Earlier this month, the Manhattan Beach Police Department (MBPD) in California issued a warning regarding the dangers of riding non-street-legal e-bikes on public roads. This came after they confiscated a Sur Ron electric motorbike that was being used on the streets and operated by a 13-year-old.

In a social media post, the MBPD expressed their concerns about the situation. While they acknowledged the growing popularity of e-bikes and the desire for quick transportation, they emphasized that giving a 13-year-old an e-bike capable of exceeding 30 mph while lacking safety equipment is a recipe for disaster.

Sur Ron electric motorbikes, along with other similar models like the newly released Talaria XXX, are primarily designed for off-road use and do not meet the legal requirements for on-road use. These bikes surpass the speed and power limits allowed for electric bikes, which are regulated by law.

MBPD Sergeant Andy Abreu confirmed that the Sur Ron bike doesn’t fall into any of California’s electric bike classes due to its off-road nature and its motor’s power level, which exceeds the legal limit for e-bikes. Furthermore, it lacks essential safety features, such as side view mirrors required for motorcycles.

Electric bikes are legal on public roads, but they must meet specific criteria for approval. Many non-street-legal electric bikes, including Sur Ron motorbikes, are not illegal per se but are not permitted to operate on public roads. They are typically designed for riding on private trails, providing a quieter and less maintenance-intensive alternative to gasoline-powered dirt bikes.

Purely off-road electric motorbikes, like Sur Ron, emerged as a category early on. However, newer companies are now offering more affordable and attractive models, challenging traditional combustion engine dirt bikes.

The e-bike community has long noted both the danger of speeds above 30 MPH and the rarity of police officers enforcing e-bike speed limits. E-bike blogger Karl Gesslein has argued that police focus traffic enforcement on vehicles that generate lots of complaints. Since e-bikes are quieter than other vehicles, they generate few complaints.

Thankfully, as more riders attempt to use off-road e-bikes on public roads, some police finally agree that we need to become stricter in cracking down on their use.

Image Source: Manhattan Beach Police Department, https://shorturl.at/bEV19. Image cropped.