LEGAL EAGLES needed: Pushing Limits of Ebikes

  • Country: United States (US)
  • City: Gerlach
  • Listed: March 9, 2021 7:37 pm
  • Expires: 42 days, 10 hours
giant innertube trike


Electric bikes at Burning Man are aligned with the Nevada statutory rules enabling their use.

We have a project team of makers interested in experimenting with mutant hybrid bike designs. The problem is that Nevada’s law for what constitutes an ebike is limiting and nebulous. We really need an attorney or two familiar with Nevada law to help us push the envelope.

Nevada Statute 483.067:

“Electric bicycle” means a device upon which a person may ride, having two or three wheels, or every such device generally recognized as a bicycle that has fully operable pedals and is propelled by a small electric engine which produces not more than 1 gross brake horsepower and which produces not more than 750 watts final output, and:

1.  Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and

2.  Powered solely by such a small electric engine, is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying an operator who weighs 170 pounds.


750 watts is an unusual and unruly benchmark. Electric motors for bikes typically jump from 500 watts, which is underpowered to 800 watts, but 1,000, 1200 and 1500 watts are becoming more common.

Some motors that can re repurposed from defunct vehicles are technically more than 1 HP, though they may not produce that much output. The trickiest part of hacking mutant bikes is that the Nevada law forces both a 750 watt AND the 1 HP limit.

Lacking specificity about exactly how final output is determined leaves interpretation wide open, placing the owner at a huge disadvantage in defense.


We’d like to set up a legal repository for Burners concerned about defending their rights to use gray area electric bikes in Nevada when confronting law enforcement and in court.


Case law research and consultation on whether proposed engineered solutions are defensible. And some representation assistance in Nevada courts to establish case law interpretations to clarify the law and expand the envelope of what is allowable.

In other words, we have workarounds that enable higher wattage and horsepower by limiting the effective output to the wheels within legal limits, but they have never been legally tested. We aim to perform such a test through pre-burn preparation and after burn court follow-up.

Bike Makers/Enthusiasts:

We welcome any bike makers interested in joining the collective to participate in this project. Send a message with a little about yourself, where you are based and what you’d like to bring to the next Burn.

At some point we’ll also need an electrical engineer from the Reno area that will testify as an expert witness or by affidavit.

Reno/Sparks area residents: if we line up some legal support, need a couple of people to ride prototypes around for a citation test. This case law would expand application everywhere in Nevada, not just the playa.

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