In Washington State, USA - you have to have pedals to be a bicycle. Electric bikes inherit all the laws affecting bicycles. No pedals + motor (regardless of electric or ICE) = motor-driven cycle or scooter.
Motorized foot scooter
"Motorized foot scooter" means a device with no more than two ten-inch or smaller diameter wheels that has handlebars, is designed to be stood upon by the operator, and is powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a speed no more than twenty miles per hour on level ground.
For purposes of this section, a motor-driven cycle, a moped, an electric-assisted bicycle, or a motorcycle is not a motorized foot scooter.
"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.
I believe most of us DIY'ers here are well above that speed limit.
"Moped" means a motorized device designed to travel with not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and having an electric or a liquid fuel motor with a cylinder displacement not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters which produces no more than two gross brake horsepower (developed by a prime mover, as measured by a brake applied to the driving shaft) that is capable of propelling the device at not more than thirty miles per hour on level ground.
My 2WD is definitely more powerful than this.
"Motor-driven cycle" means every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor that produces not to exceed five brake horsepower (developed by a prime mover, as measured by a brake applied to the driving shaft). A motor-driven cycle does not include a moped, a power wheelchair, a motorized foot scooter, or an electric personal assistive mobility device.
Technically, my 2WD is a motor-driven cycle with pedals because I have about 4 hp total.
Electric personal assistive mobility device
"Electric personal assistive mobility device" (EPAMD) means a self-balancing device with two wheels not in tandem, designed to transport only one person by an electric propulsion system with an average power of seven hundred fifty watts (one horsepower) having a maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a propulsion system while ridden by an operator weighing one hundred seventy pounds, of less than twenty miles per hour.
Mopeds, EPAMDs, electric-assisted bicycles, motorized foot scooters — General requirements and operation
Restrictions on limited-access highway — Use by bicyclists
Mopeds — Safety standards
Too long to quote, though it clearly outlines the limitations of these classes.
Finally... Wikipedia Electric bicycle laws
Wikipedia wrote:The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act states that electric bicycles and tricycles meeting the definition of low-speed electric bicycles will be considered consumer products to be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
They're quoting US Code
US Code wrote:
Low-Speed Electric Bicycles
Pub. L. 107–319, §2, Dec. 4, 2002, 116 Stat. 2776, provided that: “For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards issued and enforced pursuant to chapter 301 of title 49, United States Code, a low-speed electric bicycle (as defined in section 38(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act [15 U.S.C. 2085(b)]
) shall not be considered a motor vehicle as defined by section 30102(6) of title 49, United States Code.”
Consumer Product Safety Act wrote:Low-Speed Electric Bicycles Sec. 38 [15 U.S.C. § 2085].
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products within the meaning of section 3(a)(1) [15 U.S.C. § 2052 (a)(1)] and shall be subject to the Commission regulations published at section 1500.18(a)(12) and part 1512 of title 16, Code of Federal Regulations.
(b) For the purpose of this section, the term "low-speed electric bicycle" means a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.
(c) To further protect the safety of consumers who ride low-speed electric bicycles, the Commission may promulgate new or amended requirements applicable to such vehicles as necessary and appropriate.
(d) This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements referred to in subsection (a).
To conclude: If it's got pedals, it's a bicycle. Without them, you're something else that likely requires a lot more regulation.
Sorry... I'm just into studying law, and these laws here do allow for quite a bit of liberty.
Ride free, be safe, KF