Choosing an E-Bike Class 1 versus Class 3?

DRH24

New Member
Region
USA
Recently retired, mid-60’s and looking to purchase an electric bike with the objective to ride on trails (e.g. D&L Trails in Pennslyvania) versus on the streets with cars. No interest in downhill mountain bike riding. I have not rode a bike in over 20 years and looking for an alternative for exercise versus walking. I was deciding between a couple of TREK Bikes. The Verve +3 Lowstep and the Allant +7S Stagger. They both appear to be easier getting on and off the bike versus the traditional frame. The challenge is finding bikes in inventory to test ride. I did get an opportunity to find a Verve 2 analog bike and the Allant +7S bike to test ride only. Surprising the Allant +7S appeared to be more comfortable and I had more control with steering the bike on the short test ride versus the more upright Verve 2 non-electric bike.

I’m leaning toward the Allant +7S but then went down the rabbit hole to learn that Class 3 Electric Bikes are restricted on park and off-road trails in most States including my home state, Pennsylvania and vacation spot of Maine. Class 1 and Class 2 bikes appear to be allowed in most place in these states as long as you are observing the speed limits. I assume the laws for Class 3 Electric are relaxed if you are riding at a safe speed and a respective manner. The other alternative I could consider is the Allant +7 Lowstep (Class 1). The difference between the Allant +7 Lowstep Class 1 and the Allant +7 S Class 3 is the motor and brakes. The Class 1 has a Bosch Performance “CX" motor and the Allant +7 S (Class 3) has a “Bosch Performance "Speed” motor.

Looking for view points on the following:

1. Based on my objective to ride on safe trails (20 to 25 miles) and that fact that I have been away from bike riding for a while which bike would you recommend between the Verve +3 Lowstep and Allant +7?
2. Technology wise what is the difference between Bosch Performance “Speed” Motor and the Bosch Performance “CX” motor?
3. Lastly and probably the more difficult question to answer is how concern should I be purchasing a Class 3 bike and then find out that I’m not allowed on the trails? Based on your experience are your bikes checked if you are riding in a safe and respectful manner?

Thanking you all in advance for any help you can provide.
 

Dewey

Well-Known Member
If you're concerned about the liability of riding a Class 3 where not permitted, but you like the Trek Allant +7S, you're right to look at the Class 1 Trek Allant +7 model, the Bosch CX motor is well regarded for trail use due to its power (85nm) and quick response to pedal input. Posting on the Bosch forum you'll find people who can advise on the differences between the two motors. Here's a thread on the Trek forum discussing the Trek Allant +7
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Welcome to the forum!

I'm in Northeast PA as well and just rode the D&L and D&H trails in PA this past Tuesday. Technically, class 3 bikes aren't permitted on these trails but enforcement is all but non existent. If you ride sensibly, no one will bother you. IMO, since higher speeds on trails aren't as important as on roads, a class 3 bike may not be necessary. You are wise however in doing research on e-bike laws. As more and more hit the streets & trails, law enforcement may become more common.

The best advice I can offer is to TEST RIDE the bikes you are looking at. I know it can be a challenge these days to find bikes to test. In my case, I took an extended 3 state road trip to find bike shops with rideable stock. The best bike is the one you like and the one that fits your own needs & preferences. Keep in mind that tires, handlebars, fenders, saddles and seat posts are all easily swapped to suit your needs.

Again, welcome and good luck with your quest!
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Read this thread: https://electricbikereview.com/foru...cp-bans-all-ebikes-on-local-rail-trail.27968/
Also several other threads under that forum about Pennsylvania. As a senior you won't attract much notice, but if you ride through a crackdown on a local youth gang on e-bikes, they legally should confiscate your bike, too. I got picked up by police often walking when I'm was in a bad neighborhood, or midnight to 6 AM. I worked 3rd shift, & walked to work. PA stop takes about 40 minutes to get my name searched through various crime databases.
Enough noise from up there I've crossed off PA from my list of vacation spots.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

