4 things to do before buying an e-bike

on July 31, 2019

Though e-bike is nothing new to ears and eyes, mysteries and ambiguity are still lingering over it. Now, let’s first take a quick look at the following four subtitles, if you’re invited to answer them all, do you have the confidence to score a full mark?

If you’re living in America and happen to have a plan for an e-bike, there is one thing you need to know in advance, buying an e-bike is more of making one purchase. In America, there are both federal law and state laws governing the defining, manufacturing, selling and operation of e-bikes.

To make your purchase a pleasant one, you’re suggested to master knowledge about legislation concerning e-bike before placing an order. Luckily, you have come to the right person, we have considerately organized everything you need to know into 4 tips as follows.

Take a look now!


  1. Identifying the federal law applying to e-bikes


When it comes to traffic vehicles, safety comes to the top. Upon the invention of electric bicycles, governments have invested great efforts to deliver legislation that can ensure its safe application. In America, it is the federal government’s right and responsibility to define an e-bike and distinguish it from a regular/standard one.

According to the 2002 law enacted by Congress, a low-speed electric bicycle is defined as “A two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.” Only the motor-powered (throttle-assist bike) bike and the human-motor-powered (pedal-assist bike) bike(also known as a pedelec) are recognized as an e-bike.

However, the federal law only drew the maximum speed line for motor-powered e-bike but failed to specify the maximum speed for a pedal-assist one. Therefore, if you want to identify the maximum speed your pedal-assist bike can reach, you can turn to the Consumer Product Safety Commission which clarified that the federal law does allow a pedal-assist e-bike to travel faster than 20mph.

To conclude, the federal government is responsible for defining e-bikes and regulating its manufacturing and safety standards.


  1. State laws are of equal significance to confirm


Like the federal government, state governments in American also have their roles in traffic legislation. The operation of e-bike on streets and bikeways lies within a state’s control. Thus, many states still have their own laws that categorize e-bikes with mopeds and other motorized vehicles, set an age threshold, require licensure and registration or do not enable them to be used in facilities such as bike lanes or multi-purpose trails. As a result, apart from checking the federal law, you are also suggested to refer to the state law regulating the definition of e-bikes in the state where you plan to ride your e-bike.

Another thing to mention, in some states, there are even requirements for the biking equipment, like helmets. One thing more important, 33 states like California and the District of Columbia in the USA have different laws regulating the operation of e-bikes on roads, therefore, it is necessary for all prospect e-bike buyers in these regions to first figure out the paths on which they’re allowed to ride in their neighborhoods.


  1. How and where to confirm the accesses to trails in your area?


If you have succeed in identifying an e-bike and bringing it back home, the most pressing concern for you is to make clear the accesses to trails in your area. But, as to whom you can turn to for information, here are some sources for you.

  1. Check out an area map and determine who manage the public lands around you.
  2. Get a sense of where traditional mountain bikes and e-bikes

are allowed with the PeopleForBikes.org/eMTB map, your local state

guide, and the state policy inventory.

  1. Call your local land management agency.
  2. Review the land use designation processes (travel management

plan, trail study processes, etc.) and understand how and when trail access can be modified. For example, can a rule be easily adjusted? Can the policy be interpreted to allow e-bikes? Does the agency guidance need to be modified? When is the next trail planning process?

  1. Identify a few trail routes in the area where you’d like to propose that e-bikes be allowed either through a pilot project or trial period or through a new trail designation.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your local and land management agency and mountain bike advocacy group. Explain what e-bikes are, who uses them, how they’re used and how they can help enhance the area’s recreation opportunities.
  3. Come with an understanding of the local and use regulations(or at least plenty of questions) and a map with your identified trial routes.
  4. Supply a wining case study.
  5. Arrange a demo for land managers through your local retailer
  6. Work with the land manager to address concerns about e-bike, but express that a growing constituency of e-bikes would like to see better access.


  1. What you should prepare before meeting the land manager and agency?


If you’re not content with the current number of trials, you can come to the land manager and land management agencies in your area to persuade them and propose a project for more accesses to trails. But before taking actions, you need to do the following preparations.

  1. Have a deep understanding of the definition of e-bike and its advantages over a traditional bike.
  2. Understanding what social and physical impacts does e-bike have and what are the solutions for these impacts.
  3. Explaining how can rangers identify an e-bike?
  4. What can e-bike do
  5. What can e-bike do in some specific area?


The idea of buying and owning an e-bike may sound simple in the first place, but as you start to turn the idea into action, it turns out to be a matter covering various aspects. For your convenience, we have brought you 4 helpful tips you must know before taking actions. If you still feel puzzled, we are here for you.