Electric bicycles are gaining popularity — and for good reasons. An e-bike can help you build physical strength and reduce stress, all while riding faster and farther, thanks to the help of the bike’s electric motor.
If you’re looking for a place to test your e-bike, Ohio offers plenty of opportunities. The state is home to many e-bike-friendly trails and parks. One of our favorites, the Little Miami Scenic Trail (yes, it’s in Ohio, not Florida), offers 78 miles of fully paved trail — plus connections to off-road trails.
Before you start exploring the state of Ohio on two wheels, it’s important to learn the local government laws. Every state has its own legislation regarding e-bike use, and Ohio is no exception. This guide covers Ohio’s most important e-bike laws.
What’s legally considered an e-bike in Ohio?
Before we get into the details of e-bike laws, let’s clarify what qualifies as an e-bike in Ohio. Different classes of e-bikes have different motor powers and functions, for example, pedal assist versus throttle assist.
Some states, like Pennsylvania, don’t distinguish between e-bike classes. Others, like Ohio, do differentiate e-bike classes. This is important because the rules that apply to one class of e-bike — like where you can ride it — might be different from those that apply to another class of e-bike.
The Buckeye State recognizes three main classes of electric bikes:
- Class 1 e-bikes. These are low-speed e-bikes and have a motor that engages only when you’re pedaling the bike (known as a pedal assist system, PAS). The motor only provides assistance at speeds up to 20 miles per hour (mph). Beyond this, you’ll have to pedal without help.
- Class 2 e-bikes. These have a PAS that can help power the bike forward as long as you aren’t going faster than 20 mph. However, Class 2 e-bikes also have throttle assist. This powers the bike forward even when you aren’t pedaling and works as long as the bike’s maximum speed doesn’t exceed 20 mph.
- Class 3 e-bikes. These don’t have throttle assist, so you’ll always have to pedal when riding to move forward. However, they do have pedal assist, which works at top speeds of up to 28 mph. Ohio requires all Class 3 bicycles to have a speedometer that shows how fast the bike is going.
Finally, to be considered a motorized bicycle (versus, for example, a motorcycle or car), the e-bike must have operable pedals, and its motor can’t have a power of more than 750 watts.
E-bike laws in Ohio
Ohio has some general laws governing e-bike use across the state, such as helmet regulations. Other types of legislation, like where you can ride your bike, might be more specific to the location.
Read on for a quick rundown of essential rules all electric bicyclists in Ohio should know. Note that this information is up to date as of February 2023 but may change over time.
Where are you allowed to ride e-bikes in Ohio?
Ohiostate law allows e-cyclists using Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes to use normal bike paths and shared-use paths (like those designed for both traditional bicycles and pedestrians).
However, this statewide rule doesn’t apply if the local governing authority — such as a county, municipal corporation, township, or parks agency — says otherwise. In short: The local authority’s rule wins out over the state rule.
Class 3 e-bikes are NOT allowed on regular bicycle paths or shared-use paths unless they are adjacent to a highway. Again, the statewide Ohio law doesn’t apply if a local agency, like a township or municipal council, has an alternate rule for the use of e-bikes.
If you want to ride your e-bike on the roadway in Ohio, this isn’t an issue. You can ride E-bikes on the road, but you must obey standard traffic laws and the rules of the road, just like motor vehicles. That means following directions like stop signs, speed limits, and traffic lights.
Are e-bikes allowed on Ohio bike trails and public land?
What about other trails beyond roads and bike lanes, such as hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, or natural surface trails?
Ohio state law bans motorized bicycle use (all classes) on these trails. Again, there is an exception if a local ordinance says otherwise — more on that below.
What class of e-bikes are legal in Ohio?
Ohio allows Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes. However, the rules regulating e-bike usage may vary depending on the bike class.
For example, as mentioned, Ohio state law allows Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on traditional bike paths or shared-use paths. However, Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed on normal bike paths or shared-use paths.