DRH24

New Member
Region
USA
If you're concerned about the liability of riding a Class 3 where not permitted, but you like the Trek Allant +7S, you're right to look at the Class 1 Trek Allant +7 model, the Bosch CX motor is well regarded for trail use due to its power (85nm) and quick response to pedal input. Posting on the Bosch forum you'll find people who can advise on the differences between the two motors. Here's a thread on the Trek forum discussing the Trek Allant +7
Thank you for the quick reply and references to the other postings. This is a generous community with sharing information and I admire the passion of Dallant with sharing all his Trek Bicycling experiences. Thanks again!
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
If you do a search, you can read for days on this forum about Class 3 vs Class 1. I've been riding two different class 3 Haibikes for 4 and 5 years. I ring a bell and coast around walkers on the multi-use trails here, never had an issue
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
PA is a little behind the times. They had a 3 class law up for debate last year but it died in committee. I think its a relative certainty that PA will pass the 3 class model legislation at some point, but I couldn't say when (and even once passed the various non-road paths will have to independently decide what they want to allow, depending on who actually manages them).
 

DRH24

New Member
Region
USA
Welcome to the forum!

I'm in Northeast PA as well and just rode the D&L and D&H trails in PA this past Tuesday. Technically, class 3 bikes aren't permitted on these trails but enforcement is all but non existent. If you ride sensibly, no one will bother you. IMO, since higher speeds on trails aren't as important as on roads, a class 3 bike may not be necessary. You are wise however in doing research on e-bike laws. As more and more hit the streets & trails, law enforcement may become more common.

The best advice I can offer is to TEST RIDE the bikes you are looking at. I know it can be a challenge these days to find bikes to test. In my case, I took an extended 3 state road trip to find bike shops with rideable stock. The best bike is the one you like and the one that fits your own needs & preferences. Keep in mind that tires, handlebars, fenders, saddles and seat posts are all easily swapped to suit your needs.

Again, welcome and good luck with your quest!
Thank you for the warm welcome. Much appreciated. I have expanded my search across 5 states without much luck. I’m thinking the Class 1 Trek Allant +7 may be the best choice for me. The wildcard is that I may be able to purchase a Class 3 Trek Allant +7 S before winter as opposed to ordering a bike today that may be received in early Spring of 2022. If that is possible, then my decision is tougher. Certainly now better understand the uncertainty and risk of not always being able to use a Class 3 bike on a trail. Thanks again and all the best.
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
We have two Allant 8s. We've found by experience in our area, rural, with some steep curvy roads, that speeds above about 20mph are not our cup of tea so to speak, so the speed motor is wasted on us. Worse, all the upgrades have gone to the CX Drive Unit. If I had a chance at a do over, I probably would not get a speed DU again. But we were in a situation last spring similar to you. Only the 8s was available in our area - NH and eastern MA.

Regarding Class 3 on trails, do you really think anyone is looking if you're driving sanely? Would they even know what to look for? Doubt it. Saying that, we haven't ridden a biked trail yet. We have too many beautiful rides on the rural roads in this area and the drivers are very tolerant of bike riders.
 

Sparky731

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Madison, WI
If you ride responsibly on trails, there should be no concern re: class 1, 2 or 3. I sold my Verve+3 and bought an Allant+ 7s. There are times you may want to ride >20mph. I am 70 yrs young and love the extra speed when needed, and also really appreciate the front suspension. Be aware that high speeds will suck electrons much faster, but at lower speeds the Allant 7s Speed motor is more efficient than the Verve 3 Active Plus motor.
Either way, buy an ebike and start enjoying the ride!
 

Bikeknit

New Member
Region
USA
City
Kansas City
It seems to me there are 2 issues with riding a class 3 bike where it is prohibited. First, will you be stopped, potentially ticketed, or even have your bike confiscated? Sounds like this varies by area and how many people are abusing things. But the second is liability. If you are in an accident and riding a prohibited bike, I suspect your liability will be higher.

Some bike shops might be willing to order a bike without requiring you to buy it if they feel they won't have problems selling it should you not like it.
 

retiredNH

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
It seems to me there are 2 issues with riding a class 3 bike where it is prohibited. First, will you be stopped, potentially ticketed, or even have your bike confiscated? Sounds like this varies by area and how many people are abusing things. But the second is liability. If you are in an accident and riding a prohibited bike, I suspect your liability will be higher.

