This is an unofficial guide to the laws governing electric bicycles in the United States as of 2016. It was contributed by a guest writer The Smart Ped`aleck who was paid and remains unaffiliated with any electric bicycle company. It may be updated ongoing and is cited throughout with reference links and attributions at the end. It is designed to be an entertaining starting point for understanding the space, digging deeper and in turn choosing the best electric bike platform for your needs.
The body is made from light and durable aluminum. The handlebar comes with simple controls to let you accelerate, brake, monitor battery life, operate headlights and of course…sound the horn. There’s even an USB point that will let you charge your iPhone or Android on the go. The bike can reach a top speed of 10mph. Feel the wind in your hair as you zoom up and down hills and past all that city traffic…

We've also released our first native 72V battery pack in a conventional downtube battery casing, assembled using the high power Samsung 27100 40T cells so that even with the small 8Ah capacity it is able to deliver 40-50A continuous currents. This is an ideal battery for fast and sporty offroad ebike builds, allowing powerful performance without the weight or complexity of most 72V setups (either two 36V packs in series or a large triangle frame battery).


A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
And the last product update to kick off the year is the pilot release of our new Baserunner motor controller. We spent much of last summer and fall trying to cram an even more miniature version of the Phaserunner into compact profile that could fit inside the controller cavity of the popular Hailong downtube battery cradles, and by golly we did it. While not as powerful as the Phaserunner (just 55A max phase current, and 60V max battery voltage), the Baserunner is perfectly suited to the smaller geared and direct drive hub motors using the Higo Z910 plug. This allows for a very tidy installation with no separate controller to mount.
China's experience, as the leading e-bike world market, has raised concerns about road traffic safety and several cities have considered banning them from bicycle lanes.[2] As the number of e-bikes increased and more powerful motors are used, capable of reaching up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), the number of traffic accidents have risen significantly in China. E-bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision, and because e-bikers use conventional bicycle lanes they mix with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians, increasing the risk of traffic collisions.[2]
In built up cities around the world, urban planning uses cycling infrastructure like bikeways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.[59] A number of cities around the world have implemented schemes known as bicycle sharing systems or community bicycle programs.[60][61] The first of these was the White Bicycle plan in Amsterdam in 1965. It was followed by yellow bicycles in La Rochelle and green bicycles in Cambridge. These initiatives complement public transport systems and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution.[62] In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, bicycle commuting is common. In Copenhagen, a cyclists' organization runs a Cycling Embassy that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting.[63]
Pedelec is a European term that generally referred to an electric bicycle that incorporated a torque and/or a speed sensor and/or a power controller that delivered a proportionate level of assist and only ran when the rider pedaled. On the opposite side, a Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for similar type vehicles which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorized bicycle. Finally, Assist Bicycle is the technical term used to describe such a vehicle and Power-Assisted Bicycle is used in the Canadian Federal Legislation, but is carefully defined to only apply to electric motor assist, and specifically excludes internal combustion engines (though this is not the case in the United States).
From all the Chinese brands that have come and disappeared, Onway is still standing strong. That means that they have sold enough bikes, and they have been tried and tested enough for customers to know what to expect. So, what can you expect from this Onway bike? Well, for a very affordable price, you will get anything you realistically need in an e-bike – multi-purpose tires for various terrains, LCD display, LED headlights, taillights, a kickstand… Overall build quality and quality of the parts is above average, but there are some things that you will need to change, and seat should be the first on the list. Customer support is not that great, but if you decide to purchase this bike you will get a fun bike, for affordable price that you will be able to assemble and ride in no time.
No endorsement is required on a driver license in order to operate a motorized bicycle, thus the motorized bicycle may be operated by anyone with a valid driver license. Goggles, windshields and other special equipment required for motorcycles and motor-driver cycles are not required for operation of a motorized bicycle. However, crash helmets are required regardless of operators age. Minors between the ages of 14 and 16 may apply for a restricted license to operate a motorized bicycle, just as they would to operate a motor-driver cycle. For instance, they must take a written test, vision tests and demonstrate their ability to operate the motorized bicycle. The license issued will be restricted to a motorized bicycle only. The license is valid only during daylight hours and within a seven-mile (11 km) radius of the driver's home. Applicants for any type of license less than eighteen (18) years old, must complete a Minor/Teen-age Affidavit and Cancellation form making the parent or legal guardian financially liable for the applicants action. [57]
Tires vary enormously depending on their intended purpose. Road bicycles use tires 18 to 25 millimeters wide, most often completely smooth, or slick, and inflated to high pressure in order to roll fast on smooth surfaces. Off-road tires are usually between 38 and 64 mm (1.5 and 2.5 in) wide, and have treads for gripping in muddy conditions or metal studs for ice.
If a car is at fault in an accident with a bicycle or ebike, their motor vehicle insurance will likely cover your cost for repair and hopefully medical expenses. But what happens if you are at fault, riding an ebike illegally because you did not register it as a Moped? At best, you could be prosecuted under the law. At worst, you could be financially liable for neglect or reckless endangerment via a law suit.

