Electric bicycles are a great way to make travel easier without investing in a car, which is why more and more parents are starting to view them as a good step toward independence for teens who are already pretty mobile on a traditional bike. Having an electric model gives them support against high winds or uphill climbs that could be tiring, as well as a more predictable travel time thanks to the motor helping keep speeds consistent. There are a few things to think about before you buy an e-bike for a teen though, because the practical and legal landscape of bike ownership changes when you add motorized assistance.
Age Restrictions and Licensing Requirements
The implementation of standards for electric bicycle usage has been slow, with a patchwork set of regulations growing in many cities and states at once. As a result, the regulations around licensing vary considerably from location to location. In most areas, the smallest class of electric bike motor does not require a license or endorsement to operate, but in many of these locations there is still a minimum age for operation. There are also a fair number of states that do require endorsements for all electric bicycle operators, and a greater number that require them for larger engine sizes. Make sure you understand the legal implications of letting teens ride electric bikes in your area before you buy.
Figure Out the Best Bike Styles for Your Teen
You can do a lot of things with a bicycle, so different riders will need different things from their rides. This is just as true for electric bicycles as for traditional ones. It wouldn’t be suitable to take a street cruiser designed for cross-country racing on paved roads for a trip on a tough-edged mountain trail. Similarly, the best electric beach cruiser is going to provide unparalleled performance in a sandy environment, but it’s not necessarily the best bike choice for long-distance street rides. Before you choose a model, investigate what your teen wants to do with the bike, and then choose a model built to purpose.
Pick a Frame With Room To Grow
Finding the right size in a bike frame is just as important as finding the right style of bike for the rider’s intended activities. At the same time, teens are known to grow quickly and unexpectedly. That means you should consider future growth when checking out e-bikes for short riders. Find something toward the top end of the acceptable range for your young rider, and then look for the following features to help ensure the bike is able to meet your needs for years to come:
- Check out how much height adjustment is available in the seat and handlebars
- Look into trade-in policies and paths to an upgrade at retailers, some market to teen audiences with appropriate programs
- Consider additional accessories that help optimize the bike’s frame for growing riders
- Think about your future needs and whether this could be a bike that gets handed down when the rider is tall enough for a new model
There are a lot of options out there for young riders, but it’s important to find the bike that will support them every day until they are ready for an upgrade. That way, they have something to grow with.