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Electric Bike Rules & Regulations Explained

By James Heath   /  Last updated - March 25, 2022   /  Blog, Electric Bikes

electric bike laws and regulations

Electric bikes themselves might be easy to use, but the laws around their usage, particularly in the United States can be tricky to comprehend.

We’ve put together some of the best-known electric bike laws in 2022 so you can make an informed decision on where to ride your bike and whether you need a license etc in order to ride legally in the United States.


Table of Contents

1. E-BIKE CLASSIFICATION

  • Which states use the three-class system – Class 1, Class 2, Class 3?
  • What is the legal minimum age requirement to ride an e-bike?
  • Can I use an e-Bike in states that DON’T have the classification system?

2. LICENSE & REGISTRATION

  • Do you need a license for an e-Bike?
  • Which e-Bikes need to be registered as motor vehicles?

3. HELMET & ELECTRIC BIKE LAWS

  • Which states REQUIRE you to wear a bicycle helmet whilst riding an eBike?

1. E-Bike Classes


Class Stickers Bundle – Bolton Ebikes

In the US, electric bikes are categorized into three legal classes as on the type of electric bike motor they use:

  • Class 1 eBike – Pedal-assist eBike (aka. Pedelec, Spedelec, Speed Pedelec)
    Max. assisted speed limited to 20mph, motor power limited to 750W
  • Class 2 eBike – Throttle-assist eBike.
    Max. assisted speed of 20mph. Motor power limited to 750W
  • Class 3 eBike – Pedal-assist (+optional throttle)
    Speed limited to 28mph on pedal-assist, 20mph on throttle.

750W = 0.75kW = 1 horsepower

  • Class 4 eBike – *An unofficial term of an electric bike with pedals that’s more powerful than Class 3 eBikes.
    Motor power over 750W
    Maximum assisted speed over 28mph

Class 4 eBike = 500W motor eBike, max assisted speed 29mph
Class 4 eBike = 751W motor, max assisted speed 28mph

Read also: A Guide to Electric Bike Classes: Class 1, 2 & 3 Explained


Which States use the three-class system – Class 1, Class 2, Class 3?

Map of the World Book Laid Open on Brown Wooden Surface

There are 36 states that use the eBike classification system:

Legal 3 Class System

Own set of rules

Alabama Alaska
Arizona Delaware
Arkansas Hawaii
California Kansas
Colorado Kentucky
Connecticut Massachusetts
Florida Montana
Georgia Nebraska
Idaho New Mexico
Illinois North Carolina
Indiana Oregon
Iowa Pennsylvania
Louisiana Rhode Island
Maine South Carolina
Maryland Washington DC
Michigan  
Minnesota  
Mississippi  
Missouri  
Nevada  
New Hampshire  
New Jersey  
New York  
North Dakota  
Ohio  
Oklahoma  
South Dakota  
Tennessee  
Texas  
Utah  
Vermont  
Virginia  
Washington  
West Virginia  
Wisconsin  
Wyoming  

Exceptions:

  • New York – Speed for Class 3 eBikes must be limited to 25mph. Regular 28mph class 3 eBikes are not allowed on the streets of New York
  • New Jersey – Class 3 eBikes are classified as motorized bicycles that don’t have the same rules as bicycles.

Legal Minimum Age Requirement to Ride an E-Bike

14

15

16

18

Alaska Minnesota Massachusetts Hawaii
  New Mexico North Carolina  
  South Carolina Oregon  
    Pennsylvania  
    Washington DC  

In this table, there are mostly states that don’t use the e-bike classification. Only Minnesota uses e-bike classes and also has a minimum age limit for all kind of e-bikes.

The rest of the states don’t have a minimum age requirement at all or have an age requirement for just Class 3 e-bikes!


Class 3 E-Bike Minimum Age Requirement

In several states, there are separate minimum age requirements for Class 3 eBikes

14

15

16

18

Michigan Georgia Alabama North Dakota**
Tennessee Indiana Arkansas  
Virginia Texas California  
    Colorado  
    Connecticut  
    Illinois  
    Iowa  
    Maine*  
    Maryland  
    Mississippi  
    Missouri  
    New Hampshire  
    New Jersey  
    New York  
    Oklahoma  
    South Dakota  
    Vermont  
    Washington  
    West Virginia  
    Wisconsin  

*In Maine the age limit of 16 years also applies for class 2 eBikes.

