Join Date: May 2008
Location: San Diego, CA
Bikes: '72 Schwinn Sports Tourer, '73 Schwinn Super Sport, '79 Schwinn Twinn Sport 10sp tandem
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Apparently California law recognizes two different classes of Ebikes: Those with a top speed of 20mph, and those with a top speed of 30mph. Anyghint faster than that isn't an Ebike, it's a motorcycle.
The 20mph Ebikes don't have many rules, except that you have to be 16 or older to rise them, and you must wear a helmet (bicycle helmet is fine). To ride at night, you must have a headlight and taillight.
The 30mph Ebikes have more rules. They must have headlight, taillight, brake light, side reflectors, and a horn. Fortunately all those things are readily available if you don't mind buying from China. You must register it with Calif DMV, by filling ouot a short form and sending it in with $18. They will then send you a small license plate and ID card. And you must have a Moped license (called an M2, a motorcycle license is an M1) to ride them on the street. To get that license, you go to DMV and take a written test. If you pass, you get a permit that lets you ride on the street. Then within a year, you must go back and demonstrate riding proficiency by riding in a straight line, weaving between cones, riding in a circle, and riding a figure 8.
The idea that 30mph Ebikes are illegal for the street, is mistaken. You just have to jump thru some more hoops than for a 20mph Ebike.
The above applies only to California, of course. Other states have different laws, YMMV.
Oops, I goofed. 30mph ebikes don't need turn signals. They only need the headlight, taillight, brake light, and horn. I've fixed my post above.
Last edited by Little-Acorn; 02-28-10 at 12:37 PM.