What Are the 3 Classes of E-Bikes?

What Are the 3 Classes of E-Bikes?

Electric bicycles (eBikes), which have long been popular in Europe, are becoming more and more well-liked in the United States as a mode of mobility. The most seasoned cyclists and those who haven't ridden a bike since childhood can both ride them. E-bikes have the potential to increase cycling's appeal to new demographics and enable lifetime cycling for users.

However, considerable ambiguity regarding how and where to ride e-bikes is limiting their potential for expansion, and as an emerging technology, they require clear laws to govern their use and foster market stability.

How the 3 classes of electric bicycles are defined?

  • Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
  • Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted.
  • Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.

All classes limit the motor’s power to 1 horsepower (750W).

Classes and Access

Class 1 eBikes are legal to ride wherever bicycles are allowed, including bike lanes, highways, multiuse trails, and bike-only paths in some states, much like traditional mountain or pavement bicycles. Mayor de Blasio of New York City recently declared that Class 1 eBikes will be officially permitted in the city. We believe that Class 1 pedal-assist eBikes should have the same rights and obligations as traditional bikes and should therefore also be allowed on non-motorized mountain bike trails, as is the case in Europe, even though New York City's decision has nothing to do with singletrack trail use for electric mountain bikes (eMTBs).

throttle-assist class 2 Although some states and towns are choosing to impose additional limitations, eBikes are frequently permitted in most places that a standard bicycle is permitted (e.g. New York City & Michigan State). Class 2 vehicles may not be appropriate for singletrack mountain bike routes because studies have shown that the throttle-actuation causes more physical harm to the terrain. Multi-purpose off-road vehicle paths made for more challenging off-road vehicles might be better suited for Class 2.

Class 3 electric bikes are normally permitted on roads and in on-road bike lanes (also known as "curb to curb" infrastructure), but not on multiuse routes or bike trails. While a typical bicycle can travel at a maximum speed of 20 mph, decision-makers and agencies believe that a Class 3 eBike's higher top speed is too fast for most bike lanes and trails that are often used by other trail users.


Common sense guidelines for when and where to ride an eBike will benefit everyone. Law enforcement will know what rights eBike users have and when to enforce the law with clear regulation and updated state laws. They will also be able to quickly identify the class of bike based on its sticker. Bike shops can increase sales by assisting clients in understanding the various applications for each type of eBike. Existing eBike riders will have simple guidelines to follow on where they can ride, and novice cyclists who may be deterred from riding a traditional bicycle owing to poor physical condition, advanced age, a disability, or convenience will have new transportation options.

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