Electric Bicycles are defined by the California Vehicle Code [32][33]. In summary, electric bicycles are to be operated like conventional bicycles in California. There are several exceptions to this. A person must be at least 16 years old, and anyone riding an electric bicycle must wear a bicycle helmet. The e-bikes must have an electric motor that has a power output less than 1,000 watts, is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground, is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour, operates in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operates in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.


It should be noted that the definition as written does not define the power of the motor in Watts as is conventionally done for electric bicycles but rather in brake horsepower. Thus for an electric bicycle, motor kit, or electric bicycle motor that is not rated by the manufacture in brake horsepower but rather in Watts a conversion must be made in the units a conversion which is not given in the code of the law and thus the court will have to consider a factor of conversion that is not directly encoded in the law. Industry standard conversion for Watts to horsepower for electric motors is 1 horsepower = 746 watts.[105] Acceptance of that conversion factor from industry, however, as interpretation of the law is subject to the process of the courts since it is not defined specifically in the law.
Choose a 36- or 48-volt battery with a capacity of 10Ah or 20Ah. Choose a battery designed for use on an electric bicycle, as it will come with a charger and be much easier to install. Make sure the voltage and capacity of the battery you choose is compatible with the conversion kit you purchased. The higher the voltage of your bike's battery, the more powerful your bike will be. When building an electric bike, choose a 36- or 48-volt battery to allow for speed and comfort.[5]

In Australia the e-bike is defined by the Australian Vehicle Standards as a bicycle that has an auxiliary motor with a maximum power output not exceeding 200 W without consideration for speed limits or pedal sensors.[1] Each state is responsible for deciding how to treat such a vehicle and currently all states agree that such a vehicle does not require licensing or registration. Various groups are lobbying for an increase in this low limit to encourage more widespread use of e-bikes to assist in mobility, health benefits and to reduce congestion, pollution and road danger. Some states have their own rules such as no riding under electric power on bike paths and through built up areas so riders should view the state laws regarding their use. There is no licence and no registration required for e-bike usage.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike.[9] The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With rechargeable, battery-powered pedaling assistance, electric bicycles offer an increasingly viable alternative to fossil-fueled commuting, and e-bikes enable riders of various abilities to extend their cycling range. But the street legality of these hybrid machines remains a contentious issue, so be sure to check current state and local laws governing their operation before you hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric bike on Amazon.
Under the doctrine of One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong has independent traffic law from mainland China. Electric bike are considered as motorcycles in Hong Kong, and therefore needs type approval from the Transport Department as other automobiles. All electric bike availble in Hong Kong fail to meet the type approval requirement, and Transport Department has never granted any type approval for electric bike, making all electric bike effectively illegal in Hong Kong. Even if they got type approved, the driver would need a motorcycle driving license to ride[14]. As a side note, Hong Kong doesn't have a moped vehicle class (and therefore moped driving license), and mopeds are consided as motorcycles too.
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.

In cities where bicycles are not integrated into the public transportation system, commuters often use bicycles as elements of a mixed-mode commute, where the bike is used to travel to and from train stations or other forms of rapid transit. Some students who commute several miles drive a car from home to a campus parking lot, then ride a bicycle to class. Folding bicycles are useful in these scenarios, as they are less cumbersome when carried aboard. Los Angeles removed a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheel chairs.[65]
"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]

"Motor-driven cycle" means any vehicle equipped with two or three wheels, a power source providing up to a maximum of two brake horsepower and having a maximum piston or rotor displacement of 50 cubic centimeters if a combustion engine is used, which will propel the vehicle, unassisted, at a speed not to exceed 30 miles per hour on a level road surface, which does not require clutching or shifting by the operator.[138] The designation is a replacement for "scooter" and "moped;"[139] Vermont doesn't seem to have laws specifically for e-bikes.[140]

Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It’s worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.
Government regulation is written and administered with a broad, dull, painful axe. Regulations do not mix well with independent, maverick, DIY programs either. Vehicle regulations get started when there is either a visible tragedy, or a rising conflict with the status quo (like the SFO scooters program). The ebike community cannot afford a deadly accident especially if it involves others and the ebike or ebike rider are at fault. The Ebike community is up against a tough status quo that consists of pedestrians, motor vehicle traffic, the large well-funded and battle tested regular bicycle community, and the environment (especially for MTB riding and off-road use).
The Registrar will permit an electric motor driven cycle to be registered if it meets Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) as a Limited Speed Motorcycle, or Scooter as is done with gas powered motor driven cycles. If the vehicle was manufactured after 1988 it will bear a compliance label stating that it meets these standards. The operator will be subject to all the requirements placed on operators of motor driven cycles.
Hi Levi, I’m not super familiar with Minnesota or the age limits on ebikes but Pedego just launched one specifically for younger riders (it goes a little slower). Many ebikes let you program a top speed and I feel like this is one area where you can decide as a parent. When I was 13 I had a moped and fixed up a goped with my Grandpa on his farm so… I guess it might be a family decision?
It should be noted that the definition as written does not define the power of the motor in Watts as is conventionally done for electric bicycles but rather in brake horsepower. Thus for an electric bicycle, motor kit, or electric bicycle motor that is not rated by the manufacture in brake horsepower but rather in Watts a conversion must be made in the units a conversion which is not given in the code of the law and thus the court will have to consider a factor of conversion that is not directly encoded in the law. Industry standard conversion for Watts to horsepower for electric motors is 1 horsepower = 746 watts.[105] Acceptance of that conversion factor from industry, however, as interpretation of the law is subject to the process of the courts since it is not defined specifically in the law.
About Terry Brightwater. Terry lives in the Afan Forest, South Wales, UK, with his wife Jay Brightwater. He is a professional Life Coach, specialising in “Emotional Fitness” for over 18 years. Terry’s passion for health and fitness, has spanned over the last 40 years, mainly being expressed through cycling, weight training and healthy eating. He … Continue reading eBikes as a Wonderful Health and Fitness Tool by Terry Brightwater
On October 5, 2009, the Government of Ontario brought in laws regulating electric bikes in the province. E-bikes, which can reach a speed of 32 kilometres per hour, are allowed to share the road with cars, pedestrians and other traffic throughout the province. The new rules limit the maximum weight of an e-bike to 120 kilograms, require a maximum braking distance of nine metres and prohibit any modifications to the bike's motor that would create speeds greater than 32 kilometres per hour. Also, riders must be at least 16 years of age, wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets and follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists. Municipalities are also specifically permitted by the legislation to restrict where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails, as well as restricting certain types of e-bike (e.g. banning "scooter-style" e-bikes from bicycle trails). E-bikes are not permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Riding an e-bike under the age of 16 or riding an e-bike without an approved helmet are new offences in the legislation, carrying fines of between $60 and $500. E-bike riders are subject to the same penalties as other cyclists for all other traffic offences.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.
×