Electric bicycles, or ebikes, are becoming more and more popular with the United States. The rules for ebikes on public roads, sidewalks, and bike paths vary from state to state. It is important that ebike riders follow local traffic rules and laws for ebikes where they live.
The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines ebikes under three different classes:
- CLASS 1: Pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- CLASS 2: Maximum speed of 20 mph with a throttle.
- CLASS 3: Pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and maximum speed of 28 mph.
ALL CLASSES LIMIT THE MOTOR POWER TO 750W.
Some states have accepted these classifications and some have further defined the ebike classification.
Some states treat Class 1 ebikes like traditional mountain or pavement bicycles, legally allowed to ride where bicycles are permitted, including bike lanes, roads, multi-use trails and bike-only paths. Class 2 throttle-assist eBikes are often allowed most places a traditional bicycle can go, though some states and cities are opting for additional restrictions (e.g. New York City & Michigan State). Class 3 eBikes are typically allowed on roads and on-road bike lanes (“curb to curb” infrastructure), but restricted from bike trails and multiuse paths. See Peopleforbikes.org.
EK Bikes has made the decision to bring in our bikes as Class 2 bikes. This allows our customers to have the maximum available power options while still complying with the federal Class 2 classification. While this may not allow you to ride everywhere a normal bike can go, it gives you the best chance at complying with the local regulations in your state. It is vital that you look to your individual state laws to determine where you will be able to ride your newly purchased ebike.