Federal law defines the limits of a low speed electric bike, equating it to a bicycle, and bypassing the definition of a motor vehicle only “For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards…” which means that the manufacturers of these bicycles don’t have to meet federal equipment requirements, and are instead governed by the manufacturing requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act. There is no mention of exemption from other federal, state, and local traffic laws, or exemption from the definition of a motor vehicle for other purposes.3 This means the law applies to the manufacturer’s product and sale, avoiding federal safety requirements applying to a motor vehicle such as brake lights, turn signals and braking specifications. The goal of the law was to give businesses a legal framework to define and sell low speed electric bikes without the more stringent Federal classification of a motor vehicle. Ebikes that meet the criteria are considered a “bicycle”, do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle, and will be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The law also grants the commission authority to add safety requirements to this product. The Federal law supersedes all state laws that equate bicycles to ebikes where the state law is more stringent (lower limits) on power and speed.
Nevada Electric Bicycle (NRS 482.0287) Bicycle 20 (motor only on the flat with 170LB rider, undefined if pedal assist is allowed to go faster) 750W (it is undefined as to whether this is input or output power, but in the USA, motors are rated on output power at the shaft) No none (use caution here because of "reckless endangerment" laws) no (not a "motor vehicle")
The oldest patent for an electric bike I've been able to find at the US Patent and Trademark Office is this one, by Ogden Bolton, Jr. of Canton Ohio, which was filed in September 1895 and granted three months later. You can see from these original diagrams that it bears an amazingly close resemblance to modern electric bikes. In the general picture on the left, you can see there's a hub motor on the rear wheel (blue), a battery suspended from the frame (red), and a simple handlebar control to make the thing stop and go. In the more detailed cutaway of the hub motor on the right, you can see there's a six-pole magnet in the center (orange) bolted to the frame and an armature (made from coiled wire, yellow) that rotates around it when the current is switched on. It's quite a hefty motor even by modern standards; Ogdon mentions "a heavy current at low voltage—for instance, to carry one hundred amperes at ten volts." So that's 1000 watts, which is about twice the power of a typical modern bike hub motor.
For a more stylish ride, cast your eyes over the Coboc Rome. It's a full-size bike, with gorgeous stylings, and large wheels that let you pick up plenty of speed on the road. It has a fuss-free approach too, with its automatic motor assistance -- all you need to do is get on and ride. It's very much like any fixed gear bike you'll see on the streets, but with the additional motor, it's less effort to get about.
Legislative changes in 2012 significantly altered the classification and regulatory structure for e-bikes. The general effect was to establish electric-assisted bicycles as a subset of bicycles and regulate e-bikes in roughly the same manner as bicycles instead of other motorized devices with two (or three) wheels. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 3, §§ 15-17, 21, 23-26, 30, 32-33, and 41. The 2012 Legislature also modified and clarified regulation of e-bikes on bike paths and trails. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 4, §§ 1-4, 20.
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.
I purchased version 2.0 of this device and the manufacturer has been listening to comments from users and making running changes such as the three speeds and the rear suspension. I am an XL size user (6'2", 230lbs) and recently returned from a 26 day cruise around Europe. I rode this little scooter on cobblestones, miles and miles through the Vatican, inside ancient cities and all over the streets of San Juan upon our return stateside. There was only one time it was less than ideal and that was going uphill, on slick tile that was wet from a drizzle. It still make it, just had to lean way forward to get weight on the front wheel.
State laws tend to intermix the source of power as either gasoline ICE or electric drive. This is unfortunate because that neutralizes the environmental advantage of an ebike over an ICE moped. It also misrepresents the contrast in power output levels between an ICE and electric motor system. 50cc gas mopeds/scooters have a 2.5-4 HP rating, while the 20+ mph electric bikes will be 1-2hp, and ride much closer to a normal bicycle compared to a gas powered, 2.5hp moped. E-mopeds will weigh 55-70lbs. Gas mopeds and scooters are typically over 120lbs. E-mopeds are still electric bikes that get valuable power assist from human pedal effort and are usually much quieter.
So first off, it isn’t fair to compare the power of a Chinese rear hub motor watt for watt with a 250W Bosch or Brose or even a Shimano or Yamaha mid-drive motor. There just isn’t even close to the amount of torque or power on a per watt basis and that’s before we get to controllers. However, comparing the Rattan’s 350W motor to the Ancheer’s 250W motor seems more proportionally correct. Where as I could make it about a third of the way up my driveway hill from a cold start on Ancheer throttle, I made it about 2/3rds of the way with the Rattan, or another 100 feet. On a flat surface, again with throttle only, I hit 20 mph in about 10 seconds with the Rattan. It takes me another 5+ seconds to get there on the Ancheer. One note, the battery gauge does bounce around a bit depending on how much it is working. At full throttle you might lose a bar or 2 only to get it back once you coast.
Federal law in the United States states that an electric bicycle must have a top speed under 20 mph and a motor which produces less than 750 watts/1 hp. They are not considered motor vehicles by the federal government and are subject to the same consumer safety laws as unassisted bicycles.[11] Their legality on public roads is under state jurisdiction, and varies. See the main Electric bicycle laws article for details on the law in individual states.
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.[15]. 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.

Simple, convenient, cheap, and economical—bicycles are one of the world's favorite forms of transportation. But they're not for everyone. They can be hard to pedal up and down hills or with heavy loads, and elderly or disabled people may find them impossible to manage. In the last few years, a new generation of electric bicycles has begun to revolutionize our idea of environmentally friendly transportation. These new cycles have all the convenience of cars with all the simple economy of ordinary cycles. Let's take a closer look at how they work.