What is a Motorized Bicycle?

What is a Motorized Bicycle?

Jan 30, 2023

There are lots of ways you can choose to get around and modern technology and advancements continue to add more to the mix. Motorized bicycles are quite a new trend, but what do you actually know about them? 

This post will answer any questions and provide the information you need to help you decide whether a motorized bicycle is something you need in your life. 

What is a Motorized Bicycle?

What is a Motorized Bicycle

A motorized bicycle has a motor and transmission attached. These either power the vehicle unassisted or help while the rider is pedaling. The engine that powers the bicycle can be electric or gas and has all the traditional components of a bicycle such as pedals, shifters, hears, a chain drive, and a bicycle frame. The frame can be made from aluminum, steel, or carbon fiber.  

When Was the First Motorized Bicycle Invented?

We first started experimenting with the motorized bike around the end of the 19th century. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to attach a steam engine to a quadricycle or tricycle. Needless to say, this idea didn’t really take off. 

It was in 1868 that the first actual motorized bike was invented in France. The next attempt at motorized cycling was the following year when the American Roper steam velocipede was introduced. 

The first gas-powered motorized bicycle was built by French motorcycle manufacturer Felix Millet in 1892. The “Millet motorcycle” as it was known, had pedals, and an engine that had a crankshaft in the back wheel. 

In England, Phelon and Rayner were one of the country's first motorized bike companies. They were in operation from 1901 to 1903. They manufactured a motorized powered by a 260cc, 1.75 horsepower gas engine. This motorized vehicles had the engine mounted onto a 28-inch bicycle frame. 

By the mid-1900s, companies were producing increasingly elaborate vehicles that we would recognize as mopeds and scooters. Do-it-yourself motorized bikes were also becoming increasingly popular in the US, England, and around the world.   

Over the years, technology has helped to shape the motorized bike into what we use today. Kits are available that come with powerful batteries, lighter engines, and cool design elements, and a key focus is on environmental conservation. 

In the last decade, the electric bike or e-bike has become massively popular, so much so that in 2020, the worldwide e-bike market was estimated to be $23 billion.  

What Were the First Motorized Bikes Used For?

Add-on motors and transmission were really only used to assist normal pedal propulsion. A dual-purpose propulsion system seemed like a good idea. 

What are the Different Types of Motorized Bicycles?

There are different types of motorized bike which are categorized by the power sources used. 

Internal Combustion Engine Bikes

Internal combustion bikes were very popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were made using engine kits that had small, two-stroke, bolt-on gasoline motors and adapter kits. Popular brands for DIY motorized bikes were Sears, Tas Spitz, and Bike Bug. The lightweight, low-cost, two-stroke engines in the kits were made in Japan by manufacturers such as Tanaka. 

Towards the end of the 1990s, relatively cheap two-stroke engines and chain-drive transmissions were coming from mainland China. The arrival of these engines sparked a wave of interest in motorized bikes. However, it became difficult for these engines to pass emission laws in the US.

Manufacturers turned to four-stroke gasoline engines for internal combustion bikes. As well as producing fewer emissions, they also consumed less oil and fuel and were quieter.    

Main specifications

  • 2-3 HP

  • 20-25 mph

  • 100-150 miles per gallon

  • Oil capacity 250 mL


  • Centrifugal clutch means you don’t have to engage and disengage the engine manually

  • Pull start enhancements

  • Independent oil reserve

  • Engine automatically disengages when the bike stops

Prices for a four-stroke motorized bike kit start from $237

Electric Bicycles

An electric bicycle or e-bike has an integrated electric motor that assists the rider in propulsion. There are generally two types of electric bicycles:

  • Electric bikes that help the rider’s pedal-power (pedelecs)

  • Electric bicycles that have a throttle 

Both types of electric motorized bikes retain the option for the rider to pedal, which differentiates them from electric motorcycles. 

