California State Electric Bike Laws

California State Electric Bike Laws

How does California define what an electric bike is?

Per the California (CA) Vehicle Code, electric bicycles are classified as conventional bicycles. Electric bikes must not exceed 750W and must not exceed 28 mph on level ground. Electric bikes motors must disengage when brake functions are applied and use a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause motor function to cease. 

The state defines 3 classes of electric bikes. Class I is for pedal assist with a maximum of 20 mph electric assist. Class II is for bikes that provide electric power whether the rider is pedaling or not, but stops providing power when the speed reaches 20 mph. Class III is for bikes that continue providing electrical power up to 28 mph.

Do you need a license, insurance or registration in California?

Electric bike operators do not need to be licensed. Electric bikes may only be operated by persons aged 16 years and older. Electric bikes do not need to be licensed or registered.

What are the restrictions on Motor power or throttle in California?

The motor of an electric bicycles cannot exceed the 750 watts.

Are there any age restrictions to riding an electric bike in California?

You need to be older than 16 years old to ride an e-bike if your electric bike can reach 28 mph or more. 

What are the laws around helmets in California?

Under California state law, anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet.

What are the rules for riding on the roads in California?

Electric bikes may be ridden on roads as far right as practical.  Electric bikes are not allowed on dedicated bike paths unless the path runs adjacent to a roadway or is posted to allow motorized bicycles.

What are the rules for riding on the trails in California?

Class 3 electric bicycles are not allowed on any bicycle path or trail, bikeway, equestrian trail, or hiking or recreational trail, unless it is within or adjacent to a roadway or unless the local authority or the governing body of a public agency having jurisdiction over the path or trail permits them by ordinance. 

Disclaimer:

Laws and policies can change at any time rendering the above information outdated and non-applicable. EVELO strongly encourages checking with City, County, State and other local agencies for the most recent laws governing the proper, legal use of electric bicycles in your area.

Sources:

https://visforvoltage.org/book-page/ev-collaborative-hand-books/1080-electric-bicycle-laws

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml