Do You Have To Wear A Helmet On An Electric Bike? No, but…

The legality of electric bikes is changing fast. As countries and local areas get used to changing modes of transport we see laws and statutes updated regularly. So many people are confused about whether you have to wear a helmet on an electric bike.

Do You Have To Wear A Helmet On An Electric Bike?

That depends. In many states in the US, you do not need to wear a helmet on an electric bike – regardless of its class and power. Most require helmets for Class 3 riders, as well as for any rider or passenger under a certain age – normally under 16 or 18.

So legally in a lot of areas, you won’t be fined or penalized for not wearing a helmet on an electric bike. But you may find that individual cities, towns, jurisdictions, bike paths, or outdoors areas are allowed to make their own rules on helmets.

Fines, confiscation, and even points and restrictions on your standard driving license are some of the consequences in different places. However, if you legally need to wear a helmet shouldn’t be the question you’re asking.

Should You Wear A Helmet On An Electric Bike?

Absolutely, unequivocally, enthusiastically – Yes. You really should wear a helmet while riding an electric bike because the speed and acceleration are much higher than that of standard push bikes. That leads to longer braking times, less time to react, and higher speed impacts.

That means more chance of getting into an accident, worse crashes, longer recovery time, and more possibility of serious injury and hospitalizations. Not to mention a more expensive bike ruined. Want a good helmet? This one is perfect.

Don’t believe us?

Recent studies have shown that accidents on electric bikes tend to be much nastier than on standard push bicycles. In fact, the study (done over 17 years) found that E-Bike riders were “more likely to suffer internal injuries“, and “more than three times more likely to involve a collision with a pedestrian” than standard pedal bikes.

Another study found that vs bicycles, “the injury severity score of e-bikers remained significantly worse“. One more found “a higher incidence of moderate traumatic brain injuries” than bicycles, even though E-Bike riders were more likely to be wearing a helmet. This is a key reason to wear helmets.

A motorbike rider going 25mph vs an E-Bike rider at the same speed are about as exposed as each other. Motorbikes are heavier so they can travel further along the road in a crash, meaning more meat crayon action. However, motorbike riders are much more likely to have fully padded and armored jackets, gloves, pants, and boots.

Even the “coolest” motorbike riders who insist on jackets, jeans, and no helmet are at least wearing slightly heavier clothing than an E-Bike rider out for a breezy day. So that’s why there is a special E-Bike helmet standard, the NTA 8776 which falls somewhere bike a push bike and a motorbike helmet design.

The Electric Bike Helmet Standard – NTA 8776

There is a fairly new E-Bike helmet safety standard called the NTA 8776:2016-12, created by the Royal Netherlands Standardization Institute (known as NEN). It was a collaborative effort mainly focused on the European countries, but commonly used around the world.

Basically, it’s a standard that requires higher safety in a few areas over a standard pedal bicycle helmet. It includes more side protection and higher force ratings for impacts. If you’re riding an Electric Bike, we think you should look for helmets with the NTA 8776 standard.

We also think you should get a helmet with MIPS protection that helps absorb rotation, which is key to stopping damage from your brain rotating in an accident! We’ll leave that for another day though…

If you want to know our favorite helmets for electric bikes and why each one is right for each use, read our fully researched article on the Best Electric Bike Helmets

So whether or not you have to wear a helmet on an electric bike, or what the laws are on wearing electric bikes, you just should. If you want a suggestion for the best E-Bike helmet, this is our go-to: –

  • NTA 8776 E-Bike Certified
  • MIPS Protection
  • Large, Bright Rear Light
  • 418g Total Weight
  • Removable Magnetic Panoramic Lens
  • Includes Winter Kit Ear Pads
  • Adjustable Top Vents
  • Dial Fit

The Urbanize is NTA 8776 and MIPS certified, as well as being from a great brand with quality construction and service. We picked it as the Best Commuter E-Bike Helmet in our Best E-Bike Helmet guide and for good reason.

With solid construction, good looks, and tonnes of extras, it covers everything you’ll need as a commuter in rough traffic and poor conditions. It’s also perfectly suitable for bike trails (not MTB trails, get a full face) and fun days out. The lens comes on and off with magnets, and the rear light has three modes and can be easily removed to charge by USB.

It gets 5 stars on the Virginia Tech helmet safety rating list, it’s comfy, has good air venting as well as an included winter kit with air blockers for the front vent and padded earmuffs. The rear hole is also big enough to fit in a lock.

It also comes with Lazer’s Crash Replacement Program. If you get into a crash in the first 3 years (if you register and show proof of purchase) you get 50% off a new Lazer helmet. This is top of the line but absolutely worth the cash.

Electric Bike Helmet Laws

We’ve rounded up some of the laws about wearing helmets on Electric Bikes from around the world. Be warned: These aren’t guaranteed as true and are based on the latest info gleaned from official sources as of the last time this article was updated.

Local towns, districts, or specific bike paths and outdoor areas may well have different laws. Most will err on the side of caution and will require you to be wearing a helmet.

USA

These are for state laws only, local municipalities, cities, towns, and even specific streets may have stricter laws.

  • In New York, you have to wear a helmet on Class 3 E-Bikes only, or if the rider/passenger is under 14 on any class. Read more about New York Electric Bike Laws
  • In Florida, riders under 16 must wear a helmet on an E-Bike of any class, but riders 16 or over don’t have to wear one at all. Read more about Florida Electric Bike Laws
  • In Washington DC, there is no specific law for E-Bikes, but all bicycle riders under 16 must wear a helmet. Class 3 E-Bikes are licensed as “motor-driven cycles” so helmets must be worn, as well as needing a motorcycle license. Read more about Electric Bike Laws in Washington DC
  • In Colorado, only riders and passengers under 18 must wear a helmet on Class 3 Electric bikes. Everyone else has no obligation. Read more about Colorado Electric Bike Laws
  • In Texas – of course – there are no state regulations on helmets for E-Bikes at any age. Feel free to put your child on a 28mph E-Bike in traffic. This is sarcasm. Read more about Texas Electric Bike Laws

We’ll cover more as we update our detailed guides to electric bike laws by state.

Europe

In the EU, most Electric Bikes of a certain power are classified as “Pedelecs”. To meet this, the bike must have a motor that continuously puts out no more than 250W, must use the motor to assist only (not just throttle power, supposed to pedal), and only assists up to 25kph (15.5 mph).

Whether manufacturers mark their motors as 250W – even though they’d be well over if measured strictly – and whether they allow you to change the bike to be allowed to use just the throttle is entirely a different story.

However, if you’re in the EU and your country uses the EU pedelec standard, then electric bikes that come under this standard don’t legally require the rider to wear a helmet. Over these limits, most are called “Speed Pedelecs” and require helmets like motorbikes.

European Electric Bike Helmet Laws by Country

  • Follow EU regulations – Don’t require helmets for adults
    • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain
  • Don’t follow EU regulations – Don’t require helmets for adults
    • United Kingdom
  • Don’t follow EU regulations – DO require helmets for adults
    • Switzerland

Most European countries do not legally require adult bicycle (including E-Bike) riders to wear helmets but do strongly suggest it. Some countries like Spain, Finland, and Malta do legally require them.

Some places deem areas like inner cities to not require helmet usage though. It can get complicated depending on the area and the city’s local laws. A lot of countries in the EU also require children under certain ages to wear helmets on electric bikes and standard bikes. The age varies from 12 to 16.