Monday, April 22, 2024

Can a Child Ride an Electric Bike? (USA Minimum Age)

The use of electric bikes for children is a much-debated topic. Add this to the already existing concern over allowing faster-moving electric bikes on the roads and bike paths and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.

The first question you need to ask is whether it’s even legal to let your child ride an electric bike!

In many U.S. states, there is a minimum age requirement for which a child can legally ride an electric bike, typically 14-16 years old. However, some states don’t have an age requirement yet have other laws impacting when a child can ride an e-bike.

These discrepancies can happen because individual states in the USA are allowed to make their own laws and traffic rules about riding an electric bike.

I’ve researched and put together a chart showing you the minimum ages to ride an electric bike in each of the U.S. states. Keep in mind that states may re-write laws and add or take away regulations frequently.

Thus, it’s always a good idea to confirm the age a child is allowed to ride an electric bike and the conditions under which they are allowed to do so with each state.

Once you’re certain your child is old enough for an e-bike where you live, it’s time to consider other important questions surrounding children riding electric bikes. For instance, can a child ride one safely? And should they even ride an e-bike?

Continue reading and I’ll help you decide whether you should allow your kids to ride e-bikes… and at what age.

Children Riding Electric Bikes on a dirt road in the country

What Age Do You Have to Be to Ride an Electric Bike?

There’s a lot of confusion over the laws surrounding electric bikes in general. And this holds true when determining the age at which a child can ride an e-bike.

The age you need to be to ride an electric bike is typically determined by the laws of each U.S. state and the e-bike three-tiered classification system. Some states only have a minimum age requirement if a child will be riding a Class 3 electric bike with a pedal assist maximum speed of 28 mph.

Unfortunately, some states just haven’t reviewed bicycle laws recently and thus haven’t kept up with the types of e-bikes and helpful classifications. So, that leaves you guessing and wondering whether it’s okay for your 10-year-old or 17-year-old to ride an e-bike legally.

However, even if you think it’ll be alright for your child to ride an e-bike, you should follow the laws set by each state.

What States Have a Minimum Age Requirement for Electric Bikes?

U.S. StatesMinimum Age
May Require a License
(contact each state)
Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire,
North Dakota, Tennesee
14Alabama, Alaska, North Dakota
Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey15Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey
Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington DC, West Virginia, Vermont16Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, West Virginia
*See all other states without minimum
age requirements under below

(some have additional restrictions)
Additional age & license restrictions may apply (e.g., a higher required age for Class 3 e-bikes)

Unfortunately, the truth is that there are still some states that classify electric bikes as mopeds, motor vehicles, or even motorcycles. These states may require a license to ride one and/or have other special considerations.

Want to know whether you or your child need a license to ride an e-bike? Check here.

What States Don’t Allow a Child to Ride an Electric Bike?

Some states have little regulation at all, having no age limits for riding an e-bike. However, they may have other very specific laws regarding electric bikes and should be contacted directly if the age requirements are unclear.

Here are the states that have no minimum age requirement for legally riding a pedal assist electric bike, subject to change as laws are added and modified (although some states specify a minimum age limit for Class 3 e-bikes as defined by the three-tiered classification system):

  • Arizona
  • Colorado*
  • Delaware
  • Georgia (except in the case of a Class 3 e-bike, in which case you musy be at least 15)
  • Iowa*
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana (check to see what age kids can ride e-bikes)
  • Maine*
  • Maryland*
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri (however, it’s illegal for anyone, regardless of age, to ride a motorized bike without a driver’s license on roads or highways that are public)
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota*
  • Texas (except in the case of a Class 3 electric bike, in which case the minimum age requirement is 15)
  • Utah* (except… 1. a Class 3 e-bike, for which you must be age 16 or above; and 2. under age 14 in public areas unless supervised directly by parent or guardian)
  • Virginia (but must be under adult supervision until the age of 14)
  • West Virginia* (check to see if your child can ride e-bikes… new traffic laws are in process and there is currently a minimum age of 16 years for a Class 3)
  • Wisconsin*
  • Wyoming

* No age requirements except for Class 3 e-bikes, in which case you must be 16

Discover where it’s legal to ride electric bikes with your child!

Even if where you live hasn’t yet set electric bike riding requirements, or hasn’t updated and is still classifying them as motorcycles or requiring a license to ride, you’ll want to determine for yourself at what age you feel comfortable letting your kids ride electric bikes.

Electric Bike Hub Motor on Rear Wheel
The motor power on an electric bike helps a child pedal more easily.

Are Electric Bikes Good For Kids?

Electric bicycles can be an excellent way for a child to get their daily dose of exercise while also being able to get to school or a friend’s house independently.

The greatest thing about riding an e-bike is that they won’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll have enough energy to make it back home. That’s because electric bikes have a motor to assist them while pedaling. So they won’t need to pedal hard to get up a hill or go over a long bike path.

Another benefit is that they can use a bike rack to carry their backpack, projects, or school supplies… and this extra weight they’re carrying won’t make it harder to ride. They can just increase the pedal assistance on their e-bike and zoom home in no time.

