Oregon is known for many natural wonders, from the picturesque Painted Hills to jaw-dropping Mount Hood. If you’re looking for a fun and practical way to explore all the state has to offer, an electric bicycle is a great choice.
With an e-bike, you can ride faster and farther, thanks to the help of the electric motor. Electric bikes also have other benefits, like being good for the environment and saving you money on gas.
Are you ready to explore Oregon on two wheels? Before you pedal off, take a minute to learn about Oregon e-bike laws. We’ll tell you what you need to know below.
What’s legally considered an e-bike in Oregon?
Electric-assisted bicycles are categorized into classes based on factors such as the motor’s maximum power output, the top speeds they can reach, and functionality.
For example, all e-bikes have a pedal assist system, which helps propel the bike forward when pedaling. However, not all have throttle assist, which propels the bike forward even when you aren’t pedaling.
There are general industrywide classifications of e-bike categories. That said, many states have their own legal classifications of what’s considered an e-bike. Oregon is no exception.
Under Oregon Vehicle Code (ORS 801.258), a vehicle qualifies as an electric bicycle if it has no more than three wheels, has a seat or saddle for the rider (unlike a scooter), and has fully operable pedals (unlike a motorcycle or moped, for example).
Additionally, an e-bike motor’s power output can’t be more than 1,000 watts. Plus, the motor can’t propel the bike at speeds of more than 20 miles per hour (mph) on level ground. That doesn’t mean you can’t go faster than 20 mph — just that the motor alone (aka throttle assist) can’t be used to power the bike faster than 20 mph.
Beyond this general definition, Oregon authorities provide definitions for three classes of e-bikes:
- Class 1. Class 1 e-bikes only have pedal assist but no throttle assist. The motor only works at speeds up to 20 mph.
- Class 2. Class 2 e-bikes have both pedal assist and throttle assist. Like Class 1 e-bikes, the motor only works at speeds of up to 20 mph (and then ceases operation, no longer providing support).
- Class 3. Class 3 e-bikes have pedal assist but no throttle assist functionality. The motor provides support for maximum speeds of up to 28 mph, making these e-bikes a little faster than the low-speed Class 1 and Class 2 models.
E-bike laws in Oregon
Now that we’ve established what’s considered an e-bike in Oregon, let’s talk about e-bike laws. Below, we outline some key legislation electric bicyclists should know in Oregon. This information applies as of February 2023 but can change.
Where are you allowed to ride e-bikes in Oregon?
Oregon allows cyclists to use e-bikes on bike paths but not on sidewalks. E-bikes are also allowed on roads open to motorized vehicles. However, you have to obey the rules of roads (like traffic lights and stop signs).
Are e-bikes allowed on Oregon bike trails and public land?
When it comes to trails, where you can ride depends on the governing authority. Oregon state parks have their own rules from federally governed lands, for instance.
For example, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department allows Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on trails that are 8 feet or wider. However, e-bikes aren’t allowed on mountain bike (MTB) trails.
Federally governed parks have their own rules. For instance, the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has specifications for e-biking on BLM-managed lands in Oregon. According to the BLM, e-bikes are allowed on any trails or roads that allow motorized vehicles.
What class of e-bikes are legal in Oregon?
Why do e-bike classes matter? Depending on the class, the laws surrounding e-bike use can vary — like where you ride the e-bike and whether you have to wear a helmet.
In Oregon, three classes of e-bikes are allowed: Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, as described above. Note that these classifications are unique to Oregon. Other states may have their own definitions for each e-bike class.
For example, in New York, a Class 3 e-bike can’t go faster than 25 mph, which is different from the 28-mph industry standard.
How old do you have to be to ride an e-bike in Oregon?
Oregon law requires you to be at least 16 years of age to ride an e-bike. The state is looking to take a tougher stance on underage e-bike cycling and even fine people who cycle without meeting the age minimum.
Do you need a helmet when riding an e-bike in Oregon?
Oregon doesn’t require e-bike cyclists to wear a helmet. However, we strongly recommend wearing a helmet. Helmets can help protect against serious trauma, like brain injuries, in a crash.
Learn what to look for in a helmet in our state-by-state helmet law guide. It also includes tips for making sure your helmet fits properly, providing maximum protection.
Is there a speed limit or restriction on motor power for e-bikes in Oregon?
Under Oregon state law, an electric bicycle can’t have a motor with a power output of more than 1,000 watts. An e-bike motor also can’t propel the bike independently (without the cyclist pedaling — aka throttle assist) at speeds of more than 20 mph.
Do you need a license, insurance, or registration to ride an e-bike in Oregon?
Good news: There’s no need to get a driver’s license for an e-bike. Oregon also doesn’t have any registration requirements for electric bicycles.
You also don’t need to get insurance for an e-bike. However, e-bike insurance can be a smart investment. Depending on the policy and coverage details, insurance can cover everything from e-bike repairs to medical expenses following an accident.
Local ordinances for e-bikes in Oregon
The above content covers basic e-bike laws that apply across the state of Oregon. However, be aware that local ordinances may differ from general regulations. It’s always worth checking your area’s laws before you ride.
If you’re in an urban space, consult your local police department or DMV. Some cities or counties also have publicly available ordinances.
For example, the city of Eugene, Oregon, has its own guidelines. Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes aren’t allowed on side paths in the Whilamut Natural Area or East Alton Baker Park if the electric motor is on. Also, you can’t use Class 3 e-bikes on any shared-use paths.
Oregon is best explored with a Velotric e-bike
Familiarizing yourself with Oregon e-bike laws can keep you safe when cycling in the state and help you avoid pesky tickets and fines. Besides knowing Oregon e-bike laws, you need one other thing: an e-bike!
Velotric’s e-bikes offer a model for every kind of cyclist. If you’re looking for an urban bike for commuting to work, try the Discover 1. If you want to go off-road and explore the great outdoors, opt for the fat tire Nomad 1.
Velotric’s bike frames have been rigorously tested and come with a quality lithium-ion battery certified by the global safety standards organization Underwriters Laboratories (UL 2271). Discover 1 Step-Thru is also UL 2849 certified, while Nomad 1 is currently undergoing certification.
The Discover 1 and Nomad 1 come in a high-step or step-through frame, so you can choose the option that fits your body and riding style. Plus, each bike gets useful extras like fenders, reflectors, and lights.
Ready to try a Velotric bike? We’re connected to retailers across the country. Find a bike shop near you.