**In North Dakota, the minimum age requirement of 18 applies only if you don’t wear a helmet. If you ride with a helmet, there is no minimum age requirement to riding a Class 3 e-bike.


No Legal Minimum Age Requirement to Ride an E-Bike

These 13 states don’t have any minimum age requirement for riding an eBike:

  • Arizona
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Can I use an eBike in states that DON’T use the classification system?

Bunch The Original family tricycle

As it turns out, the popular electric family tricycle Bunch is not classed as an eBike in Pennsylvania because it exceeds the 100lbs weight limit.  Therefore, it needs to be registered as a moped and requires a license to ride.

You can, but only if the electric bike that you purchase meets the following requirements in the specified state:

Ebike = Motorized Bicycle, if

Motor Power

Speed Limit

Have Pedals

Weight Limit

Delaware < 750W 20mph Yes
Kansas < 1,000W 20mph Yes
Kentucky Yes
Massachusetts 25mph
Montana 20mph
Nebraska < 750W 20mph Yes
North Carolina < 750W 20mph
Oregon < 1,000W 20mph Yes
Pennsylvania < 750W 20mph Yes 100 lbs
Rhode Island < 1,491W 25mph yes
Washington DC 20mph yes
One of the fastest e bikes in the world - Onyx RCR

Although this Onyx RCR e-bike has a 3,000W motor, it is perfectly fine to qualify as an e-bike in Kentucky as long as it has pedals.

E-Bike = Moped in:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • New Mexico

E-Bike = Considered a motor vehicle in:

  • South Carolina – With one exception: if the motor output of an e-Bike is less than 750W, there’s no registration required.

2. LICENSE & REGISTRATION


Do you need a license for eBike?

There are three states where a license is required to ride an eBike. In addition, there are three states where you have to register your eBike.
New Mexico is the only state where your eBike must be insured.

 

License

Registration

Insurance

Alaska Yes No No
Hawaii No Yes No
Massachusetts Yes Yes No
New Mexico Yes Yes Yes

For riding an e-bike in the other states:

  • You don’t need a license
  • Your eBike doesn’t need to be registered
  • Your eBike doesn’t need to be insured

3. HELMET & ELECTRIC BIKE LAWS


green and black bicycle helmet on bicycle handle bar

Which states REQUIRE a bicycle helmet to be worn while riding an eBike?

A helmet is compulsory in:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts

23 states with different minimum age requirements that request helmet usage while riding (with a couple of exceptions for class 3):

12

14

15

16

17

18

21

Louisiana* New York Rhode Island Alabama* New Jersey California* South Carolina
Pennsylvania Virginia* West Virginia Florida Indiana** Delaware  
      Georgia*   Idaho  
      Hawaii   New Mexico  
      Maine      
      Maryland      
      North Carolina      
      Oregon      
      Tennessee      
      Washington DC      

* for a Class 3 eBike, everyone must wear a helmet
** for a Class 3 eBike, riders under 18-year-old must wear a helmet


States that DON’T require a helmet to be worn

26 states where wearing a helmet is not compulsory:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas*
    Under 21 must wear a helmet while riding a Class 3 eBike
  • Colorado*
    Under 21 must wear a helmet while riding a Class 3 eBike
  • Illinois
  • Iowa – It is not required but strongly recommended
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan*
    Under 18-year-olds must wear a helmet when riding a Class 3 eBike
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire*
    Under 18 must wear a helmet when riding a Class 3 eBike
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio*
    Everyone must wear a helmet when riding a Class 3 eBike
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
    Not required by the state but many cities still require it
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Final Takeaways

As you can see from our overview, the laws around eBikes differ depending on which state you’re in.

Many now choose to use the three Class system, which does help to simplify matters, but in others, it’s still a bit of a free for all. Hopefully, this has helped you to understand a little bit more about what is legal in your state, but if there’s anything else you wish to know do let us know in the comments.


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One thought on “Electric Bike Rules & Regulations Explained

  1. Alice Carroll says:

    Thanks for the reminder that it’s important to know about the regulations about helmets when planning to take up biking. I’d like to buy an electric bike soon because I’m still recovering from a leg injury. As such, having a bike that’s easier to pedal might be ideal for me.

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