Zodiac Bicycle Corp.
P.O. Box 44140
Baltimore, MD 21236
Dear Mr. Kimmel:
This responds to your letter of February 20, 1997, to Taylor Vinson of this Office asking whether the "Rotary/Zodiac (RZ) bicycle is a 'motor vehicle.'"
For purposes of compliance with the Federal motor vehicle safety standards and associated regulations, a "motor vehicle" is one which is "driven . . . by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways. . . ." (49 U.S.C. Sec. 30102(a)(6)). You tell us that the RZ is equipped with a small engine "to assist the bicyclist on inclines or when the bicyclist becomes tired from the exertion of pedaling", but that, "[f]rom a standing stop, the motor operating alone cannot overcome the torque required to initiate the movement of the bicycle and rider." Your letter also clearly indicates that, when the motor is operating alone, sooner or later a point will be reached when the reduction of inertia will require pedaling by to keep the bicycle moving.
Your description indicates that the primary motive force for the RZ is muscular power, not "mechanical power" within the meaning of the definition of "motor vehicle", and that the mechanical power of the engine cannot itself alone operate the bicycle under the ordinary circumstances in which it is ridden. We therefore confirm that the RZ is not a "motor vehicle" and is therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
If you have further questions, you may call Taylor Vinson at 202-366-5263.
Acting Chief Counsel
cc: Consumer Product Safety Commission