eBikes, or electric bicycles, are convenient if you like cycling around the city but don’t always want to pedal. Most e-bikes allow you to travel without pedaling, although some force you to pedal. Either way, they make riding around easier.
At the same time, e-bikes are more affordable modes of transportation than cars or motorcycles. Furthermore, e-bikes are also eco-friendly, as they are electric and don’t create any pollution or greenhouse gases. However, you might be concerned about needing a license to ride your e-bike.
In most cases, you don’t need a license to ride your e-bike, and in many cases, you don’t require any kind of registration. However, it is essential to note that each US state has slightly different laws about licensing and registration to ride an e-bike.
Therefore, we will examine individual states and their laws surrounding e-bikes and licensing and discuss other basics. So, do you need a license for an e-bike?
Do You Need a License for an eBike? What Defines an eBike in the US?
This is where things get complicated, especially concerning laws from one state to another. However, the general rule is that states in the US that consider e-bikes as being mopeds or motor vehicles require licensing and registration. However, states that view e-bikes as regular bicycles do not require a license.
It’s important to know what defines an e-bike in the US; you must distinguish between an e-bike, a scooter, a moped, and a motorcycle. According to Congress, an e-bike is viewed as a 2-or 3-wheeled vehicle with fully operational pedals that can be used to pedal the unit forward and have an electric motor with 750 watts, or 1 horsepower or less.
When powered by just the motor, the maximum speed on a paved and level surface is less than 20 mph when the operator weighs less than 170 pounds. This legislation also says that any low-speed electric bicycle is not considered a motor vehicle. If the e-bike also features a pedal-assist feature, the maximum speed is 28 mph.
Therefore, any electric bicycle that travels less than 20 mph with just the motor, or less than 28 mph with pedal assist, does not require the rider to have a driver’s license as it is not viewed as a motor vehicle. However, if the bike’s speed exceeds 20 mph with just the throttle or exceeds 28 mph with pedal assist, it is considered to be a motorized vehicle and will likely require you to have a driver’s license.
Which States Require eBike Riders to Have a License?
States where electric bicycles are seen as scooters or mopeds, will generally require both registration and licensing. The states that require operators to have a license to ride an eBike include North Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Alabama, and Alaska. However, states that use the three-tier classification system for electric bicycles generally exempt all electric bicycles from requiring insurance, licensing, or registration.
Electric bicycles are generally classified in three ways. First, some e-bikes allow you to go up to 20 mph using both the motor and the pedals, which are Class 1 e-bikes. The second class can travel up to 20 per hour with only the throttle. The third class can travel up to 28 mph using the throttle and pedal assist.
Do You Need Insurance to Ride an eBike?
Generally, states in the US that view e-bikes as being distinct from other motor vehicles will not require you to have insurance, such as other motor vehicles.
However, states that view e-bikes as motor vehicles, like mopeds, require you to have licensing and registration.
However, most US states do not require driver’s insurance. The few states that do require you to have insurance for your e-bike include New Mexico, North Dakota, and West Virginia.
Do eBikes in the US Require Registration?
States in the US that view electric bicycles as being distinct from other modes of vehicles will usually not require registration. However, states that consider e-bikes as vehicles similar to mopeds require registration.
This means that your vehicle must be registered with the state, which usually comes with a fee. States requiring registration for an e-bike include Hawaii, Alabama, Louisiana, Alaska, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and North Dakota.
Age Requirements for eBikes in the US
Age restrictions for e-bikes vary from state to state. In most cases, these age restrictions apply to people riding either class 2 or class 3 e-bikes. Michigan, Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Utah require riders to be 14 years old when riding an e-bike, regardless of class. In some cases, riders under the age of 14 may be able to ride e-bikes when supervised by an adult 18 years or older.
Six states require riders to be at least 15 years old to ride an e-bike, and 15 states require riders to be at least 16 years of age to ride an e-bike unaccompanied.
What About Helmets and eBikes?
Roughly half the states in the US require that children wear helmets on e-bikes until they reach a certain age. In most cases, these rules apply to people under 21.
For example, anyone riding an e-bike under 16 in Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia, Maine, Florida, North Carolina, and Delaware must wear a helmet. If you are under 18 in New Mexico, Kansas, Kentucky, and Indiana, you must also wear a helmet.
All riders under 17 must wear a helmet in New Jersey, and all riders under 19 must wear a helmet in Oklahoma. In Pennsylvania and Louisiana, anybody under 12 must wear a helmet.