How to Make Multiple Smart Speakers Work Together

Smart speakers have become so ubiquitous lately that you most likely have more than one set up at home. Maybe a Google Nest in one room and an Amazon Alexa in another, or more than one of each.

Whether you’re using smart speakers from Google, Amazon, or Apple, you can send audio to several speakers at once, configure them as stereo pairs, or even get your music to follow you from room to room.

Google Home/Google Nest

Google not long ago rebranded its Home speakers as Nest speakers, so you might have one or more of each—but they’ll still work together no matter what the label says. Speaker management is handled through the Google Home app for Android or iOS.

Open up the app and you’ll see all your Nest speakers listed, together with any other connected smart home devices like Chromecasts and Nest cameras. To put two Nest speakers together as a stereo pair, they need to be in the same room: Tap any speaker, then the cog icon, then Room to set this.

pGet your speakers in the same room to begin with.p

Get your speakers in the same room to begin with.

David Nield via Google

With that done, tap on the first speaker, then the cog icon, then Speaker pair. You then simply choose your second speaker, tell the app which one should act as the left and which as the right, and give the pair a name to identify it in the app.

This pair then appears as a single speaker in the Home app: You can cast audio to the speakers as a stereo pair from an app on your device, or play music through them both together via voice commands.

You can go further with a speaker group, which can include more devices and even Chromecasts. Again, tap a speaker and then the cog icon, then choose Groups and Create device group. Name your group (“kitchen” or “bedroom” for example), and you’ll be able to add other speakers to it through the same screen.

pYou can do more with Google speakers when they're in a group.p

You can do more with Google speakers when they’re in a group.

David Nield via Google

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27 Animal Crossing Tips to Up Your Island Game

I’ve been an Animal Crossing fan for 19 years, so you can say things are pretty serious. New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch is, in my opinion, the best version of the game yet.

With my extensive (OK, obsessive) knowledge of the series, I’m always fielding questions about the newest game. So I decided to compile tips (some from my colleagues too!) and answers to questions even I had to look up. Here’s how to make the most of your island vacation.

Updated November 2020: We’ve removed some outdated seasonal tips and added advice on kicking out villagers.

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1. Craft Faster

When you’re making DIY recipes, it can get annoying to wait through the animations every time you create something new. Speed the process up drastically by pressing the A button a few times in quick succession once your character starts crafting. (In case you didn’t know, repeatedly pressing B will make animals talk faster too.)

2. Optimize Your Inventory

Use your Nook Miles and the NookStop to unlock the maximum inventory capacity of 40 item slots to get more room in your pockets. I like to keep certain crafting items on me at all times so I can make a new bug-catching net or fishing rod at a moment’s notice. Aside from tools, I always have iron nuggets, wood, softwood, hardwood, stones, and tree branches on hand. Several items stack, but once you get 30 pieces of something like wood, it will automatically start using a new inventory slot.

3. Move Carefully

Pressing B while you move will make you run. This scares off bugs and fish, and it can ruin freshly planted flowers, so be careful. Pressing A while you move with a net in hand will make you sneak. Letting go of A while sneaking immediately swings the net down. This is the best way to creep up on skittish insects like moths, and it’s the only way to efficiently catch tarantulas and scorpions. Slowly walk toward them with your net up and stop as soon as their legs start shaking. When they stop, proceed, and rinse and repeat.

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4. Shake Every Tree on Mystery Island Tours

When you head to a mystery island, shake every single tree. There’s always a piece of furniture hiding in one of them. You’ll want to make sure you have your net out though, as there’s at least one wasp nest that will fall too. Oh yeah, you can catch those wasps before they attack. Just quickly tap A as soon as they pop out (facing them).

5. Wish Upon a Star

Sometimes, during the morning announcements, Isabelle will let you know that a Meteor Shower is on the way that night. The timing, it seems, is completely random. With more than 170 hours in the game, I haven’t had an official Meteor Shower yet, though I have met Celeste. She’s Blathers’ sister, and she’ll occasionally hook you up with a special zodiac-themed DIY recipe. (Looking around various forums, it appears this may be a bug; some players haven’t seen Celeste but have had Meteor Showers, and others have seen Celeste but not a shooting star, and so on.)

