Class 1 e-Bikes: electric bikes with pedal-assist (max 20mph)

Electric bikes with pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.

Don't miss out on your perfect ride!

 

The Class 1 e-Bike Defined: Understanding Its Unique Features

What Sets Class 1 e-Bikes Apart


Let's start with Class 1 e-Bikes. These are electric bikes on which you must pedal in order to use the motor. It's just like riding a conventional bicycle but with the added benefit of a motor that senses your pedaling, thus providing assistance. You'll feel like you have a constant tailwind, making your ride easier and more enjoyable. The maximum speed for Class 1 e-Bikes is 20mph, and you don't need a driver's license to ride one.

Most American cities, counties, and jurisdictions allow Class 1 e-Bikes on bike paths, in bike lanes, and sometimes on mountain bike trails. Usually treated like a bike, rather than a car, by traffic laws

Key Specifications and Capabilities:

  1. pedal assist
  2. max 20 mph
  3. lighter e-Bike 

Class 1 e-Bike for Different Lifestyles: From Urban Commuting to Leisure Rides

The Versatility of Class 1 e-Bikes

Some states treat Class 1 e-Bikes like traditional mountain or pavement bicycles, legally allowed to ride where bicycles are permitted, including bike lanes, roads, multiuse trails and bike-only paths. New York City's Mayor de Blasio recently announced the city will officially allow Class 1 e-Bikes. While New York City's decision is unrelated to singletrack trail use for electric mountain bikes (eMTBs), we believe that Class 1 pedal-assist e-Bikes should have the same rights and responsibilities as traditional bikes and therefore also be allowed on non-motorized mountain bike trails, as is the case in Europe.

Key Advantages of Owning a Class 1 e-Bike

These Class 1 electric bikes provide pedal-assisted speeds up to 20mph. Once you reach 20mph, the motor kicks off and you can pedal unasssisted until your speed drops again. There are no throttles, just your own power with a little boost thrown in.

    Navigating the Legal Landscape: Regulations Surrounding Class 1 e-Bikes

    Understanding Federal and State e-Bike Laws

    Except for the National Parks Service, the federal government does not regulate the use of e-bikes in the US. That's done at the state level. However, things are changing thanks to the support of the leisure cycling lobby group People for Bikes.

    Electric-assisted bicycles have been defined and regulated at the federal level since 2002. Public Law 107-319 established that electric bicycles are regulated as consumer products under the Consumer Product Safety Act, and more specifically, subject to the same regulations that govern traditional, human-powered bicycles. Thus, electric bicycles are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and must comply with the bicycle safety standards at 16 C.F.R. Part 1512.

    The central problem in many states is that their statutes lack a term specifically aimed at electric bicycles. Under many state laws, “bicycles” are limited to devices moved solely by humanpower. The only other definitions that exist under state law are aimed at combustion engine vehicles (commonly 50cc or less), and may inadvertently include electric bicycles simply because there are no other options. Common vehicle classifications that may include electric bicycles in different states are “moped,” “motorized bicycle,” and “motor-driven cycle.” State laws governing these devices often include additional administrative requirements that are impractical or not necessary for electric bicycles, such as licensing, registration, or insurance.

    In the United States, States decide how e-Bikes can be used on streets and bike paths. Over time, without clear guidance, states adopted outdated rules governing the use of e-Bikes — some treating them like human-powered bicycles, some treating them like motor vehicles, and everything in between. Some have no regulation whatsoever.

    Since 2014, with leadership team from PeopleForBikes, the national bicycle advocacy group and bicycle industry trade association, more than 30 states have passed a standardized regulation for e-Bike use with a simple, straightforward approach known as the “3-Class” System. This model legislation defines three common classes of e-Bikes (based on speed, wattage, and operation), and allows states to decide which types of bicycle infrastructure each class can use (typically Class 1 and Class 2 e-Bikes are allowed wherever traditional bikes are allowed). It also requires e-Bike makers to place a highly visible sticker on the frame to indicate an e-Bike's Class.

    In 2015, California was the first state to adopt this “3-Class” approach, and since then, 32 other states followed suit: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. More states around the country should adopt this “3-Class” standard to eliminate confusion, enhance safety, and promote this green transportation method.

    Electric bikes (e-Bikes) are gaining traction as a means of transportation in the United States after enjoying years of popularity in Europe. Anyone can ride them, from the most seasoned bike rider to someone who hasn't biked since childhood. e-Bikes have the potential to expand bike riding to new audiences and keep people riding bikes throughout their lives.

    But some confusion around how and where electric bikes can be ridden is dampening their growth potential and as an emerging technology, they require clear regulations to govern their use and create stability in the marketplace.
    The 3 e-Bike class system was initially conceptualized and promoted by the PeopleForBikes Coalition and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA). These organizations worked together to create a standardized legislative framework for e-Bikes, aiming to provide clear guidelines for users, manufacturers, and law enforcement.

    This classification framework began gaining momentum around 2015, following its adoption in California under Assembly Bill No. 1096 (AB-1096). The bill also specified the permissible areas for each e-Bike class, allowing class 1 and 2 e-Bikes in areas designated for traditional bicycles, while restricting class 3 e-Bikes to roads or bike paths near roads.

    Following California's lead, over half of the U.S. states have now adopted this three-tier system. However, the implementation details differ from state to state, and some states have not yet formally classified e-Bikes in their legislation. This is important to consider the difference e-Bike classes when looking for the best electric bike for you, whether it's class 1 vs class 2 e-Bike, class 2 vs class 3 e-Bike, or class 1 vs class 3 e-Bike.

    Electric bikes (e-Bikes) are gaining traction as a means of transportation in the United States after enjoying years of popularity in Europe. Anyone can ride them, from the most seasoned bike rider to someone who hasn't biked since childhood. e-Bikes have the potential to expand bike riding to new audiences and keep people riding bikes throughout their lives.