Minnesota, USA, e-Bike Law Question

What's the speed limit of electric bicycles in Minnesota?

  • 20mph

    Votes: 8 100.0%
  • 28mph

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • other

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    8
Howdy,
I'm getting ready to pick my bike up from the shop later tonight (went in for some minor repairs) and I was really curious about what I was being told. In preparation of buying an e-bike, I'd looked at a ton of info online about Federal and State ebike laws. I'd seen that Federally, ebikes were simply limited to motors under 750 watts and speed limits of 20mph. I also saw that in Minnesota, our law was recently changed, within the last 2 years, to show that ebikes are considered bicycles if the motor is no more than 1000 watts and limited to 20mph or less. I actually have 3 links to Minnesota Government pages saved on my phone so I can inform any police officer that pulls me over.

Here's where my question comes in. I've always used the same, small, franchise bicycle shop here in Minnesota as they've always been super helpful and knowledgeable. After getting my bike setup for repair, I started shopping the store and was amazed to see they finally had some ebikes in, including a Specialized Vado. Previous to buying mine, I'd never even gotten on one and had tons of questions. One of which was, how are you able to sell this bike in Minnesota as it has a top speed of 28 before the motor cuts out. Two employees swore up and down that 28mph is the max limit in Minnesota; however, I'm under the impression that they're quoting California law, which shows Class 3 without a throttle can go up to 28.

Can someone prove me wrong? Not being a smart ass, I'd actually like to know if I'm wrong, but I guess I'm asking as I believe people are being given the wrong information for the state I live in.
 

DOM1NO

New Member
Florida has similar laws and our lbs just started selling the new Trek Super Commuter which is a 28mph bike... so it's not just Minnesota.
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
You're right and they are wrong. MN law was changed before the Cali three group approach. I like our law, simple and straight forward however it does not explicitly address speed pedelecs.

If I recall the only real way to imply a 28 mph bike as being legal is via a statement about going no more than twenty miles per hour unassisted. The inference being that over twenty is OK if you are pedaling.

How can they sell them? MN doesn't have any regulation against it!

Edit. I stand corrected, the law states it can't assist over twenty whether by throttle or with human power assisting. Like I said though, no law against selling them.
 
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I definitely don't mind em selling the bike. I ended up getting a Rad Rover, but I've still been looking at other bikes, Hyper Fat and Lunacycles for instance, but I'd be looking at those for like off-road use. I was just curious about them being street legal, as I was pretty sure they weren't (assuming you get pulled over lol).
 

pxpaulx

Well-Known Member
Yeah exactly. Ride prudently and I don't think it'll ever be an issue. Maybe in a few years but not right now.
 

James Kohls

Active Member
The issue isn't really being pulled over. It is liability in an accident. If you get in an accident while riding a speed pedalec, you could be found at fault—or the person who hit you may be found not-liable—because you were driving the vehicle illegally. Insurance companies could argue, you weren't supposed to be there. Speed pedalecs in MN are not legally defined as bicycles. They are also not legally defined as mopeds or any other class of motor vehicle. Vehicles without a class are confined to off-road use on private property.

A cop has better things to do than face you in court over a vehicle class violation. But an insurance company responsible for paying out property damage and health coverage will more than likely take the time, if discovered.
 

Nutella

Active Member
Yeah, that's your only real risk, your liability if you're in an accident with an ebike thats not supposed to be whereever you are riding it.
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
I've been having the same issue riding my Radrover in the southwest. The reason I picked this bike is because of being a Class II ebike (750w, 20mph limit). I find most laws/regulations for regular bikes also apply for Class 1 & II ebikes. Unless posted specifically for ebikes, I can ride anywhere, any speed, and anyplace a regular bike can ride (with traffic, bike paths, sidewalks, run stop signs if there is no traffic, with or against traffic, etc...).