How old do you have to be to ride an e-bike in Ohio?
There are no age restrictions for riding a Class 1 or Class 2 e-bike in Ohio. However, if you want to ride a Class 3 e-bike, Ohio electric bicycle laws require you to be at least 16 years of age. People under 16 can still ride a Class 3 e-bike as a passenger, provided the bike is designed to accommodate more than one person.
Do you need a helmet when riding an e-bike in Ohio?
Ohio doesn’t have any statewide helmet law requirements for people using Class 1 or Class 2 e-bikes. However, local laws may apply. Regardless of your age, helmets are required if you’re on a Class 3 e-bike (either as a cyclist or passenger).
Even if you aren’t required to wear a helmet by law, it’s a good idea to do so. Helmets save lives every year, minimizing the risk of head injuries like traumatic brain injury (TBI). Adults and children alike can benefit from the added protection of a helmet.
Learn more about helmet laws across the U.S. in our comprehensive guide, which also includes tips on how to pick a well-fitting helmet.
Do you need a license to ride an e-bike in Ohio?
No, there’s no need to get a formal driver’s license to ride an e-bike in Ohio. That’s great news for you since it means no waiting in line at the DMV!
You also don’t have to stress about registering your electric bicycle like you would a car or deal with getting e-bike insurance.
That said, e-bike insurance can still be a savvy investment, even if you aren’t obligated to get it. Depending on the type of coverage you get, your e-bike insurance can cover costs like hospital bills and damage to your bike if you’re in an accident.
In the big picture, investing in insurance now can save you money later. The cost of hospital bills after a serious accident can be high, for example. Having coverage can bring peace of mind (and ease the burden on your bank account).
Local ordinances for e-bikes in Ohio
Above, we talked about some more general ordinances for e-bikes in Ohio. However, there might be location-specific rules depending on where you’re cycling. Always check with local governing authorities where you want to ride.
The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great example. Located between Akron and Cleveland, this is a national park (not a state park), so federal rules apply. According to the National Park Service (NPS), e-bikes can be used on the same trails as traditional bikes in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
What you should know before riding your e-bike in Ohio
Ready to start exploring Ohio on an e-bike? We’ve got a few more helpful pointers to make it easier for you. Here are our top tips for Ohio e-cycling:
- Get your bike properly fitted and tuned up. Your e-bike requires regular maintenance to ensure safe riding conditions. Our quick checklist can help you keep it in good working order. Also, make sure your bike is properly fitted to your body when you first get it, adjusting the seat, handlebars, and more.
- Wear weather-appropriate gear. Ohio sees all kinds of weather, from the sun to rain, wind, and snow. Make sure you’re dressed for the season. Also, we recommend wearing safety gear like a helmet, whatever the weather.
- Pick e-bike-friendly places to ride. As mentioned, Ohio generally doesn’t allow e-bikes on natural surface trails like mountain bike trails and equestrian trails. However, some off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails allow e-bikes. Popular options include Hanging Rock OHV Trails (26 miles), Scioto Trail State Park Gravel Route (33 miles), and Superior OHV Trail (17 miles).
Experience a Velotric e-bike in Ohio
A great Ohio bike ride starts with a great bike. Velotric has various options to suit your needs. For urban riding, try the Discover 1. If you want to tackle rougher terrain, a fat-tire bike like the Nomad 1 is preferable.
The Discover 1 has a 500/900 W rated/peak motor and a range of up to 65 miles. Meanwhile, the Nomad 1 has a 750/1,200 W rated/peak motor and a range of up to 55 miles. The Nomad’s range is slightly less because the bike is heavier.
Both the Discover 1 and Nomad 1 come with a 48V 14.4Ah battery, which charges fully in just six hours.
Choose from a high-step or step-through frame, depending on your preferences (learn about the differences). Whichever model you choose, you’ll get a comfortable saddle, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, and a top-quality battery certified by the global safety standards organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL2271).