Argument Against Modifying an eBike

Thankfully, only a tiny fraction of eBike users choose to modify (AKA de-restrict) their legal electric drive systems to increase the top speed.  This post is intended to persuade those considering a modification to leave their bike legal, and maybe convince a few who have de-restricted their legal eBikes to go back to stock.


  • Written from a State of CA perspective. That’s where we reside, ride and operate.  No doubt, other states and countries have different regulations.
  • We’re talking about eBikes used on public land – pathways and trails. If you’re modifying an eBike to use on private land, OHV trails, or in a closed course environment, knock yourself out.
  • Legal eBikes (in CA) means Class 1, 2, and 3. See People For Bikes link below.


Short Version

It’s ALL about respect for others and access to public pathways and trails.  That’s it.  If you appreciate the many places that have authorized legal eBike use (on and off-pavement) and would like to see more access – please don’t modify your eBike.  One, the many areas that have authorized legal eBike use could choose to reverse course if lots of eBike users ignore regulations.  Two, the many areas that are, or will soon be, considering authorizing legal eBike use may be influenced negatively if lots of eBike users ignore the regulations.


Longer Version

Concern about Speed Differential.

  1. For de-restricted (modified) eBikes, it can be valid ☹ . Unfortunately, a modified eBike can operate at speeds that are notably different than other pathway and trail users – it’s a legitimate concern.
  2. For legal eBikes, it’s not valid 😊 . People knowledgeable about legal eBikes know that they are limited in power and speed – such that there is a relatively small Speed Differential between what a fit bicyclist on a conventional bike can do, versus a legal eBike.  As the greater public and land managers fully comprehend this, legal eBikes are likely to benefit from sustained and expanded access.  This has been the effect in Europe, which is many years ahead of the US in general bike and eBike usage.  Today, the rough equivalent of the Class 1 eBike in Europe enjoys very wide acceptance on paved and off-road bike trails.


Voids your warranty.  The motor suppliers are making their systems smarter and smarter. Some systems will detect when an electric drive system may have been tampered with.  This places additional strain on your drive system and voids your warranty – a potentially expensive move.


We stand with Bike Advocacy Groups.  Today, the vast majority of bike advocacy groups are enthusiastic supporters of legal electric bikes.  Likewise, we’re big supporters of these groups – they drive ongoing bike / trail infrastructure development and maintenance.  As such, we believe it’s wise to respect the regulatory framework, our partners, and our reputation by not de-restricting a legal eBike.


Be Part of the Solution.  Each modified eBike that operates on public land at speeds over the regulatory framework – rolls as an inspiration to the anti-ebike voices – and becomes part of the problem.  Whereas, each legal eBike user who respects other trail users, rolls as justification for sustained and expanded access – part of the solution.