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Legal E-Bike Riding: Where to Ride in the USA

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When you’re ready to get out and ride your electric bike, you’re probably wondering where it’s legal to do so. With so many confusing laws and regulations, it’s especially hard to understand where you can ride in the USA.

So, where can you ride your e-bike legally?

You can ride your e-bike in many places that regular bikes are allowed. The chart below shows where it is legal to ride in the United States. These are the places that you can generally ride, but there may be some restrictions based on the classification of your bike or state laws (so read further).

Class 1 E-BikeClass 2 E-BikeClass 3 E-Bike
National ParksYESYES- May Be LimitedYES- May Be Limited
State ParksCheck Each
State Park
Check Each State Park Check Each State Park
Bureau of Land Management (Federal)Motorized Trails/Open OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle)Motorized Trails/Open OHVMotorized Trails/Open OHV
Non-Motorized Trails & Bike PathsMost StatesMost StatesMost States
Roadways (Bike Lanes)Yes, unless classified as motor vehicleYes, unless classified as motor vehicleYes, unless classified as motor vehicle
See Electric Bike Classifications Below

The truth is that there are different regulations for each state, government agency, and the local area. And many of these regulations are based on a classification system for Low Speed Electric Bicycles that many (but not all) states have adopted:

E-Bike ClassPedal-assist: Motor only
assists if rider is pedaling
Maximum Power
Output (Watts)
Motor Ceases
to Assist (miles per hour)
Class 1: Yes750W20 mph
Class 2:No750W20 mph
Class 3:Yes750W28 mph
E-Bike 3-Tier Classification
Image of USA showing general electric bike regulations
Photo courtesy of People for Bikes

The laws are definitely a bit confusing, so continue reading to find out where you can legally ride and when you need to get more information before you do.

You certainly don’t want to get fined because you were riding in a place that you weren’t supposed to.

Riding E-Bikes in the USA: National Parks

National Parks in the United States have finally made e-bike riding legal as of 2019! E-bikes are generally allowed anywhere that traditional bikes have always been able to go.

This is very exciting because now almost anyone can see much more of the parks than they ever could on a regular bike. This includes people who otherwise have been limited due to age (seniors or your kids), disability, or fitness. Anyone riding an e-bike can travel farther with less effort!

And e-bikes provide benefits to the parks themselves. They can decrease auto traffic, increase parking availability, improve air quality, and even provide transportation for park employees. Further, more cyclists on the roads will help their visibility and encourage cars to slow down.

But there is one place e-bikes (or any bike for that matter) can NOT go… EVER: Wilderness areas. So, stay on the roads and paths that are designated for bicycles!

And keep in mind that you still need to follow park rules, which can change often due to weather, traffic conditions, and even wildlife.

For example, parks may limit riding based on the classification of your bike (1, 2, or 3). In these cases, Class 1 e-bikes may be allowed on a particular trail, but Class 2 or 3 bikes won’t.

Further, Class 2 e-bikes are not allowed to use their motor exclusively to propel forward. You must ride the bike as you would any other bike… by using the pedals.

Rules of Riding in State Parks in the U.S.

In general, each state has its own e-bike riding rules. Therefore, you’ll definitely want to check with each state and individual State Park before going.

However, many states have updated their e-biking guidelines and have followed the newest classification system.

For example, in California, Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are generally allowed wherever standard bikes are. However, if they’ve been altered or are specifically prohibited (due to their classification, motor wattage, etc.), then they may not be allowed in certain locations.

So, if the state park you plan on visiting doesn’t have specific rules, you might assume your class 1, 2, or 3 e-bike can go where other bikes can.

In fact, many state parks offer “hike or bike” campsites, which are located further away from the crowds. When making your reservation, be sure to ask about the use of electric bikes.

Most importantly, just be kind and respectful. Slow down when approaching others and make sure you know exactly how to ride your bike before going into a populated area. And never ride off trails or in wilderness areas, for your safety as well as to protect the natural landscape which we are all there to enjoy.

One more important note: There are still some states who have not caught up to the new classification system and may view your electric bike as a motorized vehicle, thus making it ineligible to ride on certain paths and trails.