Main specifications

  • Use rechargeable batteries

  • Can reach speeds of between 16 and 20 miles per hour

  • Brushed and brushless motors

  • Direct-drive and geared motors


  • An eco-friendly and healthy alternative to driving a car

  • Require less effort than a conventional bicycle

Prices for an electric bike kit start from $369 while complete e-bikes start from $1,499

Hybrid (Electric/Petroleum) Bicycles

This type of motorized bike uses internal combustion and electric power sources. These run in parallel or in series. This type of motorized bike actually uses three sources of energy: gas or petrol powered, electric, and human power. This is why this type of motorized bike is sometimes called a tribrid electric bicycle.  

Main specifications

  • For an in-series hybrid bicycle, the user pedals a generator that charges a battery or feeds the motor

  • For a parallel hybrid bicycle a hub motor, roller pressing on a tire, or connection to a wheel is the transmission element

A series hybrid electric-petroleum bicycle is not yet in production, but a prototype was made by David Kitson in Australia in 2014. It used a brushless DC electric motor, a hand-tool-sized internal combustion engine, and a 3D-printed drive system. 

Experimental and Hobbyist Types

Hobbyists around the world have been experimenting with the motorized bicycle for many years and are still coming up with new ideas today. Motorized bicycles have been built that are powered by steam and air engines.

There has been no large-scale manufacture of these types of jet-powered bicycles but you’ll find plenty of homemade examples on YouTube and Google Video.  

What are the Benefits of Motorized Bicycles?

What are the Benefits of Motorized Bicycles

If you’re not sure whether a motorized bicycle is the right choice for you, there are some benefits you should be aware of. 


A motorized bicycle is considered to be more eco-friendly than some other types of bikes. However, you do have to put fuel in them to run the internal engine. That being said, it is a small amount of fuel you have to use.

When you compare a motorized bicycle with a motorbike or motor vehicle, it will produce a fraction of the Co2.  

Improved Speed

In general, a cyclist can expect to reach speeds of between 10 and 12 miles per hour. With a motorized bicycle, you’ll be able to travel as fast as 20 miles per hour, sometimes even faster. 

With a motorized bicycle, you’ll reach your destination much quicker than with a regular bicycle. In addition, you can regulate your speed according to your requirements and the terrain. 


As long as you use all the recommended equipment, such as a helmet, chinstrap, and other protective equipment, you can enjoy a safe riding experience. 


Compared to motorcycles and regular motor vehicles, maintaining a motorized bicycle is easy. So easy that you can do it yourself or use the services of a professional if you prefer. 

Basic maintenance includes checking the tire pressures. This should be done regularly. Other maintenance tasks include checking elements such as:

  • Primary gaskets

  • Spark plugs for wear and tear

  • Throttle cable adjustment

  • Fuel filter replacement

  • Carburetor

  • Clutch adjustment

  • Check the chain

Improves Fitness

You’re probably wondering how can a motorized bicycle improve your fitness. The truth is that you still have to pedal, which means you’ll be burning calories as well as enhancing your mental and physical state.

To back up this statement you’ve only got to check out a study conducted by Brigham Young University. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and declares that people who ride electric bikes experience the same exercise as mountain bike riders but without the difficult workout.  

Easy to Ride

It’s not going to take you weeks to master the art of riding a motorized bike. It’s just as easy as riding a regular bike. 

However, to ensure you enjoy a safe riding experience, there are some things you need to be aware of. Most important of all is that you undertake all the necessary pre-checks before riding your motorized bike. If there is anything you’re unsure of, consult a professional or someone who knows all the motorized bike riding basics. 

Size and Weight

Motorized bikes come in a range of different styles and sizes. You should have no problems finding one that suits you. 

They are also adjustable and there are customizing options. For example, the bike sear, handlebar, frame, and other accessories can be adjusted to suit your needs.

In addition, bicycles also come in a variety of weights. The weight you choose will depend on where and when you plan to ride your motorized bicycle. For example, if you’re going to be riding for long periods or on hilly terrain, lightweight motorized bikes will suit you best.   



The price of motorized bike ranges from $400 right up to $2,000. The price depends on the specifications of the bike. Compared to a car or motorized bike such as a scooter, moped, or motorbike, owning a motorized bicycle is much cheaper. In addition, you might not need to worry about getting a driving license, registration, and insurance if you own a motorized bike. 

