Electric Road Bike In California: 4 Things To Know

California is known as a cyclist’s paradise because of its breathtaking scenery, good weather, and varied terrain. You can bike on established routes in its parks and trails across the state. Bike lanes are also present in most cities and other areas. Cycling in California works well as an ideal pastime and even as an eco-friendly mode of everyday transportation.

With the rise of e-bikes, cycling in California has taken on a meaningful turn. E-bikes not only come with the usual two wheels, handle, and pedal but also with a powerful motor that helps you reach speeds up to 28 miles per hour. Apart from pedal assist, some models like the electric road bike may even have throttles to boost your cycling experience. 

Electric bikes make cycling accessible to everyone regardless of age, skill, or fitness level. Whether you’re 16 or 60, an everyday commuter, or a businessman wanting to reduce your carbon footprint, there’s surely an e-bike that will fit your lifestyle and biking prowess.

Electric Road Bike 

What makes electric road bikes different from other e-bikes? Well, they’re lighter and faster compared to other types of e-bikes. They have pedal assist functions and some even have throttles for better riding performance. Other electric road bikes even provide options to choose from a low-step or standard frame to help you get on and off your bike with ease. 

You can check out these basic features when you head to a bike store or browse online with https://www.chargebikes.com or other similar sites as a reference. You’ll find a great array of choices when it comes to electric road bikes.

young woman holding an electric bike battery mounted on frame

Electric bikes are legal in California with Assembly Bill 1096 as its governing ordinance. According to this law, electric bikes are grouped into three categories based on motor capacity. 

Class 1 includes low-speed pedal-assisted e-bikes with a motor that provides speed boosts until it reaches 20mph. Class 2 is for e-bikes with throttle and pedal-assist features, while Class 3 covers e-bikes with pedal-assist only. Class 3 e-bikes can reach speeds up to 28 mph.  

The law places electric road bikes with handlebar throttles under Class 2 and sets a maximum speed for this category at 20 miles per hour. 

In addition, AB 1096 also designates bike paths for electric road bikes and other Class 2 e-bikes. These include paved roads in nature areas, bike lanes on roads and highways marked with paint or other signage, and cycle tracks that are protected from vehicular traffic.

Electric road bikes do well on their own, however, you may wonder if you can customize them just like traditional bikes. While bike modifications can improve your riding performance and may even ensure your safety, electric bikes aren’t as easy to customize. 

The law prohibits e-bike modifications especially if it increases the speed of your e-bike. The law specifically provides speed limitations and should be followed to the letter. If you plan to upgrade your electric road bike’s motor to get higher speeds, you’ll need to change its classification from Category 2 to 3. 

Electric road bikes are fast and lightweight, but this doesn’t mean you can go all-out when you’re on the road. Remember that the speed limit for an electric road bike is 20 mph. Electric Road bikes and e-bikes in general, are covered by both state and local laws regarding bicycles. As such, you need to follow stop signs, right-of-way, speed limits, and other laws, especially on busy streets and highways.

If you or anyone under 17 plans to ride an electric road bike, make sure to use helmets while biking. Such protective gear not only reduces the chance of a law violation as it also prevents you from getting serious injuries if you get in a bicycle accident. 

The California government recognizes the countless benefits of electric road bikes and e-bikes in general to the health of its residents and also notes its positive impact on the environment. In line with this, the state’s launched the Calbike Incentive Program, which aims to promote electric bikes as part of its energy-efficiency campaign to its constituents. 

Set to begin in July 2022, the program aims to provide 10,000 Californians with affordable e-bikes. Apart from subsidies to low-income households, the USD$10 million funds will also cover safety education for its recipients. This training will help new e-bike owners to become responsible and courteous bike riders. 

The program isn’t just for its residents. The Calbike Incentive Program also encourages Californians to support local bike shops by purchasing affordable e-bikes from partner stores. Electric road bikes can serve as a favorable option for regular commuters and for business owners looking for cost-effective vehicles to deliver their goods and services.

Bike Away

In sum, electric road bikes might be the key to eco-friendly commutes in California. With laws and incentive programs in place, all that’s left for Californians is to make the switch and reap all the benefits associated with riding an electric road bike.


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