Most states (but not all) have adopted the People for Bikes model legislation regulating eBikes, which lays out speed limits, motor power, and helmet requirements using a Class I, II, III system.
New York State, however, is one of the outliers, and has adopted some eBike classifications and regulations which aren't shared with the rest of the country. To make things even more confusing, New York city also has an additional, distinct set of rules, which also don't align with rules elsewhere.
Before buying or riding an eBike, make sure the style you select is legal to ride in your area. Let's take a look at the various rules that regulate eBikes in New York.
Class I eBikes
New York State Class I eBikes provide assistance at up to 20 MPH when the rider is pedaling (pedal assist). They cannot have a throttle.
Class II eBikes
New York Class II eBikes can have both pedal assist and throttle to propel the eBike both when the rider is pedaling and without pedaling. Both modes are limited to 20 MPH.
Class III eBikes
New York defines Class III eBikes as models that provide pedal assist at up to 25 MPH. Note that this does not align with the 28 MPH Class III label used in many other states.
New York eBike age and helmet requirements
There is no age limit, however, eBike riders under the age of 14 must wear helmets in New York when riding any eBike. Additionally, all riders must wear helmets when riding Class III eBikes. At Bike.com we recommend that all riders wear a helmet regardless of age, speed, or eBike class.
Other New York eBike requirements
In addition to the above classes, New York eBikes must:
- carry a label or sticker displaying the class, the top assisted speed, and the max electric motor wattage.
- have a horn or bell
- Lights and reflectors when riding at night
- Class I and II eBikes can only be ridden on roads with speed limits of 30 MPH or less
How to comply with New York eBike laws
Manufacturers do not produce "New York specific" eBike models. Instead, you may wish to modify your eBike to be compliant when riding in New York State or New York City:
- Adjust the speed limiter on your eBike so the motor stops providing assistance at 20 or 25 MPH, as desired
- Some eBike brands equipped with throttles will still run with the throttle unplugged. In this case, you can unplug and remove the throttle so that your eBike motor only runs when the rider is pedaling if needed to ride where only Class I ebikes are permitted.
Where to get more information
People for Bikes, an industry advocacy group, maintains eBike data on a state-by-state basis. Access it here and click on your state. 36 states have adopted People for Bikes’ model eBike legislation, which attempts to streamline eBike rules and make them consistent from state to state. Additionally, People for Bikes has provided this file with information specific to New York (PDF).
Please note: this topic is changing quickly. Make sure to review current laws, rulemaking, and limitations in your location before riding.