There’s a lot of confusion surrounding California’s motorcycle license requirement, which is why we get asked “Do I need a license to drive one of these scooters?” more than any other question. The short answer is that you do need a motorcycle license to ride a scooter, no matter the size of the scooter, if it has an engine and 2 wheels you will need a Motorcycle license to operate it in California. For evidence of this, see the DMV’s page “Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters defined.”
Most of the confusion on this issue comes out of how the word “scooter” is used. We always use this word to refer to Vespa and Genuine scooters etc., but the California Vehicle Code, for instance, defines “scooter” as something completely different from the Vespas and other scooters that we sell at Vespa Motorsport. Legally then, the scooters at Vespa Motorsport are either designated “motorcycles” (if they have 150cc or more) or “motor-driven cycles” (if they have fewer than 150cc). At the DMV page linked above, for instance, they show an image of a 49cc Yamaha and define it as a “motor-driven cycle” that requires an M1 motorcycle license.
Thus, a motorcycle license is required for all of the “scooters” we sell, and scooters with 150cc or more are freeway legal.
One caveat: if a scooter or motorcycle has 3 wheels, such as the Piaggio MP3, it does not require a motorcycle license in California. A class C, car license, will suffice for these. That being said, we still highly recommend a Motorcycle license to operate one of these vehicles.
How do I get an M1 license in California?
To get a motorcycle license in California, there are two easy steps:
Step 1: Take the DMV’s 25-question permit test. You can take a sample test, schedule an appointment, or find the motorcycle handbook all available on the DMV website Click here.
Step 2: Take a motorcycle safety course (OR take the DMV’s driving test after you complete step 1).
That’s it! The good news is that getting a license in California is a pretty easy, 2-step process. The further good news is that once you get an M1 permit or an M1 license, you can visit Vespa Motorsport and test-drive some of our scooters!