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E-bikes in Michigan: A Guide

Cody Sovis | Published on 1/21/2024

A Guide to Michigan E-bikes Laws

E-bikes have been the fastest-growing segment of the cycling industry for several years. As their popularity has increased, so have frictions regarding their use on natural surface trails. Different e-bikes have slightly different regulations on where they can be ridden. Still, it’s important to understand that regulation on e-bikes is at the land manager's or owner's sole discretion. The Michigan DNR operates the land and manages trail access at many northern Michigan trails. 

To centralize resources and information, we’ve put everything you need to know about Michigan eBike Laws in one convenient spot. 

What Is an E-bike?

The state defines an electric bicycle as having a rechargeable electric motor capable of boosting pedal power (pedal assist) or propelling the bike independently. The bike must also:

  • Have a seat for the rider

  • Have operational pedals (they must be connected to a non-motorized drivetrain)

  • Have an electric motor of 750 watts or less

Ebike Classes: I, II, III

Consumer e-bikes are divided into three classes based on their functionality. All e-bikes must have a permanent sticker affixed to the motor or battery that clearly and accurately states the class of the machine.

Class 1 E-bikes

Class 1 e-bikes only provide power through pedal assist, which is to say, when the rider is actively pedaling. This class of eBike also cuts out at 20 miles per hour. 

Class 2 E-bikes

The second class of eBike operates whether the rider is pedaling or not and includes a handlebar-mounted throttle. The motor of a Class 2 e-bike also shuts off at 20 miles per hour, whether engaged by pedaling or the throttle. 

Class 3 E-bikes 

Class 3 e-bikes are pedal assist only like Class 1, but top out at 28 miles per hour, nearly 30% faster than other e-bikes. 

E-bikes and Helmet Regulations

Riders are not required to wear a helmet to while riding an eBike in Michigan on Class 1 or 2 bikes. Riders 14-18 must wear a helmet while riding Class 3 e-bikes in Michigan. 

Are E-bikes Allowed on Trails?

E-bikes are only allowed on Michigan non-motorized, natural surface trails with prior authorization from the Michigan DNR. Note that e-bikes of all classes are permitted on motorized ORV trails across the state. Class 1 e-bikes are allowed on paved trails, such as the TART, but are subject to local speed and use restrictions or under local transportation ordinances. 

Are E-bikes Allowed on NMMBA Trails?

The Vasa Singletrack and surrounding trails and the Cadillac Pathway are managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which prohibits using e-bikes. Class 1 e-bikes are allowed at Glacial Hills. Always contact your local trail association to confirm whether e-bikes are permitted on nearby trails. 

Ride: It’s In Your Power

NMMBA encourages all riders to adhere to any and all trail regulations. Together, we can ensure public access to state-owned property for generations to come. Follow local rules, get involved in local trail maintenance and advocacy, and join your local trail association today to make a difference.