Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike? The Most Important Things to Know

An electric bike seems to be a more complicated type of transport than a regular bike. This article will help to understand if you need a special license to ride it.
By
John Watson
John Watson
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John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
Expert Consultant
Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: January 24, 2023
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Faster travel, sustainability, and convenience are just three of the top benefits that make electric bikes so popular. In addition to being practical, they’re also perfect for almost every member of the family. If you’re considering upgrading your manual bike to an E-bike, one of the top questions you’ve probably asked is – do you need a license for an electric bike? This article answers that question and also highlights the different Ebike licensing regulations in the U.S. Additionally, we’ll take a look at the criteria that differentiates an E-bike from its more traditional manual counterpart. Let’s dive right in!

E-bikes and driving license

Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike? The Most Important Things to Know
When a bike of any kind features a motor to power it, its definition and criteria change.

For many people buying an electric bike for the first time, there can be some confusion regarding the need for a license. After all, an E-bike is essentially a bicycle, isn’t it? Well, yes and no. If a manufacturer produces an e-bike that only reaches low speeds (less than 20 mph), it might not be required to have a license. With E-bikes that can achieve speeds up to or higher than the prescribed 28mph, the bike is classed as a motor vehicle. At this point, the bike will require a license. There is currently no “one rule for all E-bikes” in the U.S. Rather, the regulations are determined by specific state laws.

If you’re looking for a comfortable E-bike option to get your kids to school or simply to ride around the city, there’s always the Aostirmotor 350W G350 Comfortable Commuter Electric Bike. This nifty model will not only provide you with a comfortable and convenient ride, but it also boasts a sturdy metal frame. Puncture-resistant tires, a lightweight alloy frame, a 36V/10Ah lithium battery, and a 350W motor are just a few of this model’s remarkable features. It’s perfect for driving with a range between 25 and 35 kilometers. It’s easy to see why the Aostirmotor is regarded by many as one of the best class 2 electric bikes!

What is considered an electric bike in the USA?

In the USA, the current law (Consumer Product Safety Act HR 727) Trusted Source Low-Speed Electric Bicycles Report The Committee on Energy and Commerce, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 727) to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide that low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products subject to such Act, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass. purl.fdlp.gov regarding E-bikes was passed in December 2002 and states the following:

“…A two-or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of fewer than 750 watts (1 h.p), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph….”

Essentially, this means that an electric bike is classified as such when it features a motor with a power output of 750 watts maximum. It should also not have a top speed of more than 20mph. In this instance, many USA states will require the bike to be registered and licensed. This criteria also refers to the question, “do you need a license for an electric dirt bike?” Before investing in an E-bike, always assess the laws surrounding its licensing and use. One of the more popular bikes is the Nakto 250W Fashion Foldable City Electric Bike. Among the features that make it an impressive option is its portability, its easy-to-use approach, and its affordable price tag.

A larger seat makes it comfortable for a wider range of riders. Commonly referred to as a Class 3 bike, the Nakto boasts a foldable frame, making it easy to transport in the trunk of their car. Since it’s lightweight (50lbs), it’s easy to carry around when necessary. Additionally, the Front and rear V brakes create improved safety and make it a firm favorite for any aged rider. Our article, best class 3 electric bikes will provide you with a look at a few other impressive Class 3 E-bike options.

Different laws in different states

Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike? The Most Important Things to KnowIn the U.S., there’s no simple answer to the question, “Do you need a driver’s license for an electric bike?” This is because there are currently different regulations, depending on the Federal or State Law applicable in the State you’re residing in. For instance, 26 U.S. States have opted to use the three-tier classification system Trusted Source 22 States Now Follow the Three Class E-bike System, Doubling Total in Six Months | PeopleForBikes 2019 started with 11 states using the model three-class e-bike definitions. As of June 19, 22 states now define e-bikes within the three classes, effectively doubling the total in just six months. These eleven new states are: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. www.peopleforbikes.org to classify E-bikes. A brief analysis of the three-tier system is as follows:

  • Class 1 E-bike: Refers to a bicycle that’s equipped with a motor but requires the rider to pedal. Assistance stops when the bicycle reaches a top speed of 20 miles per hour.
  • Class 2 E-bike: When a bicycle requires a motor to exclusively propel the bicycle. Its maximum speed is also 20 miles per hour.
  • Class 3 E-bike: The most popular type of E-bike is a Class 3, which assists when the rider pedals. The maximum speed on these bikes is 28 miles per hour, and in most instances, they are equipped with a speedometer.

