Do electric bikes need to be registered?

You don’t need to register a conventional bike in the USA. You do need to register other modes of transport such as your cars, trucks, motorcycles or boats.  And as with conventional pedal powered bikes, most electric bikes do not need to be registered either. However some types of e bike do require registration by law and there are some good reasons why you should want to register your electric bike for your own benefit anyway. Phew,all  this sounds confusing, so let’s check out when do electric bikes need to be registered and find out whether this is something you should consider doing if you own an ebike.

First up, which classifications of electric bike need to be registered?

You do not need to register class 1, 2 or 3 ebikes in order to ride them on the road but the classifications can be confusing.

Ebikes are still relatively new on the scene and when they first came on the market nobody really knew whether they should be classified as motor vehicles or should be treated as conventional bikes. This raised difficult questions such as should an ebike be allowed to ride in bike lanes or national parks and whether or not there should be speed restrictions.

We would like to report that this has all been sorted out now but in truth, legislation is still ongoing. Local regulations on ebikes vary and manufacturers are always developing new models so it can be confusing. However,  today the lawmakers in most states have decided on three ebike classifications as standard.

Let’s take a look at the classifications.

  • Class 1 ebikes. These are limited to 20 miles an hour. This type of ebike has an electric motor that is only activated when pedalling. If there is a throttle on the handlebars this will only work when you are pedalling. The good news is that you don’t need to pedal very hard to activate the motor.
  • Class 2 ebikes.As with class one, these are also limited to 20 miles an hour but the throttle will work when you decide not to pedal. You can assist the throttle by pedalling but it is not a requirement for hitting your top speeds.

All Hovsco bikes are classified as class 2 ebikes which can be upgraded to class 3 legislation of faster speeds by the use of the app. This means they can comply with class 2 legislation which is less complicated than class 3 but this can be overridden by the app should you wish to travel faster.

  • Class 3 ebikes.These have a faster speed of 28 miles an hour. This classification can be complicated. Some states require that the ebike can only travel 20 miles when assisted by the motor. Other states accept the 28 mph ruling but ban class 3 ebikes from off road trails. In truth this classification is still a grey area that is often abused by ebike riders and the manufacturers who produce ebikes that can travel far faster than the legal maximum.

The good news is that all three classifications of e bike do not require registration. However if your ebike does not fit into these three classes then you will need to register your ebike, have a valid driving license and insure your ebike to make it  street legal.

Some ebikes on the market have speeds of 60 mph so it certainly makes sense that these non classified bikes are treated as motorised vehicles for the general safety of the public as well as the individual rider. However if you have a modified ebike for use on private land only , you will not need to register it as this only applies to public use on the roads.


Do electric bikes need to be registered for security reasons?

You should definitely register your ebike if you care about security. Registering your ebike with your manufacturer validates the warranty so as with reputable ebike retailers such as Hovsco, this is something you should do at the point of sale.

In addition, registering your ebike with the manufacturer gives you a record of all the specific details such as your ebike’s serial number. If your ebike is stolen or damaged in an accident, this information can be accessed by the police and by your insurance company should you need to claim. If your ebike is expensive , the proof of your exact purchase will make your insurance claim far easier to process.

It is a good idea to register your ebike as soon as possible. Once you have completed this information, you know that your ebike’s details are recorded so if your ebike gets stolen, the police should be able to identify it more easily.

Registering your ebike with the Bike Index

The Bike Index is a non profit registry that it is certainly worth signing up for. This is a global registry of bikes that enables anyone to register their ebike for free and so far the Bike Index has recovered nearly $23 million worth of stolen bikes. This means that it is certainly worth doing.

The Bike Index is used and supported by all Police departments and has led to the recovery of millions worth of dollars of bikes. If you report your ebike as stolen, the police will be able to access all the details including the brand and model number, description and serial number via the Bike Index rather than you having to remember all the details yourself.

One of the unusual aspects of the Bike Index is that the database is freely available to everyone so anyone can use it to find and to return stolen ebikes.

Signing up to the Bike Index is easy. You just open a free account and submit all your ebike details and then you are good to go. Here at Hovsco we fully support the Bike Index and recommend this service to all out customers.

As an additional deterrent to would be ebike thieves, you can also buy inexpensive stickers for your ebike,  sending a message that your particular ebike belongs to you and is registered.

Using the Bike Index to check out a second hand ebike

If you are registered with the Bike Index, you can use the data base to check out the history of any second hand bike you may be interested in buying. Most ebikes that are stolen are sold via the second hand market so using the data base will highlight whether or not you are inadvertently about to buy stolen property.

In addition the Bike Index is held by most second hand ebike shops and pawn shops that can contact you and hold your ebike until you come to collect it.

So do electric bikes need to be registered?

There is nothing stopping you from buying an ebike and riding it without any sort of registration if it is road legal. However for your own security and peace of mind, we recommend that you register your ebike twice; once with the manufacturer in order to benefit from the manufacturer’s warranty and to help with any future insurance claims, and with the Bike Index as well.

Ebike theft is sadly very common. If your ebike is unregistered and stolen, there is zero chance of recovering it and claiming from the insurance without these specific details.

In addition, the thief could actually register your ebike in his own name thus claiming ownership over your property.

Register your ebike as soon as possible

Registering your ebike is easy and does not take much time. So don’t put off this necessary job until later. The best time to register your ebike is as as soon as you take ownership.  That way you know that if the worst happens and your ebike is stolen, you have every chance of getting it back!  


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