Either way, shooting stars appear at random between 7 pm and 4 am on clear, cloudless nights. They sound like a shimmery sort of bell. The noise is kind of quiet—headphones might be a good idea to hear them. Make sure your hands are empty, use the right joystick to look up, and press A when a star is overhead to make a wish. Shooting stars usually appear in bursts, so keep staring at the sky after wishing in case another one or three shoot by. The next day, your beaches will have Star Fragments you can use to craft certain DIY recipes.

6. Use Fruits for Super Powers

You’ve probably already figured out that eating a piece of fruit and then hitting a rock with your shovel or stone axe will break a rock, but did you know that the same action can help you move trees around? Gone are the days of chopping and replanting. As WIRED writer Louise Matsakis pointed out, once your fruit-eating powers have been activated, you can use your shovel to dig up a tree. It’ll get stashed inside your pocket for easy planting.

7. Make Your Money Trees Better

Once per day, there’ll be a shiny spot on the ground that contains 1,000 Bells. Reburying the bag of Bells will sprout a Bell tree that grows cash every few days. However, if you plant even more Bells, you have a chance of growing a tree that sprouts heftier Bell bags. This trick has led to me growing multiple 10,000-Bell trees. To plant a larger quantity of Bells, go to your pockets and click on the Bell counter in the bottom left-hand corner. From there, you can choose how many Bells to separate, and then select Bury in Hole to plant them.

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How to Watch the Election 2020 Results Tonight—and Beyond

Election Day is finally here.

There are as many ways to follow—or ignore, it’s fine!—election results as there are fun-size candy bar varietals. Some people will have five different screens open so that no electoral map or needle goes unmonitored. Others are happy to tune out, turn in, and wait for some news in the morning. You do what’s right for you and your mental health.

But unlike eating a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, there are definitely some wrong ways to watch an election. This year presents more unknowns than usual. Record levels of mail-in voting, along with different state rules for when those ballots can be processed and counted, mean it may take longer for votes to be counted. And experts have warned that different voting behaviors between the parties this year, with Democrats favoring mail and Republicans opting to vote in person, could mean the outlook for some states shifts as all the votes are tallied.

Election Day is already a huge target for misinformation campaigns, and frankly it’s easy for innocent misunderstandings to go viral too. Wherever you turn for information, make sure it’s a source you can trust to deliver the facts. If you’re hanging out on social media, think before you share.

How to Watch

The earliest state polls close at 6 pm East Coast time; most of the news you’ll hear before then is just noise. Outlets like FiveThirtyEight, Bloomberg, and The New York Times all have handy hour-by-hour guides to which states close their polls when, and what that might mean for the presidential race.

Not coincidentally, around this time is when many networks will start their primo Election Day special coverage. It’s the biggest news night of the year, and every channel wants in. If you have cable, satellite, or a streaming service subscription, you’ll have no shortage of options. If you don’t, many networks will have livestreams available for free online, as well.

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illustration of 2020 in red and blue

CNN is making its live coverage available without a log-in on CNN.com as well as its mobile apps for iOS, Android, and smart TV devices until 4 pm ET on November 4. ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News are all streaming their live election coverage online into tomorrow. (Fox News also has a livestream but requires logging in with either a TV provider or streaming service.) PBS is hosting its NewsHour election special live on its website, its social media accounts, and the PBS Video App for mobile and smart TV devices. For Spanish language coverage, both Univision and Telemundo will provide live election coverage on their respective digital platforms beginning at 7 pm ET. If you’re an iOS widget fan and want no hope of escape from the tallies as the flood in, NBC News now offers one to put live election results right on your home screen.

ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, and CNN all have decision desks: independent, nonpartisan teams that analyze vote and exit poll data in order to make projections about the likely winner. What people do with that information on air, of course, can be another matter. When Fox News’ decision desk called Ohio for Barack Obama in 2012, for example, Karl Rove quite memorably had a hard time accepting it.

Many other news organizations base their coverage on the Associated Press, which has called winners in US elections since 1848. This year, it will track results for over 7,000 races across the US. Unlike some other decisions desks, the AP doesn’t predict winners; it declares them when it considers a loss mathematically impossible. The organization explains its methodology in more detail on its website.

