CrossCurrent (& S-pedelec's in general) Legality


I have a question on speed pedelec legality - in my state (Minnesota) there is a law defining what an electric-assisted bicycle is and here is an excerpt from Subdivision 27:
"(ii) is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour, (iii) is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the vehicle at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour,"

Subd. 45.
Motorized bicycle.

"Motorized bicycle" means a bicycle that is propelled by an electric or a liquid fuel motor of a piston displacement capacity of 50 cubic centimeters or less, and a maximum of two brake horsepower, which is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 30 miles per hour on a flat surface with not more than one percent grade in any direction when the motor is engaged. "Motorized bicycle" includes does not include an electric-assisted bicycle as defined in subdivision 27.

Does this mean that 28-mph speed pedelecs would be classified as a motorized bicycle since they exceed the 20 mph limit and would therefore not be allowed onto any bicycle trails? Just curious since that could have implications regarding the legality as outlined on the JuicedRiders website:

"Speed Pedelec: 28mph Top Speed
It all starts with the new classification of e-bikes. While traditional e-bikes are limited to 20mph, Speed Pedelecs or S-pedelecs can go up to 28mph using pedal torque-sensing technology.
Fully Street-Legal
This type of e-bike is street legal and can be used on bike paths and bike lanes. Additionally no license, insurance or registration is needed as it is not considered a "motor vehicle" by law."

Jack Tyler

Active Member
@Ian this is an easy issue about which to ask questions but the devil is in the details. I'm not one of the EBR experts on this topic but here's my best shot at answering your question.

First, your MN sate law: The first part is pretty common. For many states, an ebike is 'just a bike' so long as it can't propel itself - absent rider input - more than 20 mph. MN has chosen to also establish another class of 'bike' which can propel the rider - no mention is made of rider input - up to 30 mph, which they call 'motorized bicycle. Let's presume that class is equivalent to the 'speed pedelec' category which Juiced is speaking about.

Now comes the vague, gooey stuff. You're asking if the CC, as a speed pedelec, "would therefore not be allowed onto any bicycle trails? " Well, who's trails are we talking about? A private organization (e.g. the Gallatin Valley Land Trust in my town of Bozeman, MT), a city, a state forest administrator, a USFS District Ranger (and I'll spare you the rest) might have legal responsibility for & authority over a given trail, and access rules have likely been established for it. Also, keep in mind that 'bicycle trails' might actually mean, in part, multiple use trails intended for bikes, pedestrians, hikers and others. Point being: A trail an (e)bike can be ridden on isn't necessarily a 'bicycle trail'). The only answer has to be that you research the rules for the trails in your area, and see how they fit the ebike(s) you are considering. (I'll bet your local bike club can be a helpful source of info for you there).

Let me get back to what I think you might really care about: Does riding a CC prevent you from using the trails in your area? That's where @Tora has been quite clever. The CC is potentially two ebikes rather than one. It can be ordered as an ebike defined by your MN code, capable of being powered up to 20 mph...AND/or ordered as a 'speed pedelec' with higher speed capability. So if your trails restrict use to ebikes, you could order the Class 1 version. If your trails vary, and some don't establish limits, you can choose to order either the Class 1 or Class 3 version plus an additional display for the 'other' class.

Finally, here's another way to illustrate the same thing: I ordered a 'Class 3' CC. My rationale was that I was buying it principally as a commuter and 2nd car, so I'm using county roads, city roads, and bike lanes. And all of these permit 'bikes' of all kinds. But their are multi-use trails in my lovely town and outlying areas, and their rules vary. So once I get briefed up on where the Class 3 restrictions lie, and if they restrict me from rides I'd like to do, I will order the Class 1 display and be prepared to swap them out as necessary.

Lots of words. Sure hope that's helpful to you.

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