Ebikes are rapidly gaining in popularity globally, nationally, and locally. With that rise comes an increase in misinformation regarding the different types of ebikes and their legality. So, I’d like to set the record straight about the emerging ebike classification system and what it does and doesn’t mean.
Currently about half of the states and the National Park Service have adopted a three class system that was first developed in California a few years ago. Most likely it will be embraced by all remaining states and again at the federal level via the National Forest Service soon enough. The three class system is as follows:
Class 1 is any ebike that provides motor assistance up to 20mph only while the rider is pedaling.
Class 2 is any ebike that provides motor assistance up to 20mph while the rider is pedaling or via a manual throttle control.
Class 3 is any ebike that provides motor assistance up to 28mph.
NONE of the three classes of ebikes requires ANY type of driver’s license. They are all considered electric-assisted bicycles, so long as they include a pedal-activated drivetrain, and they are all allowed on roadways wherever regular bikes are currently allowed. The delineation in the classes comes into play in regards to access on trails, paths, etc.
Off-road mtn. biking trails, by and large, only allow class 1 ebikes. If you have a class 2 mountain bike and you can physically disable your throttle for the ride, and you show that you have done so, you should be good to go.
Urban bike paths, multi-use paths, and other trail systems usually determine accessibility based on total user numbers, ratio of bikers-to-hikers, etc. I expect almost no distinctions between class 1 and 2 accessibility in all but the most densely populated areas. Class 3 bikes will be the most restricted on bike paths and will be relegated to faster riding on roadways. Locally, our Ashland Central Bike Path and the Bear Creek Greenway allow all three classes of ebikes, so long as the 15mph speed limit is honored.
I hope this clears up any confusion you may have had regarding whether or not to purchase a particular bike. If questions still remain, please contact us for more clarification. Now, get out and ride!