Are Custom Electric Bikes Legal?

Posted on August 2, 2021 at 1:31 PM by The Biker Lawyers


What’s the Difference Between a Bicycle and an Electric Bicycle?

Look, we know. This isn’t a typical law question you’d expect to see on a law firm’s website… usually we do FAQs and blogs about being personal injury attorneys, and how to keep from getting screwed over by insurance companies…but we aren’t a typical law firm, are we? There is a reason we put “Biker” before “Lawyers” in our name.

When we posted this to Facebook, we knew our followers would love a chance to show off their bikes.

What we didn’t expect was this:

We’re talking about an electric bike that looks like something out of a retro-futuristic Sci-fi flick. This mean-customized-machine is clearly part bike, part motorized beast, had saddlebags, a headlight, a seat for one rider, and even peddles (you’ll see why all of this matters in a minute)!

Even the owner wanted to know, is this a bicycle… or something more?

The owner had a few questions about the legality of customizing a bike and how far we can take it before it requires licensing and is considered a motorized vehicle. Our very own Cam Leehey had to do a bit of digging, but we got all the answers he was seeking and more.

What’s the difference between a motorized bicycle and a regular bicycle?

Every state is different, but Iowa law has some very specific tests to determine when something on wheels has crossed into the realm of motorized vehicles. These factors are important to know because if it does qualify as a motorized vehicle, you may have to have a license to drive it, it may have to be licensed, and may need to be insured. So what are some of these factors?

1. The vehicle’s power can’t exceed 1 Horse Power or 450 Watts.

2. The vehicle can’t exceed 20 Miles per hour (MPH) without human assistance.

3. Does it have peddles?

4. Can it seat more than 1 person?

(Photo Credit: Cory McIntyre via Facebook)

What to do if your Bicycle Qualifies as a Motorized Vehicle

If it is a motorized vehicle, make sure you check with the DMV and follow all applicable laws to avoid trouble.

We, The Biker Lawyers, are here to support the biker community and any legal questions you may have to the best of our ability. We’d like to say a special thanks to all the amazing bikers who shared pics of their epic rides in our recent Facebook post! Our community is awesome!

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