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 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.
Are you looking for an easier way to get to your blind or tree stand? Or perhaps check all your trail cams in  a fraction of the time it takes today?  Is that sweet spot you know getting harder to reach? When you have to carry 50lbs of gear on your back for 5 or even 10 miles and if you’re lucky you have something to haul back out, using an electric bike built specifically for offroad and woodlands that is also capable of carrying your gear, wouldn’t that make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable? Electric hunting bikes...
In China, which has the highest number of electric bicycles in the world, electric bikes currently come under the same classification as bicycles and hence don't require a driver's license to operate. Previously it was required that users registered their bike in order to be recovered if stolen, although this has recently been abolished. Due to a recent rise in electric-bicycle-related accidents, caused mostly by inexperienced riders who ride on the wrong side of the road, run red lights, don't use headlights at night etc, the Chinese government plans to change the legal status of illegal bicycles so that vehicles with an unladen weight of 20 kg or more and a top speed of 30kmh or more will require a motorcycle license to operate, while vehicles lighter than 20 kg and slower than 30kmh can be ridden unlicensed. In the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen, electric bicycles, like all motorcycles, are banned from certain downtown districts. There are also bans in place in small areas of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing.
Storage space: it’s one of the primary disadvantages to biking versus driving. A simple solution is attaching a basket or storage case to your bike’s frame or handlebars, giving you a convenient place to keep your essentials while you ride. A pannier rack is a useful option as well, which allows you to connect special pannier bags to your bike to create even more storage capacity.
This upgraded model is the best scooter of this type that is currently available on the market. I have permanent mobility issues because of my left leg that do not allow me to walk any long distances. This scooter is allowing me to finally get out of the house to see and do some things again, even if that is just cruising around the neighborhood, but my main reason for purchasing it was so that I can go watch my granddaughters playing softball this spring, they are quite good.
DIY enthusiasts, with tens of thousands of converted bikes using throttle-only, 20+ mph kits, are now officially labeled Moped class. While these bikes handle and pedal-ride just as safely as the class 3 speed pedelecs in many cases, our DIY counterparts will be officially kicked out and left on their own for advocacy and legal acceptance in California. This is a big deal, without a class sticker, any DIY electric bike conversion kit is considered a Moped and not a bicycle.
In addition the specific wording of the law may or may not prohibit the use of a "mid-drive" or "crank-drive" motor set-up where the motor drives the rear wheel of the bicycle through the existing chain drive of a bicycle that has multiple gears depending on several points of interpretation of the law. Specifically the interpretation of the wording, "does not require clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged". A "mid-drive" or "crank-drive" motor set-up on an electric bicycle does indeed allow the operator to change gears in the power drive system between the motor and the rear wheel of the bicycle. Whether or not such a mechanism which allows the operator to change gears satisfies the wording that requires the operator to change gears is a matter of legal interpretation by the courts. Just as "shall issue" and "may issue" (as in laws governing the issuing licenses) in application of the law have two different meanings (in the first case if you meet the requirements they have to give you the license and in the second they don't have to if they decide not to even if you meet the requirements for the license) whether or not "does not require shifting" outlaws electric bicycles where shifting is possible but is not necessarily required is a matter of interpretation. Thus the legality of electric bicycles equipped with a "mid-drive" or "crank-drive" motor set-up in the U.S. state of Montana is not clearly defined.