Hill Riding is Easier

One thing that puts many people off owning a traditional bike is that they’ll have to negotiate hills. Cycling up and down hills requires a lot of energy and you need to learn some techniques if you want to enjoy your cycling experience. 

A motorized bicycle allows you to get up the hills without too much difficulty. 

Long Life

Motorized bicycles are powerful and long-lasting. You can expect one to last between 3 and 10 years, provided you look after it properly. 

Motorized Bicycles Could be the Future of Transportation

Motorized bicycles come with many benefits and are becoming increasingly popular every day. Motorized bikes are used around the world by many different people and predictions are that the worldwide market will increase by 7.49% between 2020 and 2025. 

What are Motorized Bikes Used For?

Motorized bicycles can be used for a wide variety of purposes. They can be used in daily life or for recreational activities. Let’s give you some examples of the kind of person who could benefit from owning and using a motorized bicycle. 


Professionals could use motorized bicycles to get to work. They are relatively fast and safe to use and provide a great way of getting to work without using too much energy. 

Delivery People

A motorized bicycle is an affordable, fast, and safe way for a delivery person to get around. It would be an excellent option whether they’re delivering parcels, food, letters, or other similar items. 

Adventure Seekers

Adventure Seekers

If you’re looking for adventure and fun, motorized bikes would help you get further and experience more. 


With a motorized bicycle, a student will be able to get around campus and never have to worry about being late for a lecture again. 

Fitness Enthusiasts

Riding a motorized bicycle can enhance your health and fitness. 

Professional Cyclists

Practice is an important part of being a professional cyclist. With a motorized bicycle, they’ll be able to get plenty of practice in. They are safe to ride, fast, and flexible, and you’re not putting your body under too much pressure. 

City Dwellers

Getting around the city will become much easier with a motorized bike. Driving in the city can be very stressful because of all the traffic jams and crowds. On a motorized bike, you’ll be able to avoid crowds and slip through the traffic.

Senior Citizens

Riding a motorised bicycle will be a safe mode of transport for a senior citizen. They are easy to use, require less effort than a traditional bicycle, and are also a healthy option. 

What is the Legal Status of Motorized Bicycles in Different Countries?

Owning a motor driven cycle might seem like a pretty cool idea, but there are legal issues you need to be aware of. Whether it is legal to ride motorized bikes on the road depends on where you plan to ride one. 

United States

In the US, rules laid down by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) state that provided a motorized bicycle can’t exceed 20 miles per hour and has no VehicleIdentification Number (VIN), it’s classed as an off-road vehicle. 

Whether you can operate an off-road vehicle on public roads depends on your local or state motorized bike laws. 


In Canada, individual provinces have their own rules regarding the use of a motorized bicycle. 

Although it should be noted that a motorized bike that has an engine of 100cc or less will be treated the same as a conventional bike, according to the law. 

Are Motorized Bicycles Environmentally Friendly?

Motorized bikes use internal combustion engines which require fossil fuels to run. However, you get much better fuel economy than other combustion engine vehicles. The amount of gas you need to use per week to power a motorized bike is a fraction of the amount a car requires. 

In terms of eco-friendliness, it’s also worth noting that a large majority of motorized bikes are now powered by electricity. E-bikes are much cheaper to run and far less polluting.  




You’re now pretty clued up on what motorized bikes are and whether you can use one. Now it’s all down to you to decide whether you want to use one. 


How fast does a motorized bicycle go?

In general, you can expect motorized bikes to travel at a speed of up to 20 miles per hour, although some models can go faster. 

Can you still pedal a motorized bike?

Yes, you can. Motorized bikes still have pedals you can use. 

Is an electric bike the same as a motorized bike?

E-bikes are a subset of motorized bikes. They are not exactly the same but are considered similar enough to be in the same category of vehicle. 

Can you ride a motorized bicycle without a license?

The rules formotorized bikes vary depending on where you live, but in the majority of states, you will need a valid driver’s license. The type of driver’s license also varies from state to state.