Social Media

Given all the unknowns heading into this election, and the likelihood that states will need more time to count all the votes, experts are on high alert for misinformation and premature declarations of victory. Most social media platforms have said they will take steps to label, restrict, or remove misinformation about the election, but it’s safe to assume they won’t catch everything. (In fact, some Instagram users have reported waking up Tuesday to an in-app reminder that “Tomorrow is Election Day,” whoops!) Read and watch with a critical eye.

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How to Shop for Halloween Costumes in This Bizarre Year

There are many kids who use wheelchairs or walkers, and have varying sensory or medical needs. None of them should feel left out on Halloween. Thankfully, a few stores, including Target, now offer adaptive costumes for all ages. (I maintain that you are never too old to dress up.)

Wheelchairs become part of the costume with kits like this rocket ship or flying witch from Target. The Disney Store has impressive options too, like Cinderella’s Coach and the Incredimobile. Spirit and Amazon also have wheelchair covers, but they’re much more expensive and not as nice.

Other adaptive costumes are designed to be easy to get in and out of and comfortable for the wearer, like this unicorn with accessories that can be removed as needed. The Disney Store has a Cinderella dress and Incredibles outfit to complete wheelchair sets, plus a Buzz Lightyear costume. All of them have discrete front openings for medical access, too.

You Can Also Do It Yourself

As easy as it is to buy a costume that comes with all the accessories, my favorite Halloween costumes are the ones I made myself.

Homemade costumes don’t need to be cosplay-level perfection. Throw on that flannel and long coat you already own for Bender from The Breakfast Club. Or if you are a perfectionist, go all out in a red gown (bonus points if you paint spirals on it) as the Martian Madame from Mars Attacks. I’m particularly proud of my light-up soda-bottle jet pack for my Space Cadet costume; I sewed space patches onto a military-style blazer I already owned but no longer wore, and then bought a cheap silver outfit. That costume cost me between $30 and $40, and I wore it two years in a row.

If you’re going to make something yourself but you’re not sure where to start, Google and Pinterest are your friend. If you’re thinking about it, there is probably already a blog about with a how-to.

When scouring Goodwill or local thrift stores, the key is to keep an eye out for unusual things that can work—I turned a faux fur collar into a Where the Wild Things Are monster tail, which was cheaper than buying fur from a craft store. I’m not a professional sewer either, I just use a needle and thread. If I can do it, so can you.

TJ Maxx, the Dollar Store, and Five Below are good for inexpensive bits and pieces. Amazon wigs tend to be better than Party City’s plasticky ones. You can also find great offerings at Etsy, like this DIY fox mask.

There are plenty of homemade possibilities for wheelchair costumes, like these incredible renditions of Beetlejuice and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Halloween is my favorite holiday, but it’s a wasteful one. Costumes are typically made to be worn once and discarded. But with fashion being an environmental nightmare as it is, try to reuse anything you can for a one-night-a-year event.

If you have more than one child, switch costumes between them. They can pick new accessories to put their own spin on it. Same goes for yourself; reimagine old costumes or ask friends and relatives if you can switch with them.

Goodwill and Salvation Army typically have Halloween sections, too. Did you know you can shop Goodwill online? It and other thrift stores can be goldmines for decades-old clothes. You can always re-donate after the holiday if you’ve bought something you don’t think you’ll use again. Facebook’s Marketplace could be helpful depending on your area.

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How to Use Blood Oxygen Data on Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, Samsung

Even if you wear a sensor in the right spot, its readings can be affected by a whole host of factors. That’s especially true for devices that aren’t the standard fingertip readers.

“On reflective devices, the performance can be a little worse,” says John Feiner, a respiratory physiology researcher at UC San Francisco. “Anything that shines through the fingertip usually is a little better, but all of these devices can be affected by profusion, cold, blood flow. There are many things that can affect this.”

These possible inaccuracies are why companies like Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin are very careful to emphasize that the readings you get from their wearables are not meant to be used for any kind of medical diagnosis.

And since we’re talking about measuring color and light, even skin color can possibly affect oximeter readings. If you are in a position where you’d still like to monitor your SpO2 levels, there are some ways to potentially make the readings more consistent.

“Personally, one thing that I would do is to put the watch on and put a wristband on top of it—something black to cover it and keep it enclosed,” Morita says. “I would monitor myself only in controlled conditions. So I would go into my bedroom, turn off all the lights, and measure my SpO2, let’s say, once an hour.” If you’re regularly monitoring your levels for the sake of your everyday health, it’s best to do so when your breathing levels are normal, and not after a period of physical exertion. “I would not use the information from the watch coming back after a run, or after cooking or walking around the house, because all of that activity is adding noise,” Morita says.

