E-Bike classes: What do they mean?

Woman riding a Shimano ebike on a trail overlooking a city
(Image credit: Shimano)

In Europe, there’s only one e-bike class that you need to understand. The motor size is capped at 250 watts, max speed is capped at 25km/h, and power assistance comes only while pedalling - there’s no throttle. Stick to those specs and you can ride your electric bike like a bike. No extra licensing or insurance is necessary for operating it. 

In the US, however, things are a bit more complicated. There are multiple different e-bike classes to contend with. 

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Josh Ross

Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutiae of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes. Height: 5'9" Weight: 140 lb. Rides: Salsa Warbird, Cannondale CAAD9, Enve Melee, Look 795 Blade RS, Priority Continuum Onyx