This is an unofficial guide to the laws governing electric bicycles in the United States as of 2016. It was contributed by a guest writer The Smart Ped`aleck who was paid and remains unaffiliated with any electric bicycle company. It may be updated ongoing and is cited throughout with reference links and attributions at the end. It is designed to be an entertaining starting point for understanding the space, digging deeper and in turn choosing the best electric bike platform for your needs.
Some e-bikes operate in pedal-assist only, others have a throttle, and some have both. Generally, pedal-assist only bikes will provide multiple power settings to choose from to help customize your ride, while bikes with both throttle and pedal-assist will have limited pedal-assist options. With these bikes, the throttle provides full control (when needed) while pedal assist is just a secondary option, great on straightaways or open road.
Most consumers want an e-bike that will accommodate its motor without being too cumbersome and will remain stable in spite of its electronic components. Some consumers want only the most basic of e-bike features, including lights, a cargo rack/basket, and a water bottle holder. Others are focused more heavily on safety features, such as brake type. And still others are concerned with convenience and portability.
Faster e-bikes usually run at higher voltage. But higher voltage reduces range as well, because lower speeds are more efficient. So e-bikes running higher voltage will have less range unless significantly more battery capacity is added to compensate. This causes higher speed builds to be increasingly expensive for the same range that could be gotten from a slower e-bike. Therefore deciding on a build requires balancing several factors: Range, Speed, Cost, and Quality.
While we won't be there in person, a number of vehicles will be at the show featuring the new Grin products like the GMAC Hub Motors, RH212 direct drive motors, All Axle hubs, and the Baserunner and Phaserunner_L10 controllers.  If you're lucky enough to attend then check out Booth A.18 and Booth 3.12 for some velomobiles and cargo vehicles running this gear.  

I got this bike last week. I loved it! This bicycle is a very good value, since it can be used in either manual or electric mode. Both the handlebar and seat height and inclination are adjustable. The assembly and use instructions are clear. In the manual mode the bike acts like any other six speed, there is a little red button that switches between manual and electric with each push. The electric mode is used either with the handlebar twist throttle or by peddling which activates it. The pedal brings the bike up to full speed while peddling slightly and with the throttle the speed is adjustable. I am very happy with my purchase.


The bicycle's invention has had an enormous effect on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were initially invented for use in the bicycle, including ball bearings, pneumatic tires, chain-driven sprockets and tension-spoked wheels.[10]
(ii) a vehicle equipped with two or three wheels, foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion, and an independent power source providing a maximum of 2 brake horsepower. If a combustion engine is used, the maximum piston or rotor displacement may not exceed 3.05 cubic inches, 50 centimeters, regardless of the number of chambers in the power source. The power source may not be capable of propelling the device, unassisted, at a speed exceeding 30 miles an hour, 48.28 kilometers an hour, on a level surface. The device must be equipped with a power drive system that functions directly or automatically only and does not require clutching or shifting by the operator after the drive system is engaged.

When you have the electric motor turned on, it engages with your first push of the pedals. The difference in acceleration is startling compared to any other bike I've ridden. In Eco mode, I could sprint from 0 to 20mph in about 200 feet/65m. Switch to Turbo, and it's about 150/30m feet. As I mentioned above, you still have to pedal. The difference with an electric bike is the feeling of getting more bang for the buck. And if you want to be lazy, you can. Stay in third or fourth gear and you'll be able to stay around 18-19mph with minimal effort. But if you want to go much faster than 20mph, you'll need to work.
Maryland defines an "electric bicycle" as a vehicle that (1) is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of an electric motor, (2) is equipped with fully operable pedals, (3) has two or three wheels, (4) has a motor with a rating of 500 watts or less, (5) and is capable of a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor. (Senate Bill 379, approved by the Governor 5/5/2014, Chapter 294.) [96] This legislation excludes "electric bicycle" from the definition of "moped", "motorized minibike", and "motor vehicle", and removes the titling and insurance requirements required for electric bicycles under prior Maryland law.
Experiments done in Uganda, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka on hundreds of households have shown that a bicycle can increase a poor family's income as much as 35%.[69][better source needed][70][71] Transport, if analyzed for the cost-benefit analysis for rural poverty alleviation, has given one of the best returns in this regard. For example, road investments in India were a staggering 3–10 times more effective than almost all other investments and subsidies in rural economy in the decade of the 1990s. What a road does at a macro level to increase transport, the bicycle supports at the micro level. The bicycle, in that sense, can be an important poverty-eradication tool in poor nations.
5. Prizes: The approximate retail value of all prizes is $1361. The prizes are: Performance E-BikeKit or Heavy Duty E-BikeKit. You are not guaranteed to win a prize and your chance of winning is dependent on the total number of eligible entries received. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No cash or other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor's discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Electric Bike Technologies INC. to use winner's name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
Bicycles are popular targets for theft, due to their value and ease of resale.[113] The number of bicycles stolen annually is difficult to quantify as a large number of crimes are not reported.[114] Around 50% of the participants in the Montreal International Journal of Sustainable Transportation survey were subjected to a bicycle theft in their lifetime as active cyclists.[115] Most bicycles have serial numbers that can be recorded to verify identity in case of theft.[116]
None of this would matter if the VanMoof Electrified S2 (and its close relative the X2) wasn't fun to ride, but it is a blast. Like the Brompton, it pulls off the neat trick of powering you along but giving the illusion that you're doing the work, reacting quickly and cleverly to the speed of your pedalling and the difficulty of any incline you're on. 
When I began testing the Rad Power bike, I wasn’t sure if it would ride like a bakfiets or more like your standard bike. Hundreds of miles later, the RadWagon’s biggest strength is how well it handles. If you aren’t riding with kids, you almost never notice the weight of the cargo area behind you and pedaling is made easy and efficient thanks to a 750W direct drive hub motor and smooth acceleration.

