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.

The federal law will not prohibit a motor vehicle label and additional restrictions given by the state. States will typically define e-mopeds in the 1000W range (1.5 hp) and speeds attainable to 30mph, and include a few requirements such as a helmet, eye protection, and a driver’s license. States may also require title, registration, and insurance for mopeds.
"Bicycle" means either of the following: (1) A device having two wheels and having at least one saddle or seat for the use of a rider which is propelled by human power. (2) A device having two or three wheels with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (one horsepower), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden, is less than 20 miles per hour.[citation needed],
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
Bicycles featuring pedal power were developed during the subsequent decades of the 19th century, with the most emblematic example being the bicycle we know today as the Penny-Farthing. The bike was named based on the substantial difference in its wheel size resembling the larger and smaller Penny and Farthing coins, respectively. These bicycles were wildly popular among the well heeled upper classes of Europe and America despite their penchant for launching riders head first over the large wheel, not to mention their relative difficulty to mount and dismount.
Play it Safe, Make it Easy – E-bike manufacturers will offer you a large variety of styles, types, colors and utility, but the base specifications will be a bike producing less than 750 watts of power (1 horsepower = 746W) , and have its speed limited to 20mph on motor power alone. The majority of US ebikes meet that specification. Manufacturers do this for their own liability. Going this route assures you that your bike was built and sold legally. As a result, you will have about every privilege that a normal bicycle can expect. However, state and local laws may dictate reduced speeds and limited access to bike paths.

With a 150mm-travel RockShox Yari fork and 132mm of rear travel from the RockShox Monarch Plus R shock, the Remote CTRL is Kona’s first dual-suspension e-mountain bike. It’s powered by a 250-watt Bosch Performance Line XC mid-drive motor that uses the company’s progressive E-MTB mode that is adaptable to rider input, which means you don’t have to toggle through assistance modes while riding. It offers assistance up to 20 mph, and the 500Wh integrated battery is the largest Bosch currently offers. Beefy 27.5x2.8-inch Maxxis Recon tires offer plenty of traction and also help to absorb smaller hits.
We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. With rechargeable, battery-powered pedaling assistance, electric bicycles offer an increasingly viable alternative to fossil-fueled commuting, and e-bikes enable riders of various abilities to extend their cycling range. But the street legality of these hybrid machines remains a contentious issue, so be sure to check current state and local laws governing their operation before you hit the road. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric bike on Amazon.
To operate the bike, you have to pedal for a second or so before the thumb throttle becomes active. This is often a cost and energy-saving measure designed into electric bicycles and scooters. Being able to start the motor from rest requires extra sensors and higher battery power. Starting the motor while it is in motion removes the need to install extra sensors in the motor (and thus removes one more possible failure or maintenance issue) and also eeks more range out of the battery by putting the energy intensive initial startup responsibility solely on the rider.
Not all e-bikes take the form of conventional push-bikes with an incorporated motor, such as the Cytronex bicycles which use a small battery disguised as a water bottle.[44][45] Some are designed to take the appearance of low capacity motorcycles, but smaller in size and consisting of an electric motor rather than a petrol engine. For example, the Sakura e-bike incorporates a 200 W motor found on standard e-bikes, but also includes plastic cladding, front and rear lights, and a speedometer. It is styled as a modern moped, and is often mistaken for one.[citation needed]