The remaining 19 states have created their own laws, some based on the already existing moped and bicycle laws. This is because some lawmakers haven’t made a definitive decision about where they think a bicycle with a motor and potential speeds of 28 miles per hour should fit. Since the legislations are subject to change, it’s always recommended to check the status of your State using the peopleforbikes.org Trusted Source Electric Bicycle Law Basics PeopleForBikes is working to update and clarify state laws governing the use of electric bicycles across the United States. Our objective is to ensure that certain electric bicycles are regulated similarly to traditional, human-powered bicycles to provide the same access that riders of traditional bicycles enjoy. peopleforbikes.cdn.prismic.io website. Also, remember that these legislations are subject to change, so check them regularly to ensure you keep on abiding by the law.

For the most part, electric bike owners won’t need to register their e-bikes or take out insurance. They might, however, be required to have a license. Before you take to the roads, check the required E-bike license criteria Trusted Source State Electric Bicycle Laws | A Legislative Primer The past few years have seen a marked increase in the number of electric bicycles (or “e-bikes”) in the U.S. This primer deals specifically with low-speed electric bicycles as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. www.ncsl.org for your particular State. The top states that require a license to operate an E-bike include the following:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Massachusetts
  • North Dakota
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico

Bikers who want to take advantage of the convenience of E-bikes on their hunting trips will benefit from considering the options in our Electric Bikes for Hunting Review 2022 – it’s well worth a read!

FAQs

Is there an age limit when it comes to electric bikes?

Many U.S. states have a regulated minimum age restriction for E-bike use. This is large as a result of the increased speeds enabled by adding a motor to the bicycles. For the most part, the age limit varies from 14 to 16 years old. Cycling, even with E-bikes, has many health benefits Trusted Source 5 Benefits of Cycling – Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials “Move your body.” That seems to be the general health advice when it comes to staying physically healthy. And there are many ways to do it. If you were a mermaid in another life, maybe you enjoy a challenging swim across the pool. If you’re a dancer at heart, perhaps you like a good Zumba class to start your day. health.clevelandclinic.org and can be a great activity for the whole family.

Are there helmet requirements for electric bikes?

As with license requirements, the regulations for helmet use also vary between states and municipalities. While some regulations center around bicycle helmets, many require actual motorbike helmets. The most common requirement among many states is the use of a helmet for any rider under the age of 18. States such as New York require any E-bike operator or passenger under the age of 14 to wear a helmet. For New Jersey, though, the age limit for helmets is under 17 years.

Our experts recommend always using a helmet, no matter the age of the rider or the State you live in. Whether you’re riding a bicycle or an E-bike, the right type and size of helmet will minimize the risk of injury in a potential accident.

Do you require insurance for an E-bike?

Most states don’t require E-bikers to have insurance. However, since E-bikes are slightly heavier than regular bikes, there’s always risk involved if a collision should occur. Also, the accelerated speed the motor offers you is a good enough reason to add insurance to your or your children’s E-bikes. Common insurance coverage to consider includes both theft and damage, which will also cover vandalism, lightning, and hail.

Final thoughts

Do you need a license to drive an electric bike? It’s apparent that, at the moment, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. In fact, the most solid answer you’ll get is – it depends on where you live. As lawmakers grapple with reaching a consensus over one specified regulation for E-bike use, it’s recommended to verify the regulations in place in your State. If you’re going to be riding out of State or taking your bike with you on vacation, be sure to check the laws in the area you’ll be visiting.

References

1.
Low-Speed Electric Bicycles Report
The Committee on Energy and Commerce, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 727) to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide that low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products subject to such Act, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.
2.
22 States Now Follow the Three Class E-bike System, Doubling Total in Six Months | PeopleForBikes
2019 started with 11 states using the model three-class e-bike definitions. As of June 19, 22 states now define e-bikes within the three classes, effectively doubling the total in just six months. These eleven new states are: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
3.
Electric Bicycle Law Basics
PeopleForBikes is working to update and clarify state laws governing the use of electric bicycles across the United States. Our objective is to ensure that certain electric bicycles are regulated similarly to traditional, human-powered bicycles to provide the same access that riders of traditional bicycles enjoy.
4.
State Electric Bicycle Laws | A Legislative Primer
The past few years have seen a marked increase in the number of electric bicycles (or “e-bikes”) in the U.S. This primer deals specifically with low-speed electric bicycles as defined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
5.
5 Benefits of Cycling – Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials
“Move your body.” That seems to be the general health advice when it comes to staying physically healthy. And there are many ways to do it. If you were a mermaid in another life, maybe you enjoy a challenging swim across the pool. If you’re a dancer at heart, perhaps you like a good Zumba class to start your day.
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