As ebikes become increasingly popular, electric bike producers in the US face a complex challenge. The legal landscape is new and ambiguous, so ensuring compliance with safety standards, regulations, and environmental requirements is tough.
That’s why we’ve created this legal guide on ebike laws to make this journey a bit easier for you.
With all the different electric bike laws by state, we’ll help you understand the intricacies of laws governing the ebike industry in 2023.
From safety standards, intellectual property protection, labeling requirements, and environmental regulations to business licenses, liability considerations, and state-specific laws, let’s tackle this issue once and for all.
For both ebike riders and manufacturers in the US, ebike laws play a huge role. What is a street legal electric bike? What are the differences in electric bike laws by state? We’re here to answer all your burning questions.
As a producer of electric bikes, you have a great responsibility towards both riders and pedestrians. Your product has to be compliant with federal safety standards set by organizations like the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
So, let’s set the base for understanding what makes an electric bike legal.
There are 3 distinct classes of electric bikes in the United States. Each of these classes has its ebike speed limit, power output, and type of vehicle.
According to US ebike laws, Class 1 ebikes are equipped with pedal-assist technology, which means that the motor provides support to the rider as they push the pedals. For this class of ebikes, this assistance is paused as soon as the speed of the bike reaches 20 mph (32 km/h).
Another specification for Class 1 ebikes is that throttle-assist is not allowed, unlike for classes 2 and 3.
Legal considerations: These bikes are usually allowed on bicycle paths, lanes, and other trails. In most US states, they are treated just like other bicycles. They don’t require any licensing or registration.
Class 2 ebikes are powered by throttles, meaning the rider simply needs to push a throttle to be pushed forward. The Class 2 electric bike speed limit is 20 mph (32 km/h), so the throttle must stop assisting the rider as soon as the bike reaches this speed.
Legal considerations: Usually, Class 2 ebikes are treated just like Class 1 ebikes, however, some jurisdictions may have additional restrictions. Please refer to your local laws and regulations to ensure your compliance.
With the 3rd class of ebikes, both pedal and throttle assist are allowed. The difference here is that throttle assist can be activated up to the point where the bike reaches 28 mph (45 km/h). Nevertheless, this doesn’t apply to throttle assist tech on class 3 bikes, which are still limited to 20 mph (32 km/h).
Legal considerations: Due to their higher speed limit, Class 3 ebikes may face more strict regulations, including mandatory helmet laws or restrictions on certain paths.
Remember that these ebike laws will differ from state to state. For example, the max speed ebike laws in Idaho and Montana reach up to 30 mph instead of the usual 28 mph.
If you are starting to manufacture your own line of ebikes, it’s crucial that you understand these classifications, along with other electric bike regulations. Since you are reading this article, you are already on the right track.
Since ebikes are so popular these days, manufacturers are coming up with bigger and better things every day. If you’re one of the creative inventors who came up with a new design or tech for ebikes, it’s crucial that you protect its use and keep it to yourself.
So, what do ebike laws have to say about intellectual property protection?
We highly recommend obtaining utility patents for your innovative solutions, be it designs or functionality. For example, patents will help protect your new battery technology, motor systems, or control algorithms. This way, you can stop copycats from profiting off of your genius.
You should also research a bit more about trademarks to protect your brand identity.
Last but not least, you may also obtain copyrights to protect your user guides, software, manuals, etc.
Just like with any other manufacturing requirement, electric bikes also have proper labeling regulations. You must be transparent with your consumers as to what class your ebike belongs to, what is its top speed, what is the power output, and more.
Making sure that you provide proper information to your users is key to gaining their trust and love. This way, they can absolutely know what they’re getting into. On another hand, you’ll also protect yourself from potential liability claims.
Last but not least, you should look at the big picture. If you overpromise and underdeliver, your reviews will be negative, so make sure that you stay true to your promises.
Now that we’ve discussed classifications, labeling requirements, and IP protection for ebikes, let’s talk about another area of compliance. Electric bike regulations regarding sustainability are required for any modern-day ebike producer in the US.
In general, ebike producers have the responsibility to adopt eco-friendly practices such as using recyclable materials, reducing production waste, and employing energy-efficient processes.
As an ebike producer, adopting such environmentally friendly practices will help appeal to eco-conscious consumers and help support a cleaner future.
If you want to create a legitimate ebike production in the US, you must obtain an electric bike license for producers and get a permit. You have to comply with your local ebike laws, as well as state and federal regulations.
The license you require will be different depending on the size and location of your production. Some licenses to keep in mind are:
You must also keep in mind your local labor laws pertaining to minimum wage, overtime, workplace safety, and employee benefits.
