Skip to main content

The EV market is growing rapidly as the world transitions to cleaner forms of transportation, and contrary to popular belief, EVs are more than just electric cars. EVs also include e-bikes, which aren’t a new type of transportation, but it has seen a resurgence in recent years. Thanks to that renewed interest, a lot of people want to buy and ride an e-bike, so here’s a look at how old you need to be to ride an e-bike under current laws.

There are actually three classes of e-bikes 

According to Quietkat, regulations regarding e-bikes can vary a lot between states. There are some federal laws, but they largely only regulate the manufacturing process and the sales process of e-bikes. As far as how e-bikes can be used on the road and what kinds of e-bikes can be used on the roads, states have a lot of power to regulate those areas as they wish.

E-bike advocates have managed to lobby many states to pass relatively similar regulations. This is known as the Three Class system, and California was the first to pass the law in 2015. Since then, about 30 other states have joined California. Under this system, all e-bikes are only allowed to have an electric motor that generates 750 watts. 

A Class 1 e-bike is pedal-assist only, which means that the electric motor only works when the rider pedals. There’s no throttle for the motor, and it has a top speed of 20 mph. A Class 2 e-bike does have a throttle, which means that the motor can power the e-bike even if the rider doesn’t pedal. It still has a max speed of 20 mph. A Class 3 e-bike is pedal-assist only, but its max speed is 28 mph instead. 

This is how old you have to be to operate an e-bike in America

An E-bike parked outdoors on a a busy street.
E-bike | Getty Images

Since states are allowed to write their own laws regarding e-bikes, the minimum requirements for riding an e-bike will vary from state to state. Most states, for example, don’t require e-bike riders to get a license, but some do. Currently, Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and North Dakota all require e-bike riders to get licensed before they ride.

Minimum age laws also vary a lot. In general though, as long as the rider is over 16, they can ride an e-bike. Alabama, Alaska, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia are states that have the minimum age at 14. Six states have it at 15, and 15 states have it at 16. That said, many of these minimum age laws only apply to Class 2 and 3 e-bikes. 

On top of that, 25 states have laws that require e-bike riders to wear a helmet. However, those laws typically only apply to riders who are under 21. Once again, there is a lot of variety here, as some states require helmets for riders who are under 19, and some states require it for riders who are under 12.

E-bike laws are different in other countries though

Unsurprisingly, e-bike laws are going to be very different in other countries, according to Linky. In Canada, the minimum age is between 12 to 16 years depending on the location. Canadian e-bikes also have a speed limit of 20 mph, but their motor is limited to 500 watts instead. 

The European Union, meanwhile, has a 20 mph max speed, and the motors are limited to 500 watts. However, the minimum age in the E.U. is 12 years. In China, e-bikes are more highly regulated, but there’s generally no minimum age to ride one. Just like with America though, e-bike regulations in China can vary a lot depending on the specific location.