If you live in San Francisco, California, you may have seen tons of commuters opt for electric bikes. It is a massive trend in the city and for a good reason. Electric bikes are affordable, reliable, easy to ride and help the average person become a little greener. This is all great for the commuters in California.
However, you may be wondering if your e-bike or electric bike needs to be registered in the USA? Electric bikes are street legal and do not need a license to ride, and they do not need to be registered.
Owning an electric bike is an excellent way to get around the city without adding to the pollution, and they are easy to get. These bikes are good for those who do not want to own a car, do not have a license, or don’t want to register with their state.
What Electric Vehicles Need To Be Registered?
Not all-electric vehicles need to be registered, but how can you tell which ones need a license and registration? Here is a brief guide on which vehicles need to be registered.
This kind of low-powered scooter does not need registration or a driver’s license and maybe driven on private roads, pedestrian walkways, cycling lanes, and other authorized lanes by the appropriate authorities. Helmets for bicycles are necessary for this kind of scooter.
Electric Kick Scooter
Additionally, e-kick scooters are not required to be registered or licensed and are permitted on community roads, bike lanes, and neighborhood lanes. Helmets are required.
L1A and L1B Vehicles
These are e-bikes with a top speed of 25-50 KPH. This e-bike does not need registration or a license and is permitted to ride on neighborhood streets, national roadways (crossing only), and bicycle lanes.
Helmets are required when riding them. The only difference between the L1A and the L1B is that the L1B requires riders to wear motorcycle helmets instead of regular bike helmets.
L2A and L2B Mopeds
E-mopeds in this class are permitted to be operated on private and neighborhood roads, major thoroughfares and national highways (for crossing purposes only), and bicycle lanes. There is no documentation necessary however, you will need a bicycle helmet for the L2A.
On the other hand, L2B is a bit different. A license and registration are both necessary in this category. This vehicle is capable of traversing the most remote sections of local roads and barangay roads, as well as crossing major thoroughfares and national highways. Helmets for motorcycles are required.
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L3 Vehicles or Electric Motorcycles
These are handled the same way as an average motorcycle and you will need to understand what the rules are in your state. You will need to ensure you register the motorcycle and follow all the rules to stay safe.
You will also need a motorcycle helmet. Your bike may need to have a limited amount of power before entering certain roads.
L4 and L5 Vehicles
These are considered e-bikes with sidecars or enclosed e-trikes. These need a license and registration and are permitted on roads.
L6 and L7 Vehicles
These are e-quads with two different weights. The smallest versions will have the exact requirements as the L4 and L5 vehicles.
On the other hand, L7 will have the same requirements as their counterparts. If you own an electric car, it will have the same requirements as a standard car.
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What Are the Laws Around E-Bikes?
Your electronic bike does not need to be registered, nor do you need a license to ride it. However, if you are determined to start riding one to become a green commuter, you may want to understand the laws and regulations of riding an e-bike.
Federal rules to look at before riding your new e-bike.
- The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) defines a low-speed electric bicycle as a two or three-wheeled vehicle that contains fully operable pedals, a peak speed that is propelled exclusively by the motor is under 20 mph (32 km/h), and an electric motor that generates less than 750W. However, when it comes to the restrictions for e-Bikes on public highways, sidewalks, and walkways, they are classed under state authority and so may differ across the board.
- Additionally, the CPSC notes that low-speed electric bicycles that fulfill the criteria above are not categorized as motor vehicles.
- E-bikes that exceed those power and speed restrictions are regulated as motor vehicles by the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and must comply with extra safety and road standards.
- While federal law covers consumer product laws for low-speed electric bicycles, state vehicle statutes and standards govern their usage on public roadways.
You may be wondering what this means exactly. All it means is that each state will determine how e-bikes can be used in the United States and how fast they can go before they need to comply with DOT regulations.
If you are planning to take your e-bike to multiple states, it will be crucial to look up the laws for that state before you start riding.
Read How Fast Can You Go On An E-Bike?
What States Require Registration?
Riders in most states, like California, are not required to have a driver’s license, registration, or insurance for their e-Bike.
However, specific sorts of permits are necessary for a few states. The following states require riders to possess a specific type of license:
- Alabama and Alaska require an M license.
- Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming require a driver’s license.
Even if you are from out of state and plan to drive your e-bike within one of these states, you will have to comply with the state’s laws. That is why it can be so crucial to pay attention to wherever you are headed.
How Old Do You Need To Be?
This is another thing that may vary state by state and is something that you will have to check. An e-bike rider can be relatively young most of the time, but you will once again have to double-check with the state you are in.
Here is what you need to know for each age and state.
- 14 Years Old – Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Utah. In Utah, a rider can be age 8 if they are accompanied by someone who is a parent, and in Virginia, the riders can be any age if they are riding with someone over 18.
- 15 Years Old – Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
- 16 Years Old – Arkansas (for Class III), District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine (Class II and III), Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (Class III), and West Virginia.
Keep in mind no matter what age you are, bicycle helmets are required in all states except for Alabama, New Jersey, and West Virginia, where a motorcycle helmet is required.
Read Can You Ride an Electric Bike on a Road?
Before You Start Riding
Although there aren’t any laws about this, every e-bike rider should understand their bike. Learn how to ride the bike, start slow, learn where your brakes are, be careful of cars, and always be cautious of your surroundings.
This will help you become a better and safer rider when on the streets. Once you understand the rules, regulations, and learn the ins and outs of your bike, you will start having fun.
Summing It Up
E-bikes can be a wonderful alternative to a car or a regular bicycle. They are meant for commuters who want to get around the city faster without adding to the pollution in their city. You will start seeing more e-bikes on the street and see this become a booming trend.
Related electric bike articles:
- How Far Can You Go On an Electric Bike?
- Can We Charge Electric Bike at Home?
- Electric Bike Keeps Cutting Out
- Will Electric Bikes Get Cheaper?
- Are Electric Bikes Good For Exercise?
- Electric Bikes Made in the USA
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.