The definition was clearly written with gasoline-powered pedalcycles in mind. The requirement of an automatic transmission is troublesome for those who just want to add an electric-assist motor to a bicycle, for almost all bicycles have transmissions consisting of chains and manually shifted sprockets. The registration form asks for a VIN, making it difficult to register some foreign-made ebikes. The fine for riding an unregistered electric bike is approximately $160.00 per event as of 2007.
Great question… a real world situation from someone doing their best to follow the law but also be realistic about time/distance. What follows is my opinion on the matter based on lots of electric bike riding experience, this is not legal advice. You can probably ride with electric assist across the dirt way with no issues and avoid any negative response that might arise as long as you’re polite to other cyclists and pedestrians and pedal along without going too fast. If someone called you out about it you could easily hop off, walk your bike and explain that you use the assist to help make your commute possible or possibly, like me, you have a knee injury and it’s difficult to pedal through softer terrain like gravel. Another different approach might be to shut the bike off completely before entering the gravel section, you could even take the battery off and put it in a backpack or as mentioned earlier… just walk the bike. Imagine if you had a motorized dirt bike and were just pushing it along a sidewalk… this kind of vehicle definitely is not allowed on sidewalks or most gravel paths like the one you’re describing but if you were escorting it carefully, you’d be honoring the spirit of the law and if an officer or pedestrian jumped out and started questioning you about your “motorized vehicle” it is my feeling that a genuine explanation and apology or request for guidance would go very well. I personally have never had issues riding electric bikes in part because I am thoughtful about how I use them. I do occasionally switch them off and sometimes I get off and walk. I have asked police in many cities across the US what they thought about ebikes and in every case I have received positive interest and support with guidance to ride safe with a helmet and follow traffic laws in the street. I hope this helps and I wish you well, it’s nice that you care enough to ask and I hope you’re treated well by others out on the road. The flip side of this response is that I have been harassed, yelled at and even swerved at by automobiles when riding bicycles and electric bikes. This usually happens in the evening after work lets out when traffic is heavy and I’m riding on the shoulder or in the street (where marked to do so) and I believe it has to do with territory, testosterone and socio-economic standing more so than laws or anything like that.
I did my commute a few times with the Rattan and while I would never give up my “bike store” e-bike for this, it was a worthy substitute. It never gave out on the big hills, nor did I have to brake because I felt the bike was falling apart. The frame is a little small for 6-foot me but it only comes in one size. I really miss the low rolling drag of having road tires however and this is something that both Rattan and Ancheer could improve upon. I don’t think many people are seriously off-roading with these bikes. Put some Schwalbe Big Bens on there!

Yes, there are less expensive ebikes on the market but most come with a few serious caveats. The Espin Sport delivers on the full promise of an electric bike, but in a more affordable fashion. This bike isn’t going to tow you around for a 60-mile round-trip endeavor but those seeking their first ebike will get plenty of return on their investment with this model.


Uniparts eyeing overseas acquisition to expand hydraulic cylinder biz / Maruti Suzuki launches new Alto with BS VI engine; price starts at Rs 2.93 lakh / Top 10 selling two-wheelers in FY19: Honda Activa retains the top spot / KPIT Tech back on exchanges, scrip races to ₹105 / Maruti Suzuki doubles market share in LCV goods carrier segment in FY'19 / Mercedes-Benz partners the first-ever international esport competition ‘ESL One’ in India / Audi opens service facility in Vijayawada / KPIT Technologies gets listed on BSE and NSE / Honda launches new CBR650R at Rs 7.7 lakh / Hiroshi Ii joins JTEKT India as new chairman
The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic of the United Nations considers a bicycle to be a vehicle, and a person controlling a bicycle (whether actually riding or not) is considered an operator. The traffic codes of many countries reflect these definitions and demand that a bicycle satisfy certain legal requirements before it can be used on public roads. In many jurisdictions, it is an offense to use a bicycle that is not in a roadworthy condition.[citation needed]
At Volt, when we sell an ebike, we like to keep in touch with our customers. This is not only to find out how their electric bike is performing and if they are happy with it, but also to learn how they use it. Many have impressive stories to tell. We have heard from people using Volt bikes in the most diverse ways and places, from the Scottish Highlands to central London.
The second type of electric bike is a much smaller, often foldable unit designed for convenient urban (or suburban) commuting and for easy storage in minimal space. These compact electric bikes are perfect for trips of a few miles, and many are small and lightweight enough to be carried onto trains or buses, allowing their rider to make use of multiple types of transportation in a single trip, and to store their bike in a closet or even under a desk at work, at school, or at home.
State and Local Laws dictate your use, but cannot constitutionally supersede the federal law – Any ebike purchased within the 750W/20mph limits has no fear of being under federal motor vehicle classification, nor can any state classify them a motor vehicle. The ebike is considered a ‘bicycle’ for consumer purposes. However, the State Laws on local bike paths and local thruways may prohibit or limit ebike access. When bike path signs use word such as ‘motor vehicles’ and ‘motorbikes’ , the laws are likely referring to gas-ICE motorbikes/dirt bikes/scooters, and not ebikes. Other references to ‘motorized bicycles’ or ‘motorized vehicles’ sound more inclusive and probably are intended for either ebikes or gas mopeds. If in doubt, you always have the option to pedal unassisted by completely powering your bike down. Even though Federal law grant ebikes a bicycle status, the common consensus found in my research allows local and state law to add additional regulation to pathway and road access, just because “it has a motor”. So the Federal laws protects the consumer from the burden of motor vehicle requirements, but not the restrictions to local and state right of ways enjoyed by all non-motored bicycles.

