Electric bike riders have a big reason to celebrate this year, as e-bikes are now allowed in all national parks on any trails open to pedal bicycles.
Before the rule change, electric bikes were frequently forbidden from cycling trails in national parks, with the exception of Class-1 e-bikes being permitted in some areas. Now, thanks to an order signed by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, electric bikes have been reclassified as “non-motorized bicycles” on all national park land. They will no longer be grouped with motorcycles, dirt bikes, and other gas-powered single or dual-track vehicles.
With e-bikes gaining popularity across the U.S., this move comes at the perfect time. Electric bikes are more affordable than ever, and now riders will have the option to hit the trail in some of the country’s most beautiful places.
All three classes of electric bikes can now be ridden in national parks, with a few caveats. So, what are the three classes, and how do they differ? In the U.S., Class 1 e-bikes are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and stops assisting at the bike’s max speed of 20 mph. Class 2 e-bikes can reach comparable speeds but have a hand throttle, meaning they don’t require pedaling to activate the motor (most also have pedal assist systems so they can function like Class 1 e-bikes). Class 3 electric bikes are very much like Class 2, except they are capable of a higher max speed of 28 mph.
Now for those caveats. Class 2 and 3 electric bikes are not permitted to use throttle control. According to the new law, they must be operated like a standard Class 1 e-bike while in national parks. We think electric bike riders will consider this a small price to pay for access to these amazing trails.
For us and everyone out there who has fallen in love with electric mountain biking, this is exciting news.
We ride electric bikes because they let us go farther, go faster, and ride like a pro, but we’ve often been barred from accessing national park trails. Now we’re free to experience them on our e-bikes, and we’re looking forward to it.
Now more than ever, people are looking for opportunities to have fun, stay active, and enjoy the outdoors. Riding an electric bike is a way to do all of the above, and it’s clear from the soaring sales that they’re gaining in popularity across the country. Any way you slice it, electric bikes are motivating people to spend more time on two wheels, whether they’re hitting the trails or replacing car trips. And that’s a great thing.
While we’re excited about electric bikes being allowed in national parks, we know that not everyone out there feels the same way. Unfortunately, there’s some anti-e-bike sentiment in the mountain biking world, which often is simply due to misinformation. One of the biggest concerns we hear about from riders of traditional mountain bikes is that they’re worried about being mowed down by an e-bike. No one wants to be hit on the trail, but the fact of the matter is that any rider is capable of crashing into another, whether they’re on an e-bike or not. Regular mountain bikes as well as electric mountain bikes can reach speeds of 20 mph, so all riders need to be cautious of others on the trail.
Another worry is that inexperienced electric cyclists will take on trails that are above their ability level, and end up creating trouble for themselves and others. This is a valid concern, but not a good reason to impose a universal ban on electric bikes. We support rider education and plenty of practice for anyone who rides an electric bike. Keeping those things in mind, there’s no reason that electric mountain bikes and standard mountain bikes can’t share the trail.
Thankfully, the rules have changed and electric bikes can enjoy the same access to national parks that traditional bikes do. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to get out there and explore.