Gas Bicycles FAQ

Is There Such a Thing as a Gas Bicycle?

The short answer to the question above is, yes, there definitely is such a thing as a gas bicycle. The longer answer is, it depends on what you mean by gas bicycle, although virtually any definition you can think of likely exists. Here’s what you need to know:

Is it Street Legal?

The first thing to consider about a gas bicycle is whether or not it is street legal. Different cities have different rules regarding the use of such vehicles and you’ll have to check with your local department of motor vehicles to be certain. However, for the most part, the most basic version of a gas bicycle, which is called “pedal assist”, is legal in American cities (though you still need to check as a handful of localities may have laws against them or require licensure).

What Is Pedal Assist?

When it comes to gas bicycles, the most basic version is known as pedal assist, as noted above and most of these are street legal. In essence, what a pedal assist gas bicycle does is to have the gas motor kick in when you start pedaling. As soon as you stop pedaling however, the gas motor stops running. The idea is that because the motor is simply assisting you rather than actually performing under its own power, it is legally considered to be like an ordinary bicycle and this means that it is street legal in most American cities. There are however other options when it comes to buying a gas bicycle…

Pedal Alternative (Moped)

An alternative to the pedal assist style gas bicycle is what some call a pedal alternative gas bicycle (although the technical term for it is actually moped, as in motorized/pedal since it’s a hybrid of motorized vehicle and pedal vehicle). In essence, these kinds of vehicles have pedals and can be pedaled if you feel like doing so. However, it’s also possible to simply rest your feet on the pedals and use the gas motor to let you glide along through traffic. Typically, the gas motor on these kinds of bikes are small and won’t give you much more speed than pedaling might, however they can make life easier for those who don’t always like to pedal.

Keep in mind however that these kinds of gas bicycles are often not street legal since they can work under their own power. You need to check with your local department of motor vehicles to find out for sure before you start riding around on one.

You Need to Use Your Head with a Gas Bicycle

It’s also important to know that this kind of gas bicycle requires judgment on your part. Trying to use the motor to get up a hill for instance is generally a bad idea, since the motor is often not powerful enough to do it and you could find yourself falling down into traffic if you do so.

Buying a Gas Bike? Be Sure You Understand the Differences in Models.

Purchasing a gas bike means learning a whole new language. In essence, it’s not enough to simply walk into the local scooter store and say, I want a gas bike. You need to know the difference between different models and why one might be more worthwhile than another one. Here’s a brief primer to help you understand what you need to know when purchasing a gas bike:

CC – Bu I Don’t See

Yes, it’s confusing when you walk into a store looking for a gas bike and the first question you’re asked is how many CC you want. In essence however, CC stands for cubic centimeters and it’s the amount of displacement that a gas bike will get when its motor is running. If that sounds really complicated, think of it this way: the higher the CC rating, the more power your gas bike will have.

Why It Matters

You may be tempted to settle for a cheap gas bike which has a 50 CC rating. After all, you rationalize, I just want it for getting around town, so I don’t need more than that. Sure you don’t need more than that, as long as you don’t want to live to see tomorrow.

The fact is that a 50 CC motor is like a toy – it’s not really meant for city driving and it will not get you where you need to go. It’s entirely likely for example that even going up a small hill with a 50CC engine could mean the bike sputter and die, sending you flying backward into traffic. Generally, most experts recommend a minimum of 125 CC and even that is just the bare minimum for getting around. Don’t forget as well that at times you’ll need to speed up, but with such a tiny motor, you won’t be able to do so.

Does It Carry Two People?

Another thing to consider when looking at buying a gas bike is whether or not it carries only one person or two people. Remember, you’re planning to use this thing on the street and so a gas bike which is designed to carry only one person is never going to be adequate for carrying two people along a crowded street. You need to make sure that the gas bike you buy is properly rated for two people, not to mention that the seat is designed to be comfortable for two people. A professional in a local scooter store can help you make an informed choice on this question.


Finally, don’t forget to ask about safety when you are looking for a gas bike. Make sure that the breaks are something you can rely on and make sure to buy proper safety equipment. The fact is that more people die while riding a gas bike for lack of proper safety equipment than for any other reason you can think of. This means that you get a helmet which is properly rated for a gas bike as well as the right kind of jacket, which can actually help absorb an impact if you should have an accident while riding your gas bike.

Bottom Line

Yes, there are definitely such things as a gas bicycle (although electric versions are more common than gas powered versions). However, depending what you mean by that, you may need to check with your local department of motor vehicles before you purchase such a gas bicycle.

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