\These little scoots are perfectly legal to park at downtown bicycle racks (and the sidewalk, so long as you're not a jerk about it). And, you don't need to license, plate or register your fifty, like you do your car. A $5.25 check and a mail-in form are all you need to register a fifty with the State, giving you a neat reflective "motorized bicycle" sticker that is basically a three-year parking permit for bicycle racks and wide sidewalks.
While a 50cc isn't going to win you any formula-one titles or even an ad-hoc drag race on Speer, it will undoubtedly save you on parking, gas, and registration renewals.
But like any good thing, there are some commonly-believed myths about just what you can get away with on a 50cc bike. First, make no mistake, you NEED a valid Colorado Driver's License in order to operate ANY street-legal motorized vehicle on Colorado roadways. In some cases, an individual who has lost a license to a DUI or other charges may petition for a special judicial dispensation to operate a motorized bicycle. But chances are, if you lost your license, the State probably doesn't really want you driving. Anything. To anywhere.
Second, there is the idea that you must register or license anything that can go over 30 miles per hour. While the Colorado statute specifies that a motorized bicycle must possess "an automatic transmission which produces a maximum design speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on a flat surface," there is plenty of ambiguity about this limitation on speed. What exactly is a "maximum design speed," and why is it a regulation placed only on the transmission (Unlike most states, which base the law on the maximum design speed of the engine, or the speed of the entire bike)? The truth is, even the lowly Honda Metro can pull 30 plus mph on a straightaway (though it may take a straightaway as long as a DIA runway, under optimal conditions, and with a slight tailwind). And so can many other fifties, even when they *are* still wearing their straight-from-the-factory restrictions. Are they exceeding the maximum design speeds of their automatic transmissions? It's hard to say. My suspicion is that Colorado will tighten up this rule in the years to come. But what I do know is that plenty of 50 cc scooters I, and other Colorado dealers, have sold are tooling around at 35 to 45 with their motorized bicycle stickers prominently displayed on their fenders. As with all vehicles, the best advice is to drive courteously, obey posted speed limits, and avoid any "Italian Job"-style-excursions into underground drainage systems.
Finally, there is the insurance issue. While Colorado law does NOT require 50 cc scooters to carry insurance, there is really no good reason to drive an uninsured vehicle. Scooter insurance typically costs around $8 to $15 a month, to cover theft and liability. And you will want both, in the event that you accidentally T-bone someone in a $60,000 BMW or if someone loads your Buddy 50 into a pickup under cover of night. Scooters can cause damage, and they can most certainly be stolen. So while insurance is not required, why take the risk of going without?
Though there are still rules regarding the 50 cc scooter, there is one undeniable truth about these bikes. While your friends may beat you downtown in their luxury SUV, you'll have refluffed your helmet hair and gotten your name on the list at the restaurant while they are still cruising for an open parking space. And as far as small victories go, that's pretty satisfying.
The laws vary by state, but it looks like scooters are a no-no in New York. From the NYS DMV...
Motorized Scooters, Mini-Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Go-Karts, Motor Assisted Bicycles
You cannot register any of the motorized devices from the list below in NYS. You cannot operate these devices on sidewalks, public streets or highways in NYS. These devices are motor vehicles, but they do not have the correct equipment or design for operation on roadways.
* Motorized Scooter - a device with a motor attached and a handlebar for a standing rider. An example of a motorized scooter is the device called the Go-ped®.
* Mini-bike - a small, motorized device with two wheels and created for off-road use. A mini-bike does not qualify as a moped, a motorcycle or an ATV.
* Dirt Bike - a motorized device like a motorcycle, but created for and used for off-road use. Some "dirt bikes" qualify as an ATV. These vehicles can register and operate off-road as an ATV.
* Go-Kart - a small, motorized device with four wheels, created for off-road use. You cannot register a go-kart as a motor vehicle or ATV because a go-kart does not have the same equipment.
* Motor-assisted Bicycle - a bicycle to which a small motor is attached. A motor-assisted bicycle does not qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, moped or ATV and does not have the same equipment.
These devices are not allowed on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or other area that allows public motor vehicle traffic. You are subject to arrest if you operate one of these motorized vehicles and do not have a registration, driver license, inspection, insurance or correct equipment. The DMV can not provide any information about operation of these devices on private property. Contact the local authorities and property owners.
So it very much depends on your location.