Legality of Pedal-Free E-Bikes in Canada: What You Need to Know

Legality of Pedal-Free E-Bikes in Canada: What You Need to Know


With modern developments in the field of transport, E-bikes have started taking over the world. In recent times people are preferring battery and electricity operated vehicles over those using fuel. Canada is no exception in this regard. E-bikes are rising up like anything owing to their popularity, convenience, sturdy structure, easy to carry to places and what not. 

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Before moving ahead let us learn how many types of e-bikes are available in the market. 

  • Pedal assist E-Bike:

Herein the rider has to use a pedal for using the motor in the bike. It may or may not be assisted with a throttle.

  • Throttle Only E-Bike:

Herein the bike has a throttle that controls the motor of the bike. It is also known as pedal free e- bike.

  • Pedal assist 28mph:

It is a variant of e-bike with pedals that can go to a max of 28 mph of speed and may or may not have a throttle. However the rider must be at least 17 years of age to ride this bike.

Pedal assist E-bike and Pedal assist 28mph are more or less the same with a difference in permissible speed limits. So let us ponder in detail about Pedal assist and pedal-free e-bikes. 

What is A Pedal-Free E-bike?

A pedal free e-bike may not be known to many but it actually exists. As a great development of its ancestral existence of bicycles it is an innovation that justifies the need of the hour. With advancement of features this added variant works without pedals, which means no more effort on your legs. 

Rather a ‘Pedal free e-bike’ involves a technique called ‘twist and go’ which involves the use of a throttle. Herein, you can run the motor by starting the throttle without pedaling it. It means for increasing your speed you need to either make a twist to the throttle or as an alternate option press the button.

Distinction between pedal-assist and pedal-free e-bikes

E-bikes are offered in two variants: Pedal free e-bikes and pedal assist bikes. Having their set of pros they both may differ in the degree of control offered to the user, ease of use, and many other parameters. Let us check out some major points that mark out the differences between the two variants.


Pedal Free E-Bikes

Pedal Assist 


These are called throttle e-bikes that involve a mechanism that is responsible for flow of the fluid.  

Herein, pedals are given that need to be operated by the user and power is provided to the motor using different modes for assistance.  


Mobile without the use of pedals.

Require pedaling for movement.

User Friendly

Do not need special skills for operating.

May require skills and extra efforts to ride with pedals.

Availability of Momentum

Due to its apt power that comes from throttle you get an extra inclination to move around easily.

It has a low power range that requires extra effort by the user to gain mobility in rough terrains.


Apt for all terrains including hilly areas. Older age groups and people with disabilities can benefit the most as it requires lesser efforts to operate.

Suitable for plain terrains with low to no inclination. People with an active lifestyle and from a younger age group can benefit the most.

Control for Power

Easy control of power through throttle where instant acceleration is provided in times of need. 

The control depends upon the pedaling speed which leads to power generation in the motor.

Riding Experience

Very comfortable and smooth ride.

Can feel tired by continuous pedaling as the motor senses motion to operate. 

Handling and Control

Better handling is available due to optimum distribution of weight of components of the vehicle.

Extended degree of physical effort is required to maintain control over the vehicle. 


Very safe with added agility for traveling through roadways, areas with heavy traffic, etc.

Multiple assistance modes of power are given to riders for making adjustments as per terrains. So sometimes it may not be safe for people that cannot put in required energy to operate the vehicle.

Current Laws and Regulations for Pedal-Free E-bikes

Canada has a certain set of Federal requirements that have been imposed on the use of vehicles since december 2019. As per Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and Nova Scotia e-bikes are classified as a separate entity in vehicles. These vehicles can be driven without a license. 

Normally, as a general set of rules if you are around 12 years of age no paperwork is essential. However, it must follow a speed limit of 45 kmph along with an engine capacity of 80cc along with a speedometer attached to the vehicle. Being a 12 year old all guidelines issued for a residential street or sidewalk or a bike lane, etc. must be abided strictly. 

Canada offers a good network of imports and exports for e-bikes and there are no rules applicable on the same. However, there are certain roads, pathways, lanes that may not allow use of pedal free e-bikes owing to the restrictions imposed by local authorities.

Rules for Provincial variations and Specific Restrictions

Apart from general rules that apply all over Canadian provinces there are certain rules that are limited to certain provinces. At present only 8 provinces in Canada are allowed for riding e-bikes. These include Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Manitoba, along with Saskatchewan. Check out the rules for some of them in brief below:

  • British Columbia

With a capacity of 500W and a speed limit restricted at a maximum of 32 km/h the rider must be at least 16 years of age to ride a pedal-free e-bike in British Columbia. Along with this the bike must have working equipment like accelerator and brake. You must also have a driver’s license, insurance, registration of the vehicle and must wear a helmet while riding the bike.

  • Alberta

A speed limit of 32 km/h, and a maximum motor output of 500W is permissible by authorities for pedal free e- bikes. Along with this the minimum age set for riders is 12 years who must wear a helmet while riding the vehicle. For passengers it is required to have a designated seat on the vehicle.

  • Ontario

Along with normal regulations regarding the speed limit of 32 km/h Ontario also imposes some additional rules regarding pedal-free e-bikes. It includes a 120 kg weight limit of the vehicle in addition to a 9 meters braking distance. You are also restricted to make any changes that may result in exceeding the speed limit set by authorities. Riders must not be less than 16 years of age and must use helmets while riding the vehicle.

  • Quebec

Herein power assisted vehicles are not required to abide by rules set by Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. As per Quebec Highway Safety Code a top speed of 32 km/h and a maximum 500w capacity are allowed for pedal assist e-bikes. Riders must be at least 14 years of age and require a moped license to operate it.

  • Saskatchewan

With a maximum limit of 500 watt power engine the rider must have a learning license to operate the vehicle. Besides this you must have a helmet on for riding the pedal free e-bike. You also need identification through stickers that show compliance of the vehicle with Federal rules.


Electric vehicles rules and laws are imposed for providing safety and maintenance of the manufacturing of the vehicle. It also ensures rider’s security, comfort and convenience while riding the pedal-free e-bike. At present only 8 provinces in Canada are allowed for riding e-bikes. 

It is suspected that with the raging demand of e vehicles more provinces will be allowing pedal free e-bikes to run across Canada. Additionally, in future it is suspected that there may be ease in regulations of riding these e-bikes on highways or other major areas that are meant for heavy vehicles.

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