The University of Iowa

Moped Registration and Safety Reminders

Moped Registration and Safety Reminders

This post is intended to serve as a friendly reminder about Iowa moped laws, regulations, and registration. 

Some of you may have mopeds/motorcycles registered in a different state.  You will need to check with your state registration regulations.

Iowa Code definition 321.1(40)(b) “Motorized Bicycle” means a motor vehicle having a saddle or a seat for the use of a rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, and not capable of operating at a speed in excess of 39 miles per hour on level ground unassisted by human power.


Iowa code defines a moped as a “Motorized Bicycle." Iowa no longer defines a moped by engine size or Cubic Centimeters (cc).

To register your moped as a “Motorized Bicycle” your title from the manufacture must state the vehicle cannot travel over 39 mph.  The manufacture plate on your vehicle will state this as well.

If your vehicle can travel over 39 mph, on a level surface, without the aid of human, and the manufacture plate does not restrict the vehicle under 39 mph. Then, according to Iowa Code definition, your vehicle should be registered as a motorcycle.


We will paraphrase and touch on the most common violated laws of motorcycles/mopeds.  To review all of them. Google, “Iowa code 321.275”.

If your vehicle is registered as a MOPED “Motorized Bicycle”:

  • Passengers are not allowed on any mopeds.
  • A moped must be equipped with a safety flag that extends not less than 5 feet above the ground attached to the rear of the moped. The safety flag must be triangular in shape, with an area of not less than 30 square inches, and be Day-Glo in color.
  • Mopeds may not be operated more than two abreast (side-by-side) in a single lane.
  • Mopeds must not be operated between lanes of traffic, adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
  • Mopeds must have a lighted headlamp at all times when operated on a public street or roadway.
  • Moped operators must not carry a package, bundle or other article that prevents the operator from keeping both hands on the handlebars.

If your vehicle is registered as a Motorcycle:

  • One operator, one rider as long as the rider has a designated seat with foot pegs/ foot rest (or sidecar).
  • Same driving/passing requirements as mopeds.
  • Basically same lighting requirements unless vehicle is older than 1977.
  • Cannot carry anything that would prevent you from keeping both hands on handlebars.
  • No flag requirements.

***If your vehicle is registered as a MOTORCYCLE, you need to have the motorcycle endorsement (L) on your driver’s license.***

To get the motorcycle endorsement you must pass a written and skills test at the DMV.  The skills test needs to be taken on the vehicle registered as a MOTORCYCLE.  You cannot take the skills test on a vehicle registered as a moped/motorized bicycle.

Other reminders

  • Obey traffic lights, traffic signs, and speed limits.  
  • Please do not drive on sidewalks and walkways designated for pedestrian use.
  • We have plenty of safety flags at the police department for FREE! 
  • Our department is attached to the Old Capitol Mall on the Capitol street side.  Come down anytime we are open 24/7. Bring in your moped for a “safety check” we can look it up to verify you are operating under the correct motorcycle/moped regulation.
  • If you come in for a “safety check,” we will not cite you if the moped is incorrectly registered or is not correctly equipped.  We will simply explain how to make it legal.  It will be up to you to make the necessary “fixes” to make your vehicle legal after you leave.
  • Please wear a helmet.  It is not state law but a very good safety practice.