If you enjoy the perks that come with riding an electric bicycle, then it may not be long before you catch your children eyeing your ride.
After all, what kid wouldn’t love the idea of having a bike with its very own motor? But is buying an e-bike for kids a good idea?
Well, the truth is that it all depends.
Whether or not you should buy your child a kid’s e-bike depends on multiple factors. Your state’s laws, the age of the child, rules about safety gear, and the size and speed of the bike are all things that you should take into consideration.
Here you’ll find some of the top questions (along with our best answers) that you’ll want to consider when deciding whether your child is ready for an e-bike of their own.
The first thing you’ll want to make sure of before buying your child an e-bike is that they’re legally even allowed to ride one in your state.
While many states have laws and restrictions regarding electric bicycles and who can operate them, they vary considerably on a state-to-state basis.
Some states, for instance, group e-bikes into one broad category, while others utilize a three-class system.
Here’s a breakdown of the various styles of e-bikes you should know if your state went the three-class route:
- Class 1: Bikes that are equipped with motors that provide assistance only when the rider pedals, and that will only provide such assistance up to the speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: Bikes that come with a throttle motor that will provide assistance when pedaling up to the speed of 20 mph.
- Class 3: Bikes equipped with a motor that provides assistance when pedaling up to 28mph.
- Does your state have a minimum age requirement for the operation of an electric bicycle and, if so, of which class or classes of e-bikes?
- The helmet laws in your state regarding e-bikes. Many states require riders under the age of 14 to wear a helmet at all times.
- Whether e-bike riders are required to have insurance or obtain licensing and/or registration before operating an e-bike.
- What the traffic laws are in your state regarding e-bikes and where they are allowed to be operated.
If this all sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. While some states have relatively strict e-bike laws, others have very few, if any.
To find out where your state stands on the issue, visit this handy guide on BikeBerry that breaks down e-bike laws from state to state.
While state laws may provide answers to the questions of some parents, several states haven’t addressed the issue of age as far as e-bikes are concerned.
So, how young is too young to ride an electric bike? Unfortunately, there as many opinions out there as there are parents.
In general, unless your child can already ride a regular bike with no problems, then it’s best to wait until they can before bringing a motor into play. Realistically, you’ll be a bit hard-pressed to a bike that goes very fast for a child under around 13- 14.That said, there are several training bikes out there for kids who have mastered the traditional bike and can’t wait to take it to the next level. The StacyC Stability Cycle is specifically geared for kids under 8 and allows parents to select one of three different modes:
- Low/Training mode- up to 5mph
- Med/Standard mode- up to 7.5mph
- High/Advanced mode- up to 13mph
If you’re an avid rider with a child who learned to ride right after he learned to walk, then bikes like these are a great way to help them test the motorized waters.
If your child is super young or isn’t yet experienced enough to ride an e-bike of their own, then your best bet is to look for a great kid’s seat for your own e-bike. That way, your kids can still enjoy the thrill of riding, without the responsibility of piloting the bike itself.
Among the most important things you can do when purchasing an e-bike for kids is to make sure that your children understand that the bike is not a toy.
Don’t be afraid to be overly cautious when ensuring that they are familiar with the bike and where they can ride it before unleashing them onto the streets.
Safety gear is also an important consideration, as the right helmet and other safety equipment can make a huge difference if your child should take a spill.When it comes to selecting the right helmet for your child, note that not all bike helmets are created equal. In fact, any that you’ll find in retail stores are designed with the non-motorized bicycle rider in mind.
If your child is riding an e-bike that goes over 20 mph (even as a passenger), try to find a helmet that meets Dutch NTA 8776 safety standards, or even a light DOT approved motorcycle helmet.
Try to look for a brightly colored helmet, preferably one that your kid thinks looks super cool. Not only will they be more likely to wear it, but it will also help make them more visible on the street.
What To Look For In A Kid’s e-Bike
When it comes to buying bikes for older kids and teens, the good news is that the options open up considerably. Here are some of the things you’ll want to look for when searching out the best bike for your kids:
Size- This is a big one, as trying to drive an e-bike that’s either too large or too small can be a lot more difficult for a rider. Several reputable brands, such as Haibike and Raleigh, offer different frame sizes and have sizing charts to help you fight the right fit.
Another great option is to look for an adjustable bike. Rad Power Bikes has several great options, such as the RadMini 4 Folding Bike, which fits riders from 5’2” – 6’2” or the RadMini Step-Thru, which fits riders from 4’10”- 5’10”.Not only will an adjustable e-bike grow with your child, but you might even sneak it out for a spin yourself!
Motor output/ Max Speed- If you live in a state with the three-class e-bike system, then you’ll need to keep the bike’s max speed to 20 mph or less unless you want to venture into class three territory. A motor with 750 watts or less should do the trick.
Break system- The importance of reliable breaks cannot be overstated! Opt for hydraulic disc brakes if you can, but if you can’t, then make sure you insist on a test drive before making a purchase. Do your worst as far as seeing how the brakes handle, as this is something you’ll want to be certain of before handing it over to a child.
Security- Let’s face it, even the cheapest electric bikes for kids still aren’t all that cheap. If you’re going to drop anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for an e-bike, then make sure to protect your investment.
Some e-bikes, such as the VanMoof X3 (which fits riders from 5’- 6’5” come with built-in alarm systems and GPS tracking that make them incredibly hard to steal.
Even if the bike you select doesn’t come with security features, you can still find plenty of alarms that are sold separately. Among the best is the Onvian Upgraded Wireless Anti-Theft alarm, which is operated by a wireless remote.
Woe to the thief who should attempt to tamper with your kid’s e-bike when this thing is activated. Its vibrational sensors will blare out a 113dB alarm that will send them running for the hills.
Safety Features- Make sure that you’re child’s e-bike is outfitted with enough features to ensure that drivers can see them, especially if they ever plan to ride in the evening or at nighttime.
While many e-bikes come with reflectors, they’re definitely an investment you want to make if your’s doesn’t.
If you want to go all out, you can even get this cool interactive tail light from Garmin.
It’s equipped with a radar that will warn the cyclist when a vehicle is approaching from up to 140 meters behind. It also increases rider visibility, as the tail light unit flashes to alert approaching traffic that there’s a bike ahead.
Trust Your Instincts
Keep in mind that your own experience as a parent should count for just as much as any advice you’ll find here or anywhere else.
Say, for instance, that your child recently landed in the ER after constructing a ramp for the sole purpose of rocketing his regular bike over the top of your garage.
In this case, presenting him with an even more expensive bike, complete with a motor strapped to its gears, may not be the best course of action for you.If, however, you’ve got a responsible teenager who is looking for a way to get to school or simply a reason to get off the couch, then it may be a move worth considering.
Another important note is that if you aren’t already familiar with electric bikes yourself, then make sure you take one for a test drive before purchasing one for your child.
While they may seem relatively harmless, falling off of pretty much anything at 20mph is going to hurt and can cause more substantial injuries than falling off of a regular bike.
It’s important to know exactly how much responsibility you’re entrusting your child with before taking the plunge.
If you found this info helpful, then feel free to share it with other parents of potential e-bikers! As always, feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have. Otherwise, feel free to explore our other topics such as:
How fast can electric bikes go? A quick guide to battery size and speed
Electric bikes for beginners: Everything you need to know before you buy