Are eBikes bicycles or motorcycles?

I know it’s not a clear cut answer as some are bicycles with electric assist and then some start to really become more like motorcycles… like this little guy which I quite like. Goes 30mph… I can’t tell if it has pedals or pegs?

E-bikes always remind me of the early beginnings of motorcycles like this

which were clearly bikes with motors attached.

I think we’re still at the beginning of this product’s evolution.
I can see it getting branched out into 2 categories:

  1. E-Scooters: like this electric vespa knock off

  2. full on E-motorcycle
    here’s harley trying things out in this arena

The product you showed here has some honda rascal vibes… like a scooter with attitude


WA state e-bike law:

Classifies e-bikes as bicycles, as long as its power output is no more than 750 watts, it has a saddle, includes fully operative pedals, and meets the criteria of the following classes:

Class 1: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Class 2: Can be propelled solely by the motor, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Class 3: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 28 mph, and has a speedometer.


Thanks for that @slippyfish Interesting that class 3 you have to pedal but class 2 which is slower and has no speed you don’t?

a little digging turned up this:

Also Class 3 can’t be ridden on sidewalks or mixed-use trails, they can go on-street only. Class 3 seems like more a dedicated road commuter, replacing a car. Not allowed on forest trails.

Class 1 covers most mountain bikes. Class 2 are just kind of weird, they aren’t bikes, they’re underpowered electric mopeds.

Trek Bikes have a good summary breakdown page:


so it looks like something like this would be a class 1:

and this one has pedals but goes 33mph… so does it need to be registered as a moped you think @slippyfish ?

Designer talking about it:

Yeah Zooz would be Class 2, as it has an actual throttle.
I’m all for transportation alternatives but some of these machines give the e-bike movement a bad name. However I bet they are funner than a barrel of monkeys. (design content) the styling of this class is usually more fun, retro, irreverent…most big brand e-bikes will never feature riders sliding, jumping, or riding a skatepark!

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If anyone care, the reasoning behind classes is safety in dedicated bike lanes. In general, cities make their bike lanes as small as possible, making overtaking a higher risk activity. When only pedaling, your average schlub will be going 10-15mph. With most everyone at a similar speed, overtaking occurs less often. When you know have bikes that exceed 20mph, you increase occurrences and you then increase risk level.


That is one of the reasons I was asking @iab

These things end up on the road (where they probably should be), the bike lane, the sidewalk and everywhere in between… because they seem to be ridden by less experienced cyclists so they just end up everywhere.

Makes sense.