Pedal-assisted bicycles and the Law

 IMG_9289Electric Bike Action casts a very wide net over the universe of electric-powered two-wheelers. We throw our collective legs over everything from bikes like the tire-smoking, electric-powered Zero motorcycle to the pedal-assist cruiser your grandmother could pedal to her weekly bridge match. While categorizing all these bikes into neat subcultures might seem like an impossible task, American lawmakers have already done the work for us, and it is a pretty logical division of power, so to speak.


Lawmakers have drawn the line between electric motorcycles and power-assisted bicycles by comparing one component—where you put your feet. On a motorcycle, this component is called a “footpeg,” and on a power-assisted bicycle, it is called a “pedal.” Footpegs equal a motorcycle; pedals equal a bicycle.

Apparently, sensing the ability of some ingenious type to find a hole in that description, lawmakers in a preventative action closed that loophole in less time than it takes to explain what a mid-mount motor is. The pedals, to be real pedals, have to be connected to a crank, and that crank has to be connected to a drivetrain so that the power-assisted bicycle rider is able to move the bike along under 100 percent human power.

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