A license to ride an electric motorcycle is required for all types of electric vehicles. However, the term for what classifies as an electric motorcycle varies from state to state and country to country.
For instance, the term electric motorcycle can refer to a wide range of two-wheeled electric vehicles, such as large street-legal electric motorcycles, commercial electric scooters, and mopeds.
Meanwhile, sometimes an e-bike is referred to as an electric motorcycle, and an electric motorcycle is also commonly referred to as an electric motorbike, so this category could also include electric bicycles.
The term also doesn’t specify whether electric motorcycles also include one and three-wheeled electric vehicles, which can also have higher speeds, more horsepower, and other features.
Therefore, the best way to determine if you need a license to drive your electric vehicle is to learn what differentiates between an electric motorcycle and an e-bike, etc., in your area.
In this Guide:
- What License Do I Need for an Electric Motorcycle?
- What Electric Motorcycle Models Can I Ride Without a License?
What License Do I Need for an Electric Motorcycle?
A motorcycle license is required to drive any vehicle classified as an electric motorcycle. However, the type of license you need will depend on the vehicle.
A motorcycle license is a permit that allows you to use and operate a motorbike, which distinguishes it from a driver’s license or any other type of motor vehicle license.
There are three main types of motorcycle licenses: a Class M1 license, a Class M2 license, and a Class C license.
A Class M1 motorcycle license allows you to drive any type of motorcycle, including traditional motorcycles, electric motorcycles, electric mopeds, and electric scooters that are capable of speeds of more than 30 mph.
A Class M2 license, on the other hand, only allows you to operate motorized bikes that do not exceed more than 30mph, which is ideal for simply cruising the streets on your bike.
And then, there is the Class C license, which you will need if your electric motorcycle is attached to a sidecar or has three wheels.
What Electric Motorcycle Models Can I Ride Without a License?
The first step to determining which electric motorcycles you can ride without a license is to learn whether your particular vehicle classifies as an electric motorcycle in your country or state.
If your vehicle classifies as an electric motorcycle under your area’s guidelines and rules, you cannot operate it without a Class M1 license, a Class M2 license, a Class C license, or another motorcycle license.
On the other hand, if you have an electric bike, then you may not need a license to operate it, providing it meets the rules for a regular bike.
In most countries and states, whether you can operate an electric bicycle without a license mainly depends on its class, which is ultimately determined by its horsepower and speed.
Class 1 electric bikes, known as pedal-assist bikes, have an electric motor that only works when the user is pedaling. It’s also only capable of reaching a speed of 20mph.
Class 2 e-bikes can be propelled without the user’s pedal-assistance, using a throttle. However, the user can still pedal the bike when the throttle is engaged. It is also only capable of reaching a speed of 20 mph.
And then class 3 electric bikes are equipped with powerful motors of up to 1,000 watts, so they are well capable of reaching a speed of 28 mph.
An electric bike is generally defined as a two or three-wheeled bike with an electric motor whose power is less than 750 watts. It also must not exceed 20 mph when powered solely by the motor, and the pedals must also be fully operable.
However, e-bikes that are powered by both the motor and your own strength can have a speed of up to 28mph.
Therefore, class 1 and class 2 electric bikes most often do not require a license to operate them because they can safely be used on paths where regular bikes go.
On the other hand, in some countries and states, class 3 e-bikes are considered motorized bikes, so they may require a license to operate and ride on an electric motorbike.
Overall, since there is no standard definition of what an electric motorcycle is, each government or state determines and applies different rules and regulations for electric two-wheeled bicycles, which affects whether or not an e-bike or electric motorcycle requires licensing to ride.
However, the main determining factor tends to be the bike’s speed. And once it crosses over into higher speeds, it is considered a motorized bike, in which case it will typically require a license to operate it.
For instance, if your e-bike has enough speed to keep up with motorcycles and mopeds, it’s mostly likely classified as a motorized bike, in which case it will require a license to ride.
The bike’s motor power, which also affects the speed, also plays a role in its classification. For instance, in most countries and states, an electric bike with a motor that exceeds 200 to 500 watts requires licensing.
Many countries and states also tend to classify electric bikes based on the amount of motor assistance they provide. For instance, though Class 2 e-bike motors have a maximum speed limit of 20mph, which qualifies them as an e-bike in many places, in other places, they are considered motorized bikes because they are propelled solely by the motor.
Hence, in the end, to know your bike’s classification and what license you need for an electric motorbike, you can simply visit your local area’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and they will be able to discuss what laws govern your particular motorbike and answer any other questions you may have about licensing and riding regulations.