And the last product update to kick off the year is the pilot release of our new Baserunner motor controller. We spent much of last summer and fall trying to cram an even more miniature version of the Phaserunner into compact profile that could fit inside the controller cavity of the popular Hailong downtube battery cradles, and by golly we did it. While not as powerful as the Phaserunner (just 55A max phase current, and 60V max battery voltage), the Baserunner is perfectly suited to the smaller geared and direct drive hub motors using the Higo Z910 plug. This allows for a very tidy installation with no separate controller to mount.


Dryft is a robust, energetic mountain bike, painted in the hues of the setting sun and evening sky. This electric vehicle is designed to take you to those places where no other vehicle can. LightSpeed Dryft an e-Bike that is as fond of adventure as you are. The ideal companion to the thrill seeker in you — wherever you decide to ride, your Dryft always has your back.
Visually, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is stunning – a smart blend of yesteryear's style and today's technology. Pleasantly high handlebars, a sprung seat, and lovely Schwalbe Fat Frank tires make it very comfortable. Stopping is taken care of by powerful disk brakes, front and rear. Lights are included, as is a useful cargo rack. From an e-bike standpoint, the Pedego Classic City Commuter sports a reliable, hub-mounted motor driven by a 36-volt, 10-amp battery. There's a digital display with a trip computer, odometer, speedometer, pedal assist level, and battery charge information.
Hmm, that’s unfortunate. I actually have a doctors note that I carry along which recommends the use of an assisted bicycle. I ride thoughtfully and have never been asked to show it. I cannot comment on the federal parks, perhaps they are not aware of the federal law classifying electric assist bikes that perform at or below 20 mph and 750 watts as bicycles. Having a note and this information would be a good response if you were questioned.
Under Title 23, Chapter 316 of the code, bicycles and motorized bicycles are defined as follows: Bicycle—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle. Motorized Scooter—Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.[90]
The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
European Union directive 2002/24/EC exempts vehicles with the following definition from type approval: "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25km/h (15.5mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling." This is the de facto definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle in the EU. As with all EU directives, individual member countries of the EU are left to implement the requirements in national legislation. 

In the Netherlands all train stations offer free bicycle parking, or a more secure parking place for a small fee, with the larger stations also offering bicycle repair shops. Cycling is so popular that the parking capacity may be exceeded, while in some places such as Delft the capacity is usually exceeded.[64] In Trondheim in Norway, the Trampe bicycle lift has been developed to encourage cyclists by giving assistance on a steep hill. Buses in many cities have bicycle carriers mounted on the front.
On October 22, 2014 PA house bill 573 passed into law, which is Act 154, which changes the definition of "pedalcycle" (bicycle) in the PA state vehicle code. "Pedalcycle" is now defined as a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals or a "pedalcycle" (bicycle) with electric assist( a vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor rated no more than 750 watts and equipped with operational pedals and travels at speeds less than 20 mph). This bill allows the usage of pedal assisted bicycles in PA that follow the adopted state guidelines.
Pedego Electric Bikes Vacation cruises Santa Barbara, blending Mediterranean warmth, dramatic coastal views and lively California fun FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — Pedego® Electric Bikes, the nation’s Number 1 electric bike brand, today announced the Pedego Santa Barbara Vacation, an extraordinary electric cycling vacation. Featuring two days of guided electric bike
The Motan M-150 electric bike is one of the Addmotor’s best selling models. Featuring a 750W high-speed brushless rear hub motor, goes to the top speed of about 25mph. An upgraded 48V 11.6AH Panasonic lithium battery with improved reliability, makes going up a long, steep hills a breeze.  An upgraded 48V 11.6AH Panasonic battery provides improved reliability. This folding bike is designed to fit riders 5’4″-6’4″ and carry a max weight of 300 lbs, making it an ideal option even for larger riders. You can expect to get out 45-55 miles range while using the level one assist. Fully functional pedals also allow you to pedal without motor assist. Collapsible top-tube, frame, and pedals make it portable and easy to store in your car, and unfold in only 10 seconds when you’re ready to use it.
For a more stylish ride, cast your eyes over the Coboc Rome. It's a full-size bike, with gorgeous stylings, and large wheels that let you pick up plenty of speed on the road. It has a fuss-free approach too, with its automatic motor assistance -- all you need to do is get on and ride. It's very much like any fixed gear bike you'll see on the streets, but with the additional motor, it's less effort to get about.
Seth Miller said he founded the company after his first electric bike was stolen from where it was parked in front of the midtown office building where he worked. The company that manufactured the bike had disbanded, so he started researching different suppliers. He soon discovered that a majority of the e-bikes sold in the US are just cobbled together from a variety of off-the-shelf Chinese-made parts found in a catalog. It sounded simple, so Miller figured he’d try it himself.
The great majority of modern bicycles have a frame with upright seating that looks much like the first chain-driven bike.[7][8][9] These upright bicycles almost always feature the diamond frame, a truss consisting of two triangles: the front triangle and the rear triangle. The front triangle consists of the head tube, top tube, down tube, and seat tube. The head tube contains the headset, the set of bearings that allows the fork to turn smoothly for steering and balance. The top tube connects the head tube to the seat tube at the top, and the down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket. The rear triangle consists of the seat tube and paired chain stays and seat stays. The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket to the rear dropout, where the axle for the rear wheel is held. The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube (at or near the same point as the top tube) to the rear fork ends.
Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.

