Electric bikes, commonly referred to as e-bikes, have been around for quite some time now and have been growing in demand in recent years. Nevertheless, many state authorities struggle to classify these vehicles since they run on a motor and need to have regulations in place. This, combined with their high cost of e-bikes made some in the cycling community perceive the idea of electric-assist bikes with an ounce of skepticism.
Yet, market research depicts a 95% increase in sales in 2016-17 over the previous year. The growth can be credited to proponent sentiments on beating barriers such as hilly topography and long distance travel. However, there is no argument on the fact that e-bikes are much safer for the environment and much quieter than gas-powered motor vehicles.
There is a lot of controversy on the issue of allowing e-bikes on trails. E-bikes are often viewed as motorized vehicles, and as most trails do not allow such vehicles, e-bikes find themselves on the blacklist. However, there are different classes of e-bikes and rules and regulations that govern their use on trails and even by age in some states. That said, it is illegal to use throttle e-bikes on trails as they are classified differently from pedal-assist e-bikes.
The community online is largely anti e-bikes as they pose danger of injury to those on the dirt trails as well as the rider due to their potential to reach higher speeds than conventional bicycles. Fortunately for the young industry, many people who were skeptical about trailing using ordinary bikes due to the huge effort required are today much more likely to participate in recreational riding sessions. All in all, throttle e-bike are a no-no on dirt trails and should be restricted to paved paths and roads and maintain a speed lower than 20mph on the green way – it’s the law.
Throttle vs Pedal Assist
There exist some subtle differences between e-bike brands, but all pedal-assist electric bikes are activated by pedaling. When taking off from a stop, the rotation of the cranks automatically switches on the motor to overcome the inertia when getting started. It is recommended that you start on a lower setting as it is easy to be startled by the high initial thrust on higher settings.
Most pedal assist e-bikes allow you to adjust the pedal assist on the fly depending on the topography or speed you wish to attain. However, the higher the power setting on an e-bike the shorter the range you can drive. Configurations vary across manufacturers, but most e-bikes feature a +/- control on the handle bars to adjust assistance.
On the other hand, throttle e-bikes work similar to pressing the gas pedal in your car. Often featured as a single red button, throttle is often installed alongside pedal assist. The difference between throttle and pedal assist is that in throttle mode, you do not need to pedal to get the boost.
E-Bike Classifications and Laws
Federal law allows each state to define its electric bike laws uniquely and as such, the laws are different from state to state. It is, therefore, wise to take a minute and understand the laws governing e-bike in your state before hitting the road. Generally, e-bikes are categorized into three classes, and although some states may have altered some details in some of the tires, they are largely similar. The classes include:
Class 1: Pedal-assist or throttle-only boost to a maximum of 20mph
Class 2: These allow pedal assistance up to 20mph and a throttle-only mode. This mode could be of value to you if you are suffering from an injury or have limited mobility.
Class 3: Speed is the only difference between class three e-bike and their counterparts in the lower classes. This class allows pedal assistance up to 28mph, though the figure may vary across different states.
There are no class 4 e-bikes as it is illegal to ride any bike at a speed above 28mph in the United States.
OZ E-Bikes is an e-bike rental shop in Bentonville, Arkansas. We have various types of e-bikes from cruiser e-bikes to electric mountain bikes and city/commuter e-bikes available for renting. Located in Bentonville AR, OZ E-Bikes allows your family to experience the unique beauty of NWA through the OZ Trails Systems and the Razorback Greenway. Get in touch with us today for our full offering and tours.