Electric Bikes & Kids: Age Restrictions, Safety, and More

For parents, there are few things as exciting as sharing your favorite hobbies with your kids, and let’s be honest, there are few hobbies as epic as e-biking. Or perhaps you are considering getting your child an e-bike as a school commuter, either way, you’re wondering if it’s a good idea. Or if it’s even legal for your child to ride an e-bike.

The legal restriction on e-bikes varies between states, but typically you need to be over 14 or 16 to ride a class 3 e-bike on a public road. In most cases, children under 14 may ride class 1 and 2 e-bikes. But it’s crucial to teach them to ride a traditional bike first.

As a parent, there are three primary factors that will determine if you should get your child an e-bike, and which class of bike to get them. These factors are their age, where they will ride the bike, and their riding capabilities.

Should Your Child Ride An E-Bike?

Perhaps for many people, the first question to address is why you would even want to consider an e-bike for your child. This obviously varies depending on your situation and needs, but there are several great motivators.

Firstly, getting your child an e-bike means you can ride trials together. Perhaps your child’s age and fitness are just too low to keep up with you on certain climbs and stretches, and this is where an e-bike can help them and inspire them to enjoy biking.

Secondly, e-bikes are great commuters that offer older children freedom when commuting to and from school, sports, or friends’ houses. But you must consider several factors when deciding what bike to get your child.

Question 1: How Old Is Your Child?

The first consideration is your child’s age. If your child is under 14, you can be reasonably sure they aren’t legally allowed to ride a class 3 e-bike. However, in certain states, that minimum age increases to 16, so it’s best to check.

So, at least in theory, your younger child may ride a class 2 e-bike, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Of course, the younger your child is, the less developed their sense of imminent danger may be, so there is a certain level of “common sense” parenting that should come into play.

This varies from child to child, but it should be a reasonably safe assumption to say that a 5-year-old shouldn’t be left unsupervised with a class 2 e-bike, regardless of their capability.

Question 2: Where Will Your Child Ride?

Let’s first address the question of location. This is important because it plays into the legal restrictions and aspects of e-bikes.

As mentioned earlier, most states have an age restriction on using class 3 e-bikes on public roads. And for the most part, this restriction makes sense. Class 3 bikes can reach higher speeds of 28 MPH purely on a throttle, making them akin to smaller electric motorcycles, just with added pedals.

So, if the idea is for your child to use the bike on the city streets, you need to check your local laws to make sure you don’t get them an illegal bike.

However, this potential changes if you take your child mountain biking on private property trails. Sure, it may be a possible grey area, but whether it is allowed will likely depend on the rules of that particular bike park.

Question 3: What Is Your Child’s Capability?

The final question you should ask is what your child’s capability on a bike is. Let’s assume your child is old enough to legally ride a class 3 e-bike, but they have only recently learned to ride a bike, and they aren’t exactly fully comfortable yet.

In this case, giving them a class 3 is like giving a trainee motorbiker a 650cc, which roughly translates to “a potentially horrific idea.”

Needless to say, before a child is popped onto the saddle of an e-bike, they need to be able to ride a standard bike really well. This is because the most crucial fundamentals of riding an e-bike are learned on a traditional bicycle. All the skills like cornering and braking are first learned there and then transferred to the e-bike, where the biggest change is the increase in speed.

On the other hand, if your 10-year-old has been riding bikes for many years and is a little downhill shredder, then an e-bike can be a great stepping stone to help them ride longer and tougher trails with you.

Your child’s fondest memories will likely be the times and adventures they shared with you, and an e-bike could very well be the boost your child needs to keep up with you and join in your adventures.

What You Should Do Before Your Child Rides Their E-Bike

Once you have decided and gotten your child their new e-bike, there are a few crucial things you need to do before they mount up.

Firstly, if it is a brand-new bike, make sure that you check everything. And by everything, we mean everything. Unfortunately, new bikes are all too often sold in a less-than-safe state, and this is particularly true of mass-produced bikes.

So, check the bike thoroughly for any loose bolts and screws, poorly tuned components, etc. A good idea is to have the bike fitted for your child at your local shop, and they can check everything in the process.

Secondly, most e-bikes’ power output can be tuned by the user. So, while your child is growing accustomed to the bike, lowering the speed limit is a good idea. You can gradually increase it as they grow more confident and skilled.

Finally, never let your child ride their bike without a helmet. In fact, they shouldn’t even ride their bike in the garden without a helmet. A small tumble and unfortunately placed rock is all that is needed for stitches and tears.

Conclusion

Most states have a minimum age restriction on class 3 e-bikes. This age restriction varies between 14 and 16 and is especially applicable to public roads. If your child is a capable rider, they may ride class 1 or 2 bikes. However, it is still vital that you teach your child to ride a traditional bike before transitioning them to an e-bike.

Author

  • Miles Baxter

    Miles Baxter is an engineer with a longstanding love for bicycles, sparked by winning a mountain bike in a childhood lottery. Balancing a keen interest in mechanics with the thrill of biking, his career is a testament to the art of turning wheels and gears into adventures.

    Baxter Miles