If you live in one of these states, I’d definitely contact the state park you want to ride in before attempting it in these states!

Dirt path to ride e-bike on

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Access to e-bike riding has been extended to public lands. This gives all riders the ability to ride on trails that allow motorized vehicles.

Additionally, in December 2020, an e-bike rule was put into effect which defines e-bikes and determines their use on non-motorized trails as well. This rule allows BLM managers to authorize the use of electric bikes on non-motorized trails but doesn’t actually give the okay to do so… yet.

The good news is that the BLM believes that e-bike usage on public lands is good for all Americans and is continuously working on making public lands more accessible. So, it’s expected that land managers will re-evaluate land use and issue some plans to open more trails to electric bikes soon.

Always make sure to check with each Bureau of Land Management location before using non-motorized trails. Or, plan to stay on already-approved motorized and Open OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) trails.

And make sure to follow posted rules and protect trails by avoiding them during wet and muddy conditions. Further, make sure you have off-road tires or a fat tire bike to ride in sand and dirt!

United States Roadways: Laws for Riding an E-Bike

The United States has its own set of regulations for safety and the manufacturing of e-bikes. And Federal law allows them to go up to 20mph using a motor but states no maximum speed if the bike is operating as pedal-assisted.

However, actual ebike riding laws are left up to the individual states (and local areas) to determine.

This means you’ll have to turn to the legalities of the specific area you’re riding in to determine the road laws. In general, and in most states, e-bikes are allowed in bike lanes or on the roads, just as with any other bicycle.

As mentioned above, most states have updated their e-bike laws and view e-bikes as either “motorized bicycles” or “electric bicycles”. Unfortunately, a few states still classify them as motorcycles, mopeds, or even motor vehicles. So, check with your state and local area to see if you can ride on the roads and in bike lanes.

As ridiculous as that is, laws in these states may be very strict on where you can ride your e-bike.

Riding E-Bikes Legally on Bike Paths and Non-Motorized Trails

Electric bike access to trails and paths can vary significantly in the USA. Again, where it’s okay to ride depends mostly on your state, county, and local trail laws. This is true even for the states with the more advanced laws and using the e-bike classification system mentioned above.

Generally speaking, however, in most states you can ride your e-bike on any path that allows for motorized and non-motorized use (here are some great places to ride in California) (here are some great places to ride in California). And trails that are only for non-motorized use may be acceptable, but you’ll need to check with the county, city parks and recreation, or local trail management.

Any trail that doesn’t allow bikes at all usually has a sign posted at the beginning of the trail. However, who wants to travel to a trail with bikes in tow only to find out they can’t use them?

And if you have an eMTB (electric mountain bike), you’re not automatically given permission to ride anywhere that other other mountain bikes are allowed.

Other Places to Ride Your E-Bike in the USA

  1. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS):

    Permits all 3 classes of e-bikes to ride where other standard bikes are allowed. Your e-bike must use the pedal-assist mode and individual wildlife refuges or FWS lands may have other restrictions.

    Check with your local wildlife refuge before riding.
  2. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR):

    E-bikes are considered “Off-‘road vehicles”. However, the BOR will look for areas that traditional bikes use and may open those areas to e-bikes as well.

    Check with your local office before riding.
  3. National Forest Service (NFS):

    Unfortunately, electric bikes are classified as “motor vehicles”. Therefore, only trails and roads that are designated for motor vehicle use can be ridden.

    In other words, if a car can drive on it, so can an e-bike. But keep an eye out for changes. Currently, there are a couple of locations in the United States that allow only Class 1 bikes on a limited trail system (Durango, CO and Mammoth, CA).

18 Reasons You Should Buy an E-Bike Right Now

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After hearing about the electric bike trend, you may be wondering whether an e-bike is something you want or need. I certainly had a lot of questions before buying!

So, before buying my first electric bike, I spent a lot of time researching the benefits of buying one. After all, they’re pretty expensive and I wanted to know that I was making a good decision. And I came up with 18 great reasons to buy one.

Not only will you have a lot of fun riding an e-bike, but you’ll also save money on driving a car and be able to go places you never could on a regular bike before, like up a huge hill and over challenging terrain. You’ll get regular exercise, help protect the environment, and overcome physical limitations.

