Have you thought about purchasing an ebike or electric bicycle in California recently but you’re not really sure the rules of riding one are? Do I need a license? Do I have to wear a helmet? Do they classify as a bike or a motorcycle? These are some of the questions you might be asking yourself. Well, no worries, this article is going to focus on the electric bike laws in California so you can get riding as soon as possible.
Please take in mind that laws may change after this article has been written and local laws may also apply so please try to stay up to date with any eBike law changes in your area. Kasen has been in the eBike industry for years and cares about rider safety!
Do EBikes Count As Bicycles?
A simple question, with a not so simple answer many eBikes are actually classified as bicycles and only have to follow the laws you normally would follow with any other bike. However, there are also specific rules for certain eBikes. Confusing right? So what makes an eBike classify as a bicycle or not? You guessed it, Speed. California bill AB 1096 classifies ebikes into 3 types. To read the full bill click here. An ebicycle is said to have a motor with less than 750 watts and fully operational pedals for human propulsion so anything over this may not be considered an electric bike. So here are the 3 Classes of EBikes.
Class 1 eBikes
A Class 1 electric bike is also known as a “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle.” This is an electric bike which receives assistance from a motor, only when pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 2 eBikes
A class 2 electric bike or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle”, is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 3 eBikes
A class 3 electric bicycle, or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and equipped with a speedometer.
Law states that people under the age of 16 may not ride class 3 electric bicycles. Law also states that operating a Class 3 electric bicycle does require wearing a fastened helmet. Not only that but the operation of class 3 electric bicycles shall not be operated on a bicycle path or trail, bikeway, bicycle lane established, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits, by ordinance, that operation. So you most likely wouldn’t be able to ride this class on certain paths and trails.
General Electric Bike Laws In California
If the vehicle you own falls into the categories above, congratulations you have an electric bicycle! This means they will only have to follow these general rules.
Do I Need A License for eBikes?
Each class of electric bicycles actually do not require a license to ride. Not only that, but you also don’t need a license plate on your bike either! Electric bike laws in California aren’t too much different from a regular bike!
Age Requirement for electric bikes?
Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles have no age requirement. However for Class 3 electric bicycles, there is a minimum age of 16 to ride your eBike.
Do I need to Wear a Helmet to Ride an eBike?
Helmet rules are kind of tricky. For class 1 and class 2 electric bikes, helmets are not required to be worn if you are over the age of 17. However, Class 3 electric bicycles do require a helmet be worn at all times no matter what the age of the rider. Kasen recommends always wearing a helmet when riding!
Where Can I Ride my eBike?
All 3 classes of eBike are able to ride in the bike lane in streets. Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes are also able to be ridden on bike paths, however Class 3 ebikes are not. Finally, just like any other bicycle, it is illegal to ride eBikes on sidewalks!
Can I modify My ebike?
It is actually illegal to modify your ebike. Most eBike manufacturers actually take the time to consider the many laws around electric bicycles for where they generally sell their ebikes. Modifying your ebike changes these industry standard specs to a vehicle unidentified by the government. We don’t recommend modifying your ebike if you want to stay safe from not only the law but from your own creations!
There you have it, a simple guide to the most common questions any rider might have about electric bike laws in California. Remember, eBike laws may change and local laws may be different in your area. Stay up to date with any changes you see in the community. Kasen electric bicycles are high quality eBikes up to code with California law. To come check us out, or get your own eBike visit our website at KasenBikes.com.