Unlike electric bicyclists, moped drivers are required to wear a helmet, have a driver’s license, and register their vehicle. A bicycle is classified as a motorized bike rather than a moped if its engine is not greater than 750 and it travels at a speed not faster than 20 miles per hour.
Motorized bicycles are permitted on most roads except certain freeways and sidewalks. Riders should always research their local county and municipal ordinances before driving their motorized bike.
In this article, our Las Vegas 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 required?
- 4. Do you need a driver’s licenses for motorized bicycles?
- 5. Is special equipment required?
- 6. Does DUI law apply to motorized bicycles?
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
- are capable of a maximum speed of no more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying a 170-pound rider
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 of 30 miles per hour on a flat surface 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:
Electric Bicycle 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|
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 are not required to wear protective headgear, though it is highly encouraged and can prevent serious injuries. Starting October 1, 2019, moped drivers will be required 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 strong chin straps with rivets;
- Have no external components that extend more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet’s surface;
- Are labeled with the manufacturer’s name, model type, year, and materials; and
- Are imprinted with DOT in the back, which certifies compliance with the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards.8
If the moped has no transparent windscreen, drivers are also required to wear goggles, glasses, or face shields.9
Moped drivers who fail to wear a helmet can be cited and have two (2) Nevada demerit points added to their driver’s license.10 The citation fine varies by location.
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 required for motorcyclists.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 be equipped with:
- 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:
- The seat’s height does not permit the driver’s two feet to reach the ground simultaneously.
- The handlebars are no more than six (6) inches above the driver’s shoulders while he/she is on the moped; furthermore, the driver is required to have at least one hand on the handlebar at all times.
- The wheels have fenders.
- The moped is equipped with stoplights and one or two headlamps visible from 1,000 feet; these headlamps are required during weather with low visibility and from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
- The headlamps 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 mounted 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 be charged with the Nevada crime of reckless endangerment (NRS 202.595). People caught riding a moped while drunk of high will likely be charged with the Nevada crime of DUI.
The penalties for cycling or driving a moped while impaired depend on whether someone gets seriously injured or killed. Note that moped drivers charged with DUI face getting their driver’s licenses suspended as well.
Also see our article on Nevada bicycle safety laws.
- NRS 484B.017.
- NRS 486.038.
- NRS 484B.763; Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- NRS 486.351; Nevada DMV Mopeds; Nevada DMV Bicycles.
- NRS 482.210; Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- Nevada Senate Bill 408 (2019).
- DOT (Nevada Department of Transportation) and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
- NRS 486.231.
- Nevada DMV Violation Codes.
- Nevada DMV Mopeds.
- NRS 484B.783.
- NRS 486.180. – .361