One of the most common questions potential eBike riders ask is "do I have to wear a helmet?" The answer is YES, you may be required to wear a helmet when riding an eBike, depending on your age, location and the eBike Class (I, II, or III) you're riding.
Bike.com recommends all riders wear a helmet at all times
Let's get this out of the way - the team at Bike.com recommends that everyone, regardless of age, location, or ability, should wear an approved bicycle helmet anytime they are riding a bicycle. Full stop. We also understand that some riders may choose not to, and strongly discourage this behavior.
Helmet laws for eBike use vary by state, and even by city
One of the reasons that we recommend everyone should wear a helmet is that doing so eliminates any possibility of confusion about local laws regarding eBikes, eBike class, or rider ages. Because those rules can vary by state, people who travel (like you might when you take your eBike on vacation) can easily end up "breaking the law" as they move from state to state.
California eBike helmet laws
For example: in my home state of California:
- everyone under 18 must wear a helmet when riding any bicycle, eBike or not
- if you're an adult carrying a passenger 5 or under, your passenger is required to wear a helmet
Additionally, anyone riding a Class III eBike must wear a helmet, regardless of age.
New York eBike helmet laws
Let's take a look at another populous state, New York. In New York State, everyone under the age of 14 must wear a helmet, regardless of whether they're the operator or the passenger. Additionally, children 1-4 must wear a helmet, and ride in a child safety seat; while children under 1 year are actually prohibited from being a passenger on a bicycle!
Missing, however, are any exceptions or different rules for eBikes.
But local rules can be stricter than state rules - Erie County, New York State, for example, requires everyone to wear a helmet, regardless of age. So if you go on a long enough bike ride, the rules could actually change on you mid-ride!
It's easy to get lost in the location, age, and eBike/not helmet requirements. Your best bet is to simply wear a helmet anytime you ride, and make sure your family members do as well.
You're much more likely to wear a helmet when you have one that is stylish, comfortable, and fits you well. Modern helmets are lighter and better ventilated than ever before, so it's a great time to consider one.