Classifications of electric bikes in the U.S.
Electric bikes in the U.S. are classified at the state level, as there is a lack of federal regulation. This leads to confusion on behalf of e-bike riders, retailers and suppliers - outdated classifications at best, and no regular at worst.
The three-class system was introduced about five years ago, based on speed, wattage and operation.
Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed wherever regular bikes are allowed. More specifically:
Class 1: an e-bike with pedal assist; no throttle; maximum assisted speed of 20 MPH
Class 2: an e-bike with throttle assist; maximum assisted speed of 20 MPH
Class 3: an e-bike with pedal assist; no throttle; maximum assisted speed of 28 MPH
Note that all classes limit the motor's power to 750W.
Check on your state's website for its regulations on e-bikes, and support a national, non-profit advocacy organization like People for Bikes who are working for a more consistent classification system in the U.S. To learn more about where electric bikes can be ridden in the United States, visit https://www.peopleforbikes.org/.