What’s Up With the “No E-Bike” Signs on Local Trails?

A friend saw these signs today, and they make no sense to us. Mountain bikers only use pedal assist while going uphill—going downhill, without pedal assist, they’re going at the same speed as a friction bike. (Even with pedal assist, you can’t go fast uphill as it’s too steep in Santa Barbara.) Wondering if you know anything…. —PJ

“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of complaints and inquiries about e-bikes,” explains Montecito Trails Foundation president Ashlee Mayfield, “and in consultation with local groups and authorities, we felt the best thing for everyone was to have the rules clearly posted.”

And the rules for Los Padres National Forest, set by the U.S. Forest Service, limit e-bikes to “OHV trails, or in layman’s terms, where motorcycles are allowed,” says Mayfield. “That includes West Camino Cielo, Buckhorn Road, Camuesa Road, Divide Peak and Upper Oso.” On other LPNF trails, you can’t be on an e-bike, whether you use the electric aspect or not. (Mayfield adds that e-bikes are welcome at Elings Park and many of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Trails.)

According to the Los Padres Forest Association, the restrictions on e-bikes could be getting a fresh look. Last fall, “the Department of the Interior took a big step towards allowing pedal-assist e-bikes on traditional mountain bike trails within National Parks. This is bound to be a hot topic over the coming years as the Forest Service figures out how to squeeze e-bikes into an existing user-group or decides to create a new user-group altogether.”

Got a question? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


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These rules are not enforceable. The Secretary of Interior ruled on this on 8/29/2019. Order number 3376. This dictates how the US Forest Service establishes rules for the Los Padres National Forest. I can email you a copy if you send me your email address. As both a hiker, biker, and e-biker, I see most everyone in this group acting courteously and with safety. MTF cannot make up there own rules on Los Padres National Forest property. I am a supporter of MTF and member, but these trails belong to everyone, including those on e-mtn bikes.

Erik Torkells

The National Forests are overseen by the US Forest Service, which is under the auspices of the US Department of Agriculture, not the Department of the Interior. So the Interior Secretary’s order allowing e-bikes wherever regular bikes are allowed doesn’t apply to National Forest land the way it does to, say, National Parks or Bureau of Land Management land.

Dave Jack


USFS may not be able to enforce these rules, but we- a group of Los Padres lucals- can, and do. As avid riders of real bikes, we enforce the no motorbikes (aka ebikes) rule by destroying them. We are extremely serious about this.

A bike with a motor is a motor bike. Learn how to pedal.

Dave Jack's Daddy

@Dave Jack, Wow, you Los Padres “locals” are so macho!!! Super tough guys!!!


Thank you for putting up these signs. E-bikes have a motor and therefore should only be allowed on motorized trails and motorized roads. If you want to ride a bike non a non-motorized trail then stop being lazy and get a self-powered mountain bike. Who knows you might even get in shape and loose some weight if you do all the pedaling yourself.