The Ohio Revised Code 4511.01  distinguishes motorized bicycles and mopeds from motorcycles or scooters by describing them as "...any vehicle having either two tandem wheels or one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear, that is capable of being pedaled and is equipped with a helper motor of not more than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement that produces no more than one brake horsepower and is capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of no greater than twenty miles per hour on a level surface." One brake horsepower converts to 0.75 kW, or (rounded) 750W. Thus, a bicycle with an electric helper motor operating under 750W, and not propelling the bicycle over 20 mph, does not qualify to be registered under Ohio state law. Local jurisdictions may have other regulations.
Ebike definition in Colorado follows the HR 727 National Law: 20 mph (30 km/h) e-power and 750 W (1 hp) max, 2 or 3 wheels, pedals that work. Legal low-powered ebikes are allowed on roads and bike lanes, and prohibited from using their motors on bike and pedestrian paths, unless overridden by local ordinance. The city of Boulder is the first to have done so, banning ebikes over 400W from bike lanes. Bicycles and Ebikes are disallowed on certain high speed highways and all Interstates unless signed as "Allowed" in certain rural Interstate stretches where the Interstate is the ONLY means of travel.
Many countries have enacted electric vehicle laws to regulate the use of electric bicycles. Countries such as the United States and Canada have federal regulations governing the safety requirements and standards of manufacture. Other countries like the signatories of the European Union have agreed to wider-ranging legislation covering use and safety of their term EPAC (electric vehicles)
Since cyclists' legs are most efficient over a narrow range of pedaling speeds, or cadence, a variable gear ratio helps a cyclist to maintain an optimum pedalling speed while covering varied terrain. Some, mainly utility, bicycles use hub gears with between 3 and 14 ratios, but most use the generally more efficient dérailleur system, by which the chain is moved between different cogs called chainrings and sprockets in order to select a ratio. A dérailleur system normally has two dérailleurs, or mechs, one at the front to select the chainring and another at the back to select the sprocket. Most bikes have two or three chainrings, and from 5 to 11 sprockets on the back, with the number of theoretical gears calculated by multiplying front by back. In reality, many gears overlap or require the chain to run diagonally, so the number of usable gears is fewer.
Electrically-assisted cycles are usually classified as either pedelecs or e-bikes. Under European Union regulations adopted in the UK in June 2003, only power-assisted cycles meeting the pedelec classification are considered to be pedal cycles. The maximum power allowed in the European Union for (pedelec) electric bicycles is 250 W, with a maximum assisted speed of 25 km/h.. To meet the pedelec specification the electric motor must be activated by the rider's pedalling effort and the power must cut out completely whenever the rider stops pedalling. Control of the motor by pedalling is often the key difference between a pedelec and e-bike.
Parliament has decided to approve the speed pedelec – a type of super electric bike that can reach speeds of up to 45 km/hour – for riding on cycle paths. Danish Parliament has decided that as of July 1 2018 those operating the super bikes only need to have turned 15 and wear a helmet, while the licence and number-plate demands will no longer be in play.