But the whole is also influenced by the sensory systems which are very different from model to model. E.g. A typical 2013 Panasonic system requires pedalling for optimal support (55/minute?) and has both a pedalling frequency and a speed sensor. You don't get much assistance if you pedal very slowly or very fast. Typically, a rear motor has a force sensor, i.e. you get lots of support fast when you start pedalling in a low gear, i.e. it will "feel" your need for assistance.

Last year we found a very low-priced (under $600 at Amazon) bike made by Ancheer. Overall, it made some good compromises to get down to the $600 price point but I had some issues with the build quality, the power of the motor, lack of display on the controller and size of the battery. This year a new low-cost Amazon ebike from Rattan seems to have answered many of my concerns.
A human traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 16–24 km/h (10–15 mph) uses only the power required to walk. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. If the rider is sitting upright, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination. Drag can be reduced by seating the rider in a more aerodynamically streamlined position. Drag can also be reduced by covering the bicycle with an aerodynamic fairing. The fastest recorded unpaced speed on a flat surface is 144.18 km/h (89.59 mph)[41]
"Electric power-assisted bicycle" means a vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is equipped with (i) pedals that allow propulsion by human power and (ii) an electric motor with an input of no more than 1,000 watts that reduces the pedal effort required of the rider. For the purposes of Chapter 8 of this title, an electric power-assisted bicycle shall be a vehicle when operated on a highway.[65]
Nebraska defines a Moped as "a bicycle with fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power, an automatic transmission, and a motor with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters which produces no more than two brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the bicycle at a maximum design speed of no more than thirty miles per hour on level ground."[69]
This is one of the most incredible eBikes on the market today! The Riese and Muller SuperCharger Rohloff GX is one of our most popular models and we know they are being put through thousands of miles across the Southeast. From the coastal areas to the Appalachian mountains, we have customers buying and riding these highly engineered eBikes. These eBikes …
It's a solid e-bike, but it's also very heavy one for a folding bike. I found it difficult carry when the bike is folded as the carrying handle is useless, and the center of gravity is towards to the rear wheel so one has to find a place in the rear of the bike to pick it up. Even when the bike is folded, it's bulky and heavy, It's difficult to walk with it while carrying it. It's easy to hurt one's back if he or she is not careful. I would not recommend carrying this bike up or down stairways.
Toe-clips and toestraps and clipless pedals help keep the foot locked in the proper pedal position and enable cyclists to pull and push the pedals. Technical accessories include cyclocomputers for measuring speed, distance, heart rate, GPS data etc. Other accessories include lights, reflectors, mirrors, racks, trailers, bags, water bottles and cages, and bell.[52] Bicycle lights, reflectors, and helmets are required by law in some geographic regions depending on the legal code. It is more common to see bicycles with bottle generators, dynamos, lights, fenders, racks and bells in Europe. Bicyclists also have specialized form fitting and high visibility clothing.
The days when eMTBs were defined solely by the power of their motors and the size of their batteries are over. Riding performance has become the most important metric. In that pursuit, manufacturers are increasingly developing eMTBs with less power and battery capacity, which in turn handle more like regular mountain bikes. FOCUS started this movement some time ago with its Project-Y concept and later presented the FOCUS RAVEN² PRO, the first production model in a new category of bikes. However this sporty ride only convinced a handful of riders. Meanwhile, Lapierre and BULLS have both announced full-suspension trail bikes featuring the lightweight FAZUA motor for next year. It remains to be seen how many other brands will jump on board this bandwagon – but the rumour mill has already started rumbling. Moreover, it is only a matter of time before the next motor manufacturer will release its own small, lightweight motor.
