According to Texas law, a “motor vehicle” is a vehicle that is self-propelled. It’s a blanket term that covers a large percentage of the vehicles you might see on the road. That definition also manages to be vague and specific at the same time so it’s real hard to contest whether or not your vehicle is a “motor vehicle” and still have the motor vehicle laws apply to it. The best way to enforce laws is to make sure the simplest things are as confusing as possible.
“Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle, other than a tractor, that is equipped with a rider’s saddle as well as designed to have, when propelled, not more than three wheels on the ground. Thanks to the clear and concise wording of Texas law (Your sarcasm detector should be going crazy right now.), you have to know what a motorcycle isn’t before you can know what it is. It’s not a tractor.
Guess what Texas law doesn’t have a blanket term for! Tractor. There are three kinds of tractors defined by Texas law. There’s the “farm tractor” which is a motor vehicle designed and used primarily as a farm implement for drawing other implements of husbandry. There’s the “road tractor” which is a vehicle designed for the purpose of mowing the right-of-way of a public highway or a motor vehicle designed or used for drawing another vehicle or a load and not constructed to carry an independent load or a part of the weight of the vehicle and load to be drawn. Finally, there’s the “truck-tractor” which is a motor vehicle designed and used primarily for drawing another vehicle and not constructed to carry a load other than a part of the weight of the vehicle and load to be drawn. The law could just say, “Tractors are motor vehicles designed to draw loads”, but then people might start claiming their tractors are artistic.
Now, you know what a motorcycle isn’t, but if you really took the definition literally then a jet ski could be considered a motorcycle. That’s almost as confusing as calling a giant monkey, “Donkey Kong”.
“Bicycle” means a device that a person may ride that is propelled by human power and has two tandem wheels at least one of which is more than 14 inches in diameter. Tricycles and unicycles aren’t defined by Texas law. Three-year old children and bears in the circus will have to figure out what those are on their own.
“Moped” means a motor-driven cycle that cannot attain a speed in one mile of more than 30 miles per hour and the engine of cannot produce more than two-brake horsepower and, if an internal combustion engine, has a piston displacement of 50 cubic centimeters or less and connects to a power drive system that does not require the operator to shift gears. If people make fun of you for driving it by telling you to “get a real motorcycle” then it’s probably a moped.
While most Texas traffic laws apply to all motor vehicles, there are also laws that apply to each specific type of motor vehicle so you have to know what qualifies as each type of motor vehicle before you can know what laws apply to each one.