Electric Bikes

Why Might You Consider an E-Bike?

  • Injury, disability, age, fitness issues
  • Live on a steep hill
  • Get there faster
  • Want to keep up with others who are faster
  • Haul children, groceries, etc.
  • Save the planet, less GHG emissions
  • Save money
  • Ride to work and not be sweaty
  • FUN

Things to Consider When Choosing an E-Bike

What kind of riding do you do now? How frequently do you ride now?

  • Almost any type of bike that exists: road bike, beach cruiser, townie, mountain bike, cargo bike, folding bike, tricycle – comes in an electric version!
  • The electric version will be heavier (motor + battery) than a similar non-electric bike.
  • We recommend trying different bikes out to see what fits and feels comfortable to YOUR body! (Plus buying from a local shop means an easier time of it with repairs, warranty issues, accessories, etc.)

Considerations specific to e-bikes:

Where is the motor?

  • Mid-drive motors are found on higher-end bikes, and put the weight and the  power in the center of the bike, which many people feel makes the bike better balanced.
  • Hub-drive motors are most often in the rear wheel, often in lower-priced bikes, and can feel like you are being pushed; also makes the bike heavier in the back than in the front.
  • Some people convert existing bikes to electric bikes with  a front wheel hub motor.

Where is the battery?

  • Most e-bikes have the battery mounted externally; it can be removed for charging indoors.
  • Some have the battery inside the frame, which means you must plug in the whole bike.

What class of e-bike?

California Vehicle Code (CVC) lists three classes of e-bikes. This is important to consider as which one you buy can influence WHERE and by WHOM it can be ridden.

Rules & Regulations Specific to E-Bikes

NOTE: Policies regarding e-bikes are in a state of flux, especially local rules about where you can and can’t ride them. Before riding in a new place, check local rules. We will strive to keep this information updated here!

Where can I ride my e-bike?

  • CVC says Class I & II e-bikes can be ridden anywhere a regular bike can, unless a local jurisdiction makes different rules. Class III e-bikes can only be ridden by people aged 16 and up and a helmet must be worn; they are NOT allowed on Class I, separated bikeways. (e.g. Joe Rodota Trail)

  • The speed limit on ALL Class I trails is 15 mph, no matter HOW fast your bike can go! Be nice to the pedestrians!
  • Class I e-bikes are allowed in Sonoma County Regional Parks. E-bikes are prohibited on trails in Annadel State Park. Federal lands – National Parks, National Forests, and BLM – allow e-bikes wherever regular bikes are allowed.


How about public transit?

  • You can take your ebike on the SMART train.
  • Sonoma County Transit, Petaluma Transit, and Santa Rosa Transit don’t prohibit ebikes.
  • Golden Gate Transit prohibits them on all buses and ferries.

Other Common Questions

 How many miles will I get per charge? How long does it take to charge?

  • It takes 3-5 hours to fully charge an ebike battery.
  • MANY factors influence how many miles you can travel on one charge:
    • Battery power
    • Terrain (flat, hills) & weather (wind)
    • Weight (bike + rider + cargo)
    • How much assist you use (bikes have 2-5 varying levels)

How do I keep my bike secure?

  • Get a good U-lock
  • Double lock
  • Bring the bike indoors
  • Bring the battery indoors with you
  • Replace quick-release levers
  • Other tips here

Aren’t they expensive?

Prices are coming down! The state has a pilot e-bike subsidy program beginning soon, and the California Bicycle Coalition is lobbying for more funding for the program. Subsidizing e-bikes is a more cost-effective way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions than subsidizing electric cars!

But isn’t it cheating?

IT’S NOT CHEATING IF YOU’RE NOT IN A RACE! You’re riding a bike instead of a car, still getting exercise, and still reducing GHG emissions!

More Info


updated 06/27/2023