An e-bike is identified as a "motor assisted cycle" (MAC) in British Columbia, which differs from electric mopeds and scooters, which are "limited-speed motorcycles." Motor assisted cycles must: have an electric motor of no more than 500 W; have fully operable pedals; not be capable of propelling the device at a speed greater than 32 km/hr [19.9 mph]. The engine must disengage when (a) the operator stops pedaling, (b) an accelerator controller is released, OR (c) a brake is applied. A driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance are all not required. A bike helmet must be worn.[22]
There's much less of a sensation of the Electrified S2 'fighting back' once you hit 15.5mph, as well. That's helped by the automatic 2-speed gear box, although this does take some getting used to. Because its cogs are very different sizes you can end up with all sorts of cadence problems as it auto-shifts from high back to low. With practice you can avoid this, or of course you could in theory fit a second cog that's closer in size to the first.
Some of the Rad Wagon’s (small) flaws became apparent once I added more weight to the bike. The integrated rear rack can attach various panniers, platforms, or baskets to cary your cargo, but I was most concerned with hauling my two kiddos to school. Riding the bike with my three year old was a cinch; he held on to the bars in the caboose (available as an accessory add-on) and enjoyed the view. Adding my very tall, almost seven-year-old daughter, however, was a bit more complicated.
Both land management regulators and mountain bike trail access advocates have argued for bans of electric bicycles on outdoor trails that are accessible to mountain bikes, citing potential safety hazards as well as the potential for electric bikes to damage trails. A study conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, found that the physical impacts of low-powered pedal-assist electric mountain bikes may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.[68]
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Oklahoma the following restrictions on the operation of Electric-Assisted Bicycle in 47 O.S. 11-805.2 [123] as follows: 1. Possess a Class A, B, C or D license, but shall be exempt from a motorcycle endorsement; 2. Not be subject to motor vehicle liability insurance requirements only as they pertain to the operation of electric-assisted bicycles; 3. Be authorized to operate an electric-assisted bicycle wherever bicycles are authorized to be operated; 4. Be prohibited from operating an electric-assisted bicycle wherever bicycles are prohibited from operating; and 5. Wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation Standards for protective headgear for use in bicycling, provided such operator is eighteen (18) years of age or less.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
Since 2001, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs). They are currently defined as a two or three wheeled bicycle with an attached electric motor of 500W or less and which is capable of being propelled manually. Furthermore to meet the safety requirements set down by this legislation it must meet the following; when engaged by muscular power it must cease assistance when muscular power ceases or if powered by an accelerator controller cease power when braking and be incapable of providing assistance above 32 km/h and bear a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle.[5][6]
Even with cheaper or heavier bikes, once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or a winter coat.
The Shift S1 isn’t going to blow anyone away with amazing performance, but it is peppy enough to have a lot of fun on. And if you mostly travel by rideshares like Uber or scootershares like Bird, you can probably pay for the S1 after just a few months of cutting out app-based transportation. It’s hard to ask for too much more from such an inexpensive e-bike.

DIY Kit ebikes – Ebikes that are home built with a DIY kit, and exceed the 750W/20mph definition, are also allowed to be bought, build, and ridden. DIY kits are throttle activated. Some of the newer systems have PAS options. Ebike kits are not unilaterally prohibited or assigned motor vehicle status, but again, legal classification and road use falls under state law.
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.
This upgraded model is the best scooter of this type that is currently available on the market. I have permanent mobility issues because of my left leg that do not allow me to walk any long distances. This scooter is allowing me to finally get out of the house to see and do some things again, even if that is just cruising around the neighborhood, but my main reason for purchasing it was so that I can go watch my granddaughters playing softball this spring, they are quite good.
E-bikes are typically offered in 24V, 36V and 48V configurations. Higher voltage generally means higher top speed – but that may not always be the case. Since the efficiency of a motor and drive system can have an effect on power and speed, a 24V setup could have the same top speed as a 36V setup. Generally you can expect 15-18 mph on a 24v setup, 16-20 mph on a 36V setup and 24-28 mph on a 48V setup. Although it far exceeds Federal laws, some conversion kits can even be run at 72V for speeds of 35+ mph! However, this puts significant stress on bicycle components. Consider that even the fastest athletes only travel 17-18 mph on a conventional bicycle, so 20 mph feels very fast to most riders. Anything over this speed can be unsafe and exceeds law regulations.
this bike came really fast. Very surprised at the quality considering the price. It was packaged very well however my fenders had a little kink in it during shipping. I don’t care about that. It is very fast and a solid bike. I own two other Nami electric folding bikes and this is on par with their quality. The only concerns I have is whether or not I’m able to purchase a second battery when this one needs replacement. This is my first electric bike and I’m very impressed with the fun factor.
There's no question that electric bikes are far better for the environment than petrol-powered car engines. But that doesn't mean they're completely perfect. Making and disposing of batteries can be very polluting. Not only that, but an electric bicycle is still using energy that has to come from somewhere. You may think you're using clean green power, but the electricity you use for getting about might have come from a filthy old, coal-fired power plant or one driven by nuclear energy. (If you're lucky, of course, it might have come from solar panels or a wind turbine!) Electric bikes are nowhere near as environmentally friendly as ordinary push bikes, but nothing is ever perfect—and, as people often say, "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Electric bikes are certainly a step in the right direction. If everyone used them to get about instead of cars, global warming might be less of a problem, and the world would be a far cleaner and healthier place!
On October 22, 2014 PA house bill 573 passed into law, which is Act 154, which changes the definition of "pedalcycle" (bicycle) in the PA state vehicle code. "Pedalcycle" is now defined as a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals or a "pedalcycle" (bicycle) with electric assist( a vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor rated no more than 750 watts and equipped with operational pedals and travels at speeds less than 20 mph). This bill allows the usage of pedal assisted bicycles in PA that follow the adopted state guidelines.
Flyer Vollblut. A new rear motor bike from one of the most reliable E-bike makers. This model doesn't look as "heavy" as most other Flyer models. The Vollblut 500 has the 500W new Panasonic rear motor, front fork suspension, 28 inch wheels. It is in the same price range as the Stöckli and the Stromer. Flyer is known for top service and reliability, but it's a new model with a new motor ....
Despite the illegal status in the state of New York, enforcement of this law varies at the local level. New York City enforces the bike ban with fines and vehicle confiscation for throttle activated electric bikes.[113] However, Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently changed the city's official policy to legalize pedal-assist electric bikes that have a maximum speed limited to 20 mph. [114] Contrarily, Tompkins County supports electric bike usage, even providing grant money to fund electric bike share/rental projects.[115]
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")
Some prohibitions also apply, such as on: carrying cargo that prevents keeping at least one hand on the handlebars or prevents proper use of brakes, riding no more than two abreast on a roadway or shoulder, and attaching the bicycle to another vehicle. Minn. Stat. § 169.222, subds. 3-5. The vehicles may be operated on a sidewalk except in a business district or when prohibited by a local unit of government, and must yield to pedestrians on the sidewalk. Minn. Stat. § 169.223, subd. 3. By default, electric-assisted bicycles are allowed on road shoulders as well as on bicycle trails, bicycle paths, and bicycle lanes.
Motor: We have a blog post showing some motor differences: https://www.ebikekit.com/blogs/news/its-whats-inside-your-motor-that-counts Cabling is probably the #1 issue when something goes wrong. Good connectors, good cables, and good assembly (bike shop!) are crucial Strain reliefs on all cable joints! Where you have a junction box or a connector, the stress is concentrated over a small area near this stiff spot on the cable. This can cause small breaks on the internal wires, causing a disconnect or a short. This is a major reason for failure. Strain reliefs are more expensive – you need special tooling, skilled labor, and appropriate materials to...

