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.
As long as the electric bicycle meets three criteria it is considered a low-speed electric bicycle, or simply a "bicycle." Three criteria: must travel less than 20 mph on flat ground without pedaling, must have functional pedals and must have less than a 750 watt motor. This is the same criteria as Federal Public Law 107-319. I checked my facts with the law office of Spohn, Spohn & Zeigler at 144 East Center Street, Marion, OH 43302 on August 21, 2009. A low-speed electric bicycle does not require registration, insurance, license plates (tags), or a driver's license. The rules of an electric bicycle are the same as a traditional bicycle. There is some confusion caused by Ohio interchanging the word Moped with "motorized bicycle." If a dealer sells you a bike that follows the guidelines of Federal Public Law 107-319, then you have a bicycle. If the bike has no pedals or has a higher wattage motor than 750 watts or can travel faster than 20mph you have a moped or scooter; Ohio requires tags and registration for mopeds and scooters.
Maryland defines an "electric bicycle" as a vehicle that (1) is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of an electric motor, (2) is equipped with fully operable pedals, (3) has two or three wheels, (4) has a motor with a rating of 500 watts or less, (5) and is capable of a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor. (Senate Bill 379, approved by the Governor 5/5/2014, Chapter 294.)  This legislation excludes "electric bicycle" from the definition of "moped", "motorized minibike", and "motor vehicle", and removes the titling and insurance requirements required for electric bicycles under prior Maryland law.
The first functioning electric motor was displayed in the early 19th century, though the device constructed by British scientist Michael Faraday did little more than swirl a wire around a magnet when an electric charge was introduced. Still, the concept proved that electricity could do work. Functional electric motors would follow in many forms after that achievement in 1821. Soon scientists and tinkerers around the world, including visionaries such as Nikola Tesla, were experimenting with all manner of electric motors -- some worked with DC power, others with AC. By the end of the century, myriad electric motors had been produced, capable of exerting enough force with enough reliable control that they were practical for use in myriad applications.
Eight provinces of Canada allow electric power assisted bicycles. In all eight provinces, e-bikes are limited to 500 W output, and cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph) on motor power alone on level ground. In Alberta prior to July 1, 2009, the limits were 750 W and 35 km/h (22 mph), but presently match federal legislation. Age restrictions vary in Canada. All require an approved helmet. Regulations may or may not require an interlock to prevent use of power when the rider is not pedaling. Some versions (e.g., if capable of operating without pedaling) of e-bikes require drivers' licenses in some provinces and have age restrictions. Vehicle licenses and liability insurance are not required. Generally, they are considered vehicles (like motorcycles and pedal cycles), so are subject to the same rules of the road as regular bicycles. In some cases, regulatory requirements have been complicated by lobbying in respect of the Segway PT.
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.
We'll start this off with the latest two Customer Profile videos. In the first one we follow up from the well received Leigh Cross video with a look at his son, Tig Cross. Tig's been refining an original bike concept combining the best parts of an ebike, scooter, and velomobile, and showcases the merits of an electric generator for the human drivertrain.
I do not recommend hacking a bike into s-pedelec, i.e. make a 25km/h bike go at 45 or faster. If you have an accident you will be in trouble. Just get a legal version. In addition you will have good insurance. Of course, in countries like France or the UK that so far do not know S-Pedelecs, you will have to make a difficult moral choice.... At least, make sure that your rig is safe...
No person may drive either a two-wheeled or a three-wheeled motorcycle, or a motor-driven cycle unless such person has a valid driver's license specially endorsed by the director to enable the holder to drive such vehicles. No driver's license is required for operation of an electric-assisted bicycle if the operator is at least sixteen years of age. Persons under sixteen years of age may not operate an electric-assisted bicycle. Persons operating electric-assisted bicycles shall comply with all laws and regulations related to the use of bicycle helmets. Electric-assisted bicycles and motorized foot scooters may have access to highways of the state to the same extent as bicycles. Electric-assisted bicycles and motorized foot scooters may be operated on a multipurpose trail or bicycle lane, but local jurisdictions may restrict or otherwise limit the access of electric-assisted bicycles and motorized foot scooters, and state agencies may regulate the use of motorized foot scooters on facilities and properties under their jurisdiction and control.
Several bills have been sponsored to legalize electric bicycles for use on NYS roads, and several have overwhelmingly passed at the committee level, but none of these initiatives has been able to be heard and then passed in the New York State Senate, until 2015. The latest bill S3997, "An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycle. Clarifying the vehicle and traffic law to define electric assisted bicycles; establish that electric assisted bicycles, as defined, are bicycles, not motor vehicles; and establish safety and operational criteria for their use." has passed in the Senate for the first time ever in 2015. The related Assembly bill A233 was not brought to a vote in the assembly even though it had passed with little issue in prior years.
The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.
Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.