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With the increase in e-bike usage, recreationists of all types are sure to find the following Idaho forest guidelines to be helpful. 

Current Idaho code

The state of Idaho (Idaho Code 49-106) defines an electrically assisted bicycle as an electric motor-driven vehicle equipped with operable pedals, a seat or saddle for the rider, and no more than three wheels in contact during travel. In addition, the vehicle must be equipped with an electric motor that is capable of applying a power output of no greater than 750 watts, and that is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 28 miles per hour on level ground. E-bikes are generally allowed to be used the same way as traditional bicycles.

Local laws and regulations

In addition to the Idaho state statutes above, federal land management agencies and local governmental entities often have other laws and regulations that prospective riders of e-bikes need to be aware of. For example, the USDA Forest Service often disallows the use of e-bikes on any forest trail designated as non-motorized.

Where are e-bikes currently allowed on national forests and grasslands?

Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes are allowed on motorized trails and roads in national forests and grasslands. Additionally, several year-round resorts operating under a special use permit have established e-bike use within their permit boundary. Always check with local guidelines and trail markers.

Classifications

The state of Idaho defines e-bikes as an electric-assisted bicycle equipped with a motor of less than 750w. Electric bikes are classified as:

  • Class 1: E-bikes are equipped with a pedal-assist-only motor that stops when the bike reaches 20 mph. 
  • Class 2: E-bikes equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle and stop when the bike reaches the speed of 20 mph.
  • Class 3: E-bikes equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and stops when the rider stops pedaling or when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 mph.

Etiquette

  1. Ride on open trails only. This means not just obeying trail closure signs but also making sure e-bikes are permitted.
  2. Leave no trace. Take your trash home. Don’t cut switchbacks. Don’t ride when trails are muddy as it damages the trail for months or even years.
  3. Control your bicycle. Control your speed and pay attention. You should be able to stop quickly at any point.
  4. Never scare animals. You may encounter horses, cows, or dogs on a trail. Give animals time to get used to you and allow extra space when passing. Use a calm greeting to announce your presence.
  5. Plan ahead with the appropriate gear, trail selection for skill level, and other precautions for a safe experience in the wilderness.
  6. When approaching others on the trail, bicyclists must yield to both hikers and horses. Slow down or move off the trail and communicate when passing.

More resources:

https://itd.idaho.gov/wp-content/Bike/Electric_Bicycles.pdf

https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/e-bikes

https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/e-bikes-bring-new-users-national-forests-grasslands