Are Electric Motorcycles Street Legal?

Electronic motorized vehicles of all shapes and sizes have gained a vast amount of popularity in recent years. This is partially due to the fact that the cost of gasoline is sky high and the probability is that it will continue to gain in price as supplies dwindle. Another factor is that people in general are far more conscious of the environment then they were in years past, going green has become all the rage. Unlike battery operated vehicles oil based products tend to pollute the air that we breathe, and do a plethora of damage to the earth’s surfaces when harvested.

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Perhaps the best reason to turn towards electric powered vehicles is the fun factor. This sentiment certainly holds true regarding electric powered motorcycles, although the laws concerning their usage on the street are extremely confusing to say the least. There are many styles and models of electric motorcycles available on the market today. Most tend to fall within the following three categories.

1. Small Electric Motorcycles

Small electric motorcycles, also known as pocket bikes look exactly like a full-scale motorcycle, however they are significantly smaller. The average electric mini-motorcycle is approximately two feet tall and weights in at forty odd pounds. The rider is typically hunched over the bike with their knees sticking out on either side of the machine. Even large children tend to appear as giants on these tiny yet powerful machines. Pocket rockets move extremely quickly, especially for a machine that small. As a matter of fact some of these models can even travel upwards of fifty plus miles per hour. The first thing that most people think when they see a pocket rocket flying by is that it looks amazingly fun to ride. The second thought usually is how legal is it to ride that machine on the street.

As fun as they are to operate, there are many states that have outlawed the use of pocket rockets in public areas such as highways, side streets, and even trails. This is due to the fact that electric based mini-motorcycles are not usually equipped with safety features such as horns, mirrors, and turn signals. This type of equipment is absolutely required by most municipalities in order for a vehicle to be considered street legal. In addition, electric pocket rockets cannot be registered or insured. Most states require both registration and insurance in order for a vehicle to be considered street legal. The rule of thumb here is that small electric powered motorcycles can only be legally ridden on private property.

2. Full Size Electric Motorcycles

Full size street legal electric motorcycles are certainly gaining in popularity since the time they were first introduced years ago. The industry has advanced to the point that many makes and models rival their combustion engine counterparts. These recent innovations have led to the fact that a significant amount of riders have made or are in the process of making the switch from gas power to electric power.

In order to keep up with the demand for full scale and powerful electric motorcycles most of the major bike manufacturers have begun producing models that run solely on electrical power. Even Harley Davidson has plans to release an all-electric, full sized motorcycle in the near future. That being said, full size electric motorcycles are absolutely street legal. Riders must follow the exact same laws as standard, gasoline powered owners do. Most states require a motorcycle specific license, along with bike registration and insurance.

3. Electric Motorcycles With Small Engines

This third category of electric motorcycles consists of the models that fall between pocket rockets and full-scale electric bikes. Most states consider these bikes to be street legal. In addition, riders typically need to be a minimum of sixteen years of age and hold an automobile drivers license. The following requirements are applicable.

  • Do not require the driver to shift gears
  • Limited to a maximum of five (5) horsepower
  • Maximum speed of thirty-miles per hour on flat ground.
  • Includes safety features such as horns, mirrors, and turn signals

In conclusion, the intent of this guide is to provide you with some basic information regarding the street legal use of electric motorcycles. If you own or are planning to purchase an electric motorcycle it is always a good idea to check with your local registry of motor vehicles. That way you will be properly informed about the exact laws that pertain to your state or municipality.

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