E-Bike Law

Electric bike in Phoenix, AZ

Owning an e-bike means taking the time to understand law and safety with electric bikes. While the laws vary from state to state, there are a few on which you can depend. Safety is more universal, though, and following some simple safety rules can make your riding process much more pleasant. In Arizona e-bike law, if they meet the guidelines the bikes do not require a title and registration, no drivers license is required, no emissions testing (there aren’t any on our models!) and vehicle insurance is not required.

Registration and Classification*

The first hurdle one has to clear in e-bike law is figuring out exactly how the vehicle will be registered in the United States. As each state in the U.S. has its own driving laws, this can get a bit tricky. Fortunately, there is a general rule of thumb that does apply to electric bikes of a certain class in the United States. If the e-bike weighs less than one hundred pounds and has a top speed of less than twenty miles per hour, the vehicle is considered to be a consumer product and thus is not regulated by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

If you want to find a baseline for laws in the United States concerning e-bikes, you can always turn towards 15 U.S.C. 2085(b), which actually defines what constitutes a e-bike under U.S. law. The e-bike law only applies to those vehicles that are considered to be low speed electric bicycles, and thus may be treated as a standard bicycle under the law. The major issues tend to come into play when an e-bike falls outside the purview of the federal law, especially when the vehicle is being dealt with in one of several states with their own e-bike laws.

Of course, the laws do vary in some states. To view Arizona electric bicycle law click here. In seven of the twenty jurisdictions with their own electric bike laws, the motor speed limit on the bike is increased to between twenty-five (Maine) and forty (Connecticut) miles per hour.  The use of Phoenix electric bikes has a limit of 20 MPH at this writing.   The actual engine size allowed on the bike varies wildly between each state, as does how old an individual must be to operate the vehicle. Due to the variations between states, it is always best to consult state law before purchasing an e-bike or taking it out for a spin — the fines associated with illegally operating these bikes can be quite heavy.

Safety Laws

Safety one e-bikes is not regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Department of Transportation, but it is rather dealt with by the Consumer Product Safety Committee. As the vehicle is essentially considered to be legally identical to a bicycle from a federal standpoint, its safety standards must fall in line with those bicycles powered in a more traditional manner. In addition to this, the e-bike must also meet consumer quality standards rather than vehicle quality standards, leaving manufacturers beholden to a set of laws that is less geared towards safe riding and more towards overall safe usage.

One of the most confusing aspects of e-bike law is whether or not a helmet is required.  We recommend that any bike or e-bike rider always wear a helmet. The federal laws concerning e-bikes do not specify whether wearing a helmet is necessary, so those jurisdictions without specific laws can be assumed not to require riders to wear helmets. In the twenty districts with their own laws, only eight require that riders wear a helmet when operating — and in the majority of those districts, the law only applies to riders who are minors. These laws may chance as the bikes gain more popularity, but it is difficult to say if that will occur in the near future.

bicyle helmet

Safety and You

Of course, any good e-bike owner wants to remain safe even if the law remains silent on the issue. There are a few major steps that you can take towards making sure that your biking experience is one that is not fraught with danger, and most of them are simply common sense. If you treat the e-bike with the respect with which you would treat any other vehicle, you should find riding it to be a safe and pleasant experience.

The most important tip for Phoenix e-bike safety is to make sure that it is in good condition. If you are not particularly mechanically gifted, make sure that you buy a bike from a trusted dealer or know of a local repair shop. If you use a kit to modify your bike, make sure that you follow the directions to the letter. Always make sure that all moving parts are clear of obstruction, and take the bike out for a low-speed ride when you first purchase it. It is much better to get in an accident under controlled circumstances than it would be to fall prey to an equipment fault when you are unprepared.

Next, make sure that you are comfortable riding the bike. If you have never ridden a bike before, you probably want to start off simply peddling the e-bike under your own power until you are comfortable with your balance. Never operate the machine while under the influence of any substance, and always make sure that you have full possession of your faculties before starting the engine. Never ride an e-bike in a state in which you would be unwilling to drive a car, as you can find yourself in serious danger if you operate the vehicle in an unsafe state.

Finally, use a little bit of common sense while riding. Even if the state of Arizona does not require you to do so, wear a helmet. A crash a twenty miles per hour can still leave you in danger of a major head injury, so be safe. Always make sure that you ride your bike in safe circumstances, so keep it out of the snow (wish we had some in Phoenix!) or heavy rain. If the circumstances require precise handling or a slow speed, you might want to switch to manual power — doing so might be tiring, but it could very well save your life.

Always follow the rules of the road on an e-bike. No matter what the laws say, it is up to your to make sure that you use your best judgment and ride safely. If you treat the vehicle with respect, it should always get you to your destination safely and efficiently.


*This is NOT legal advice, contact your local DMV or other state or city resources.