As a result, your kid won’t even realize that you’ve found a great way to increase their cardiovascular exercise, improve their mental health, and keep them from sitting in front of the tv, computer, or phone! Plus, you’ll save gas and car maintenance expenses.

Best of all, electric bikes allow your kids to keep up with you (and their older siblings) while riding! If your child is using the pedal assist on an ebike, you’ll spend less time stopping and waiting… or moving very slowly.

Thus, electric biking may have greater benefits than riding a traditional bike for young riders.

How Old Should My Child Be to Ride an Electric Bike?

But the most important question about kids riding e-bikes is whether they should ride one, not whether they can. Since e-bikes and e-mountain bikes are faster, heavier, and more expensive than regular bikes, there is a lot to consider.

Generally, it’s a bad idea to allow small children to ride bikes with a powerful motor. And there aren’t many kids e-bikes being manufactured, so you may end up choosing from ones built for adults.

Therefore, your child should be old enough to:

  • understand and follow traffic rules in the state they live in
  • have good common sense
  • and have a specific need to ride an e-bike (such as commuting to school), if they will be unsupervised

The majority of states agree that this is around the age of 16, although some agree it’s only 14 or 15.

As a parent, if you have concerns that they’ll ride recklessly, not follow traffic laws, refuse to wear a helmet, or not listen to your guidance, then you should carefully consider whether they should ride an electric bike.

Can My Kid Ride a Class 3 Electric Bike?

Many states have laws requiring that the minimum age for riding a Class 3 e-bike is 16 years old, even if they haven’t set age limits for riding one.

Thus, your kid should only ride a Class 1 or Class 2 e-bike (with a pedal assist maximum speed of 20 mph), if allowed by law in your state. I also recommend limiting the motor wattage to 250W.

This is for your child’s safety and the safety of others, as a Class 3 e-bike has a speed limit of 28 mph when assisted by the electric motor. Even as an adult, you might avoid Class 3 e-bikes because they might seem unnecessarily fast.

Electric Bike Safety for Kids

As parents, safety is typically a top priority. So, you want to find out if our child can ride an electric bike safely, even if they meet the age requirement? And further, should you let them?

Bright blue bike safety helmet
Getting a brightly colored bike safety helmet will make your child visible and stylish (Amazon)

Bikes are a great way for kids to get exercise and explore their surroundings. But parents are typically concerned more about safety than anything. Of course, you’ll tell your child that they must wear a helmet.

However, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably a parent who is hesitant to buy your children electric bikes because they move faster (and are heavier) than traditional bikes.

But electric bikes are just as safe as normal bikes for your child as long as they wear protective headgear and knee pads, and follow traffic rules. Of course, you’ll want to take more precautions with a child who’s 10 years of age than one who’s 17 years old.

There are easy safety rules to follow and teach your son or daughter before allowing them to ride their e-bike independently.

Ways to keep your child safe on an electric bike

  • First, if your child is under 16, don’t let them ride an e-bike with a motor that has more than 250 Watts. There’s just no need to give them extra power when this is probably their first electric bike.

    They’ll be absolutely thrilled to feel the bike take off with just a little pedaling (thanks to the motor power providing pedal assist) and easily ride where they want to go!

    Surely, a 250 Watt bike is likely sufficient for most kids age 16 or 17 as well.
  • Make sure your child’s electric bike is well-maintained and do a pre-ride safety check before each ride.
  • Wear an electric bike helmet : As a parent you should be a good role model and wear your own helmet. This will help your child get comfortable with it quickly and see it as a “must do” when riding their electric bike. Get a safe but stylish helmet (Amazon) that your kid is excited to wear!
  • Encourage them to ride on the sidewalk whenever possible.
  • But also teach them to how to reduce motor power. They should slow down and be more cautious when approaching pedestrians or other bikes and electric scooters.
  • Teach your child how to use a bike bell (get one on Amazon) and when to use it. Show them how close they need to be to get someone’s attention without scaring them (this is a little hard to determine but depends on how loud your bell is)!
  • Role model being polite to pedestrians by saying “excuse me” and “thank you”. This, in turn, will help reduce pedestrian irritation roward your child bike rider.
  • Remind your children that they’re likely going faster than traditional bikes… and consider how electric bikes are different when teaching your child basic bicycle safety tips (see below).

Check out the following article to help your child ride an e-bike safely:

11 other important electric bike safety tips your child (and you!) need to know!

Summary: Can Your Child Ride an Electric Bike?

I hope I’ve answered your questions about whether your child can ride a bike with an electric motor legally and safely. Make sure to follow the minimum age requirement in your state…. they’re not for guidance, they’re the law.

Further, decide whether or not an electric bike makes sense for your kid in the first place!

Will they always wear helmets? Can they be responsible with the motor speed? Will they follow all laws and regulations?

But, as long as it’s legal in your state and your child learns how to stay safe, then there’s no doubt that they’ll have a ton of fun, get great exercise, and appreciate the independence that comes with riding an electric bike!

Find out more about what your kid can do with an e-bike!



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