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eMTB Education

eMTB Access and Management

Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) present opportunity and challenge to traditional mountain bike access. If managed effectively, eMTBs may increase ridership and stewardship of trails. No management, poor management and misinformation, however, have the potential to jeopardize the current and future access that mountain bikers, local organizations and IMBA have pursued for decades.

IMBA supports shared “non-motorized” trail access for Class 1 eMTBs when conducted through a public process with stakeholder engagement. IMBA recommends shared “motorized” trail access for other classes of eMTBs. 

The current eMTB landscape

How eMTBS are Currently Managed

Currently, eMTBs are not defined or dealt with consistently across land management agencies. Be it local, state or federal land, it is always best to check with the land management agency current eMTB access.
 

State-based eMTB regulations: E-bike laws are different in every state. Find your state's information here.
 

Bureau of Land Management: E-bikes are allowed on trails limited to bicycles and non-motorized travel only if a BLM Manager has issued a written decision authorizing e-bike use. New rules were finalized in October 2020. Contact your local BLM office for more information.
 

National Park Service: Before visiting an NPS unit, visitors are encouraged to check the park website to find out what areas of the park are accessible and which facilities are open. Upon arrival, visitors can obtain additional information at the Visitor Center or a Ranger Station.
 

Bureau of Reclamation: E-bike riders should check with their nearest local office in order to determine if a specific location or trail has been opened to electric bicycle use.
 

Fish and Wildlife: E-bike riders should check with their local wildlife refuge before riding to ensure that no restrictions have been imposed.
 

U.S. Forest Service: Regulations categorize eMTBs as a “motorized” use. Therefore, on USFS land, eMTBs are only permitted where motorized vehicles are allowed. New rules were finalized in March 2022

Where to Ride

Class 1 eMTBs are not allowed everywhere traditional mountain bikes are allowed, and mountain bikes aren’t allowed on every trail. Our partners have mapped out trails where eMTBs are allowed.

Ride Vibes

Lead with kindness when you ride. Promote respect, inclusivity, safety and enjoyment on the trails.

Two female e-MTB riders in the desert.
Photo courtesy of: Eric Arce

eMTBs are powerful machines. They allow riders to climb steep slopes, travel longer distances, and experience trails that might not otherwise be accessible within a day’s pedal. However, with much power comes much responsibility. Just like mountain bikers, it’s important to be prepared, know your eMTB and know the trails you are planning to ride.

Ride Vibes: eMTB Etiquette
Man riding an e-MTB in Cedar City, UT.
Photo courtesy of: Liz Chrisman

eMTBs are growing in popularity, and evolving technology has opened the door to a whole new riding experience. Three mountain bikers tell us how eMTBs have allowed them to see more, be outside longer, and even helped make their work a little easier.

Why do you ride an eMTB?

More on eMTBs

PeopleforBikes offers multiple resources and tools related to both on-road and natural-surface eMTB issues.

PeopleforBikes

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