By the end of this article, all your doubts will be wiped away when you realize what a great option electric bikes are to traditional bikes.

What Are The Reasons You Should Buy an E-Bike Right Now?

Although some reasons for buying an e-bike will be more important to you than others, there are more than enough good reasons to help you make the decision to get one.

Check out all of the 18 reasons I found that helped me and my husband decide to buy an e-bike and why buying one right now is a good idea.

1. E-Bikes Go Fast!

You won’t believe how fast you can actually go on an electric bike. Most e-bikes today go 20mph just by pedaling, while others might go up to 28mph with a stronger motor.

Don’t think of this like a motorized vehicle, however. It doesn’t go anywhere near the speed of a motorcycle! However, it’s definitely faster than peddling regular bikes. On a regular bike, an average person would have to be going downhill to get to 20mph or more.

But an e-bike will get you going 20mph or more on a straight-away or riding uphill. This is thanks to the assistance of its motor, which will likely range from 250 Watts to 750 Watts.

How long will your e-bike motor last? Well, it depends.

2. They’re Easier to Ride Than Non-Electric Bikes

Not only do e-bikes let you ride fast, but you also won’t have to put forth as much effort to ride an e-bike. Just start pedaling and the motor will kick in, propelling you forward with less effort.

E-bikes easily get you moving with this “pedal-assist” feature. This is super beneficial because it helps riders spend more time on their bike. There’s no longer a reason to be afraid of going too far or getting too tired.

Want to know exactly how to ride an e-bike?

3. Your Electric Bike will Get You Up Every Hill

Here’s the truth… you most likely can’t ride a bike up a steep hill without getting overly exhausted or giving up. And it’s no fun having to push your bike the rest of the way up the hill. Or worse, you’ll probably just avoid even trying to get up a hill.

Unfortunately, this really limits where you can ride. I’ve had a really nice traditional bike for years that has barely been used because I couldn’t even get out of my neighborhood. And getting back home was even harder when I was already tired!

Now, with pedal assist, I can ride up every hill I need to. Sometimes I’ve even challenged myself to go up a really big hill just for fun.

From my point of view, this is one of the biggest reasons why you should buy an e-bike right now. You’ll soon be riding places you never thought you could.

A hill you can ride up with your e-bike
You can ride a hill like this, even in the dirt, with a fat tire e-bike.

Did you know you can even ride e-bikes WITHOUT pedaling? Take a look!

4. Buy an E-Bike Right Now for Exercise

What could be better than having fun while you exercise? Don’t listen to the naysayers who don’t understand how an electric bike works. They might tell you that riding e-bikes aren’t really exercising. But in truth, electric bikes have numerous mental health and physical health benefits.

But do you think they’re riding 20-40 miles on their bike in one shot? Probably not. Pedaling takes effort, even if you have a little help from the motor. You will just burn calories over perhaps 15-20+ miles of relaxed biking, rather than hard effort over 3-10 miles.

Riding e-bikes really is the best of both worlds… you get exercise, even when taking a leisurely ride, that’s fun and doesn’t make you feel like you want to fall flat on your face after doing it.

So, can you really get exercise on electric bikes?

5. One of the Top Reasons You Should Buy an E-Bike: They’re Cheaper Than a Car

You might be thinking that there’s no way you’re giving up your car, and I’m not suggesting you do. But once you start riding e-bikes, you’ll realize how easy it is to get places you would’ve once gone to in your car.

Whether you ride your e-bike to a college campus, work, or the grocery store, you’ll save money in gas, maintenance, and wear and tear on your car. Since your e-bike battery just needs to be charged, you don’t have to buy gas or take your car in for maintenance as often due to less driving.

Although buying an electric bike is a big investment, spending $1500 on one will save you thousands of dollars. Your alternative? Buying a $5000 really old used car that could cost you as much as the e-bike the first time it needs repairs!

Thinking of buying a cheap electric bike? Read this first:

6. Electric Bikes Are Safer Than Regular Bikes

At first impression, many people might worry about the safety of an e-bike due to its motor and speed.

