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Do I need to carry scooter insurance in California?

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The answer is… YES!

According to California DMV regulations,  insurance is required if you want to ride legally on the streets or highways. In most cases, this means that you won’t be able to get a license plate or renew your registration for a motorbike without showing proof of insurance to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles authorities. There are a number of distinct types of policies you can select. Such protections can include:

  • Bodily Injury Liability
  • Property Damage Liability Limit
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage
  • Collision Coverage
  • Comprehensive Coverage (includes Theft)

Protection against motorists lacking insurance is recommended for motorcyclists. Why? Because nearly 1.5 in 10 motorists lacks insurance. Since automobile drivers are often the culprit in crashes with motorcycles, it is critical to safeguard oneself monetarily.

California Liability Coverage Minimum Requirements

In California, the mandatory type of scooter insurance coverage is minimum liability.  Minimum liability covers you in financial terms if you are found to be at fault for personal injuries or damages to a 3rd party.

California has regulations mandating the minimum degree of liability coverage you must have. Typically, you will see these liability coverages posted as three cash figures. In California, the minimum requirements are currently $15,000/$30,000/$5,000.

With a Vespa, the all steel body and automotive quality paint finish results in costly repair bills so that just knocking over your bike in a driveway can, potentially, lead to the bike being written off by the insurer.

Always remember that standard liability coverage fails to offer protection to the rider, the machine being ridden, or passengers – only your legal risk as required by the state of California.

One saving grace with scooter insurance, is that it’s very affordable next to car and large motorcycle insurance. Since the scooters we carry are relatively low displacement engine size (under 500cc) your insurance should be pennies a day. We’ve heard of rates from $200 to $500 per-year.

We do not offer in house insurance, but we have partnered with one of our customers who’s specialized in finding the right insurance for you:

Daiju Yamaguchi
Farmers Insurance
3609 4th Ave Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92103
License Number: 0F51803



Where can I park my scooter and do I have to pay the meter?



We receive a lot of emails and telephone calls from our customers and friends regarding motorcycle parking laws in California.  Below is a summary of the dos and don’ts…


Street Parking for Scooters

California Vehicle Code section 22503 states that a motorcycle must be parked with one wheel touching the right-hand curb, or, on a one-way street, one wheel must be touching either curb.

Can I park a motorcycle on the sidewalk?

The short answer is no.  Under the California Vehicle Code section 22500, no motor vehicle may be parked on the sidewalk, including scooters.  However, some jurisdictions do not enforce this rule.  (San Diego, for example, seems to be very lax about this.   But some cities can be militant about enforcement, so,  in other words, park on the sidewalk at your own risk!

Is it legal to park between metered parking spots in California?

Again, the short answer is no.  However, jurisdictions vary significantly in their enforcement of this rule.  In some California towns, it is unheard of to receive a violation for parking between metered spaces.  In many others, however, cops and parking enforcement officers will quickly cite you for doing this.   In San Diego, it is a fairly common practice among scooter and motorcycle riders, and the writing of citations seems pretty rare.  However, do so at your own risk!

Is it legal to share metered parking spots in California?

While it is rare to hear of motorcyclists getting ticketed for sharing metered spaces with other motorcycles (or car), it can happen.  This seems absurd (although the words “absurd” and “law enforcement” go together far more frequently than they should).  If you aren’t familiar with parking enforcement in a particular area, we recommend asking other riders – or better yet, a meter maid, whether their policy is to ticket motorcycles for sharing a metered space.  Beware, though, that if one officer tells you it’s okay, and another cop gives you a ticket, you probably won’t have much luck fighting the ticket in court.  Keep in mind if you share a metered spot with another vehicle that is already parked, make sure there is enough time on the meter (cough up some change). If the meter expires, both vehicles will get ticketed for sure.


Can I test ride a scooter BEFORE I buy it?

We absolutely do offer test drives. We even encourage them so you know what you’re getting into!

Here are a few details:

  • You must bring a valid M1 Motrocycle Drivers License or valid Learners Permit if you want to drive.
  • When you agree to the terms of a test ride, you are legally and financially for the care and handling of the scooter, so be prepared to take responsibility for the bike you’d like to ride.  If you aren’t sure if the scooter is too big or powerful to accommodate your riding style or experience, ask one of our staff members to fit you for a scooter and they’ll be happy to offer recommendations.

The basic scooter safety items you should ride with are:

  • Helmet (and eye protection)
  • Gloves
  • Jacket
  • Long Pants
  • Proper Footwear

testride1Bring your helmet if you have one, or we will supply you with one of our loaner helmets.

Same with gloves bring a good pair, preferably leather and/or padded, like the NAPA or Motopecan gloves available in our shop. We do NOT have some loaner gloves on hand.

Any jacket or hoodie with long sleeves will do.  We strongly recommend armoured jackets such as the ones we sell in our showroom.

For your legs, jeans are best for safety.  On your feet, a sturdy boot or shoe is safest.  Tennis shoes are ok on scooters since your feet rest is on a platform and there are no gears to change.


Financing Deals on Genuine Scooters

Sheffield Financial and Genuine Scooter Company just announced some great rates for the upcoming summer scooter season. Right now, Sheffield is offering the following promotional rates*:

  • 2.9% for 36 months
  • 6 months with no interest (12.95% for 48 months after 6 mos. interest-free)

These deals are available on all Genuine products, including the Buddy 125, Buddy 170, Stella 4T, and Blur 200. Rates are good through the summer of 2013.


*Rates available on approved credit. Pre-approval application available at Sheffield Financial.

These rates expire 12/31/2013

California’s Motorcycle License Requirement

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!

Should I Take a Motorcycle Safety Course?

Anytime someone without a motorcycle license visits Vespa Motorsport, we recommend that they take a CHP-certified motorcycle safety class. There are many advantages to these classes and they’re a fun and enlightening way to get introduced to the world of two wheels.

The advantages to a safety course are many:

  • Safety courses emphasize defensive driving.
  • A CHP-certified course means you do not have to take the DMV’s driving test.
  • Insurance companies offer lower insurance rates to graduates.
  • You’ll be a safer rider!

In fact, we’ve never had someone visit our shop and tell us they regretted taking a safety course. Everyone swears by it!

If you are here in San Diego County, you can find the nearest CHP-certified motorcycle safety course by visiting the website of the California Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Alternately, if you’re in the city of San Diego, check out the Pacific Safety Council, our local CHP- and MSF-certified course location.

Once you have an M1 license or permit, you’re legal to participate in the Vespa Motorsport test-drive program!

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