What kind of license do I need to ride an electric bike?

Recently, electric bicycles have become so popular around the world that it seems like everyone wants to ride one. But, what about the license to ride an electric bike? Is it needed to put on a plate or to wear a helmet while riding?

Today, we'll answer all of these questions and clarify the situation for those who are looking for a new e-bike.

Unfortunately, we can't give you a single simple answer because the American continent is vast and legislation is different in all U.S. states.

Those answers may depend on the power and the speed of the e-bike, or the classification (Class 1, 2 or 3). We also have some age-dependent regulations regarding helmet use.  

Some states require a diver's licence to ride an electric bike, but in many states it is not required. Where are you located? It will be needed to understand your local rules and legislation.

So, sit back and let's dive into the details.

Regulations in the US are different

In the U.S. the situation is a bit complicated to summarize because of so many states and different local rules and regulations.

For example, several states are still adjusting to the rapid popularity regarding e-bikes and grappling with new legislation and classifications. In some jurisdictions and states, e-bikes are subject to stricter regulations, while in other states, on the other hand, it is still unclear how they are classified.

To make things clearer and easier to understand, many states are working on definitions and classifications of e-bikes. In fact, in 2022, electric bikes are now defined as "vehicle category" in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Furthermore, 36 states classify e-bikes into three big categories, but there are still some states without a clear classification for e-bikes.

Normally, state legislation focuses on whether electric bikes are classified as, for example:  mopeds, scooters or traditional bikes. Unfortunately, the definition of each category can vary from state to state.

Therefore, if you're thinking of riding an e-bike, it's crucial and fundamental to check your state's legislation, which may differ from the most common three-category classification system.

Tree categories classification is going to be more common

In fact, the number of states adopting the new classification system is expanding and will help standardize local legislation.

All of these states classify electric bikes into three main categories, therefore each bike might be Classified as: Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3.

  • The class one e-bike: e-bikes in this category only have the pedal-assist feature. The maximum speed you can ride on this e-bike is 20 mph.
  • The class two e-bike: Have both pedal assisted and throttle mode available. Maximum speed allowed is 20 mph.
  • The class three e-bike: Have the pedal-assist mode only but with a higher maximum speed of 28 mph. Only professional riders can commute with this class of e-bike in the US.

    In general, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are better suited for riders who enjoy outdoor activities such as: hiking, hunting, and mountain biking, on the other hand Class 3 e-bikes are suitable for those who want to move fast on urban road, and use the e-bike like as a motorcycle.

    These electric bikes must have a motor with a wattage of no more than 750 watts. If the motor is over than 750W, it's out of the category and it needs a special law treatment.

    Three class for road legal e-bikes: no licence it's needed

    As we said earlier, there are 36 regions in the country that are applying the classification in three groups. It means that 2/3 of the state's population is using that method, and soon other states will join that system.

    The e-bike legislature has grouped them into three main categories. This also implies that most states in the US do not require special registration as long as they follow these categories.

    So if you buy a classified e-bike that is road legal, you don't need a special registration or driver's license. There are only some restrictions regarding age, which starts at 14-16 years old.

    About the helmet there are some rules about the age, for example they can be mandatory under 14-16 years old.

    We suggest checking your local rules.

    Although some other states in the U.S. follow some strict rules on electric bike usage. Once you ride within a specific trail under unacceptable circumstances, police forces can give you a fine.

    Driving licence is needed in some states

    You will need to register your e-bike and obtain a driver's license if you are a resident in these states listed below:

    ●New Mexico
    ●Rhode Island

    Having understood that the law it's so different in each state, we recommend you to check your municipality rules to be sure that you're doing the right steps according to the law.

    Have fun with your e-bike! If you haven't got one, we suggest you give a look to Class 2 versatiles and performing Gallop e-bikes.