Electric bikes aren’t just a practical and environmentally conscious solution to gridlock, they also are really fun to ride. On top of all of the persuasive arguments to get an electric bike, I think the Rad Wagon’s best-selling point comes down to enjoyment. Zooming down the street each morning I wasn’t angrily yelling at fellow drivers or rushing not to be late. The bike commute was part of the journey each day, and not just the means I used to get around. There’s a reason so many people loved biking as a kid, and it can be just as fun as an adult.


To operate a motorized/electric-assisted bicycle on the streets or highways a person must have a valid driver’s license or a motorized bicycle permit. A person under the age of 16 operating a motorized/electric-assisted bicycle under a motorized bicycle permit is subject to restrictions of no passengers (a parent or guardian my ride if the motorized/electric assisted bicycle is equipped with a seat and footrests for a passenger), no night driving, driving on any highway marked as an interstate, must wear a helmet, foot rests for passengers (if designed for passenger(s). A motorized bicycle permit is available to persons of at least 15 years of age who have passed the motorized bicycle test or passed a motorized bicycle course. A motorized bicycle would need the same coverage as a motorcycle would in this state. An electric-assisted bicycle would not need coverage.

I would add that the point of the article seems to encourage ebikers to “know the state laws” and be confident within those boundaries. To D McCarthy’s question, if your state has a definition for ebikes and classifies them as bicycles and affords access as bicycles, AND, your particular ebike is built within those specifications, then you should be able to ride that section of road with confidence. Just my 2C.

Historically, materials used in bicycles have followed a similar pattern as in aircraft, the goal being high strength and low weight. Since the late 1930s alloy steels have been used for frame and fork tubes in higher quality machines. By the 1980s aluminum welding techniques had improved to the point that aluminum tube could safely be used in place of steel. Since then aluminum alloy frames and other components have become popular due to their light weight, and most mid-range bikes are now principally aluminum alloy of some kind.[where?] More expensive bikes use carbon fibre due to its significantly lighter weight and profiling ability, allowing designers to make a bike both stiff and compliant by manipulating the lay-up. Virtually all professional racing bicycles now use carbon fibre frames, as they have the best strength to weight ratio. A typical modern carbon fiber frame can weighs less than 1 kilogram (2.2 lb).
The first regularly produced device resembling the modern bicycle was unveiled in 1818. It was called the Dandy Horse. The two-wheeled ride-on Dandy Horse was the brainchild of German inventor Baron Karl Drais, and it featured a handle bar, a padded seat, and two inline wheels of nearly equal size. What it did not feature were pedals; this was a "running machine," thus its name in German, Laufmachine. The Dandy Horse saw only a flicker of popularity, and was largely an historical footnote within a handful of years, though its design is nearly mimicked in the child's balance bike of today.
Electric trikes have also been produced that conform to the e-bike legislation. These have the benefit of additional low speed stability and are often favored by people with disabilities. Cargo carrying tricycles are also gaining acceptance, with a small but growing number of couriers using them for package deliveries in city centres.[51][52] Latest designs of these trikes resemble a cross-between a pedal cycle and a small van.[53][54]
Many newer or smaller companies only design and market their products; the actual production is done by Asian companies. For example, some 60% of the world's bicycles are now being made in China. Despite this shift in production, as nations such as China and India become more wealthy, their own use of bicycles has declined due to the increasing affordability of cars and motorcycles.[102] One of the major reasons for the proliferation of Chinese-made bicycles in foreign markets is the lower cost of labor in China.[103]
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