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NEW E-Bike Policy for Club Rides

Larry P Wasser | Published on 4/13/2024

At the last general meeting, you heard that the board was examining our e-bike policy. We decided to reevaluate this policy, as we heard from members desiring more clarity on this position. The board evaluated the pros and cons of what classes to allow on our rides. We examined our insurance policy, state laws, ride leader concerns, and what other clubs were doing. We also recognized that we want our club to provide safe and welcoming rides.

We decided to permit all e-bike classes on our rides per what the PA laws allow for bikes on roads. This is not a blanket allowance, as it comes with the expectation, same as for regular bikes, that the e-bike operator follows the HBC rules. If you observe a rider making unsafe choices at any time, please inform the ride leader.  The ride leader has the right to dismiss any rider who is not being safe.  If a rider demonstrates unsafe choices on more than one ride, the next step would be to contact me, the ride captain, for appropriate follow-up. While we expect our ride leaders to extend the same courtesy to e-bike riders as regular riders, we also expect our e-bike riders to attend to their particular needs, such as making sure they can ride the route (or asking the ride leader ahead of time if it is appropriate for an e-bike) and ensuring they have a charged battery.

The club provides Smart Cycling, a class from the National League of Bicyclists, that details basic mechanics, group riding hints, road riding instructions, and general safety information.  Now we have a new class, Smart Cycling for Ebike Riders, especially targeting safe cycling for everyone with Ebikes.  These classes review cycling rules and provide on the bike instruction.  We encourage everyone to participate in these classes.  They are listed on the website.  For more information, please get in touch with Dick Norford at: or 717-460-4684. As a graduate of Smart Cycling, I have found this class incredibly beneficial.

This policy will be in effect from April 3rd, and we will change the policy should we receive data that supports changes to the policy. We understand there may be concerns with the changes and welcome feedback, which can be sent to the ride captain or other board members.

Below is our policy:

Harrisburg Bicycle Club E-Bike Policies & Recommendations 


Human-only powered bicycles have grown in popularity and have evolved through a variety of configurations since the mid-1800s.  The e-bike is a relatively new variation that is a rapidly growing segment of the bicycling community.  E-bikes provide an electro-mechanical assistance to the human power on a bicycle. 

 There are 3 classifications of e-bikes:

Class 1 e-bikes

  • The motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.
  • The motor ceases to provide assistance at 20 MPH. 
  • May be referred to as “pedal-assist up to 20 MPH”.

Class 2 e-bikes

  • The motor may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle.
  • The motor ceases to provide propulsion at 20 MPH. 
  • Pedaling for propulsion is optional.
  • A throttle is a common term used to describe the feature used to control power in motor vehicles.  May be referred to as “throttle-controlled”.

Class 3 e-bikes

  • The motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling.
  • The motor ceases to provide assistance at 28 MPH.
  • A speedometer is included. 
  • May be referred to as “pedal-assist up to 28 MPH”.


Insurance carrier liability and medical coverage requirements are not bound by the legal definition.  Coverage may be different for a “Throttle Enabled” e-bike vs “Pedal Assist”.  You are responsible for understanding how your coverage may be impacted by what style of bike you are riding.

 Pennsylvania Laws -

 Unlike most states, Pennsylvania doesn’t regulate e-bikes according to a classification system (like Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes).  Instead, Pennsylvania has blanket rules for e-bikes and doesn’t differentiate between types of bikes based on characteristics like motor power. That said, the state has precise conditions for what qualifies as an e-bike.

E-bikes are defined as “pedal cycles with electric assist,” so long as the e-bike’s motor is under 750w, has a maximum speed of 20mph on a level surface when powered by the motor source only,

weighs no more than 100 lbs. and has operable pedals.

  • The same rules of the road apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles.
  • E-bikes are not subject to the registration, licensing or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
  • The rider of an electric bike must be at least 16 years old.
  • Helmets are not required but the age minimum for e-bike use is 16 years.
  • E-bikes are allowed on sidewalks, but restrictions may apply. When in doubt, check for local rules and regulations.
  • On federal, state, county and local trails, e-mountain bike (e-MTB) access varies significantly.  Generally, any natural surface trail that is designated as open to both motorized and non-motorized uses is also open to e-MTBs.  E-MTBs may not be allowed on trails managed for non-motorized activities (Do not ride your e-MTB in areas where the local rules are unclear).


Laws and policies can change at any time rendering the above information outdated and non-applicable. Harrisburg Bicycle Club strongly encourages checking with City, County, State and other local agencies for the most recent laws governing the proper, legal use of electric bicycles in your area.

Harrisburg Bicycle Club “Pedal Assist Bicycles” Policies and Recommendations –

The Harrisburg Bicycle Club Board of Directors stands by its mission to include cyclists at all levels while promoting safety. 

The Harrisburg Bicycle Club supports and promotes the use of electric bicycles for all members who feel the need to enhance their cycling experience during Club rides and events. The Club allows the use of Class 1, 2 or 3 e-bikeswhich have not been modified from the manufacturer’s specifications and are consistent with Pennsylvania and Federal Law.

Members of the Harrisburg Bicycle Club and guests may ride bicycles with electric assist motors on all Club rides and events, provided:

  • The bicycle must be pedal assist (the bike does not move without pedaling).
  • If the bicycle is outfitted with a throttle control (powered without pedaling), the Club strongly encourages that it only be used in the pedal assist mode for any Club event.  Class 2 e-bikes are not allowed on moderate-pace, brisk-pace, and strenuous-pace group rides (‘B’, ‘B+’, and ‘A’ ride categories).
  • It is expected that class 2 e-bike riders will primarily pedal and use the throttle sparingly.
  • It is not the responsibility of the Club or Ride Leader to determine if the rider is using an e-bike or what class of e-bike a rider is using, but rather it is the rider’s responsibility to know and comply with current Club policy and any state laws.
  • If an e-bike rider is operating their e-bike in an unsafe manner, a Ride Leader has the authority to speak with the e-bike rider to discuss what they are doing incorrectly or to ask that the e-bike rider ride off the back of the group for the safety of others
  • An e-bike rider should ride at the pace of the other riders of their group at all times whether climbing, on the flats, or while descending.
  • Since state and local laws regulate where each class of e-bike can legally ride, all e-bike riders shall be responsible for ascertaining the legality of riding their e-bike on a club group ride. If the route uses streets or trails where regulations prohibit the use of certain classes of e-bikes, it is the responsibility of the rider to comply with this requirement and leave the ride or depart from that portion of the route.
  • An e-bike rider should be certain they have sufficient battery reserve for the ride they have chosen (fully charged battery and spare if needed). It is not the Club or Ride Leader’s responsibility to ensure that the e-bike rider is safely returned to the start point should they run out of battery.
  • E-bike riders are expected to follow all of the rules and guidelines outlined in the “Harrisburg Bicycle Club’s Cycling 101” handbook, which can be found on the Club website.