But two other concerns are also front and center when it comes to biking: cost and convenience. Not many people have showers at their places of employment, and who wants to show up to work coated in sweat and stinky for the rest of the day? Electric bikes solve the convenience problem by making the process almost effortless; you can bike for miles—even up and down hills—without breaking a sweat.
Electric bikes advertise with a huge array of varying ranges, but what is the dominant factor is range? Electric bike range is determined by the battery, and just like other lithium battery products like laptops and cell phones the batteries performance can fluxuate based on a variety of external factors.  Extreme cold, rider weight, head winds, hills, rough terrain, tire pressure and many other factors.   But since we need to start somewhere to get the general range that a battery can produce there is baseline that we can reference to get a good indicator of range. Take a look at...
Connect the battery to the speed controller and the throttle. Follow the instructions included with the kit to connect each part. Typically, you’ll only need to plug the connector on the speed controller into the connector on the battery, then repeat the process for the throttle. Be sure not to touch the battery wires together, as this could create a dangerous spark! [14]
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.

The handlebars connect to the stem that connects to the fork that connects to the front wheel, and the whole assembly connects to the bike and rotates about the steering axis via the headset bearings. Three styles of handlebar are common. Upright handlebars, the norm in Europe and elsewhere until the 1970s, curve gently back toward the rider, offering a natural grip and comfortable upright position. Drop handlebars "drop" as they curve forward and down, offering the cyclist best braking power from a more aerodynamic "crouched" position, as well as more upright positions in which the hands grip the brake lever mounts, the forward curves, or the upper flat sections for increasingly upright postures. Mountain bikes generally feature a 'straight handlebar' or 'riser bar' with varying degrees of sweep backwards and centimeters rise upwards, as well as wider widths which can provide better handling due to increased leverage against the wheel.

For people wanting to push the effects of Statorade to the max, the Australian made Hubsinks can clamp on to your motor shell and provide additional cooling fins to shed heat to ambient air. These fit our new MXUS Cassette motors, and the 9C, Crystalyte H, and many others. These are listed on our new store category for motor cooling mods. And like other small products, we try to  keep a stock of 10mL Statorade syringes on Amazon for easy shipping to US customers. They are sold out now but another shipment is inbound. 

