If you’ve just purchased a new e-bike, you’re probably excited to hit the roads, but it’s important to understand first how the laws surrounding your new ride work. Keep reading this article to understand if your electric bike is street legal or not. The best electric bikes certainly are.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Most e-bikes are street legal, as long as the motor’s power is under 750 watts.
  • E-bike laws vary from state to state.
  • If you want to ride trails on an electric mountain bike, you will likely need to find a trail made specifically for e-bikes.

Everything You Need to Know about the Legality of Electric Bikes

There’s a lot of intricacy and discussion around the legality of e-bikes. Let’s take a look at some definitions and how they relate to laws created for e-bike regulation.

What is an E-bike?

First, it’s important to spell out the exact definition of an electric bike. This is important because there are already many laws surrounding the use of things like mopeds, bicycles, and scooters. Simply put, an e-bike is a bicycle assisted by an electric motor either engaged by pedaling or by using a throttle.

What Does Street Legal Mean?

Street legal refers to a vehicle that meets all of the local and state legal requirements for use on public roads. For the purpose of this article, we are only covering road e-bikes and not mountain e-bikes, which are meant for trails. There is a lot more controversy on the topic of using e-bikes on trails that we won’t cover here. To be on the safe side, it is also important to learn how different wattages affect on electric bikes.

Knowing the Law in Your State

Every state has its own rules and regulations for electric bikes, but most areas do not consider them to be motor vehicles like cars and trucks. They often follow the laws and rules for traditional bicycles. However, you should always look up the laws in your area to ensure you are following them. There are certain states that treat e-bikes as mopeds or motor vehicles, and thus have stricter laws. As such you should also ensure you’re up to date with your e-bike maintenance schedule.

E-Bike Classification and Why It Matters

Some states are starting to define different classes of electric bikes. This classification system is important because it helps lawmakers differentiate between the myriad of different models and ensure a safer travel environment of the road. Each of the classes has a maximum motor power of 750 watts. The three classes are as follows:

  • Class 1: These e-bikes are pedal-assist only with a maximum assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. They do not have throttles.
  • Class 2: These e-bikes are throttle-assisted with a maximum assisted speed of 20 miles per hour.
  • Class 3: These e-bikes are pedal-assist only with a maximum assisted speed of 28 miles per hour. They do not have throttles.

States with an e-bike classification system are considered to have the most user-friendly and well-defined laws for street legality.

Warning

For the purpose of this article, we are only covering road e-bikes and not mountain e-bikes, which are meant for trails.

F.A.Q.

Are e-bikes allowed at professional races?

In general, no, e-bikes are not allowed at pro bike races. However, they are often permitted at more casual events like fundraisers and recreational rides.


Can you use an electric bike on the road?

Yes, you can typically use an electric bike on the road, as long as you’re following local and state laws and regulations.


What states are electric bikes legal?

Electric bikes are technically legal in all states, but every state varies in its own laws and regulations for their proper use. We recommend looking up your state’s regulations to ensure you are following them.


Are e-bikes legal in the US?

Yes, e-bikes are legal in the United States, as long as they are under 750 watts in power and follow all local laws.


STAT: Over 400,000 e-bikes were purchased in the USA in 2018, furthering the need for clear e-bike laws. (source)

Ryan Hansen

When he’s not exploring everything Oregon has to offer with his family, Ryan Hansen is probably writing. He loves writing about anything he can get his hands on, and is always anxious for the next adventure.

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