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E-Motorcycle Impound Makes for Expensive Lesson

Jun 08, 2023 10:15AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Photo via Manhattan Beach Police Department

The Manhattan Beach Police Department this week impounded an e-motorcycle (electric off-road dirt bike) being driven on the streets by a 13-year-old, resulting in an expensive lesson.

"Well, we tried to warn you!" the MBPD posted in a widely shared social media post this week. "We totally get that electric vehicles are the wave of the future and that everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. HOWEVER, giving a 13-year-old an electric [motorcycle] that exceeds 30 mph, that lacks required safety equipment, and a driver without any sort of understanding of the rules of the road is just a recipe for disaster."

MBPD Sergeant Andy Abreu told MB News that the ride in question was a Surron e-motorcycle that does not fit any of the electric bike classes because it is made for off-road use.  "It fails to have required safety features such as side view mirrors that are required for motorcycles," explained Abreu. 

Furthermore, said Abreu, Surron states on their website that their electric motorcycles have motors that are between 3000-6000 watts. An electric bicycle is defined as a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts.

Abreu said that the young rider was cited for a violation of 12500(a)VC- Unlicensed Driver, and that the e-motorcycle was impounded for a violation of 14602.(a)VC- Unlicensed Driver/Never been issued DL/Suspended or Revoked DL.

The seizing of the e-motorcycle resulted in an impound fee from the city of Manhattan Beach, a towing fee from Van Lingen Towing, a 30-day impound, for which owners have to pay by the day, plus the cost of the ticket.

(Photo credit: Pete Halvorsen)


All told, the penalties may cost as much as $1000. That includes approximately $125 for towing, $405 for 30 days of (motorcycle) impound, $142 for the Manhattan Beach impounded vehicle release fee, up to $250 for the unlicensed driver citation, plus taxes and any other applicable fees.

(The towing fee and daily impound cost is based on Los Angeles County averages; the towing cost will vary depend on the vehicle and distance towed. A spokesperson for Van Lingen Towing told MB News that the exact fees could only be disclosed to the owner of the vehicle.)

The Surron model that was impounded appears similar to one that costs approximately $4,500.

E-Bike or E-Motorcycle?


In this case, the vehicle in question was an electric motorcycle. An e-motorcycle is, in simplest terms, a motorcycle that runs on electric power. It does not have pedals like an e-bike. In general, the dirt-bike style of motorcycle like the one impounded this week is not street legal because it lacks headlights, tail lights, mirrors, and turn signals. These bikes are designed for off-roading use. 

Such bikes can be modified with those safety items for street use, but the bikes need to be registered with a license plate and the driver must have the appropriate license.

An e-bike, on the other hand, is a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts. The state of California defines three classes of electric bicycles:

Class 1: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.

Class 2: A low speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a motor used exclusively to propel the bicycle and NOT capable of providing assistance when a speed of 20 mph is reached.

Class 3: A low speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle equipped with a speedometer, and a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when a speed of 28 mph is reached.

The operator of a Class 3 electric bicycle:
  • Must be 16 years old or older.
  • Must wear a bicycle safety helmet.
  • Must not transport passengers.
  • May ride an electric bicycle in a bicycle lane if authorized by local authority or ordinance.
All electric bicycle classes are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility, driver's license, and license plate requirements.

Manhattan Beach residents (and those in neighboring cities) have increasingly expressed concerns about e-bike safety, especially for young people. Police have been working to remind e-bike riders to follow all applicable safety rules, including wearing a (buckled) helmet.

Meanwhile, a local e-bike safety campaign known as "Ride Safe, Ride Ready" has given assemblies and talks about bike safety to every school in Manhattan Beach as well as last year's and this year's class of Junior Guards.


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