Virginia E-bike Laws

Last Edited
November 8, 2021

Virginia E-bike Laws

Christian Angelo 10-14-21

E-bikes are gaining popularity in recent years. You may even have one already. E-bikes look like regular bikes except for the additional electrical components. An e-bike is integrated with a battery, electric motor, a display, controller, sensor, and the throttle. E-bikes are helpful devices that allow riders to carry heavy loads, climb hills, commute faster and further, and enjoy a new bicycling experience.

With over 20 bicycle paths and routes statewide, Virginia is one of the best states to ride your bike on. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert, because everyone can have fun! If you’re planning to take your electric bicycle ride in Virginia, you have to be aware of the e-bike laws. In this article, you’ll learn the most important ones.

Key points

  • Virginia regulates electric bicycles the same as bicycles.
  • Virginia uses the three-tier classification system for defining electric bicycles.
  • Both e-bikes and human-powered bikes are subject to the same rules of the road
  • There are no registration, license, or insurance requirements for electric bicycles, ulike motor vehicles.
  • The local authority may regulate or prohibit the operation of e-bikes on roads under its own jurisdiction.
  • Always check the local rules and regulations to avoid confusion.
  • The age requirement for operating a class 3 electric bicycle is 14 years old.
  • All riders and passengers of class 3 electric bicycles are required to wear a helmet.

E-bike Classes, definitions, and regulations

Class 1 electric bike

A class 1 e-bike is defined as a bicycle that is equipped with an electric motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling. This is also known as “pedelec” or pedal-assist. The top assisted speed that the e-bike can reach is 20 miles per hour. When this speed limit is reached, the electric assistance cannot be activated. 

You can use class 1 e-bikes on all roads that allow traditional motorized vehicles. Class 1 e-bikes usually fall under the category of non-motorized vehicles in many places, thus, they are allowed on almost all greenways, and trails. You can also use a class 1 e-bike in National Parks where regular bicycles are allowed. 

Electric mountain biking laws may be different, so you need to check on local park laws. Only class 1 electric mountain bikes are allowed on any mountain biking trails. When it comes to the National Forest, e-bikes are prohibited on trails that are designated for non-motorized activities. In the State Forest, only class 1 e-bikes can be ridden on all mountain biking trails.

Private property jurisdiction is held by the landowner. For example, In Massanutten Western Slopes, class 1 electric mountain bicycles are legalized and can be ridden. This is one of the best places to have fun with your eMTB! 

Class 2 electric bike

A class 2 e-bike is defined as a bicycle with a throttle-activated motor that provides assistance even when the rider is not pedaling. The throttle mode works just like in a motorcycle. The assistance cannot be used when the bike reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour.

Just like class 1 e-bikes, class 2 can be used on all roads that allow motorized vehicles. You can also enjoy your class 2 on most greenways and trails. You can ride it in National Parks as well.

Class 3 electric bike

A class 3 e-bike is similarly defined like a class 1 e-bike. The electric assist can only be activated when the rider is pedaling. The main difference is that the top assisted speed. Among the three classes, class 3 has the fastest one - 28 miles per hour. 

The minimum age requirement in order to operate a class 3 is 14 years old. Anyone who is riding a class 3, whether as an operator or a passenger, must wear a helmet.

Class 3 e-bikes are generally allowed on roads that allow motorized vehicles. Regulations vary in greenways or trails. That is why it’s important to conduct local inquiry before riding. Class 3 e-bikes can be ridden in National Parks where traditional bikes are legal to be used.

Important e-bike laws

  • E-bike riders enjoy the same rights that are given to traditional bike riders.
  • E-bike operators must also adhere to the responsibilities of a bicycle operator.
  • E-bike is a vehicle defined to the same extent as bicycles.
  • E-bikes are not subject to license, registration, and insurance requirements.
  • All e-bike manufacturers and distributors must permanently affix a label indicating the class number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage.
  • All e-bikes must pass the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 
  • A speedometer, which displays speed in miles per hour, must be equipped on all class 3 e-bikes.
  • If a modification in the electric assist capability, or motor wattage is done, the label must be replaced to show accurate and updated information.
  • All electric bicycles must be fully functional in the sense that the electric motor ceases when certain conditions are met i.e. the rider stops pedaling, or the brakes are applied.
  • The state agency or local authority may regulate or prohibit the use of e-bikes on paths, trails, or properties under its own jurisdiction.
  • E-bikes are generally prohibited on trails that are designated for non motorized activities.
  • Class 3 e-bike operators or passengers must equip a fully approved bicycle helmet.
  • All bicycles must have visible front and rear lights at night.
  • A rear red reflector is also required at night.

Comparison with other states

In the United States, 44 states and the District of Columbia define an electric bicycle in some manner. Virginia is one of the states. Virginia also uses the three-tier classification system, just like 25 other states. 


The growing popularity of electric bicycles can be linked to the new bicycling experience that e-bikes offer. The state of Virginia allows all types of bicyclists to enjoy its over 20 paths statewide. There are three e-bike classes in Virginia. 

Always remember to be responsible when using your e-bike. Obey the law at all times, and do not forget to enjoy!

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