Regional Info

There are several countries that use electrical bikes as a main transportation method in daily life, which are China, Japan, Germany and Netherland. United States is a brand new market for e bike and need to be developed. The following table gives a brief introduction to E bike situation in different countries.



Speed limit (mph)

Watt limit

Weight limit(kg)

Age requirement

Demands license plates

Allowed on bike path




None 20 None No Yes




500 None None No Yes




250 None None No Yes




250 None None No Yes

United States



750 None None No Varies


United States

Since there are different laws in different states, United States doesn’t have a complete law that can cover all the aspects of the electric bike, which needs to be improved. The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines a “low speed electric bicycle” as a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W. The Act authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect people who ride low-speed electric vehicles by issuing necessary safety regulations. The rules for e-bikes on public roads, sidewalks, and pathways are under state jurisdiction, and vary. [1]







Delivery e-bike with license plate in Manhattan.





In China, e-bikes currently come under the same classification as bicycles and hence don’t require a driver’s license to operate. Previously it was required that users registered their bike in order to be recovered if stolen, although this has recently been abolished. Due to a recent rise in electric-bicycle-related accidents, caused mostly by inexperienced riders who ride on the wrong side of the road, run red lights, don’t use headlights at night etc., the Chinese government plans to change the legal status of illegal bicycles so that vehicles with an unlade weight of 20 kg (44 lb) or more and a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) or more will require a motorcycle license to operate, while vehicles lighter than 20 kg (44 lb) and slower than 30 km/h can be ridden unlicensed. [2] In the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen, e-bikes, like all motorcycles, are banned from certain downtown districts. There are also bans in place in small areas of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing.






E-bikes are very common in China, with an estimated fleet of 120 million in early 2010.





European Union makes the following definition for the E bikes: “Cycles with pedal assistance which is equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling.[3] In Germany, Sales of e-bikes increased almost threefold between 2007 and 2012, from 70,000 to 388,000 units per year. And in Netherlands, there are almost 18 million bicycles and E-bikes have reached a market share of 10% by 2009, as e-bikes sales quadrupled from 40,000 units to 153,000 between 2006 and 2009, and the electric-powered models represented 25% of the total bicycle sales revenue in that year. According to a market survey, E-bike ownership is particularly popular among people aged 65 and over and used particular for recreational bicycle trips, shopping and errands.

Overall, E-bikes are in a law blank because of its fuzzy position between the bicycle and motorcycles. Many E-bikes are legally classified as bicycles rather than motorcycles, so they are not subject to the more stringent laws regarding their certification and operation, unlike the more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. To popularize this new kind of transportation methods, a clear law needs to be put out soon.