was on the private FB group Geronimo had his bike stolen. I cannot remember who was his insurer, but I do know THIS. ANY insurance firm will gladly take your premiums, but the real test comes at the time you file a claim. And that great deal you though you got and bragged to your friends about doesn’t mean shit if your claim is denied. To each their own, but my personal experience with State Farm when filing a claim has been stellar. Having a real agent makes a difference to me personally. When I need to file a claim I don’t get on my computer, I talk to Carol and she handles everything….well.

            Up to you.

  2. Hi, thanks for all the info. I’m in the research phase of trying to decide whether to sell my old RM250 dirt bike to purchase one of these bikes. I also live in CA. I see that you have pedals on your bike, is that required to make it legal? I really hate pedals, lol. Also I was under the impression that these bikes were quite a bit faster than the stated 30mph limit. Do they check that when you register it?

    • Hi Christopher, I believe I may be the only human on Earth who has the pedal kit installed, so no worries. To answer your question about the CA law regarding pedals, if you read the portion of the post where I’ve quoted the DMV:

      “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))

      As you can see you do NOT need pedals. No one checks, you do it all online. Hope this helps

  3. Hi Mark,

    I’d like to thank you for all the informative info you let everyone know through your site, much appreciated! I’d like to ask if my SR MX LB was registered as a moped. I’d have to take the plate off to ride in certain areas that are restricted to licensed vehicles, correct? I also have a pedal kit on my Sur Ron for compliance as I ride at times on the bicycle paths. But I ride lo and slo. Never show off and I don’t pass people. I try to stay under the radar. When the LE see my bike they seem taken aback and look at it but I’ve never been stopped YET. As it does look like a off road dirt bike like it is!. Respect hopefully will get me far. I ride around neighborhoods with open space and dirt trails. Same thing applies. No noise, not to crazy and respect. I only get stopped by people who are so interested in what I’m riding. So Thanks again for all your info. Bruce

    • Hey Bruce thanks for taking the time to say thanks. Much appreciated. Here’s my personal experience with my CA moped plate. I was so excited to get one as I felt that having one would allow me to ride the bike on the street without any hassles. And that was true. I’d keep my plate on whenever I was on public roads, or when entering the OHV parks here in the Bay Area. I’d remove the plate when I arrived at places where a plate is not needed or welcome, meaning on bike paths, etc. Now I seldom if ever use the plate. Why? Well everyone looks at a plated vehicle as a vehicle. I now prefer to be viewed as just a fancy ebike. I ride in the bike lanes when I’m on public roads, but I seldom do that now. I only have to ride 0.8 miles on a public road before hitting the Bay Trail bike path.

      I like to ride in vacant lots, along the Bay Trail, in hilly parks, etc. I’ve not installed turn signals, but just use hand signals when riding on public roads. I really don’t want to turn my bike into ‘a motorcycle’ just like I don’t want to turn my iPad into a phone or laptop. For me the SR is a new wonderful niche that didn’t exist in my world before.

      I feel you and I ride in the same manner, meaning with respect for where and how others are riding. Like you I have no need to ‘prove’ anything. Sure I really enjoyed racing back in the day, but no more. I love the silence of the ride especially at night when ICE bikes could never ride in the areas I most enjoy. I also feel that so many worry about law enforcement. If bikes were the priority in LE then we would all live in a world that is much safer than reality. LE has MUCH MORE IMPORTANT issues to deal with than an ebike. Now being an asshole on a SR or anything will attract attention. I’m here to enjoy my own ride and seldom make eye contact with those looking at my bike. I stop in areas where no one is around to enjoy the scenes around me. When people do happen to be around I answer questions and have found women have way more intelligent questions than most fellas.

      Most fun two wheeled vehicle I’ve ever owned. Lighter than any girlfriend I’ve ever had and faster than I can pedal my bicycles, way faster. Plus for me the SR is one handsome bike!

  4. I love how all these comments mention enjoying the silence of a Sur-Ron…… Of the 6 electric bikes I own the Sur-Ron is far and away the loudest. While a fun bike, it is also least likely to pass the eye test from LE (with pegs).

    • Cory, been riding mine in the Bay Area now for 19 months, 2900 miles. Ridden by and around LE and only ONCE has an officer said anything to me. As traffic was slowing down to look at my bike as I rode in the bike lane and then they suddenly sped up an officer pulled up and said “I should cite you for impeding traffic! But that’s one cool bike, so I can see why people are slowing. Have fun!” LE have many more important things to attend to then my Sur Ron, UNLESS I’m riding like or being an asshole. But then again I could be on a pedal bike being an asshole and get pulled over…for good reason. And yes I can understand that having only pegs on a SR ‘may’ attract LE attention if you’re riding somewhere normally only occupied by bicycles.

      I have the pedal kit because it offers me more options where to ride without undue attention. I like to have options, but to each their own.

      This is the most fun bike I’ve ever owned. Have fun!

  5. Mark, first off: thank you so much for posting this information. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this process for a long time now and this post has helped me immensely.

    I do have two last questions lingering in my head after reading the post and comments section:

    At what point is insurance required, meaning do I need to have an insurance policy all figured out for the bike before mailing the form in to the DMV or can I work on insurance once I receive plates from the DMV in the mail?

    Also, do you mind sharing what the monthly cost of your insurance is for the bike?

    • Hi Charles, thanks for letting me know the information has helped you. It makes it more worthwhile maintaining this site. To answer your questions:

      At what point is insurance required, meaning do I need to have an insurance policy all figured out for the bike before mailing the form in to the DMV or can I work on insurance once I receive plates from the DMV in the mail?
      In California when riding on public roads with a moped plate several things are required:
      16 years of age minimum
      Current minimum coverage liability insurance
      A DOT approved helmet
      A class M operator’s license. (Motorcycle license)
      When you apply for a CA moped plate you do NOT need to have proof of insurance to obtain the plate.
      Just as an FYI which I believe I mention in my post I’m happy to have a moped plate, but now I never use it. Why? Because I want to be viewed as a bicycle. Once anyone, the police, the public see a license plate you’re viewed completely differently than as just a bicycle. Everyone’s needs/wants are different though.

      Also, do you mind sharing what the monthly cost of your insurance is for the bike?
      $237.74 a year for full coverage. I know there are folks out there who do their best to get the cheapest insurance and that’s fine for them. But for me since I’m older and have worked hard to build my finances my first concern is NOT theft. It’s liability. Sure I’d be fucking pissed if someone stole my bike, but if for some reason I injured someone and they brought litigation against me to seriously injured my finances the bike would be way behind that aspect. And all insurers will gladly take your premium. The real test is when a claim is filed. I prefer to have an actual human agent and my experience with State Farm has been stellar with claims. To each their own.

      • Brilliant! Thank you for those answers. My form is in the mail to the DMV so now I’m just crossing my fingers that the application goes well.

        I’ll be sure to grab a DOT approved helmet and the required insurance if the plates come through. I’ve also got your site bookmarked so that I can follow along on future posts. Cheers!


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