All about e-bikes

girl on e-bike

We have a new infatuation, the electric bicycle, and some come in with a top speed of 70 miles per hour (mph), fast enough to be on most major highways and freeways. Electric bicycles have become a popular alternative vehicle for today’s micro-mobility movement and since the COVID-19 pandemic their numbers have skyrocketed.

Let’s look at some of the top questions consumers have related to electric bicycles.

What is an electric bike?

An electric bicycle, commonly referred to as an e-bike, is a battery-powered assisted two-wheel vehicle that generally works with pedals or a throttle. It takes a traditional bicycle and gives it a boost of power via the electric motor. Riders pedal as they would on a normal bicycle and when faced with tough terrain such as a steep hill or carrying a heavy load, the motor assists the pedaling so the rider doesn’t get exhausted riding up it. The rider controls the speed with the pedals, really feeling the ease of acceleration and extra speed at their feet.

What kinds of e-bikes are available?

E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes. Not only are there different ways an electric bicycle administers power, but they are also designed for nearly every type of riding situation, including cargo, commuter, recreational, hardtail, full-suspension mountain, performance road and fat tire. When choosing one, it’s best to determine how it’ll be mainly used and the road type it will be ridden on.

How fast are e-bikes?

With the added boost of the electric motor, e-bikes have the capability of traveling up to speeds of 70 mph, however, the average top speed is 15 mph, which is twice as fast as the average speed for a traditional bicyclist (7 mph). The maximum speed by law for an e-bike is 15 mph. Anything faster can be categorized as a motorbike or motorcycle.

E-bikes are capable of going much faster than 15 mph, as the rider can boost the speed by pedaling and taking speeds up to 30 mph or more in the motor assistance mode.

Electric bikes generally have limited to no coverage under a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy because they’re categorized as a motorized vehicle and that creates a gap in protection. A standard auto will generally not offer coverage for e-bikes either as e-bikes cannot be listed as vehicles on such policies. Whether it was stolen or damaged, replacement or repair costs would have to come out of the owner’s pocket. Additionally, if the operator crashes and causes bodily injuries to them self or third parties resulting in medical costs and other damages, that too would have to be paid by the operator and/or owner of the e-bike.

If you own and ride an e-bike, you’ll need a policy designed for e-bikes to be covered, which may include an e-bike insurance policy or, in some cases, a motorcycle policy. but even if the law does not have an insurance requirement for e-bikes, you are still legally liable for damage you may cause while operating one. In the case of minors, their parents may be liable for such damages.