Is there a better way?

Just because wrist-mounted oximeters might lack precision, it doesn’t mean they’re entirely useless. Feiner, who has studied pulse oximetry in the medical field for over 20 years, says that the availability of these features in consumer devices shows how far the technology has come.

“Let’s say you’ve got an agitated patient in the intensive care unit, and you’re trying to get a reading and they’re moving,” Feiner says. “You need to know if you can trust that this is even in the ballpark. Many years ago, we would’ve gotten nothing. Now these devices actually perform pretty well. It’s pretty amazing.”

Both Feiner and Morita say their real concern with pulse oximetry in consumer devices is less about accuracy and more about how users will interpret the data that is presented to them.

“The biggest problem with all the wearable market that’s out there is not the technology, the sensors, or the data they’re collecting,” Morita says. “It’s always how that data is being presented to the user.”

A quick snapshot that tells you your SpO2 levels right at that moment isn’t very useful without context. Ultimately, if you’re concerned about your oxygen levels, your best bet is still consulting with a doctor who can track that data over time, and then interpret the results in meaningful ways.


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PC Gaming Doesn’t Have to Be More Expensive Than Consoles

Every few years, the planets align and we’re introduced to a new Xbox, a new PlayStation, and a new generation of PC graphics cards all at once—the perfect storm for a gaming-centric flame war. And with Nvidia’s latest cards costing $500 to $1,500, console users are singing the common refrain: “PC gaming is too expensive.” But these cost comparisons are often misleading.

You Already Own a PC

When people see a $500 graphics card, they think, “Holy smokes—I can buy an entire PS5 for that, and PC gamers are paying that much for just one component?” But that’s not really a fair comparison, because you (probably) already own a computer—so it makes more sense to compare the cost of a PS5 to the cost of upgrading your existing (or next) PC.

Let’s say you have a decent, somewhat modern desktop PC, but it uses integrated graphics, making it a gaming slouch. If you wanted to game on that PC, you wouldn’t need to build a new computer from scratch—you’d just need to pop in a new graphics card, maybe with an upgraded power supply (depending on your graphics card’s power needs). This isn’t a hugely complicated task—just read those two steps from our PC building guide—and you could easily do it for the same price as a modern console, or less. Nvidia’s latest cards start at $500, but those are just the high-end models—for each new generation, the enthusiast models come out a few months before the midrange GPUs most of us buy. Keep an eye out for some great $250 to $300 cards next year.

Image may contain Text

But let’s say you don’t have a desktop PC, having opted for a more portable laptop instead. You could upgrade it with an external GPU enclosure (if your laptop has the right Thunderbolt port), but that gets expensive once you factor in the cost of the graphics card that goes inside it. For a more cost-effective solution, I actually recommend buying two PCs. Yes, you read that right.

Let’s say you’re eyeing the $400 PS5 Digital Edition, and you currently own a $500 Windows laptop—a budget-friendly but not bottom-of-the-barrel setup that totals $900. The next time you’re ready to upgrade your computer, you could skip the new laptop and put together a solid $600 gaming PC instead, with a $300 Chromebook for coffee shop work or chilling on the couch. The total package still costs $900, but you get a gaming PC without giving up portability. The Chromebook won’t necessarily handle everything your old laptop did, but your desktop Windows PC can pick up the slack whenever you need Windows.

If you generally go for more expensive $1,000 laptops, you have a lot more room to play with—you can put more money into the gaming machine, or put more money into the laptop. I switched to this two-computer setup years back, and it’s been incredible—even after replacing an otherwise high-end Dell XPS 13 with a cheap used Chromebook.

That exact situation won’t work for everyone (and the $300 Xbox Series S certainly throws a wrench into things on the absolute low end), but you get my drift: With some outside-the-box thinking, PC gaming is absolutely attainable on a console budget, if you take a more holistic approach to your buying decision.

PCs Have Some Hidden Cost Savings

And that’s only the price of the initial hardware. When you factor in the other costs that come along during a gaming machine’s life, the PC still comes out looking pretty good.

