E-bikes are regulated like bicycles. The same rules of the road apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles.
E-bikes are not subject to the registration, licensing, or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
California designates three classes of e-bikes:
Class 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
Class 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor, that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
Class 3: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28 mph.
Local governments have the authority to restrict the use of e-bikes under motor power on bike paths. When in doubt, check with your town, city, or county for local rules and regulations.
Helmets are required for riders of Class 3 e-bikes. Persons under 16 years of age may not ride a Class 3 e-bike (unless as a passenger). There are certain access restrictions for Class 3 e-bike riders.
On federal, state, county and local trails, e-mountain bike (eMTB) access varies significantly.
Generally, any natural surface trail that is designated as open to both motorized and non-motorized uses is also open to eMTBs.
eMTBs may not be allowed on trails managed for non-motorized activities.
Do not ride your eMTB in areas where the local rules are unclear. Ride legally and only on authorized trails to show that mountain bikers are responsible trail users.
When in doubt, ask your local land manager about access to specific trails. Local land rules change frequently.
CALIFORNIA’S E-BIKE LAW FOR TRAILS
LOCAL: Consult your local land management agency.
In California State Parks, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles may be allowed where bicycles are allowed as long as they’re not specifically called out as prohibited. They are currently allowed in Wilder Ranch State Parks, as well as Folsom and Auburn State Recreation Areas. Contact California State Parks for more information.
FEDERAL: As of August 29th 2019 all eBikes up to 750 watt can now access Federal Lands and natural parks anywhere a regular bicycle can access. The one exception is National Forests, the forests are managed by the Department of Agriculture and these changes are not implemented yet on the forests. Changes are happening to align all Federal land to the recent Order. Contact the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Office or the BLM California State Office for more information.