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.

Even with cheaper or heavier bikes, once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or a winter coat.
Chart: Electric bicycles are rapidly becoming popular. This chart shows the growth in sales of what the manufacturers refer to as "electric power-assisted cycles (EPACs)" in European countries over the last decade. Over 1.6 million electric bikes were sold in Europe in 2016 alone, which is about 7 percent of total European bicycle sales. What this chart doesn't reveal is that the bikes are much more popular in some countries than others: four countries accounted for 70 percent of all the sales (Germany, 36 percent; the Netherlands, 16 percent; Belgium, 10 percent; and France 8 percent). Data sourced from the report "European Bicycle Market: 2017", courtesy of CONEBI (Confederation of the European Bicycle Industry). These are the newest figures available at the time this article was last updated (September 2018).

By 2001 the terms, E-Bikes, power bike, pedelec, assisted bicycle and power-assisted bicycle where commonly used to describe electric bicycles. E-bike, according to Google, is a term that has increased in trend. This term generally referred to an electric bicycle which used a throttle. The terms Electric Motorbike or E-Motorbike have been used to describe more powerful models which attain up to 80 km/h.
Photo: This typical electric bicycle, a Sanyo Eneloop (now discontinued), had a range of about 30–55 km (17–35 miles) and a top speed of around 24 km/h (15 mph). Note the 250-watt hub motor on the front wheel and the 5.7Ah lithium-ion battery pack (black, marked "Sanyo," just in front of the back wheel). Picture by kind permission and courtesy of Richard Masoner, originally published on Flickr under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.

Like most electric bikes, the Rad Wagon is also fairly heavy, weighing 72 pounds. The last drawback is that it comes in only one frame size (which I imagine helps to keep costs lower) that fits rider heights between 5 foot 2 inches and 6 foot 2 inches. My 6 foot 4 husband, however, can ride the bike just fine, so there’s some wiggle room to this range.
In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various U.S. patents. For example, on 31 December 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted U.S. Patent 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel". There were no gears and the motor could draw up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-volt battery.[5]
Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500.
This was the first ebike I ever bought. I've since become a builder and make my own. But this was a really reliable vehicle. I used it everyday for transportation. The company sent me any part I needed. It's got a power motor on it so it's super reliable. I wouldn't hesitate to buy this bike especially if you're new into the ebike world. If your looking to have some real fun buy this bike.. If your looking to meet new people buy this bike. If looking to go more green buy this bike. This bike is so much fun you well want to ride all day. This bike should be twice the price . I love love love it .
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 22.5kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
Power assisted bicycles are classified in two categories in Saskatchewan. An electric assist bicycle is a 2 or 3 wheeled bicycle (sic.: 3 wheeled bicycle) that uses pedals and a motor at the same time only. A power cycle uses either pedals and motor or motor only. Both must have engines with 500 watt power or less, and must not be able exceed 32 km/h (20 mph), i.e., electric motor cuts out at this speed or cycle is unable to go this fast on a level surface. The power cycle has to meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for a power-assisted bicycle. The power cycle requires at least a learner's driving licence (class 7), and all of the other classes 1-5 may operate these also. The electric assist bicycle does not require a licence. Helmets are required for both. Both are treated as bicycles regarding rules of the road. Gas powered or assisted bicycles are classified as motorcycles regardless of engine size or if using pedals plus motor. Stickers identifying the bicycle's compliance with the Federal classification may be required for power cycles by some cities or municipalities. [13]
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.
A "class 1 electric bicycle," or "low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle," is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour. (2) A "class 2 electric bicycle," or "low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle," is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour. A "class 3 electric bicycle," or "speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle," is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, (no throttle) and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer. Local government ordinances are allowed to permit or ban any class of electric bicycles on dedicated bicycle paths and trails, with Class 1 & 2 permitted, and Class 3 banned, by default.

Arkansas does not define E-bikes. The following definition describes a combustion engine. E-bikes being electric do not have a cylinder capacity and thus this law is not technically applicable. The state defines a "Motorized bicycle" as "a bicycle with an automatic transmission and a motor of less than 50cc."[80] Riders require either a certificate to operate a motorized bicycle, a motorcycle license, a motor-driven cycle license, or a license of class A, B, C or D. Certificates cannot be issued to riders under 10 years of age.[81]


Speed Pedelec ebikes – A new classification of bikes called ‘Speed Pedelecs’ have emerged which technically meet the bicycle definition for a 20 mph ebike. These ebikes are designed to max out at 28 mph. Pedelecs are pedal activated vs throttle activated. The weasel words within the definition says, “20mph on motor alone”. Thus, a person who adds their leg power to the motor assist and happens to cruise at 28mph is NOT doing it by motor alone, and therefore the bike is considered to be compliant with the Federal Law. If the rider stops pedaling, the speed pedelec cannot maintain speed. Speed Pedelecs are becoming more popular in Europe and America, which means more models are being offered.

Perhaps the cleverest thing of all about the Electric Brompton is that despite all the extra stuff, it folds up exactly the same as the non-powered variety. It's so simple, and unlike certain folding bikes we could mention, what you're left with is a genuinely small thing, rather than something that's about the size of a bike with the front wheel taken off.
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Electric powered bicycles slower than 20 km/h without pedaling are legally recognized as a non-mechanically operated vehicle in China.[32] According to "TECHNOLOGY WATCH", this should help promote its widespread use.[33] Electric bicycles were banned in some areas of Beijing from August 2002 to January 2006 due to concerns over environmental, safety and city image issues. Beijing has re-allowed use of approved electric bicycles as of January 4, 2006.[34] Some cities in China still ban electric bikes.


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Your local state may have very definite rules as to what is an e-bike, what is a moped, and what is a motorcycle. While ebikes enthusiast don’t want the motor vehicle label, it is certain that each state will define some power level and speed where that classification will apply. Your best source of information is to go directly to your state motor vehicle department website, and get a copy of the your local state vehicle codes, with NO EDITING. Only recently updated official state vehicle codes will contain all the latest changes to the laws.1 For a link to your state MVA, look here:2 http://eco-wheelz.com/electric-bike-laws.php

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.
In Norway, e-bikes are classified as ordinary bicycles, according to the Vehicle Regulation (kjøretøyforskriften) § 4-1, 5g. Hence, e-bikes are not registered in the Vehicle Registry, and there is no demand for a license to drive them. Still, there are constraints on the bicycle construction. The maximum nominal motor power output can be no more than 250 watts and the maximum performance speed of the vehicle when the engine is running is 25 km per hour (15 mph).[40] A function that reduces motor power when vehicle speed exceeds 25 km per hour is mandatory. However, if the motor is not running, the e-bike, or any other bike, answer only to the constraints of the ordinary speed limits.
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