Focus: no need for a driving licence
Since the original manufacturers of motor scooters and mopeds, over 50 years ago, decided to build machines capable of being ridden by normal people who could not afford cars, it has been the case, pretty much all over the world, that “under 50cc’s two wheeled bikes” have not needed the more stringent licences required of their larger cousins.
This is still the case in most places, although it must be said that the actual laws do vary from country to country and even state to state in the USA.
In most states you do not need a full motorbike licence to ride a 49cc scooter, which is why a lot of them are made and are becoming even more popular.
Scooters of under 50cc’s are classed legally as mopeds and as such should not exceed 30mph on level ground, however a few states stipulate that this top speed should only be 20 or 25 mph. In most states the maximum engine capacity for a vehicle to be a ‘moped’ is “under 50cc’s”, however some states allow up to 80 or even 130cc’s. In some states you have to have pedals (even if you never use them0 but in the majority, not.
Confused? Well so is everyone else. Suffice it to say that you have to check this out for yourself before you go ahead and buy anything over 49cc’s because there’s a slim chance that your state may require you to get a ‘grown-up’ licence for your machine.
In general, along with the rest of the world most states are happy not to require full licences, however there will, wherever you are, be an age limit below which you may not ride a scooter or moped.
In many states, and indeed countries all over the world, the age for being able to ride a 49cc scooter or moped is less than that necessary for being able to apply for a motorbike or car licence; hence they are often the first form of motorised transport you are allowed to drive. Many young people take advantage of this option. In the UK, for instance you may ride a 49cc Scooter or moped at 16, but cannot even get a ‘provisional, or learner’s’ licence until you are 17.
Millions of scooters all over the world are produced in the ‘under 49cc’ category for this very reason. Some states in the US and many countries do not require any documentation whatsoever; however insurance may be compulsory nonetheless.
The laws may seem to be a jurisprudictional minefield but a quick check at the local police station will save you an awful lot of bother. They will be able to tell you exactly what you are allowed to do (or not do), and also advise you, if you live near a state boundary, what you can do ‘next door’ too.
Under normal circumstances you are likely to be free to enjoy your 49cc scooter without much, if any, red-tape. So, having checked, go out and do just that. Have fun.
About the Author: Independent Author in Thailand