Some bike shops might be willing to order a bike without requiring you to buy it if they feel they won't have problems selling it should you not like it.
"Confiscated"? You really think that? For violating an administrative policy that probably doesn't have the full force of law behind it? I don't think so.

Liability? Your knowledge of law must be rather limited. The issue is whether one was negligent in harming someone else. The class of bike will enter into the discussion about as much as your car's horsepower enters into liability in an auto accident.

Seems to me that with this topic, it's too easy to get creative and imagine all sorts of problems that won't arise in real life. I've been much more interested in hearing about real life incidents, where someone was riding a class 3 where they weren't allowed, and something happened. I'm still listening, but not hearing anything. I have no doubts that we'll hear of stories where someone got pinched, but where that person was riding at full power, full speed on a crowded bike path, using the worst judgment imaginable.
 

jabberwocky

Well-Known Member
I know of a few cases near me where people were ticketed for trespassing for riding non-compliant ebikes on dirt trails. I believe confiscation was threatened. There is some case law behind this (authorities often have the ability to confiscate unregistered vehicles when operated where they aren't permitted; usually this is wielded against dirt bike riders and ATVs but I wouldn't be surprised to see some jurisdiction try it on ebikes at some point).

Liability isn't as outlandish as you think. If you're riding a class 3 in a place where it isn't allowed, hit someone and they sue, I would be unsurprised to see that brought up in court.

Generally I agree that if you're riding at normal speeds and not being a dick you'll likely be fine, but that probably varies quite a bit depending on exactly what trail you want to ride.
 

RunForTheHills

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
All politics are local to quote Tip O'Neill. New York City has confiscated ebikes in the past, although they are getting more friendly to them. I don't think that police departments in most rural areas would want to deal with that. I can't see this being anything but a citation if it is enforced most of the time and if they were to start confiscating bikes they will certainly publicize the policy in advance as a deterrent.

The way I see it, the risk is that there is a small chance that in the future the bike may become unusable in your area if enforcement policies change. You would then have to sell the bike to someone in a different area and buy a new one.

I am not an attorney and I don't have much insight into legal liability, but most lawsuits are about the money. If you have insurance, they will be going after the insurance companies with deep pockets whether or not your bike is a class 1 or class 3. And the insurance companies have a tendency to settle these cases for a few thousand dollars rather than spend the money to fight them. Your auto or homeowners insurance may cover your liability in a cycling accident if you don't have specific cycling insurance.
 

TrailSeeker

Active Member
Region
USA
Followup Question: if you want to do trails at a state park that has a gate or requires a permit, do they inspect your ebikes first for compliance?
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Followup Question: if you want to do trails at a state park that has a gate or requires a permit, do they inspect your ebikes first for compliance?
With all the trail riding I do, I've seen this happen only twice. The first time was in 2019 on the Heritage Trail near New Freedom. PA. A park ranger with his marked vehicle, was checking bikes as riders were unloading in the parking area. I believe the e-bike laws have been changed there since then to allow class 1 only. Member @J.R. could verify this.

The second time was in 2018 on the C&O Canal Towpath trail in Hancock MD. A National Park Ranger was checking bikes being unloaded at the parking area near the boat ramp. The NPS now allows e-bikes on most trails but the regulations can be modified by individual park superintendents. It's always best to check before driving any distance to ride in a national park.

In both cases, I didn't see anyone turned away while I was present. Again, these occurrences are rare and, in my case anyway, happen in perhaps 2% of the places I ride.
 

TrailSeeker

Active Member
Region
USA
Thanks @6zfshdb . I know it's not ideal to use a trail with a class 3 that limits usage to a class 1, but having just bought my first ebike - I can't afford to buy another one that's a class 1 lol.

I guess asking is best. I'll do my best to follow the rules, but I'm very cautious so hopefully I never get in trouble for it.

I want to do some trails like @Dallant did out west 🙂
 

TrevorB

Active Member
If you want to do +20mph offroad you'll going need a full suspension eMTB. Hardtail is fine downhill at high speeds as you can stand up, but forget about pedaling sitting down on offroad trails at these speeds even with suspension seat post.
 

Sparky731

Active Member
Region
USA
City
Madison, WI
Wisconsin requires annual trail passes on State trails. I have been checked by a Ranger, but only for the pass. They had no interest in type or class of bike.