Motorized bicycles are permissible on most Nevada public roads except certain freeways and sidewalks. Moped riders must wear helmets, have a driver’s license and register the moped. In contrast, electric bike riders do not have to wear helmets, have a driver’s license, or register the bike.
Riders should always research their local county and municipal ordinances before driving their motorized bike.
In this article, our Nevada personal injury attorneys discuss common Nevada motorized bicycle laws:
- 1. What is the legal definition of “motorized bicycles” in Nevada?
- 2. Are there special traffic laws for motorized bikes?
- 3. Are helmets mandatory?
- 4. Do you need a driver’s licenses for motorized bicycles?
- 5. Is special equipment required?
- 6. Does DUI law apply to motorized bicycles?
- 7. What about Nevada electric bike laws?
Nevada law does not define what a “motorized bicycle” is, but it does define “electric bicycle” and “moped.” They are different in certain key ways:
1.1. Electric bicycles
Electric bicycles are bikes that have the following features:
- two or three wheels;
- are propelled by a small electric engine which produces no more than one (1) gross brake horsepower and produces no more than 750 watts final output; and also
- are capable of a maximum speed of no more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying a 170-pound rider
In sum, electric bicycles look like ordinary bicycles, but they have an engine.1
Mopeds are motor-driven scooters, cycles, or similar devices that are propelled by a small engine which either:
- produces no more than two (2) gross brake horsepower;
- has a displacement of no more than 50 cubic centimeters; or
- produces no more than 1,500 watts final output
In addition, mopeds are capable of a maximum speed limit of 30 miles per hour on level ground with no more than a one percent (1%) grade in any direction.2
1.3. Electric bikes vs. mopeds
The central distinction between electric bikes and mopeds is that mopeds are more powerful and faster:
E-Bike Maximums in Nevada
Moped Maximums in Nevada
|1 brake horsepower||2 brake horsepower|
|750 watts final output||1,500 watts final output|
|20 mph||30 mph|
Therefore, mopeds tend to be bigger devices than electric bicycles. But once an electric bicycle goes faster than 20 mph, it is considered a moped — and police will expect the biker to abide by moped traffic rules.
Note that mopeds that exceed 30 mph are considered motorcycles in Nevada, and the police will expect the driver to abide by motorcycle traffic rules. Learn more about motorcycle safety laws in Nevada.
Electric bicyclists and moped drivers are required to abide by Nevada’s traffic rules and can be cited for violating them.3 In addition, they are required to ride on the far right of the road unless they are turning left or it would be unsafe to stay right.4
Cyclists are not required to register their electric bikes with the Nevada DMV, but moped drivers are required to register their mopeds. However, annual registration is unnecessary; the registration remains valid for as long as the driver has the moped.5
It is not required for cyclists or moped drivers to have liability insurance.6
Electric bicycle riders do not have to wear protective headgear, though they should wear helmets anyway since they can prevent serious injuries. Starting October 1, 2019, moped drivers do have to wear helmets like motorcyclists are.7
Moped helmets must meet the following requirements:
- Weigh three (3) pounds minimum;
- Have a minimum one (1)-inch thick layer of firm polystyrene foam as an inner liner;
- Have with strong chin straps with rivets;
- Not have external components that extend more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface;
- Have a label with the manufacturer’s name, model type, year, and materials; and
- Have a DOT imprint in the back, which certifies compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards.8
If the moped has no transparent windscreen, drivers must also wear goggles, glasses, or face shields.9
Moped drivers who fail to wear a helmet risk getting a citation and having two (2) Nevada demerit points going on their driver’s license.10 The citation fine varies by location.
See our related article, Do you have to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle in Nevada?
Electric bicyclists do not need a driver’s license in Nevada, but moped drivers do.
Note that moped drivers only need a Class C license, which is the standard license for driving automobiles. Moped drivers do not need the Class M license that motorcyclists need.11
5.1. Electric bicycles
Electric bikes must have the following features in order to be allowed on a public roadway in Nevada:
- a break that enables the biker to make the wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement; and
- at night, the bike must have:
- A lamp on the front which emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front;
- A red reflector on the rear which must be visible from 50 feet to 300 feet to the rear; and
- Reflective material that is visible from both sides of the bicycle for 600 feet when directly in front of the lawful lower beams of the headlamps of a motor vehicle, or a lighted lamp visible from both sides from at least 500 feet.12
Mopeds must have the following features in order to be allowed on a public roadway in Nevada:
- Seat’s height does not permit the driver’s two feet pedals to reach the ground simultaneously.
- Handlebars are no more than six (6) inches above the driver’s shoulders while he/she is on the moped; furthermore, the driver must have at least one hand on the handlebar at all times.
- Wheels have fenders.
- The moped has stoplights and one or two headlamps visible from 1,000 feet; these headlamps must be on during weather with low visibility and from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
- Headlamps/headlights are 24 to 54 inches from the ground, and the color temperature is 5,000 to 6,000 kelvins.
- The moped has at least one (1) tail lamp that shines a red light that can be seen from 500 feet.
- There is at least one (1) rear reflector from 20 inches to 60 inches above the ground, and the reflector can be seen from 300 feet.
- There are two (2) mirrors that are at least three (3) inches long, which are on each handlebar; these mirrors must allow the driver to see 200 feet to the rear.
- The moped has brakes.
Unlike motorcycles, mopeds do not need to have turn signals.13
It is illegal to drive any motorized bike while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Nevada.
People caught riding an electronic bike while drunk or high will likely face charges for reckless endangerment (NRS 202.595). Riders caught on a moped while drunk or high will likely face charges for DUI.
The penalties for cycling or driving a moped while drunk or high depend on whether the rider hurts or kills someone. And the DMV will revoke their driver’s license as well.
Electric bicycles are a type of motorized bicycle that go no faster than 20 mph and produce a maximum of 750 watts final output and one gross brake horsepower. Nevada’s five top electric bike laws are:
- The DMV does not require registration of electric bikes.
- Electric bike cyclists do not need helmets, liability insurance or a driver’s license.
- Riders must also keep to the far right of the road unless they are making a left turn or it would be unsafe.
- Electric bike cyclists must follow the rules of the road and face traffic tickets for violating them.
- Electric bike riders who are drunk or high face charges for reckless endangerment, not DUI.
Also see our article on Nevada bicycle safety laws. Check your local laws for rules regarding using e-bikes on mountain bike trails.
In California? See our article on ebike accident lawsuits in California.
- NRS 484B.017.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. 486.038. See also, for example, Pacheco v. State (2012) 381 P.3d 648; State v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court (Supreme Court of Nevada, 1985) 101 Nev. 658.
- NRS 484B.763; also see Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- Nev. Rev. Stat. 486.351; see also Nevada DMV Mopeds; also see Nevada DMV Bicycles.
- NRS 482.210; Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- Nev. Senate Bill 408 (2019).
- DOT (Nevada Department of Transportation) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
- NRS 486.231.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
- Nev. DMV Mopeds.
- See also NRS 484B.783.
- Also see NRS 486.180. – .361