Consider games, for example. While people often cite ever-regular Steam sales as evidence that PC games are cheaper than their console counterparts, I haven’t found this to be entirely true—pop recent games into price trackers like PS Deals and IsThereAnyDeal and you’ll find many PC games share similarly low sale prices as their console counterparts. However: You definitely don’t see as many giveaways and bundles on consoles as you do on PC, thanks to companies like Epic and Humble. Even when PC gamers find themselves low on cash, they never have a shortage of games to play.

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All the Ways You Can Pay With a Phone or Smartwatch

If you go to the app menu and then choose Settings, you can switch between a PIN, fingerprint recognition and iris recognition for verifying your identity—depending on what’s available on your device of course.

As with Apple Pay and Google Pay, you can use Samsung Pay on your Galaxy phone or watch anywhere you see the contactless payment sign, via NFC. Samsung Pay actually goes further though, and also supports the older magnetic stripe terminals where you would normally swipe a card. To pay on a phone, open up the Samsung Pay app, then tap Pay and follow the instructions.

If you’re using a compatible Galaxy Watch to make a contactless payment, open the Samsung Pay app to make sure you’ve got access to the cards you need. When it’s time to make a payment, press and hold the back key on the wearable until the cards appear—you can then hold the device close to the terminal to confirm.

Fitbit Pay

Image may contain Human Person and Finger
Photograph: Fitbit

Wearable maker Fitbit has had its own Fitbit Pay system since 2017—and will continue to do so at least until Google works out what it’s going to do with it. If you’re heading out with just a Fitbit device strapped to your wrist while leaving the phone at home, Fitbit Pay means you can still pay for a coffee or a juice without having to take your cards and cash out as well.

Fitbit devices work with Android and iOS, and so does Fitbit Pay—you just need your wearable and the Fitbit app for Android or iOS. The Fitbits that support this payment system are the Versa, the Versa Special Edition, the Versa 2, the Versa 3, the Sense, the Ionic, the Charge 3 Special Edition, and the Charge 4.

And you do need a tracker or smartwatch to pay, because Fitbit Pay won’t work directly from your phone. The list of banks that support Fitbit Pay isn’t as long as it is for the other mobile payment methods we’ve mentioned here, but it does now run into the hundreds—so there’s a good chance that your bank is supported.

To set up your payment methods, you need to go into the Fitbit app on your phone, tap your avatar (top right), and then tap the device that you want to set up. Pick Wallet and you can configure your payment methods, and add a PIN code to protect them.

As with the other methods we’ve described above, NFC is used to make payments, and Fitbit Pay via a compatible wearable will work anywhere you see the contactless payment symbol (or anywhere where contactless cards are accepted). Open the Wallet app (see here for device-specific instructions), then hold the wearable close to the terminal.


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How to Watch the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate

So, some stuff has happened since the last one of these. Not going to get into all of it now, but suffice to say some circumstances have changed ahead of tonight’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris.

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illustration of 2020 in red and blue

For one, the candidates are going to be separated by a wider gap than previously planned, up from 7 feet to 12 feet, 3 inches. A pair of plexiglass partitions have also been added to the stage. The additional measures were put in place as multiple members of the White House—including the president, the first lady, the press secretary, and others—have tested positive for Covid-19 since last week. President Trump was hospitalized for the virus over the weekend. While Pence attended some of the same events as those who tested positive, White House physicians and the CDC have both issued memos that he does not need to quarantine and is safe to participate in tonight’s debate after a series of negative tests. As of this writing, Pence’s most recent test was Tuesday afternoon, according to White House physicians. The Biden campaign announced that Harris also tested negative on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

The debate will air live beginning at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT), with USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page moderating. The planned format for the evening is divided into nine themed segments of approximately 10 minutes each, with no commercial breaks. The topics of those segments have not been announced in advance, but let’s assume that at least one of them is about the virus. Pence was named head of the White House coronavirus task force in February. So far, more than 200,000 Americans have died in the pandemic.

The debate is taking place at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, before a small live audience that will include some students. The university is in the middle of a two-week shift to online courses, as part of what school officials are calling a “circuit breaker” designed to reduce the risk of transmission. Everyone at the debate venue is supposed to be tested for coronavirus and take other precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing. Pence, Harris, and Page will be able to take off their masks once they’re onstage.

How to Watch the Debate

With a comfort beverage of your choosing.