I've notice Class III ebikes start to move into the motorized vehicle world with more restrictions with helmet for certain ages, no bike paths, no sidewalks, flow with traffic only, register ebike, off road and/or private land use only, etc... It seems there is a different laws for every federal, state, local, and city jurisdiction within every state. I've notice the ebike rules at the Grand Canyon Federal Park are different from the Utah Federal parks ran by the same agency. You would think all Federal park would encourage more bikes to help with traffic flow and parking issues?

My rules are:
- If nothing is posted for ebikes, follow all local regular bike rules
- look up the state and local classification for Class 1, 2, & 3 ebikes (some states say Class I and II are bikes, while others call them motorized vehicles)
- have the local laws handy (phone or print out) for law enforcement and local "know it all" that think your Radrover is a small motorcycle
- unless posted, my ebike can go anywhere and anyplace a motorized vehicle can travel on/off road AND I have to follow the same rules
- when in doubt, blend in with other bikers on bike trails (don't pass bikers at 20 mph up an incline if the average speed is 10 mph).

I've been thinking about a mid-drive eMTB for 100% trail riding. I would need to pick a eMTB I can remove the battery and still able to ride up inclines if there are ebike restrictions at that particular trail (Sedona, AZ, had this specific restriction against ebikes for trails shared with walker/hikers/MTB riders).
 

gochet

New Member
I'm not sure if this information is relevant, but I thought I'd throw it into the mix.

In Minnesota, there are only 3 types of vehicles with motors that are not considered "motorized vehicles" in relation to DWI law. Those are:

  • Electric wheelchairs
  • Segways or other "personal mobility devices"
  • Electric bicycles under 750 watts with no assist possible after 20 mph.

So, if your e-bike does not conform, you can get a DWI on your ebike. On conforming models, you cannot. (You can, however, be charged with other alcohol related misdemeanors, but nothing that would affect your drivers license.)

I don't know if you ever stop for a cold one on the way home, but this information is worth taking into account....
 

Ken M

Well-Known Member
State DMV and insurance companies have been trying to get $s from bikes for decades and they have utilized the electrification of bikes as a way to get their foot in the door. I have no issue with regulating the speeds of paths and where and how they can be ridden when LEGIT safety concerns exist but to apply a speed and motor wattage limit to the products is dubious at best. A motors wattage rating is nonsense because that can be altered is so many ways it has ZERO merit - run a motor in a cryo chamber and you can dramatically run it at a higher wattage. The regulations do not address test conditions and ignore that the drive train plays a huge role in how much torque is delivered to the rear wheel.

I'm not going to go into all the obvious technical shortfalls of the regulations but I think we all know that eBikes can help reduce congestion and are FAR SAFER to everyone than a 5000 lb car is, so as a community we must push state and federal regulators to fix the regulations to encourage innovation in this industry not kill it because DMV and insurance morons want their pensions - I'm sorry to insult those people but this is simply the fact of how these regulations were pushed....it was never about safety because a bike rider is as concerned about safety as possible because they are as likely to be harmed in a accident as anyone or anything they hit. As for insurance liability - give me a break because anyone knows someone riding a 60lb eBike is going to reduce their liability for damage or bodily harm compared to that rider getting in their car for that same trip (they just want money for nothing).
 

James Kohls

Active Member
I recently got to meet the head of St. Paul Parks, who was under the belief eBikes were not allowed on bike trails in St. Paul parks because the were motorized vehicles. So I had to show him these statutes.

MN State Statute 160.263, Subdivision 2(b):

A governing body may not prohibit or otherwise restrict operation of an electric-assisted bicycle, as defined in section 169.011, subdivision 27, on any bikeway, roadway, or shoulder, unless the governing body determines that operation of the electric-assisted bicycle is not consistent with (1) the safety or general welfare of bikeway, roadway, or shoulder users; or (2) the terms of any property conveyance.​

MN Statute 85.018, Subdivision 4: "Nonmotorized use trails":

No motorized vehicle shall be operated on a trail designated for nonmotorized use. This subdivision does not apply to (1) motorized wheelchairs or other motorized devices operated by an individual who is physically disabled; or (2) electric-assisted bicycles, as defined in section 169.011, subdivision 27.