Demand for e-bikes is booming. Electric bicycles with pedal assist make it easier for cyclists to traverse large areas than on human-powered, traditional bikes. The use of e-bikes also makes cycling possible for people with functionality issues, such as arthritis, which would otherwise stop them from hitting the bike trails.
As electric bicycles become more popular among cyclists, they’re allowed in more and more places — but not every roadway, trail, and park accepts e-bikes with open arms.
Before joining the e-bike craze, it’s important to know where you can and can’t ride them. In this article, we’ll explain what you should know about e-bike laws regarding state parks.
The legal landscape of e-bikes in state parks
E-bike laws in the United States can be confusing and constantly changing. The National Park Service (NPS) only recently started to change its stance on e-bikes.
Until a few years ago, NPS considered e-bikes more like motor vehicles and restricted them on most bike trails in national parks and public lands. However, e-bikes are still restricted in most public wilderness areas.
State e-bike policies can be even more complicated because they vary from state to state and park to park. While e-bikes are generally allowed in most state parks, the state park superintendent can restrict them from certain areas.
Some state parks are friendlier than others to e-bikes, and some only allow certain classes of e-bikes. Here are a few examples of state park trails that have e-bike restrictions:
- In many state parks in Texas, like Big Bend Ranch State Park, you can use e-bikes on motorways but not on park trails.
- Smith Rock State Park in Bend, Oregon, considers e-bikes as motor vehicles, like motorcycles, and doesn’t allow them on park trails.
- Many parks in Arizona, like Lake Havasu State Park, only allow e-bikes on roadways and motor trails.
Popular state parks for e-bike use
The state park system in the U.S. is packed with stunning scenery, making parks the perfect destination for pedaling your e-bike. Unfortunately, not every state park accepts e-bikes with open arms — yet.
Thankfully, that’s changing. As electric bicycles continue to grow in popularity, states are becoming more aware of their environmental benefits. Many states now allow e-bikes in most of the same areas as traditional bicycles.
There are also different classes of e-bikes. Most states recognize three classifications of electric bikes. All e-bikes must have operable pedals, a seat, and an electric power motor.
- Class 1 e-bikes have motors that only offer assistance when bicyclists are pedaling. When the bike reaches 20 miles per hour (mph), the motor quits helping. This option doesn’t come with throttle assist.
- Class 2 e-bikes have throttle-actuated motors that push the bike forward even when the cyclist isn’t pedaling. The electric motor quits working when the bike reaches 20 mph.
- Class 3 e-bikes generally only help when the bicyclist is pedaling, but they’ll offer assistance until the bike reaches 28 mph. This option typically doesn’t come with throttle assist.
Many states and localities that allow Class 2 and Class 2 e-bikes have restrictions that only apply to Class 3 e-bikes.
We’ll explore some of the best state park rides in the next few sections.
California state parks
California’s sunny weather and beautiful beaches make the perfect getaway for cyclists. California also has a pension for environmentalism, making it a huge proponent for e-bikes. The state even offers monetary incentives to help residents purchase e-bikes.
Many of California’s state parks only allow Class 1 e-bikes, so check the park’s website if you have a Class 2 or Class 3 e-bike.
Visit these California state parks for a great e-bike ride:
- Oceano Dunes
- Pismo State Beach
Colorado state parks
With its gorgeous mountain ranges and breathtaking natural areas, Colorado is a good place for e-bike riders to let loose. Like California, Colorado is also very environmentally conscious in encouraging e-bike use.
Here are some great state parks in Colorado to ride e-bikes:
- Golden Gate Canyon State Park
- Staunton State Park
Washington state parks
Washington is a nature lover’s dream, with plenty of enchanting beaches, landscapes, and volcanoes. Washington is dedicated to preserving its natural resources and lands.
Here are some state parks in Washington that offer amazing trails for motorized bicycles:
- Columbia Plateau Trail State Park
- Spokane River Centennial State Park
Choosing the right e-bike for your state park adventures
If you’re ready to hit the trails on an electric-motor bike, you’ll need to pick the best bike for your needs. E-bikes come in a variety of models with different specifications.
Some things to consider when you’re in the market for a new e-bike include:
- How thick should your wheels be? Thin road tires create minimal friction and are great for cycling on the pavement, but if you are tackling harsher terrain, you might want thicker tires, like mountain bike (MTB) tires.
- What kind of frame do you want? High-step frames have a bar in the middle you must step over to get on the e-bike. Step-through e-bikes have an open space in the middle. While step-through e-bikes are easier to get on, high-step e-bikes are more durable due to the extra support.
- What fit do you need? The right size e-bike can help you avoid issues like knee and foot pain and maneuver easier and safer. You should also ensure your bike’s accessories — like the handlebars and the saddle — are comfortable.
- What kind of seat do you need? Various factors, like your riding style and personal preferences, can help you determine what bike seat design you need and how thick it should be.
Essential safety tips for e-biking in state parks
Just like normal cycling, e-biking comes with some risks. Here are several things you can do to protect yourself while using an e-bike:
- Wear a properly fitted helmet. Typically, states leave it up to localities to make and enforce helmet laws, but even if your city doesn’t have a law, don’t put your head at risk. Head injuries are common among cyclists.
- Wear the right gear. Whenever you’re cycling, it’s smart to have safety gear, like reflectors, visibility vests, protective glasses, and gloves. It’s also important to dress for the season so you don’t overheat in the summer, freeze in the winter, or get soaked in a spring shower.
- Know how to shift gears. Mistakes like shifting too many gears at once or shifting gears at high speeds can cause your bike chain to derail, sending you flying. Also, keep your gears working properly by cleaning and lubricating them every so often.
- Maintain your e-bike. Regularly testing your e-bike motor temperature and examining your bike chains can reduce the risk of problems, like your motor overheating or chains slipping.
Know how your e-bike works, and take some time to look up state park rules before you get there.
For instance, some e-bikes have throttle-actuated motors that work without cycling. Many parks have rules prohibiting e-bike riders from using the throttle feature for an extended period.
Find the perfect e-bike for your state park adventure at Velotric
The U.S. is full of spectacular state parks waiting to be explored, and one of the best ways to see them is on an e-bike. If you’re ready to start your e-bike adventure, it’s time to take the first step — picking the right bike.
Velotric has premium models to meet all your needs. Our bikes come in high-step or step-through frames and have top-of-the-line hydraulic disc brakes, long-lasting 48V 14.4Ah Underwriters Laboratory (UL2271) certified batteries, and ultra-cushy seats. Additionally, the Discover 1 Step-Thru model is UL 2849 certified, while the Nomad 1 is currently undergoing this certification.
Try cycling through town on the Discover 1. It has a sleek design, a 500/900W rated/peak motor, and can take you up to 65 miles on one charge.
If cycling through harsh terrain is more your thing, the Nomad 1 has fat tires to help you stay balanced, a slightly bigger 750/1,200W rated/peak motor, and will take you up to 55 miles of exciting trails.
Get started with a bike from Velotric today!