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.
I did my commute a few times with the Rattan and while I would never give up my “bike store” e-bike for this, it was a worthy substitute. It never gave out on the big hills, nor did I have to brake because I felt the bike was falling apart. The frame is a little small for 6-foot me but it only comes in one size. I really miss the low rolling drag of having road tires however and this is something that both Rattan and Ancheer could improve upon. I don’t think many people are seriously off-roading with these bikes. Put some Schwalbe Big Bens on there!
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain (just to see how they’d handle), and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.
At $799, it is one of the most affordable full-size folding electric bicycles on the market. There are cheaper folding e-bikes out there, but they generally have much smaller wheels and lower top speeds. With 16″ wheels and a max speed of 32 km/h (20 mph), the Shift S1 combines the specs of higher priced e-bikes with the affordability of a budget folder.
Did you know that electric bikes can be used for fitness training? Or that they have been scientifically proven to increase the amount of cycling people do? Or that they have proven health and fitness benefits? Well, it’s all true! Apart from being tons of fun, ebikes can be used to improve health and fitness in many ways. Here are our top posts about how ebikes can improve your health and fitness.
Since 2000, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs) as a separate category, and which require no license to operate. PABs are currently defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars and operable pedals, an attached electric motor of 500W or less, and a maximum speed capability of 32 km/h from the motor over level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed label from the manufacturer in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle under the statutory requirements in force at the time of manufacture.[14][15] All power-assisted bicycles must utilize an electric motor for assisted propulsion.
For people wanting to push the effects of Statorade to the max, the Australian made Hubsinks can clamp on to your motor shell and provide additional cooling fins to shed heat to ambient air. These fit our new MXUS Cassette motors, and the 9C, Crystalyte H, and many others. These are listed on our new store category for motor cooling mods. And like other small products, we try to  keep a stock of 10mL Statorade syringes on Amazon for easy shipping to US customers. They are sold out now but another shipment is inbound. 

With hand-operated brakes, force is applied to brake levers mounted on the handlebars and transmitted via Bowden cables or hydraulic lines to the friction pads, which apply pressure to the braking surface, causing friction which slows the bicycle down. A rear hub brake may be either hand-operated or pedal-actuated, as in the back pedal coaster brakes which were popular in North America until the 1960s.
Under the statute, mopeds must be registered. To be registered under Hawaii law a moped must bear a certification label from the manufacturer stating that it complies with federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). A moped must also possess the following equipment approved by the D.O.T. under Chapter 91: approved braking, fuel, and exhaust system components; approved steering system and handlebars; wheel rims; fenders; a guard or protective covering for drive belts, chains and rotating components; seat or saddle; lamps and reflectors; equipment controls; speedometer; retracting support stand; horn; and identification markings.
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.

However, Emu sells a little foldable number if that's your bag. The Emu Crossbar is for  town commuters that require a sweet ride that's backed up by solid Shimano Nexus hub gears and Tektro brakes, which are adequate if not the best on the market. Riding is smooth and easy, with the crank moving sensor doing its best to iron out any gaps in power delivery.
×