Seriously, though, you have options. Like its presidential counterpart, the vice presidential debate will be simulcast across all the major networks and cable news programs, including ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, and PBS. Check your local listings, take your pick. The event is scheduled to kick off at 9 pm ET (6 pm PT).

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5 Graphics Settings Worth Tweaking in Every PC Game

The human eye has a relatively wide field of view—you can see someone approaching from the side through your peripheral vision. When you’re playing a game, your character doesn’t have this same peripheral vision, because you’re playing on a screen that takes up only a portion of your own field of view. That means you won’t see as many enemies coming up the side, or you may even feel motion sick when moving the camera around fast.

Adjusting the oft-ignored Field of View setting can help with this, provided your game offers it. Widening the field of view may add a slight fisheye effect to the edges of the screen, but you’ll be able to see more of the game world, and it may help reduce that nausea. (It’ll also hamper performance a bit, since the game has to render more objects.) The ideal field of view is dependent on the size of your screen, how close you sit to it, and your personal preferences, but anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees is usually a good starting point. Tweak the setting, give yourself some game time to get used to it, and tweak it again if need be.

Anti-Aliasing

AntiAliasing Jaggies
Screenshot by Whitson Gordon

Anti-aliasing is another one of those settings that isn’t quite so cut-and-dried. As its name suggests, it aims to fix aliasing, or jagged edges in certain objects or textures. If you’ve ever seen a blade of grass or window frame that looked like a blocky mess rather than straight lines, you know what I’m talking about.

There are many forms of anti-aliasing, each with their own pros and cons, and it’s hard to say one is better or worse than another. Most games will give you an option between a few of these. Super-sampling anti-aliasing, or SSAA, is the ideal solution, rendering objects at a higher resolution and then scaling them down—but this comes with a large performance penalty, so most people won’t have the graphical resources to devote to it.

That leaves you with the compromises: MSAA eliminates aliasing along edges, with a more moderate performance hit. TAA can remove the “shimmering” effect you see on some objects, at a lower performance penalty, but comes with some motion blur. FXAA and SMAA are even less resource-intensive, but add even more blur, to the point where I’d personally rather have jaggies than FXAA. And on top of that, many anti-aliasing settings also come with different levels (like 2X, 4X, or 8X) that offer heavier improvement at the cost of performance.

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What Are Ebike ‘Classes’ and What Do They Mean?

Ideally, we’d refer to kick scooters, like the Ninebot ES2, as scooters and call things like Vespas “mopeds”. A moped is already a common term for them anyway. You’re unlikely to mix up an ebike and an electric kick scooter, which has much smaller wheels and requires you to stand instead of sit.

Like with electric motorcycles, e-mopeds don’t have pedals. Most states classify these as scooters rather than motorcycles if it has a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour and, if gas-powered, a maximum engine displacement of 50 cubic centimeters. You generally don’t need a motorcycle license to drive a moped if it tops out at 30 miles per hour, but you do need a regular driver’s license.

The difference between an ebike and an electric motorcycle largely centers on the fact that an ebike has pedals and a motorcycle doesn’t. Even fast, nonclassed ebikes are technically considered bicycles in many US states because they have pedals. Legislators haven’t given much thought to 40 mile-per-hour ebikes, because they’re uncommon. For now, they’re in legal limbo in a lot of places.

State Variations and Federal Land

Effective August 2, the state of New York made it legal to ride an ebike on roads that post a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. While it doesn’t directly regulate an ebike’s top speed, it effectively means you’re restricted to 30 mph, unless you like speeding tickets. California, aside from having a ban on throttles for Class 3 ebikes, also says an ebike’s electric motor must be less than 750 watts. Washington state says it must be 750 watts or less, which effectively rules out those ultrafast ebikes. Beyond that, they’re considered electric motorcycles. A few manufacturers make California-compliant versions of their higher-end ebikes.

Eight states flat-out classify ebikes as mopeds or motor vehicles and not bicycles at all. These are just a few examples of how widely the laws are written and interpreted legally, all the more reason for you to look up local state and city laws before you buy an ebike (especially a high-powered or fast one).

The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and National Forest Service all control different swaths of federal land and have their own rules for which ebikes can be ridden where. Read up before you take a trip with your ebike.

Now that you know the differences, check out WIRED’s guide to the Best Electric Bikes to find our favorites. Happy riding!


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