Pennsylvania and its myriad of different bike definitions

1. Pedalcycle:

“A vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals or a pedalcycle with electric assist. The term does not mean a three-wheeled human-powered pedal-driven vehicle with a main driving wheel 20 inches in diameter or under and primarily designed for children six years of age or younger.”


2. Pedalcycle with electric assist:

“A vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor system rated at not more than 750 watts and equipped with operable pedals and capable of a speed not more than 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor source only. The term does not include a device specifically designed for use by persons with disabilities.”

3. Motorized pedalcycle:


“A motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals, a motor rated no more than 1.5 brake horsepower, a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and a maximum design speed of no more than 25 miles per hour or an electric motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals and an automatic transmission powered by an electric battery or battery pack-powered electric motor with a maximum design speed of no more than 25 miles per hour.”

4. Motor-driven cycle:


“A motorcycle, including a motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five brake horsepower.”

5. Motorcycle:


A motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and:

(1) designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground; or


(2) designed to travel on two wheels in contact with the ground which is modified by the addition of two stabilizing wheels on the rear of the motor vehicle.

The term includes an autocycle.”

6. Autocycle:


A three-wheeled motorcycle that has a steering wheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride.”

All definitions were sourced directly from Title 75 of Pennsylvania consolidated statutes.

Personal observation: I’m not sure that any vehicle actually exists which fits PA’s definition of motorized pedalcycle. Just about any mass-produced bicycle gas motor kit is capable of exceeding 25 mph, as is any factory-built moped. The only practical difference between a motorized pedalcycle and a motor-driven cycle, is the existence of manual pedals.


Oh, and PA does not require a license, registration or insurance for pedalcycles and pedalcycles with electric assist (e-bikes). PA does require a class C (car) drivers license, registration and insurance for motorized pedalcycles and motor-driven cycles. For some strange reason, motorized pedalcycles get their own special “moped” registration plates, but motor-driven cycles get standard motorcycle plates.

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