None of this would matter if the VanMoof Electrified S2 (and its close relative the X2) wasn't fun to ride, but it is a blast. Like the Brompton, it pulls off the neat trick of powering you along but giving the illusion that you're doing the work, reacting quickly and cleverly to the speed of your pedalling and the difficulty of any incline you're on. 

With hand-operated brakes, force is applied to brake levers mounted on the handlebars and transmitted via Bowden cables or hydraulic lines to the friction pads, which apply pressure to the braking surface, causing friction which slows the bicycle down. A rear hub brake may be either hand-operated or pedal-actuated, as in the back pedal coaster brakes which were popular in North America until the 1960s.
This article did a good job of trying to justify the assist speed limits but fell short of detailing how that can ever be effectively enforced. In reality the only enforcement that is going to work is applied speed limits to use of bikes and ebikes. For example, it makes sense that a bike lane on a street that the speed limit of vehicles is the speed limit of the bikes/ebikes. On sidewalks and shared pedestrian paths the speed limit probably does need to be in the 15-20mph range to match traditional bikes speeds on those paths.

The "Dandy horse", also called Draisienne or Laufmaschine, was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and was invented by the German Baron Karl von Drais. It is regarded as the modern bicycle's forerunner; Drais introduced it to the public in Mannheim in summer 1817 and in Paris in 1818.[18][19] Its rider sat astride a wooden frame supported by two in-line wheels and pushed the vehicle along with his or her feet while steering the front wheel.[18]
E-bikes are classified in three different types: Class 1 and Class 3 bikes are powered proportionally to the “input” a rider gives via pedaling. “It feels natural, and you’re still riding a bike, so all your reflexes, skill and comfort you’ve developed over years of riding bikes apply immediately,” says Fritz Rice, sales manager of Gregg’s Cycles, near Greenlake.
If you are an experienced rider this is actually annoying as hell. Personally, I tend to leave whatever I'm riding in a high gear all the time, because my body is like a powerful machine, and I found the way it slowed my escape from the lights quite disconcerting. For beginners, it could be useful, but it's worth remembering that the whole point of e-bikes is that the motor helps you along anyway, so I do really question the usefulness of this.
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I'm one of the hardcore cyclists at Ars, along with Jay Timmer and his new-as-of-last-fall road bike as well as copyeditor Kerry Staurseth. I love cycling, and it was a major factor in my dropping 120lb over a 12-month period starting in the summer of 2009. My daily rider/errand-runner is a 1998 Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike. For longer rides, I use my 2009 Trek XO2 cyclecross bike. I've made a few modifications to it, including removing the bumpy cyclecross tires and swapping out the front 46-tooth chainring for a 50-tooth one. I went with a cross bike over a road bike because I'm still a Clydesdale, and I like the slightly longer wheelbase of a cross bike. I've also briefly owned a 2011 Trek Madone 5.9, which I sold not long after I bought it due to severely screwing up my right knee.

To qualify as an electric-assisted bicycle under state law they need to have a seat and fully operable pedals for human propulsion, meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, an electric motor that has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts, maximum speed of not more than 20 mph (electric motor and human power combined), disengages or ceases to function when the vehicle’s brakes are applied, two or three wheels
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain (just to see how they’d handle), and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.
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