Electric bikes or e-bikes have become incredibly popular across the United States. These devices function almost identically to standard bicycles with the added feature of an electric motor. These rechargeable bicycles are easier to handle and provide eco-friendly local transportation. However, if you intend to purchase an e-bike, it is vital to know the state laws that apply to these vehicles and your responsibilities when riding one.

The attorneys at Easton & Easton routinely provide legal counsel to bicycle accident victims and those who have experienced other personal injuries. One of the most effective ways to prevent e-bike accidents is to know the most common causes of these incidents so you can avoid them. You must also know the laws surrounding these vehicles so you can limit your risk of incurring penalties for unintentional violations.

California Electric Bike Laws 2023

Understanding E-bike Laws

There are many different types of e-bikes available, and they are divided into different classes based on their technical specifications and capabilities. The state recognizes three classes of e-bikes:

  1. Class 1 e-bikes are those that are only capable of reaching a top speed of 20 mph and have no throttle assist. These bikes can only move forward when the rider operates the pedals.
  2. Class 2 e-bikes have throttle assist, so they can continue moving forward even when a rider stops pedaling. The top speed for Class 2 e-bikes is also 20 mph.
  3. Class 3 e-bikes have throttle assist, can continue moving forward when the rider stops pedaling, and have a top speed of 28 mph on level ground.

Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes can only be used on designated bike lanes and bike paths, and individual municipalities can enforce other specific laws for e-bikes that riders must follow. Class 3 e-bikes are allowed on paths, lanes, and roads where standard bicycles are permitted. There are no age restrictions for Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes, but you must be at least 16 years of age to ride a Class 3 e-bike. There are different helmet restrictions for the different classes based on age, but anyone riding a Class 3 bike will need a helmet regardless of age. Anyone who rides an e-bike must review not only the state laws that apply to these vehicles but also their local ordinances and municipal laws.

Limiting Your Risk of an E-bike Accident

While it is not possible to accurately predict the actions of others at all times, there are a few things you can do to limit your risk of having an accident or at least minimize the damage from an accident someone else causes. Wearing a helmet is crucial and can potentially prevent a fatal traumatic brain injury. Even if you are not legally required to wear a helmet for your class of e-bike, many studies have proven that proper helmet use significantly lowers the risk of suffering a serious head injury in a bike accident.

Wearing reflectors and brightly colored clothing can also help limit your risk of a nearby driver hitting you. Riders should also take time to learn their e-bikes’ various functions, how to troubleshoot performance issues, and when to avoid riding. Ultimately, you cannot always prevent bike accidents, but a few practices will help limit your risk of experiencing one.


Q: Are 750-Watt E-bikes Legal?

A: Under California law, 750 watts is the maximum power draw that an electric bike can have and still qualify as an e-bike. If the engine is more powerful than 750 watts, the vehicle is likely to qualify as an electric scooter or moped and will be subject to different laws. Always verify the wattage of an electric bike before purchasing it so you know your legal obligations and can avoid unexpected fines or other penalties.

Q: What Are the Laws for E-bikes?

A: As long as an electric bike has an engine with less than 750 watts of power, it is legally classified as a standard bicycle in most respects. The bicycle may not be capable of any top speed greater than 28 mph on level ground, and the operator of an e-bike must follow all local ordinances that apply to standard bicycles.

Q: Are Helmets Required for Riding E-bikes?

A: There are three classes of e-bikes: Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. For Class 1 and Class 2 bicycles, helmets are only required for riders under the age of 18. When riding a Class 3 bike, the rider must wear a helmet regardless of their age. Always verify the type of e-bike you are buying so you know what helmet requirements will apply when using it.

Q: Can I Ride an E-bike on the Road?

A: E-bikes may be ridden on bicycle lanes and other standard bicycle paths, and this includes road travel where it is legal for standard bicycles. However, the bicyclist must be able to move with the flow of traffic. Because 28 mph is the top speed for an e-bike, these vehicles should only be used on streets with posted speed limits of 25 mph or less. It is possible to receive a fine for a traffic violation on an e-bike if the rider does not move with the flow of traffic or heed posted traffic signals.

Q: Can I Sue for an E-bike Accident?

A: If you are riding your e-bike legally and another driver hits and injures you, you have the same right to pursue compensation for your damages as you would after a standard bike accident. After receiving medical attention for your injuries, a personal injury attorney can assist you in filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver, and if this does not yield full compensation for your damages, they can help file a personal injury suit as well.

The attorneys at Easton & Easton have years of professional experience handling bicycle accident claims on behalf of clients throughout Southern California, and we can provide the guidance and support you need after an e-bike accident. Contact us today to learn more about the legal services we provide and how we can help you recover from a recent accident.