Electric bicycles are a great means of commuting and having fun. Commonly shortened as e-bikes, electric bicycles share a few features of riding a bike and riding a motor-driven cycle.
However, if you are new to the world of e-bikes, one question you want to ask is if e-bikes require licenses to ride in the USA since you know you don’t need a license to ride your bicycle, but it needs some paperwork to operate a motor-powered vehicle. Hence, you are left in between.
This article finds out if you need a license for your e-bike for legal electric bike riding. Whether you own a class 3 ebike or other ebike classes, you will also learn how to process licenses for your electric bike if required.
What Are The Laws And Regulations Regarding Ebikes in the US?
First, it is worth noting that laws and regulations guiding the use of e-bikes in the USA vary from state to state. Each state has a different set of regulations for riding an e-bike, and what applies to one state may not apply to another.
However, there are federal regulations that apply to every US state. These regulations are placed under the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act. The act defines electric bikes as low-speed electric bicycles powered by a motor and operated by a pedal to produce less than 750W continuous power.
The act also defines an e-bike to have less than 20mph when powered only by an electric motor.
The act defines electric bikes as bicycles and requires that they are equipped with the right brake, pedal, and frame regarding strength.
Do I Need a License to Ride an Ebike in the USA?
Again, e-bike laws and regulations depend on your state. Hence, whether you need a license to ride an electric bike in the US depends on your state. While some states require paperwork to operate your bike, some states only see e-bikes as regular bicycles and have no special laws for them.
For example, if your state operates under the three-tiered ebike classes, you are not required to have any paperwork to ride your e-bike.
One major reason these states don’t have special regulations regarding e-bikes is simple: with a maximum speed of 20-28 mph, e-bikes don’t go as fast as other motor-driven vehicles and cannot be classified together.
However, if you reside in states like Alaska, Missouri, and North Dakota, you are required to get some paperwork to ride an e-bike. Meanwhile, other states that require having a license to operate an ebike are Alabama, New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.
Therefore, the only way to ensure you are safe is to check your state’s laws and regulations for e-bikes in advance.
Requirements for Getting an Ebike License
If your state requires a license to ride an electric bike, the next thing you want to know is how to process your e-bike license.
Since such states see electric bikes as motor-driven cycles, the requirements for getting an e-bike license are the same as getting a license for your regular motor-driven cycle, like a motorcycle.
Here are the requirements for applying for a motorcycle license in the U.S.:
- Visit the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to fill out an e-bike application form
- Show certificate of completion of e-bike training program
- Show proof of identity with a state-issued ID card, driver's license, or passport
- Undergo and pass a written knowledge test
- Pay the required fee (most states charge below $50 for an e-bike license)
However, it is worth noting that you must be up to 14 to ride an e-bike, so obviously, you won’t get a license if you are under 14.
Penalties for Riding an Ebike without a License
As an e-bike enthusiast, another question you want to ask is if you will be penalized for not having an e-bike license. Unfortunately, there are penalties for riding an e-bike without a license in states where acquiring a license for an e-bike is a requirement under the law. While each state may have varying penalties for riding an e-bike without a license, the penalties for not having a license for your e-bike are the same as driving an actual vehicle without a license.
The penalties you are likely to face if you get caught without a street legal electric bike license in states where you are required to carry one include:
- A hefty fine is imposed on you, from $100 to $1000 (depending on the state and the policeman)
- Your bike can be impounded
- You could face a jail term of between 1 month to 6 months if your case is serious (this applies if you are a repeat offender)
Also, do remember to make sure that your ebike is registered if it is required in your state, otherwise, you may face punishment for operating an unregistered vehicle.
Additionally, even when your ebike is registered and licensed, it is important to make sure to follow all the rules and restrictions while riding. For example, follow road signs and obey traffic lights like all the drivers, riders, and pedestrians. It can never go wrong to always be cautious.
Tips for Safe Riding
With an e-bike license out of the way, let’s discuss some tips to ensure a smooth ride with your e-bike.
