E-biking in Bend, Oregon

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E-biking in Bend, Oregon

E-biking in Bend is becoming increasingly popular, from speedy e-commuters on their way to work to e-mountain bikes rallying along motor-friendly dirt roads and e-bike specific trails. Many people have an absolute blast on them because they’re fast, efficient, and easy to ride. And they open up the world of biking to many people.

If you love to ride e-bikes or are looking to try one out on your next vacation to beautiful Bend, Oregon, then you definitely need to know the rules and laws around e-bikes in the area, especially on our trails. 

Rules for riding e-bikes in town

  • You must be 16 to ride electric bikes (as well as Segways, electric, and gas scooters). Mopeds require a driver’s license and registration.
  • Electric bikes can ride in the bike lane and the crosswalk. You cannot ride electric bikes on the sidewalk. Before you ride electric bikes on trails or paths, see below.
  • Electric-assist bikes cannot be capable of going faster than 20 MPH on level ground.
  • Passengers are only allowed if the bike is built and safely equipped for them.
  • Lights are required on all e-bikes when visibility is limited.
  • Helmets are required for bike riders under 16.
E-biking through a tunnel in Bend, OR

The facts about the legality of e-bikes and where you can and cannot ride them in the Bend area.

How does Oregon define an e-bike?

A pedal assist e-bike is a motorized vehicle when on dirt trails. This is the federal law definition. By Oregon state law definition, it is not a bicycle when it is not on the roadway. So in Oregon, a pedal assist e-bike is not a bicycle when you’re on trails (off the roadway). This is an important distinction and helps clarify why e-bike laws are a little different here. 

Where can I ride my e-bike around Bend?

E-bikes are a fantastic way to cruise around Bend and see the sights! But there are a few rules to note. Riding e-bikes on sidewalks is not allowed. You must stick to bike lanes or on the road with cars. And like any other cyclist, you must follow the rules of the road when riding an e-bike.

What about my mountain e-bike? Are there e-bike trails in Bend, Oregon?

For mountain bikers with e-bikes, you can ride on gravel and dirt roads that allow motorized vehicles. If you are permitted to drive a car or a motorcycle on it, you can absolutely take your e-bike! There are many scenic and serene gravel routes that will get you into nature and away from the hustle and bustle. Our buddies over at Hutch’s have put together a helpful list of a few e-bike friendly gravel routes

OHV trails are open to e-bikes, like the Millican OHV trail system east of Bend, which is on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Currently, the BLM does not allow e-bikes on their non-motorized trails. This means areas like Horse Ridge, Cline Butte, and Maston are not available to e-bikes. At OHV areas like Millican, e-bikes must follow the same rules as any other motorized vehicle on these trails. That means an ATV permit/sticker is required. 

Make sure to be aware of other vehicles like motorcycles and quads on the trails — you’ll hear and see them much quicker than they will you. Move to the side, give a friendly wave, and let them go by so you can get back to riding. 

Class 1 (pedal-assist only up to 20mph) e-bikes are allowed at the East Hills Trail Complex in Madras, about an hour north of Bend. Here you’ll find a fantastic flowy singletrack trail system with tons of options for beginner and intermediate riders. Plus, a few more challenging rides mixed in.

Where can’t I ride e-bikes in Bend?

The US Forest Service (USFS) has banned the use of e-bikes on all USFS non-motorized trails in Oregon, where motorized use is prohibited. This means that all of Bend’s singletrack is off-limits (illegal) for riding e-bikes. 

Trails at Phil’s, the Wanoga Complex, Skyliner, Horse Butte, Swamp Wells, etc., are non-motorized trails located on USFS land; therefore, e-bikes are prohibited. If a car or motorcycle can’t be on it, neither can an e-bike because of how they’re legally defined.

Oregon State Parks also do not allow e-bikes. Smith Rock and Tumalo State Park don’t allow motorized vehicles on trails, so you guessed it, that includes e-bikes.  

Our friends at Bend Trails provide not only valuable information on current conditions, routes, and juicy local intel but e-bike info. At the top of each trail description, you’ll see whether or not a trail is legal for e-bikes. 

Please note these regulations do not come from the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA). For 25 years, COTA has been maintaining and building trails in Central Oregon. They work with the USFS and the BLM under a Volunteer Agreement, but they are not the ones that decide where you can or cannot ride an e-bike. 

E-bikers watching SUPers near Drake Park in Bend, OR

Where can I rent e-bikes in Bend?

There are a few local bike shops offering e-bike rentals. For commuters and around town bikes, check out Bend Electric Bikes and Let it Ride Electric Bikes. Check in with Hutch’s, Sagebrush Cycles, and Project Bike for mountain bikes. 

E-biking laws in Bend, Oregon, can be a complicated and much-debated issue. Who knows what the future will bring, how our trails will change, and where you might be able to ride e-bikes in the next few years. But for today, there are laws. So, let’s be kind, respectful, educated and stay on designated trails.