However, riding electric bikes is actually safer than riding a non-electric bike, at least once you know how to use the throttle. This is because you can quickly speed up and get yourself out of a dangerous situation.

This is especially true if you live or work in a big city or a highly congested area with a lot of traffic. You can accelerate at an intersection to go with the speed of traffic after having stopped at a light. This keeps you visible and gets you out of the intersection faster when other cars are speeding up rapidly. And intersections are a common place for accidents to happen.

Here’s another reason that e-bikes are safer than regular bikes that you probably wouldn’t think of. Because it’s electric, it continually pushes power to your attached light, making it brighter and stronger than the average battery-operated light on a regular bike.

Want to learn more about electric bike safety? Read this article!

7. E-Bikes are Better for the Environment

It’s hard not to focus on protecting the environment when the earth is at stake. However, even if you haven’t given thought to an e-bike’s environmental impact, know that it has far fewer negative implications than any motor vehicle or public transport.

Since they’re battery-powered, they don’t release potentially toxic gases into the air.

So, go green! Your electric bike will help the environment the more you ride it… and the less you drive your car.

8. New Laws Make Electric Bike Riding Legal

For so many years, electric bikes were simply misunderstood. Without ever having been on an e-bike, authorities were calling them “mopeds” and assuming they should only be ridden in bicycle traffic lanes.

Fortunately, new e-bike laws have just recently been written that recognize them as bicycles in many states. Now they’re classified based on their power level and allowed on trails and bike paths in many states and federal recreation areas.

Just make sure you check your state’s laws and the area you wish to ride in before assuming that it’s okay.

So, if you’ve thought about buying an e-bike in the past but didn’t because you couldn’t ride it where you wanted to, then you may be in for a surprise. This could be a huge reason why you should buy an e-bike right now!

Want to know where you can ride e-bikes in the USA? Read this:

9. You Can Ride One Even if You’re a Big Person

My e-bike has a 275 lb payload, as do most quality bikes. Further, there are electric bikes to fit every size rider. Most websites have size specifications on their sales page.

If they don’t, and you’re not an average size person, then I’d honestly skip even considering ordering that bike online.

There’s nothing more important than fitting comfortably on your electric bike. After all, you’ll be riding it long distances. If you feel like you’re a giraffe on a toy, then your feet won’t be placed properly on the pedals, making it harder to sustain pedaling.

Further, if you’re a taller person with relatively shorter arms, then you may find your torso is too far from the handles, which means you’ll have to lean over more.

The point is, make sure you find out the dimensions of your bike before buying. You can definitely find the correct size and weight requirements if you look closely.

Are you overweight? Find out if there’s an e-bike for you!

10. E-Bike Are For Short Riders Now Too

Yes, I had to put this reason for buying an electric bike all on its own. I’ve spent my life hearing the bogus “one-size-fits-all” statement. I’m barely 5’2″ and have attempted to drive many cars where I couldn’t safely reach the gas or brake pedals.

So, when purchasing an e-bike, the very first thing I considered was “Will I fit?” I also assumed I’d have trouble finding a bike that works for me. But here’s the good news… there are bikes for shorter riders!

For starters, find a bike that calls itself a “step-thru”. You’ll have no problem with a middle bar that’s too high to step over or that you have to jump off on… ouch!

Then look at the size specifications of each model to make sure your arms will comfortably reach the handlebars and your seat height can be adjusted. Getting a bike with adjustable handlebars is also a huge plus.

Learn about the best e-bike for a smaller person here.

11. You Should Buy an E-Bike Right Now Because the New Generation Ones Are Better

E-bikes have evolved! Many companies that have been around a while have added amazing features to make riding even easier and more enjoyable.

Rad Power Bikes (where my husband and I got our bikes) have actually now created the 4th generation of some of their models, meaning that they are always improving them. Wouldn’t you rather buy a 4th generation model, that also has lots of reviews, than one you’ve never heard of before?

Plus, now bikes have powerful front lights, adjustable handlebars, as well as more powerful motors and batteries. And some bikes even fold up! So, there are a ton of new features to look at.

Black e-bike by Rad Power Bikes

12. Now There Are Many E-Bike Models to Meet Your Needs

Further, you don’t have to choose from just a few different electric bikes. You can spend hours researching them online, trust me.

