Laws for Electric Bikes

As with any piece of equipment on the road, when it has two or four wheels, it needs to follow some sort of rules for the road; even an electric bike is subject to rules. But when the equipment in question is under scrutiny, because it has peddles in addition to a motor, how do you determine what types of laws apply to it? The electric bike saw arguments trying to put it with cars, while another group wanted it to remain a bike under bike laws. Which side of the argument won? In 2001, there were rules created for electric bikes that have less than a 750 watt motor and can travel at speeds less than 20 miles per hour. Here are the rules you need to know when you are on your electric bike and traveling through the city, in the country or on a sidewalk.


electric bike


Manufacturers for an Electric Bike

  • Manufacturers of electric bike (s) were the most happy about the ruling, since it meant they didn’t have to follow Federal rules for equipment in regards to safety. Having to redesign bikes and equip them with sturdier products was going to cost a lot of money and make the electric bike way more expensive, potentially pricing them out of range for many people. By allowing the electric bikes to ultimately stay within the bike category for the road, it was a big win for the manufacturers.


  • Even though the bike manufacturers didn’t need to change their frames or specifications, it doesn’t mean so for the owner of the electric bike. The Federal laws were passed providing limits on speed and motor size to be considered an electric bike. The rest of the laws they left up to each individual state to determine. Depending on where you live, you might have a different set of rules to ride by than someone else. See your specific state’s webpage to find out exactly what your laws are so you are legal before heading out on the road.

Electric Bike Laws Vary By State

  • Every state has created their own rules governing electric bikes on the road. The only rule that states cannot break is the Federal rule, which says electric bikes are just like bikes if they have a 750 watt motor or less and do not go over 20 miles per hour. Otherwise, states dictate if the driver needs to have a license, wear a helmet or carry insurance on the bike they are operating. The states will also determine where the bikes can ride, what times of the day the electric bikes can be on the road and if tickets will be issued to offenders of those laws. The only way to find out the laws regarding electric bikes in your area is to consult with your state’s webpage and laws.

Pollution Control for Electric Bike

  • Most states require cars to pass an emissions test in order to be allowed on the roads. However, even though a car is powered by a motor, that motor is powered by a re-chargeable battery. Batteries are considered zero-emissions, meaning your bike will not need to pass an inspection if you plan on riding it on the road. Unless your state has created a rule for testing, your bike can go on any road without a emissions sticker stating you are safe to travel.


  • Since every state is different, you can assume that to meet the minimum laws, you need to follow the rules for bikers. For example, if your state requires a helmet to be worn by anyone under 16 when riding a traditional bike, than an electric bike rider should also wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is safer than not wearing a helmet and unless you know the laws implicitly, you should wear one to prevent yourself from getting a ticket.

Police can issue citations and write tickets for people who break bike laws, just like people who break traffic laws. A police officer can pull over a person on an electric bike on the road or wait until they get near the sidewalk and pull them over. Plus, officers on bikes are becoming more popular in urban and suburban areas, so catching up to people on bikes is pretty easy. When you have an electric bike, plan on following all laws to be safe.