While an e-bike is similar to riding a regular bike, having a safe ride with your e-bike requires more extra tips. Here are a few safety precautions to help you when hitting the road:
Make Your E-bike Manual Your Friend
Although you are a good rider and can easily handle any class 3 e-bike, it makes sense to understand how your new e-bike works. Learning how to operate your adult e-bike by reading the manual gives you a great sense of what to expect in different scenarios.
For example, reading your e-bike manual gives you information about its power so that you can have a clear mind of how fast your ebike can reach when speeding up. Meanwhile, knowing the battery capacity and mastering some maintenance tips could also help in extending the lifespan of both the battery and the ebike.
Mount and Dismount Carefully
E-bikes have strong frames to carry the rider’s body and the extra weight of the bike, but caution should still be thrown in while mounting and dismounting the bike.
To ensure you are safe and fitted with your bike, try mounting and dismounting it when buying it. This gives you an idea of whether the size and design suit you and what to avoid.
E-bikes should be equipped with reflectors to make you visible to other road users be it class 3 or class 2, and it is wise to install additional lights. Having a white headlight and a rear red brake light enhances your visibility at night. You can take this to the extreme by getting a light for your helmet too.
Install Warning Devices
Whether you ride a class 3 ebike or ebike in other ebike classes, besides installing lights on your ebike, warning devices are also a great idea for enhanced safety. A bell and a horn are great options for this purpose. With your bell, you can signal your presence to pedestrians, while your horn alerts cars and other vehicles.
Invest in Appropriate Gear
Another safety tip for e-bike riding is investing in appropriate gear. Ensure you are well-protected when going out on your bike. Do this by getting yourself a helmet purposely designed for bikes.
As for your clothing, avoid baggy clothes, as they are prone to getting caught in your pedals and chain. Also, ensure your clothes are reflective or, at least, light-colored so other road users can easily notice you.
Best Class 3 Ebikes Selected For You
If you plan to buy an e-bike, you are probably eyeing the class-3 e-bikes. Here are two of our best picks of class 3 adult bikes to consider:
The Young Electric E-Explorer is a class 3 ebike you want to have your hands on, thanks to its state-of-the-art features.
The adult ebike is built for all terrains, so owners can use their ebikes all seasons.
One feature you will appreciate with this class 3 ebike is the upgraded 1000W motor, which is rare to come by in street legal electric bikes. Also, the E-Explorer features an optional Dual Battery that helps extend the bike’s range to about 90 miles when on longer journeys.
What's more, if you like commuting at night, the E-Explorer will make a good company. High Power Headlights will light up your journey so you can see the road that lies ahead at night.
If you are looking for a long-range class 3 bike, the E-Scout Pro will make a great purchase. The E-Scout Pro is powered by a newly upgraded 48V/20Ah, 960Wh LG battery that can carry you for a whopping 80-mile adventure.
And even after exhausting the available charges, you can remove your battery and charge, thanks to the removable design. That gives you the flexibility to charge your battery anywhere you want without the hassle of taking your bike around.
E-Flow focuses on riders' comfort and ensures you have all you need for a smooth riding experience. For example, you can easily pedal up to 28 MPH with the help of the Bafang Sutto rear hub motor, while the speed sensor ensures you can keep track of your speed.
Another feature worth mentioning in the E-Flow is the 48V/20Ah Lithium-ion battery designed to meet any riding demand without compromising performance. And you can charge the battery anywhere due to its removable design.
Besides, one great thing about E-Flow is that it can be folded up into a compact size. This makes it really convenient for you when you need to take it for a journey or transport it.
E-bike riding is a fun adventure that many of us cherish. But while taking your bike to the road can be exciting, the memory can be spoiled by running into trouble with the cop because you don’t have a license. This is why you want to know if you need a license to ride your e-bike in advance.
This blog post explains everything you need to know about e-bike licenses. Since each state has its laws and regulations regarding e-bikes, it makes sense to check with your state authority so you are on the safe side of the law.