We highly recommend speaking to an attorney in your local area to make sure that you comply with your local requirements.
Yet another obligation you will encounter as an ebike manufacturer in the US is product liability insurance. After all, accidents can always happen. So, to protect your brand from potential lawsuits, you must think about it all in advance.
Product liability insurance will provide coverage in case your users are ever injured due to a defect in your ebikes. At the end of the day, this insurance will give you peace of mind and protect your finances.
Before we start discussing electric bike laws by state, let’s talk about safety standards and government regulations.
In this section, we’ll tell you all about electric bike regulations and how you can ensure your compliance with them. Do your users need a license to drive an electric bike? Are electric bikes street legal? Let’s jump right in and answer all possible questions you may have.
One of the main sets of regulations you must follow as an ebike manufacturer are those set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). They cover everything from braking performance and reflectors to lighting and other such requirements.
Before you take your product to market, you’re required to obtain safety certifications that ensure your product is safe to use.
Will your users require licenses for riding your ebikes? This almost entirely depends on the classification of your bike.
If you’ve created a Class 1 or Class 2 ebike, the speed limit of which is capped at 20 mph, then your user will likely not need a license to ride it. Plus, next time your customers ask you “can you ride an electric bike on the road,” your answer will be “yes.” These bikes are usually allowed on public roads, bike lanes, and basically anywhere else where you can ride a regular bike.
Class 3 ebikes have a different story. Since their max speed can go much higher, they might face additional restrictions in different states, such as Alaska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. This means that your customers would need to register their ebike and have a license to operate it.
As a manufacturer of ebikes in the US, your responsibility will be to ensure your ebike’s compatibility with legal requirements. For example, make sure that pedal-assist is capped at 20 mph for Class 1 ebikes and at 28 mph for Class 3 ebikes.
Since ebikes can go pretty fast, does it mean that your users have to ride while wearing a helmet? When it comes to helmets, age is what matters the most. Although these laws differ between states, you still have the responsibility to communicate them to your users.
For example, in Montana and New Mexico, anyone under 18 must wear a helmet when riding ebikes. In states like Oklahoma and Oregon, this applies to anyone under 16. In many other states, no helmets are required.
In order to comply with legal labeling requirements, you must clearly communicate any age restrictions to your users.
In many states like Arizona and Texas, there is no age restriction law for riding ebikes. However, in states like Idaho and Oklahoma, the legal age to ride an ebike is 16. Alternatively, state-level age restrictions can vary depending on the classification of the ebike, which is the law in California.
In almost all states, ebikes are required to have white front-lights, red tail-lights and reflectors to be considered safe. This is not only mandatory to comply with state-wide laws, but it will also improve the safety of your users, which is something you simply must care about.
With recent buzz around an electric bike subsidy, the future of ebike production is definitely looking up. What ebike subsidy are we talking about and what does it even mean?
Well, the recent Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) initiative will offer around 30% of tax credit to those who purchase ebikes (capped at $1,500).
Since ebikes are more sustainable modes of transport than, say, cars, this bill aims to do good for the environment, help people reduce their carbon footprint, and much more.
If this bill passes, it will obviously serve as an incentive for people to buy more and more ebikes, right? So, the moral of the story is that ebike producers stand to gain a lot.
That concludes all our general guidelines for an ebike producer such as you. Now, it’s time that we move on to dissecting ebike laws in some specific states.
Since the US does not operate under one jurisdiction, you must consider the laws of each state on your journey of ebike manufacturing.
Whether you operate in Ohio or Virginia, understanding your state-specific laws will be your key to marketing your products accurately to your consumers.
Are ebikes legal in all states? What is the speed limit in each state? We’ve chosen 27 states, and we’re ready to tell you all about the specific electric bike laws by state you should know. Without further ado, let’s start this ride.
California is very casual about ebikes. Essentially, ebikes are treated just like regular bicycles. This means that they require no registration, licensing, or insurance. If you ride your electric bike on the road, you simply need to follow the same rules as human-powered bike riders.
Ohio uses the 3-tiered classification for ebikes. Similarly to California, electric bikes are regulated the same way as regular bicycles.
Just like in California and Ohio, ebikes are treated like traditional bicycles.
Texas laws use the 3-class definition for electric bikes. Overall, they are treated the same way as regular bicycles.
Electric bikes are regulated the same way as non-electric bicycles, so they don’t require registration or licensing.
Similar to most states, Michigan treats ebikes the same way as simple bicycles. No registration or licensing is required.
There are no special ebike laws in Utah. They are treated the same way as regular bicycles without the need for registration or licenses.
The rules of the road apply to ebikes as they do to other vehicles.
