Where can I ride an ebike?
Electric Bike Laws and Regulations
In the vast majority of cases, an electric bike can be used in the exact same way a traditional bike is used. In terms of laws and regulations, the majority of states in the US treat electric bikes the same as human-powered bikes. You can check out these State-by-State guidelines to understand your states laws for e-bikes. Additionally, you can check out these electric bike law basics to understand the foundation of e-bike laws in the US. For those that reside in California the graphic below portrays California’s e-bike policy courtesy of Peopleforbike.org.
Where can I ride my Electric Bike?
In terms of urban-use, you can treat your electric bike like you would a normal bike, you can ride your e-bike anywhere that you can ride a normal bicycle. However we advise you to ride on the street or in a designated bike path in order to be as safe as possible. E-bikes can travel at much higher speeds with greater ease than a normal bicycle which can make weaving in and out of people on a crowded sidewalk a little dangerous for both the rider and other pedestrians.
Although e-bikes are categorized as bicycles, some states and local laws may enforce a reduced speed and limit access to bike paths to traditional bikes. If your resident state restricts electric bike usage to the street, we advise that you ride as far over to the right on the street as possible in order to be as safe as possible and so you do not hold up traffic. It is your responsibility to check up on the local ebike laws in your area when you order your ebike so you know what is acceptable.
The style and type of electric bike you own can determine what type of terrain you will ride your ebike on. For example, if you own an electric beach cruiser, it may not be suited for rigorous mountain terrain like an electric mountain bike would be. Urban specific electric bikes often have thinner, slicker tires that are designed for efficiency over smooth surfaces. Urban electric bikes will tend to have lightweight frames without suspension. Suspension will reduce your pedalling efficiency on the street but will offer a smoother ride over rough and uneven terrain.
Some manufacturers produce e-bikes that are designed for off-road riding. These ebikes often have wider tires than ebikes designed specifically for street and urban riding in order to offer increased traction over loose terrain. Electric bikes with a set of extra-wide tires mean you can even ride on sand if your tyres are wide enough to allow it.
Most recreational and national parks will have bicycle trails that can be ridden on Electric Mountain Bikes. If you plan to do some off-roading these are your best bet as they are designed for bike riding, the cycling surface on these trails will be a little more compact from other people riding bikes on them than paths off the beaten track.
Electric bikes designed for off-road and mountain bike use are called eMTB’s (Electric Mountain Bikes). eMTBs are usually heavier than urban specific electric bikes as the frame is designed to be more rugged and durable in order to withstand impacts that you would not otherwise experience on an urban bike. eMTB frames will often have suspension to help withstand bumps and uneven terrain and are seldom found on street bikes.
Off-road riding tends to wear your battery down quicker than riding in the street due to the uneven terrain and variable gradients, having wider tires will also be a contributing factor to eating away at your battery too due to increased surface area and traction. If you use your ebike as a crossover, it is important to bare in mind that your battery may wear down faster while off-roading than while on the street so that you can make sure you don’t go too far off road and run the battery down to empty!