South Carolina is a beautiful place to ride a bike in. First time visitors and longtime residents enjoy strolling around, having solo or group rides, and conquering exciting trails in South Carolina. While regular bicycles are fun to play with, electric bicycles are also paving the way for a new bicycling experience.
E-bike regulation and legislation in South Carolina is not as clear as the other states. The state is behind others who have already updated their e-bike laws to match federal standards. Here’s what you need to know about the e-bike laws in South Carolina.
In 2020, the law on motor vehicles was updated to finally give e-bikes their own definition. An “Electric-assist bicycle” and a “bicycle with helper motors” is defined as a low-powered electrically assisted bicycle having:
All bicyclists that operate an e-bike are subject to rights and must hold responsibilities applicable to bicyclists. E-bikes do not need to be registered. You don’t have to bring a license when riding. Insurance is not required. Since an e-bike is considered a vehicle, you have to follow the rules of the road.
The legal definition does not include e-bikes with motors that exceed 750 watts. This means that your e-bike may fall under another vehicle category depending on how powerful it is.
If the electric motor is between 750 watts - 1500 watts, the e-bike falls under the moped category. Mopeds are subject to registration, and the rider needs a license to operate one. Insurance for mopeds are not required, and having a title depends on your choice.
If the electric motor exceeds 1500 watts, your e-bike is now considered a motorcycle. Motorcycles require registration, liability insurance, and a motorcycle license.
Here’s a quick summary for e-bikes that fall under the legal definition:
South Carolina, along with 43 other states and the District of Columbia, define electric bicycles in some manner. The rest lack specific e-bike definitions and usually place it under categories like mopeds or motorized vehicles. A total of 26 states use a three-tier classification in defining e-bikes. South Carolina does not.
South Carolina, along with 23 other states, does not implement helmet laws for e-bike operators and passengers.
Here are important reminders to stay safe while enjoying a fun e-bike ride:
You may watch this video from Global Cycling Network to learn more about what to do in the event of a crash.
South Carolina is an amazing place to be in, especially with an e-bike. The legal definition of e-bikes in SC covers those with motors that do not exceed 750 watts. Higher-powered e-bikes may fall under mopeds or motorcycle categories. E-bikes are regulated like bicycles and they hold the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities.
It is essential to remember the do’s and don'ts’ in bicycling. The safety reminders will ensure that you are safe from the moment you take your bike outside to the time you arrive home. Remember to always have fun and be responsible on the road!