California Changes The Definition Of A Motorcycle

Apterra

Seems that the golden state has decided to alter the definition of what is a motorcycle. What counts as a motorcycle in California? If it’s got two or three wheels, it’ll be a motorcycle. Period.

Simple, no? There used to be a weight limit on three-wheeled vehicles in Cal, anything above a certain weight, and it counted as something other than a motorcycle, and would be taxed, licensed and permitted accordingly (e.g. if it was a really heavy trike, you couldn’t run it in the HOV lane). Now that restriction has been removed, meaning it could turn into a free for all for trikes. The real upside of this is how it will affect alternative vehicle designers and manufacturers in California. Now rather than trying to make a featherweight, er, car like the Aptera or Venture One, an entrepreneur could design and build something a little more robust. Also feeding into the alt-vehicle scene is that California will also no longer differentiate between motorcycles that run on alternative fuels. However it’s powered, gasoline, electricity, or hydrogen, whatever, if it’s got two or three wheels, it’ll be a motorcycle.

There is, as always, a dark side … one question that the law does not seem to resolve is whether the operators of three wheelers will now have to have a motorcycle license. Up to now three wheelers have not been classified as motorcycles and could be driven by anyone with a regular driver’s license. Does this new law mean that in the future, an Aptera or Venture One owner will have to take their car-sized, er, “bike” down to the DMV and try to maneuver it around some cones?

That could be fun to watch.

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About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric “systems.” He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

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