What's the Centros like? Big and heavy, but with enough power to overcome that, it really reminded me of a more upmarket Volt Pulse. You do tend to find that the weightier e-bikes give more of a feeling of speed, even though you're only doing 20mph or so at the absolute most (only up to 15mph with electrical assistance so you'll need leg muscles or a downward incline to get to that outlandish velocity).
Hmm, I think it depends on the forest. My experience has been that if you have a Class 1 ebike and are riding respectfully, most places allow it. I have a sensitive knee and carry a doctor’s note citing disability laws in Colorado and have never been approached or asked by a ranger or fellow rider about the legality of my bike. That said, I have been using the really quiet and hidden Brose motor and I ride carefully and am friendly with everyone
If a car is at fault in an accident with a bicycle or ebike, their motor vehicle insurance will likely cover your cost for repair and hopefully medical expenses. But what happens if you are at fault, riding an ebike illegally because you did not register it as a Moped? At best, you could be prosecuted under the law. At worst, you could be financially liable for neglect or reckless endangerment via a law suit.
Play it Safe, Make it Easy – E-bike manufacturers will offer you a large variety of styles, types, colors and utility, but the base specifications will be a bike producing less than 750 watts of power (1 horsepower = 746W) , and have its speed limited to 20mph on motor power alone. The majority of US ebikes meet that specification. Manufacturers do this for their own liability. Going this route assures you that your bike was built and sold legally. As a result, you will have about every privilege that a normal bicycle can expect. However, state and local laws may dictate reduced speeds and limited access to bike paths.
From all the Chinese brands that have come and disappeared, Onway is still standing strong. That means that they have sold enough bikes, and they have been tried and tested enough for customers to know what to expect. So, what can you expect from this Onway bike? Well, for a very affordable price, you will get anything you realistically need in an e-bike – multi-purpose tires for various terrains, LCD display, LED headlights, taillights, a kickstand… Overall build quality and quality of the parts is above average, but there are some things that you will need to change, and seat should be the first on the list. Customer support is not that great, but if you decide to purchase this bike you will get a fun bike, for affordable price that you will be able to assemble and ride in no time.

Front-Mounted Hub Motor can be found on pre-built bikes or on custom conversions. Mounted to the front wheel, this is the easiest configuration to setup if you’re converting a standard bicycle since there’s no derailleur or chain to worry about. And since most e-bike conversions include batteries mounted to the rear rack, using a front hub motor helps equalize the weight of the bike and makes it easier to handle. But there’s a small risk the motor could cause the front forks to brake. That’s why it’s vital you only use a front hub motor on a steel fork. For pre-built bikes, this shouldn’t be an issue since the motors are usually lower-powered on steel forks.

An electric bicycle also known as an e-bike is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., (pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.
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It should be noted that the definition as written does not define the power of the motor in Watts as is conventionally done for electric bicycles but rather in brake horsepower. Thus for an electric bicycle, motor kit, or electric bicycle motor that is not rated by the manufacture in brake horsepower but rather in Watts a conversion must be made in the units a conversion which is not given in the code of the law and thus the court will have to consider a factor of conversion that is not directly encoded in the law. Industry standard conversion for Watts to horsepower for electric motors is 1 horsepower = 746 watts.[105] Acceptance of that conversion factor from industry, however, as interpretation of the law is subject to the process of the courts since it is not defined specifically in the law.

DIY enthusiasts, with tens of thousands of converted bikes using throttle-only, 20+ mph kits, are now officially labeled Moped class. While these bikes handle and pedal-ride just as safely as the class 3 speed pedelecs in many cases, our DIY counterparts will be officially kicked out and left on their own for advocacy and legal acceptance in California. This is a big deal, without a class sticker, any DIY electric bike conversion kit is considered a Moped and not a bicycle.
Oklahoma defines an Electric-Assisted Bicycle in 47 O.S. 1-104 [122] as "Two or three wheels; and Fully operative pedals for human propulsion and equipped with an electric motor with a power output not to exceed one thousand (1,000) watts, incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground, and incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device at a speed of thirty (30) miles per hour or more. An electric-assisted bicycle shall meet the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as set forth in federal regulations and shall operate in such a manner that the electric motor disengages or ceases to function when the brakes are applied."
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