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Does an electronic bike have legal restrictions?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | Bike & Pedestrian Accidents

The rise in electronic bikes has not yet reached its peak, with many people opting for one to travel Southern California streets. Before purchasing one, you may want to better understand the law and any relevant restrictions.

The California DMV has a handbook setting out the rules for two-wheeled vehicles. Take a look at some of the high points of electric bikes.

What is an electric bike?

The DMV defines an electric bicycle as one that is a fully-functioning two-pedal bike outfitted with an electric motor with a power of 750 watts or less. Anything above this may fall into another classification of vehicle.

What are the classes of electric bikes?

There are three categories or classes of electric bikes:

  • Class 1: Provides assistance while the bike rider pedals and the motor stops running at a speed of 20 miles per hour
  • Class 2: The bike rider does not need to pedal for the motor to run, and instead, the bike contains a throttle that maintains a top speed of 20 miles per hour unassisted
  • Class 3: A motorized bicycle that requires the biker to pedal to turn on, includes a speedometer and stops assisting at 28 miles per hour

Do you need a license to operate an electric bike?

While you do not need a license to own and operate an electric bike, one that falls into Class 3 does carry with it a few restrictions. Under the law, you must wear a helmet, not carry passengers and ride in the bike lane if allowed by local laws. You should also attain the age of 16 before operating a Class 3 electric bike. No electric bike requires liability insurance.

It is always a good idea to check local rules and regulations regarding additional ordinances that may govern how and where you can ride an electric bicycle.