Besides choosing from different colors and styles, different bikes come with different options. So, you can truly choose a bike that is best for you. You don’t have to settle! A great way to get started is by looking at the type of electric bike that would be best for you: Folding electric bikes, fat tire bikes, electric mountain bikes, or even commuter e-bikes.

13. You Can Longer Rides and Go Farther

Electric bike batteries today are so powerful that they can take the average rider 22-50+ miles on a single charge.

Some can apparently go even further, but it’s unlikely you would need to. But there’s no doubt you can do a full-day outing on most e-bikes without worrying about its battery life.

This means that you can go out on back-country trails and even ride to other towns if you want to. No problem (unless you’re on a standard bike).

Ready to learn how to use an electric bike step by step? Read this:

14. E-Bikes are Easy to Park

No matter where you are or where you go, you can park your electric bike. It’ll almost always be free to park and you can always find a space.

You might drive around a city block for 20 minutes trying to park your car. But an e-bike can often be pulled up and parked right in front of the building you’re going to.

So, not only can you save time (and not have to leave for work 20 minutes early), you won’t have to walk half a mile back to your car when it’s dark.

And, think about how nice it will be to drive right up to a popular park, lake, or beach, without hunting for a spot to park or paying parking fees.

15. You Can Insure an E-Bike

Really, you can! If you’re like me, one of the first things you’re thinking about when considering buying an electric bike is how to keep it safe.

I’m still finding it hard to believe, but you can actually buy insurance exclusively for your e-bike. Just search online for “how to insure an ebike” and you’ll find several listings.

Before buying separate insurance though, make sure to see what your current home and auto insurance offers if your bike was stolen.

16. You Can Ride Your Electric Bike in the Dirt

You don’t need to be a “dirt biker” to take your e-bike off-road. But you do need to have the right bike and tires.

Just like regular bikes, some e-bike models will be better for riding on the road, while some are made for the dirt.

So, if you run out and buy an electric bicycle right now, you definitely want to know what your bike’s main purpose for you will be. That being said, many bikes can drive nicely on the road as well as on a dirt path or in the sand.

Looking for an electric bike you can easily ride in the sand? Check out these top models.

17. You’ll Feel Better

I’m not a healthcare professional, but it’s long been known that exercise reduces stress. And cycling on your e-bike provides enough physical exertion to knock out stress.

And if you commute to and from work on your bike, you’ll get a daily dose of endorphin release, which is what makes you feel like you’re ready to tackle what comes next in the day.

Further, if you’re a senior citizen, you’ll get all of the above plus access to an easy and enjoyable way to get the daily exercise you need… without it being overly strenuous.

Get More E-Biking Pros and Cons for Seniors

18. And the #1 Reason Why You Should Buy an E-Bike Right Now is: You’ll Have a Ton of Fun!

Okay, so perhaps I should’ve listed this as the number one reason for buying an electric bike today. But, sometimes you have to save the best for last.

Seriously though, you might decide to get an e-bike just for fun! I don’t think you’ll talk to anyone, even someone who primarily uses their bike for commuting, who doesn’t think that riding their bike is a thrill.

Why Are E-Bikes So Popular?

E-bikes have become really popular because of all of the benefits of riding one.

They allow access to the world of bicycling to so many people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to ride a bike due to lack of strength, age, or disability. Almost everyone, regardless of physical shape, can ride in a relaxed fashion and get where they need to go in a timely manner.

Further, electric bikes let strong, physically capable people go faster, farther, and have more fun!

What Should I Look for When Buying an Electric Bike?

First, consider your main reason for buying an e-bike. Do you want to commute to work or ride to take care of errands? Or is it for exercise or recreational purposes?

Once you know the answer to this question, you should look for the features that would make riding your new electric bike easy and enjoyable.

So, find an e-bike that’s easy to ride based on size, motor power, and goes as far as you’ll need it to on a battery charge.

Naturally, you’ll want to consider the cost of an e-bike as well. You can find a great bike to ride in the middle price range, one that has a strong company warranty and has gathered lots of valid user reviews over time.