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Electric bicycles, or eBikes, are quickly becoming more and more popular among RV owners. In addition, they are becoming one of the most sought-after RV accessory. After all, bicycling and camping just fit together. Bicycles are a great way for RVers to get around the campground or explore the park’s trails. But what exactly are eBikes? And, are they even legal to operate on hiking trails in National and State Parks? Let’s jump in and take a closer look.
What Is An eBike?
On the surface, an electric bicycle looks and operates just like a traditional bicycle. You still have to use your legs to get you where you’re going. The main difference is there is a small electric motor attached to the wheels or to the pedals. As you pedal, the motor will give you a bit of an assist.
Depending on which class of eBike you choose will determine the amount of “assist” the electric motors give you. Some models will even have a throttle, much like a motorcycle, that will allow you to take a break from peddling and still move down the road.
Class 1 eBikes, or pedelecs, have a top speed of 20 mph and only give you an assist when you are pedaling. Some models will have a throttle on the handlebars for you to adjust how much assist you need while you are pedaling.
Class 2 eBikes also have a top speed of 20 mph but the throttle works even when you are not pedaling.
Class 3 eBikes have a top speed of 28 mph and must have a speedometer, and may or may not have a throttle. Like the Class 1, Class 3 electric bicycles only offer pedal assist when you are pedaling.
eBike Restrictions and Regulations
As the popularity of eBikes increases, most states are finding they are trying to play catch up when it comes to regulations. Every state has their own set of laws and regulations when it comes to eBikes. This makes it particularly difficult for RVers to know these regulations as they travel from state to state.
Some states have strict regulations while in other states eBikes still have no direct classifications, making it difficult to know how they are regulated. Through extensive research I have found a few regulations that might help you along they way.
Age restrictions will vary by state and most only apply to Class 2 and 3 eBikes. Eight states require that an electric bicycle rider be over the age of 14, regardless of classification, when unaccompanied by an adult. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
Most states do not have an age restriction, but many require riders under 16, and 18, to wear a helmet when riding.
Currently there are 9 states that require an eBike to be registered, much like a moped. These states include:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
Currently there are 25 states that require riders and passengers of eBikes to wear a helmet. Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Louisiana require helmets for all ages across all eBike classifications.
Most of these states will accept a bicycle helmet while Alabama requires a motorcycle helmet because it defines any eBike as a motor-driven vehicle.
There are specific age requirements for the use of helmets but it is always good practice to wear a helmet when riding any eBike.
Always check local laws and regulations regarding the use of eBikes, although I highly doubt anyone will make a fuss out of you riding your electric bike in any RV campground or resort.
Riding eBikes In State and National Parks
In 2019, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation expanded access of eBikes on public lands. This expanded access allows eBikes of 750 watts or less are allowed in Federal Lands and National Parks wherever traditional bicycles are allowed.
Before planning your next trip to any of these parks, check with the specific park for specific rules regarding electric bicycles.
Reasons Why Electric Bicycles Are Popular Among RV Owners
One thing all RV owners have in common is their sense of adventure. We love to explore, to see everything this great country has to offer. While many attractions can be accessed with a vehicle, some require you to hike, or use some other form of transportation. So, it’s no wonder why eBikes are becoming more and more popular among RVers. But there are many other benefits to owning and enjoying an electric bicycle.
If you think that riding an electric bicycle requires no effort on your part, you would be wrong. Keep in mind that these are pedal assisted bikes and are designed to give you a bit of a boost while you are pedaling. Much like a conventional bicycle, eBikes are a great way to get some exercise which helps improve your cardio vascular health as well as your mental health.
Visit More Attractions
Let’s face it, you can only walk so far in a day. Riding an eBike extends your range so you can visit more attractions in a given time period. Most electric bicycles have a range of up to 50 miles. Of course, this will depend on the weight of the rider, how much charge you have in your battery, and the terrain. If you do happen to run out of battery charge, you can always pedal your way back to your RV just like a traditional bicycle.
Easy To Haul
Since electric bikes are the same size as standard bicycles, they can be hauled the same way. However, electric bicycles tend to weigh more than their traditional counterparts, so you may require a helping hand getting one loaded.
He most common way to haul an electric bike is on a bike rack mounted to the back of an RV or travel trailer. Of course, you can also carry them in the back of your tow vehicle.
No Hassle Charging
Charging an eBike is as simple as charging your phone. All you need is a 120V outlet, like the one outside your RV or shore power. If you are boondocking or don’t have access to power, you can also charge them using a portable generator.
What You Should Consider Before Making a Purchase
With so many options available, how do you know which model is best for you? Some key features you might want to consider before making your purchase are:
- Weight – The electric bike you choose should be light enough for you to handle when loading and unloading, particularly when loading onto a bike rack.
- Features you need – There are several different types of electric bicycles, so finding the one that fits your needs should be a priority. For example, if you will be riding your eBike off the beaten path, find one that has tires suited for all terrains.
- Range – Depending on how far you will be riding, make sure you get a bike that has a range suitable for your needs.
- Price – Make sure you get an eBike within your budget. These bicycles can be quite costly.
eBikes For RV Owners to Consider
Like I stated above, eBikes are not cheap. Some of the best on the market have a price point of $1,000 and up. So, make sure you do your due diligence to ensure that you are purchasing exactly what you want before committing to such a purchase. If these prices aren’t in your budget, you might also consider an electric conversion for your standard bicycle. With that said, some of the top brands on the market that are best for RVers are:
- Rad Power Bikes
There are more economical options on the market as well. However, as the old adage goes, you typically get what you pay for.
Lectric XP 2.0 Step-Thru
In our experiences, Kellie and I have noticed that the Lectric XP 2.0 eBike seems to be one of the most popular brands in the RV campgrounds. This foldable bike comes completely assembled so it’s ready to go right out of the box.
With a 500-watt motor and 48V lithium-ion battery, riders can expect a range of up to 45 miles and a top speed of 20 mph. You can however, achieve a max speed of 28 mph with the Class 3 option.
With features like 20” all-terrain tires, this eBike is perfect for all RV owners.
Suggested retail price: $949.00
Rad Mini 4 Step-Thru
Like the Lectric XP, this eBike also folds up making storage a non-issue.
With the equipped 750-watt motor riders can expect to achieve a range of up to 45 miles with a max speed of 20 mph.
This eBike is also well equipped with all-terrain tires, speedometer, odometer, and both a headlight and tail light for safety.
Suggested retail price: $1,299.00
Tern HSD 11
This Class 3 eBike has a whopping range of up to 74 miles with its 500 Watt-hour battery. In addition, riders can expect to achieve a top speed of 28 mph, with pedal assist.
This bicycle also features front and rear hydraulic disc brakes and RaceGuard puncture protection tires.
With these features, plus more, the suggested retail price of this model is $4,699.00.
Conclusion Of eBikes
Owning an eBike can increase the quality of your RV camping experience. However, as we have seen, that experience comes with a hefty price tag. Is owning an electric bicycle worth the cost? That is a question only you can answer. It will all depend on your individual needs and more importantly, your budget.
What are your thoughts regarding eBikes? Do you have one? If so, leave us a comment in the section below and tell us all about it.
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