Minnesota became one of 36 states to sign model electric bicycle legislation into law, so what does it mean?
E-bikes have only become more popular, increasing in sales nationwide by over 100% in recent years, and technology has changed a great deal since BikeMN passed the first e-bike legislation over a decade ago. Together with People for Bikes and Quality Bicycle Products (QBP), BikeMN worked for several years to advocate for updating Chapter 169 e-bike regulations. The efforts update Minnesota statutes to be current and consistent with other states, the current national and international manufacturing standards, and with bicycles that are sold by bike shops state-wide. To put it simply, this update will help clarify where e-bikes can be ridden for small retailers and for customers across Minnesota. These sensible guidelines will support small businesses and help get more people out riding bikes!
Thanks to this update, most e-bikes currently being sold are now regulated like bicycles in Minnesota – the same rules of the road apply to both electric bikes and people-powered bikes. E-bikes are also not subject to the registration, licensing, or insurance requirements that would apply to motor vehicles. Besides these distinctions between e-bicycles, motorcycles, and vehicles, this update also creates a new, three-class system for e-bikes:
- Class 1: A bike with a motor that provide assistance when someone is pedaling, and will only go up to 20mph
- Class 2: A bike without pedal assist, but with a throttle that will only reach 20 mph
- Class 3: A bike with a motor that provides pedal assistance and can reach 28 mph
This success represents an important step toward more accessible, updated, and accurate e-bike regulations for our state! Thank you to People for Bikes, Quality Bicycle Products, and BikeMN’s legislative champions, Senator Scott Dibble and Rep Steve Elkins for helping us get this done for Minnesota.
What’s an e-bike?
Electric bicycles are designed to be as safe as traditional bicycles! Picture a regular bicycle, then add several electrical components to it like a motor, a battery, and a controller – all integrated into the design. These items make up the fundamentals of all electric bicycles on the market! Electric bikes pedal and handle just like a regular bicycle. For the most part, an electric bike will use the same parts too. The electric component is meant to augment human power, not completely replace it. It makes obstacles like hills and headwind more manageable and allows you to travel further without getting as tired.
Where can I ride my e-bike?
LOCAL: Consult your local land management agency. (Different trail systems may restrict all, some, or none of new e-bike classes so check ahead and/or look for signage.)
STATE: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources allow Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles wherever traditional bicycles are allowed.
FEDERAL: The majority of public lands managed for recreation in Minnesota are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, where eMTBs are considered motorized vehicles and have access to motorized trails.
Mountain Bike Trails
On federal, state, county and local trails, e-mountain bike (eMTB) access varies significantly.
- Generally, any natural surface trail that is designated as open to both motorized and non-motorized uses is also open to eMTBs.
- eMTBs may not be allowed on trails managed for non-motorized activities.
- Do not ride your eMTB in areas where the local rules are unclear. Ride legally and only on authorized trails to show that mountain bikers are responsible trail users.
- When in doubt, ask your local land manager about access to specific trails. Local land rules change frequently.
Here are some options:
Cuyuna Lakes Big Tour – Crosby | 20.8 miles
Minnesota River Bottoms – St. Paul | 11.9 miles
CJ Ramstead Trail – Tofte | 42.3 miles
Big Aspen Trails – Virginia | 21 miles