Getting a legal Electric Bicycle in Canada: Rules and Regulations

Getting a legal Electric Bicycle in Canada: Rules and Regulations

Electric bikes have become increasingly popular in North America. Every day more and more people are hitting the roads. No wonder there are so many perks of having an electric bicycle: they are convenient to use, better for ecology and health, cheaper than getting a car, lower maintenance cost, no traffic jams and no need to spend hours looking for a parking spot in the city center. It all sounds marvelous; however, legal regulations have become more stringent with this growing trend of electric bicycles. If you want to avoid being caught by the police on your way, and enjoy the ride, ensure that you follow the local regulations and everything will be up to standard. 

"Are throttle electric bikes legal in Canada?"

"Do I need a license for an electric bike?"

"What is the maximum speed for an e-bike in Canada."

"Can you ride a 750 W e-bike in Canada?"

"Why do trails ban e-bikes." 

"Can I ride an electric bicycle in parks" 

And so much more…  

If you are in the market for your first electric bicycle or already have one and are trying to figure out the rules for using it, here are some tips and tricks about owning an e-bike. In this blog, at EbikeBC we will answer the most popular "e-bike law questions," explain the difference between Class 1, 2, and 3 electric bikes in Canada, and explain how power and speed are regulated in electric bicycles.

Background in regulations

In Canada, electric bicycles are regulated under the Motor Vehicle Act and Motor Assisted Cycle Regulations

Power and maximum speed in Canada: 

Electric bicycles with a maximum power output of 500 watts and a top speed of 32 kph (20 mph) are considered equivalent to regular bicycles. Electric bicycles with a higher power are not allowed on the bike path in Canada and need a license and insurance to operate. 

If you want to know more about specific rules in different Canadian provinces - read "Canadian Electric Bike Rules and Regulations. Electric Bike Rules By Province".

You do not need a licence to operate an electric bicycle in Canada. Canada currently defines e-bikes as two- or three-wheeled bicycles with pedals and a battery-powered motor. 

Power and maximum speed in United States: 

Electric bicycles are regulated as consumer products in the United States by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Electric bicycles are considered "low-speed electric bicycle" if it has a motor of a maximum of 750 watts (1 horsepower) and a top speed of 45 kph (28 mph) on a flat surface. These types of electric bicycles are considered equivalent to regular bicycles, so they do not require a license, registration, or insurance.

What are the difference between Class 1, 2, and 3 E-bikes 

Electric bikes are also classified based on maximum speed. There are three classes of electric bikes:

Class 1: This class of e-bikes is usually referred to as electric bikes with a mid-drive motor, as most of them come only with pedal assistance and without a throttle. The maximum speed of assist should be at most 20 mph. 

Pedal Assistance: Yes
Throttle: No
Max Assisted Speed: 20 mph (32 kph)
Speedometer Required: No
Licence and registration required: No

Class 2: In Canada, they must have at most 500W maximum motor output and a maximum speed of 20 mph. The cycle can have both paddle assist and a throttle. So long as you are spinning your petals while riding and not just going full throttle like on a motorcycle - you are within the law.

Pedal Assistance: Yes

Throttle: Yes
Max Assisted Speed: 20 mph (32 kph)
Speedometer Required: No
Licence and registration required: No

Class 3: The maximum speed for this type of bike is 28 mph which is higher than for the Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes. Class 3 e-bikes are not legally allowed on the bike path in Canada. 

Pedal Assistance: Yes

Throttle: No
Max Assisted Speed: 28 mph (45kph)
Speedometer Required: Yes
Licence and registration required: No


Class 4 e-bikes have nominal motor output above 750W and aren't limited to max speed. They may have any combination of throttle and PAS. 

Pedal Assistance: Optional (may be throttle-only)
Throttle: Optional (may be pedal-assist only) 

Max Assisted Speed: No limit.
Speedometer Required: Yes
Licence and registration required: Yes

Before getting an electric bike - make sure you know all the specs of the bike you are getting and that you will feel safe and confident using it on the road with no legal problems.

You can indeed find electric bikes with a bigger number of motors - 1000W and even more. Still, technically they are not classified as bicycles but as motorized vehicles. You won't be able to use these powerful e-bikes on bicycle lanes. 

How are Power and Speed Regulated in Ebikes

Electric bikes are designed to have a controller that limits power and speed. The controller monitors the rider's pedalling speed and adjusts the power output accordingly. This feature ensures that the electric bike does not exceed the maximum power output and speed law allows.

Dyno Testing: The Only Accurate Way of Knowing the Actual Mechanical Power Output

Dyno testing is the only accurate way to know an electric bike's mechanical power. Dyno testing is a procedure that measures the mechanical power output of the motor under a controlled environment. This test provides an accurate measurement of the power output of the electric bike and ensures that it meets the legal requirements. 

Basically, Dyno testing evaluates the torque and rotational speed of an engine, demonstrating the power generated by an e-bike. This is a crucial step that every bike company should take before getting the product into the market.  

ENVO is a Canadian company that produces electric bikes with innovative designs and advanced features. ENVO Bikes provides dyno testing data for all of their electric bikes. As an example - see the data for models D35 and ST below. The data shows that ENVO electric bikes meet the legal requirements in Canada and are accurately labelled. This level of transparency and commitment to quality is commendable and sets ENVO Bikes apart from other companies in the industry.

Dyno test results for electric bicycle Envo D35

Electric bikes are convenient and eco-friendly transportation, but following the regulations and purchasing from reputable companies is essential. Before buying an electric bicycle, make sure you know the specifications of the one you are buying.  

Happy and safe rides! 






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