Buying an electric bike can be tricky depending on where you are located. No, it’s not just being overwhelmed with the plethora of options.

Various governments have their own set of regulations for this mode of transportation. From the motor to whether you need a driver’s license, you must research to know other factors that could impact your riding experience.

Here, we aim to provide you with the essential California electric bike laws you must be aware of. We cover electric bike classification in the state, speed limitations, and other things you must know to make the most out of your electric bike.

What are Important California Electric Bike Laws?

To safely ride your electric bike, you must know every electric bike law in California. These regulations aim to make riding more comfortable and safe for you and everyone using the roads.

But which law impacts you the most? What are important California electric laws you should know?

The following questions can help you stay compliant with state regulations on riding and owning ebikes.

What is a Class 3 Ebike?

California, like most U.S. states, categorizes ebikes. The aim of this classification is to know the power produced by the ebike motor. Here are the three classes of electric bikes in the state, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Class 1

These electric bikes are low-speed pedal-assisted ebikes. Motors in this class of ebike are active only when you are pedaling and it shuts down once you reach a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour (mph).

Class 2 

Electric bikes in the second classification are a little more feature-rich compared to those in Class 1. These ebikes are low-speed pedal-assist and throttled-assisted electric bikes. Electric bikes under this classification are able to have a maximum speed of 20mph.

Class 3 

Class 3 electric bikes are pedal-assisted ebikes with a motor, which is active when you are pedaling and cuts off when you reach a speed of 28mph.

Do I Need a Driver’s License?

You do not need to have a driver’s license when riding an ebike in California. 

Electric bike owners are also exempted from motor vehicle financial responsibility, purchasing vehicle insurance, and license plate requirements. 

These exemptions come from the fact that the state does not categorize an electric bike as a motor vehicle.

How Old Can I Legally Ride an Ebike?

However, riding an electric bike comes with some degree of responsibility. You must be wise to judge whether you are endangering the road for other users. With this in mind, the state imposed a certain age when it is legally okay for you to ride an electric bike.

In California, a rider must meet certain criteria to legally operate a Class 3 electric bike. You need to be at least 16 years of age to legally ride an electric bike. This age requirement is strictly implemented on electric bikes capable of propelling a maximum of 28mph and above.

Should I Wear a Helmet?

In terms of safety, yes, you should be wearing a bicycle safety helmet when riding an electric bike. However, things get complicated when factoring in laws enacted around the country. 

In California, riders under the age of 17 are mandated to use a bicycle helmet. 

But, unlike other US states, California does not have a certain specification for a bicycle helmet for riders with a Class 3 electric bike.

What is the Speed Limit in California For Electric Bikes

After knowing which classification your ebike falls under and whether you are of the legal age to ride an electric bike, you should also know the prevailing speed limit in California. 

For Class 3 electric bikes, the state imposes a maximum assisted speed of 28mph. Ebikes under Class 1 and Class 2 cut off their motor power once they reach the maximum speed of 20mph.

What are the Restrictions on Ebike Motor?

The California Vehicle Code limits the power of ebike motors. The state government has moved to restrict power to up to 1,000 watts. This bike’s motor can no longer help propel it after reaching the speed of 28mph. 

Aside from limiting the motor’s power, the state assembly prohibits tampering with any ebike component. For instance, owners are not allowed to add a more powerful motor than what the manufacturer included. Failure to comply can lead you to face legal issues and other entanglements.

Can Ebikes Use Bike Lanes?

Generally, no. But it still depends on the class of your electric bike

As mentioned, electric bikes are treated as ordinary bicycles under California law. It means that they can be used on any road, with the exemption of highways. 

Local ordinances are another factor to consider. Some local authorities allow motorized bicycles to use dedicated bikes while others do not. Usually, a bike lane has a sign telling whether it is open for electric bikes or not.

The Top Electric Bikes in California

Eridefox offers a lot of choices when you are hunting for the perfect ebike. The models we offer comply with every existing regulation in California. 

Here are some ebikes that are on top of our list:

Fiido D21

The Fiido D21 electric bike takes the best features of its predecessor and made things even better. It now comes with a torque sensor to assess the effort you are making to make the bike move. This feature also improves the overall intuitiveness and riding experience compared to the D20.

This electric bike also comes with highly-capable components. These parts are what make it able to conquer any road condition and weather. The Fiido D21 features a 250W motor, 36V 11.6Ah battery, and a Shimano 7-speed gear shifting system with a transmission mechanism allowing you to choose from three adjustable levels.

Fiido has another offering for you. The M1 Pro screams power with its fat tire. But its 20 x 4-inch wheels are not everything it has to offer.

Fiido M1 Pro

This electric bike also has all the non-negotiable features of an ebike while still complying with California laws. It comes with the following features:

  • 500W motor
  • 7-speed Shimano gear shift system
  • Full suspension shock absorbers
  • ​48V 12.8Ah battery
  • 120kg/265 lbs maximum load

Engwe C20 Pro

If you are on a budget but still looking for the best features, Engwe may have something for you. 

The C20 Pro is the best transportation to take you around the city. This electric bike’s charm comes with its full suspension shock absorbers, Shimano 7-speed gear shift system, and a 48V 500W octagonal motor. 

It also offers a great battery capable of taking you places beyond the city. The ebike comes with a 48V 10Ah battery. Despite its low cost, this battery shows you can get a capable battery even in the budget range. 

Final Words

Laws are placed for a reason. Whether it is to provide an industry standard or to ensure your safety, it is best to stick to any prevailing regulations covering electric bikes.

California riders can easily follow these regulations with a law-complying electric bike. Ebikes manufactured incorporating all these regulations help in keeping you observant of these laws. The good thing is that the market offers a variety of them. 

If you are looking for a California-compliant ebike, we have a wide range of choices. We got something for beginners, city riders, and weekend outdoor adventurers! Pick something today and find your adventure today!

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