Study: Electric Bikes Are Considered Motorized Vehicles

Guest Author | Post Tag for CycleCycle
e-mtb trails
E-Bike Shredding

A study released by IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) at last year’s Interbike conference in Las Vegas concluded that electric pedal assist mountain bikes should be grouped in the same category as motorcycles or dirt bikes. This means that they should only be ridden on OHV trails, and should not be allowed on mountain bike trails.

The study suggests that some of the physical impacts of low-powered, pedal-assist (Type 1) eMTBs may be similar to traditional mountain bikes. However, more study and further consideration by IMBA’s staff and board is needed before IMBA would consider changing its current recommendations.


IMBA’s Study on E-Bikes

E-MTB Etiquitte

international mountain biking association

This means that when you take your new e-bike out for a ride on your favorite trails, you could be breaking the law.

The technology on e-bikes is getting more and more sophisticated, which means the bikes are getting lighter and the motor is becoming more concealed. The next few years should bring even more exciting advancements in this technology.

E-Bikes: The Future of Biking? 


v10 e-bike
Santa Cruz V-10 with pedal assist technology (

What do you think about this? Should e-bikes be allowed on all mountain bike trails?

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6 thoughts on “Study: Electric Bikes Are Considered Motorized Vehicles

  1. Here’s a follow-up to your story. At the Interbike forum, they hypothesized that the environmental impact of eMTBs would be greater. However, they did an actual study and the results showed that, in fact, the environmental impact of eMTBs was no greater than that of traditional MTBs. Here’s the full report:

    1. After 28 rounds of chemo and a major surgery to beat major testicular cancer that metastasised in my abdomin, I bought an e-MTB for recovery.

      I would not be riding today without out. Physically and mentally, it has helped me rehab. I’m not a “shredder” and hit the downhills no faster than the average rider these days … The point is, I AM ABLE to “hit the downhills” thanks to the assist I get UP hill. Because I want and need the cardio workout, I’m generally keeping the assist as low as I can.

      I hope some can see the benefits of this technology for those that have something that has lessened their ability to ride. My MTB life started in 1987 on vintage “technology”. Never then did I want to ride faster with a motor … Never then did I think I would get cancer either! I’m thankful for this bike and want others to have the experience I’ve had. Please let me know what I can do to share my story and help advocate for the good of e-MTB. I want all/most/more trails open for these bikes.

      Thank you.

  2. These things are all over paved bike paths these days, and I must say I understand the appeal. Mostly they appear to be ridden by tourists in our mountain town. However, I think the paved paths are about the extent of what should be allowed. They move unexpectedly quickly uphill, and many of the people riding them are inexperienced riders (that’s about as polite as I can put it) at best. If you want to access trails by lift service, that’s an option widely available today. There is no denying these are motorized vehicles, and they should not be allowed on non-motorized vehicle designated trails. Ever. There is enough conflict between bikes, hikers and horses. Quasi-motorcycles will take that conflict to a new and unhealthy level.

  3. I can’t see them roosting and spinning the rear wheel to get up the hills. and they’re not much different on the descent than a regular full suspension mountain bike. and it’s still up to the cyclist to be polite when sharing a trail with other trail users. remember, a non-powered bicycle has been designated a machine and prohibited from the wilderness areas because of that. all in all, I would not be bothered at all by an electric pedal assist type mountain bike ridden with consideration on park and forest trails.

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