Ebike riders in Maryland must adhere to the same rules as regular bicycle riders. Keep in mind that ebikes are usually not allowed on sidewalks.
Virginia uses the same set of rules for ebikes as for regular bicycles. Something to keep in mind is that electric bikes may not be allowed on bike lanes and multi-use paths with regular bicycles.
If you are switching from a regular bicycle to an electric bike, you won’t experience any changes in laws. Local authorities may restrict ebike use on bike paths, but you must check with your local city rules for concrete information.
In Indiana, no licensing or registration is required for ebikes. In general, they are treated the same way as regular human-powered bicycles. However, Class 3 ebikes may not ride on bike paths, trails, or multipurpose paths unless they are next to a highway.
No registration or licensing is required for ebikes in Georgia. As an ebike rider, you are subject to the same rules as regular bicycle riders. Nevertheless, local authorities may not allow you to ride on bike and shared lanes unless they are next to roadways or highways.
Similar to most states, ebikes are treated as regular bicycles in Nevada. No additional restrictions apply.
While in states like Georgia you might not be allowed to ride on bike lanes, Nevada allows all classes of ebikes to be operated on any bike lanes, streets, highways, roads, and shared paths.
Unlike most states, New Jersey classifies ebikes into 2 classes:
When it comes to Class 3 ebikes, New Jersey defines it as a motorized vehicle similar to a moped. This means that they are not treated the same way as regular bicycles. As a motorized vehicle rider, you must have an operator’s license. Plus, your vehicle will be subject to registration and insurance requirements.
The state of Minnesota treats electric bikes the same way as it does regular bicycles. While other states might restrict this, Minnesota allows all ebikes to ride on bike lanes or shared paths wherever bicycles are allowed.
Ebikes are treated like regular bicycles in Idaho. You don’t need to worry about registration, licenses, or insurance. Ebikes are also allowed on bike lanes. Also, the speed limit for Class 1 and 2 ebikes is 20 mph and 28 mph for Class 3 ebikes.
The regulation for ebikes and regular bicycles in Missouri is the same. Regardless of the class of your ebike, you are allowed to ride on bike lanes and multi-use paths.
Similar to most states, the state of Washington also treats ebikes like regular bicycles. If you’re riding a Class 1 or 2 ebike, you may ride on bike paths. However, this rule doesn’t apply to Class 3 ebike riders.
The rules of the road for ebikes are the same as for regular bikes in Maine. One rule to keep in mind is that Class 3 electric bikes are not allowed on bike lanes unless they are within highways or roads.
The state of Oklahoma regulates ebikes in the same manner as non-electric bikes. Class 1 and 2 bikes may ride on bike lanes, but Class 3 ebikes may not. Nevertheless, this rule doesn’t apply to bike lanes that are next to highways.
Louisiana, just like most other states, treats ebikes like regular human-operated bicycles. All 3 classes of ebikes can be ridden wherever regular bicycles are allowed, such as bike lanes and multi-purpose paths.
New York is a state where ebike laws are somewhat unique. Although ebikes are treated the same way as regular bicycles, there is a variation in their classification of electric bikes. Classes 1 and 2 are the same as almost any other state, but Class 3 has a different definition.
To define a Class 3 ebike, the state of New York uses the following term:
“Solely within a city having a population of one million or more, a bicycle with electric assist having an electric motor that may be used exclusively to propel such bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when such bicycle reaches a speed of twenty-five miles per hour.”
The state of New York does not permit the use of Class 3 ebikes that may accelerate up to 28 mph.
Alabama uses the 3-tiered class system for electric bikes. In fact, they do not require licensing, registration, or insurance. Ebikes can ride on bike lanes and multi-use paths unless local city governments decide against them.
Ebikes in Tennessee are not allowed to ride on sidewalks, and Class 3 ebikes cannot ride on bike paths. Nevertheless, Class 1 and 2 ebikes may ride on them.
There are no special laws regarding ebikes in Colorado. They are treated in the same manner as non-electric bikes.
Ebikes in Iowa are treated as regular non-electric bicycles. They don’t require registration, licensing, or insurance. All ebikes are also allowed on bike lanes and multi-use paths.
When starting your own ebike production, you have a huge task ahead of you. Creating an awesome piece of tech that beats your competition out of the water is not enough. You also need to consider the legal side of things and comply with all ebike laws that relate to you.
From safety standards and IP protection to labeling requirements and electric bike laws by state, you need to consider every regulation before jumping in.
In this legal guide for ebike producers in the US, we’ve covered all there is to know about ebike laws in the US, including state laws from California to New York.
As the ebike market continues to evolve, you have to stay proactive and dynamic to ensure compliance with regulations.
That being said, we wish you the best of luck in your ebike manufacturing journey!