I was up at the DMV this morning to get my motorcycle license for my Honda Helix 250cc scooter. Although totally committed to electric, I bought this because of range and excellent fuel economy of 70 mpg. And it can carry a load of stuff.
Anyway, while I was there I picked up the Vermont Motorcycle Manual. To clarify, this is what it says about MDC, formerly mopeds:
"Motor-driven cycle" means any vehicle equipped with two or three wheels, a power source of providing up to maximum of two brake horsepower and a piston or rotor displacement of 50cc if a combustion engine is used, which will propel the vehicle, unassisted, at a speed not to exceed 30 mph, with a power system that functions automatically only, not requiring clutching or shifting."
And then it says:
"If the following statements are true, you have a MDC. If any of the statements are not true, then you have a motorcycle:
1. vehicle is designed to travel at 30 mph or less on a level road surface
2. the vehicle has a combustable engine that is 50cc or less
3. the vehicle shifts automatically.
Then to add complexity, in the "what is a motorcycle" section, it states "...is two or three wheels, weighs less than 1500 lbs, has the capacity to maintain posted highway speed limits, and which uses electricity as its primary motive power (so) shall be registered as a motorcycle but the operator of such vehicle shall not be required to have a motorcycle license nor comply with provisions requiring headgear."
HUH? So for your 60 mph electric motorcycle, you need a motorcycle plate, but your not required to have a motorcycle license or wear a helmet.
This goes to show that whatever one's views on the subject of going legal may be, it is worthwhile to know these statures for your jurisdiction so if you ever do get pulled over and the officer fusses about not being a legal vehicle, you can quote from the standards or even show him if you keep a copy on you.
2c for what its worth.
AS a side note, I ran into someone who had a 3 wheeled motorcycle engined Morgan Replica. These were low slung sportscars built in England before the war and are now considered highly collectible. This retired doctor had bought himself a beautiful replica in the neighborhood of $70k +. Enjoying his retirement.
Interesting enough, although it was definitely a car with two seats, doors, a windshield, steering wheel and all, the fact that it was a three wheeler meant that he had to get his mandatory safety inspection at the motorcycle dealer as it was considered a motorcycle.