The United States E-bike regulations
Ebikes are a fun, easy and convenient way to get around. They are perfect for those who need a vehicle with speed but can’t stand the idea of being tied down to a car all the time. It’s such an exciting experience to get your hands on a new piece of technology like this!
But it’s important not to get too ahead of ourselves in all the excitement!
There are some important things you should know before you begin your ebike journey. One very important one is ebike regulations. As you might know, different countries have different regulations for ebikes. It’s important to know what kind of ebikes you can drive in your area, as all areas are different.
Here we explain the key things you need to know about all things regulations when it comes to ebikes.
Most of our customers are in the United States, which has quite a complicated legal arrangement when it comes to ebikes. Here we will give you the key facts regarding federal and state legislation when it comes to ebikes.
There are a few important federal regulations regarding ebikes. First, the motor must be less than 750w. To comply with this standard, the ASTRO and ASTRO PRO use a BAFANG 750w hub motor.
Second, the top speed using the throttle must be capped at 20mph when using the throttle alone. Notably, the law does not specify the maximum speed that the bike can go when using a combination of peddling and the throttle. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission specifically clarified this issue by stating that e-bikes can travel faster than 20mph when using pedals and the throttle.
There are also some regulations that vary by state. The state regulations mostly focus on whether ebikes are classified as scooters, mopeds or traditional bikes.
Only 44 states have definitions for ebikes in their legislation distinguishing them from other vehicles. The other 6 states classify them simply as mopeds or motor vehicles, meaning the same rules that apply to mopeds or motor vehicles apply to them.
In 26 states, ebikes are categorized ebikes into 3 standard classes. The remaining 18 states use unique classification systems.
States using the standard 3 classes:
Arizona, Arkansas, California*, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
States using unique definitions:
Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Minnesota, Idaho, Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington DC, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island
States with no definition:
North Dakota, Missouri, New Mexico, Alabama, Massachusetts, Alaska
The 26 states have pretty much the same definitions and regulations for the different classes of ebikes. The only exception is *California, where all ebikes cannot have a throttle. In all the other 25 states, including New York, a throttle is permitted.
Things get a bit trickier with the states that have unique definitions. Each one is different and it’s worth looking up the specific legislation of these states if you need to drive an ebike there.
For instance, Kentucky and Mississippi treat all ebikes as traditional bicycle that can be used freely on bicycle and multi-use paths. No license, registration or insurance is required. Whereas West Virginia does not recognise class 2 ebikes, only allowing the use of class 3 and class 1 ebikes.
New Jersey has a more complicated two-tier system, where ‘Low Speed Electric Bicycles’ that go below 20 mph (like ‘Class 1) are treated as traditional bikes, while ‘Motorized bicycles’ that can go between 20mph and 28mph are treated more like motor vehicles that require a driver’s license, registration, insurance, and a helmet.
What about the ASTRO and ASTRO PRO?
C3STROM’s ASTRO is a class 3 bike. It has a BAFANG 750W motor, which is the maximum wattage allowed for this class. It has a setting with an initial speed limit setting of 28mph, along with a pedal assist system (PAS) so you can switch between riding it like a normal bike and riding it fast. Therefore, when riding in the initial mode, license and insurance is not required.
It also has another setting called ‘OFF-ROAD’ mode which can be used off-road at a higher speed. As the bike is designed for speed-seekers, we decided to include this off-road mode for those who enjoy the thrill of riding.
For our future EU customers, we have a different riding mode called ‘pedelec mode’. Every time the user starts the bike, it will be set automatically in pedelec mode with a 25km/h speed limit. In pedelec mode, when a speed of 25km/h is reached, the pedal assistance cuts out.
What about licenses and insurance?
If the bike comes under the standard three tier classification system used in the 26 states mentioned above, then generally it does not need a licence and insurance. As for the 14 states with unique definitions, it varies state by state. Generally, ebikes are classed as traditional bicycles or class 3 ebikes in these states so will not require licences and insurance with the exception of New Jersey (see above). But make sure to check your states guidelines for more details, as legislation is often nuanced in these states and subject to frequent changes and revisions.