Electric Bike Classes What’s The Big Difference?


Updated on December 27, 2020
How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?

If your new to the world of electric bicycles you may have noticed the different classes. We suspect that your first question would be what are the differences between e-bike classes ( Class 1, Class 2, Class 3) and others may have thoughts on speed.

This post covers e-bike classes, top speeds, and steps to take you over 28 miles per hour. First, the legal top speed of an e-bike is 20 mph.

Of course, electric bikes can go faster, but most are capped off. A built-in speed controller is set to limit e-bikes to 20 mph. 

There is a good reason for this limit. In order for electric bikes to be considered an electric bike “legally”, it can not exceed 20 mph.

As long as it doesn’t surpass 20 mph under its own power it is legal. 

Not every e-bike is built the same. Class 3 bikes can can go up to 28 mph, but this is with the help of pedal assist.

Electric Bike Classes Explained

People oftentimes falsely assume that e-bikes aren’t going to get them where they need to go as efficiently as a car – however, we do beg to differ.

If you’re in a big city and need to get around in a hurry, traffic can be a huge standstill to getting to your destination.

However, with an e-bike, you’ll avoid the onslaught of traffic, save extra money on gas, and still ride to your destination at an average speed of 20 miles an hour.

With the e-bikes out in the market now and the laws in your state or country, many average around or under 20 mph.

Also dependent on the class of electric bike you have, you may encounter the ability to have faster speeds with pedal assist, with upwards to 30 mph.

Like all newly popular technology in the United States, regulation has become a more important topic.

The need to regulate electric rideables especially e-bikes has created a classification system for many states to acknowledge and accept for their own usage.

What are the different classes of eBikes?

E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes but are primarily segregated among three classes. Class 1, class 2, class 3, and less mentioned class 4 e-bikes.

The main difference can range from a low-speed pedal-assist e-bike to a high-speed mid-drive bike. Each one is defined by U.S. Public Law or EU Laws that stipulate related legislation to e-bikes. Blow showcased the varying differences of e-bikes classes in areas like the US and EU.

What is a Class 1 Electric Bike?

Class 1 Electric Bikes are pedal-assist bicycles that have an installed motor to help with additional speed until the bike hits its top speed of 20 miles per hour. The e-bike pedal assist can be activated through a pedaling action.

Class 1 e-bikes have built-in sensors that measure pedal movements, torque, or e-bike speed. Sensors on class 1 e-bikes can be found on the bottom bracket, rear hub, or rear wheel. Europe limits class 1 e-bikes speed to 15 miles per hour at 250 watts or less wattage.

On the other hand, America’s class 1 only based on 20 miles per hour as mentioned earlier. The max wattage is 750 users have the same riding perks as conventional bikes.

These bikes are some of the most common E-bikes on the market. E-bikes in the class 1 category are typically lowered priced and have minimal specs.

What is a Class 2 Electric Bike?

Class 2 has a low-speed throttle power mode. The throttle provides additional speed without the need to pedal the bicycle.

The electric drive system on this class 2 e-bike can be activated in four ways: grip-twist, trigger, button, or even pedaling action. Class 2 are less common in Europe as these sorts of e-bikes are seen more like a motor vehicle.

The US has a different outlook on class 2 e-bikes. There less restricted and as a result, class 2 e-bikes have a bigger market presence in America.

An electric bike with a throttle can be compared to a scooter since it doesn’t require input from the rider to go.

Locations that still allow class 2 e-bikes in Europe can sport top speeds limited to 15 miles per hour. Similar to class 1 e-bikes and class 2 are limited to 20 miles per hour in the US. Also, you’ll be hard press to find a class 2 greater than 750 watts.

After 20 miles per hour is reached class 2 doesn’t provide assistance to reach higher miles per hour. The bike isn’t restricted to specific bike paths or bike lanes.

What is a Class 3 Electric Bike?

Class 3 Electric Bikes can provide cyclists with pedal assistance. Pedal-assist is a feature where the pedaling power of a rider ignites the motor.

Ignition of the motor and combine power of a rider propels an e-bike forward.

At this point, the bike is no longer under its own power. Acting as a bit of a legal loophole. A class three e-bike can be seen reaching top speeds of 28 miles per hour.

Class 3 electric bikes are fast and powerful. Eating up terrains like incline and decline hills or bumpy paths. This added performance means you’ll be paying top dollar to obtain a class 3 electric bikes.

(For all classes mentioned, the max legal power output is 750 watts)

What is a Class 4 electric bike?

Class 4 e-bikes are commonly seen as any bike that has a motor wattage greater than 750 watts or reaches a top speed above 28 miles per hour (45 kph). Moped or Motorcycle fit directly in these categories and have laws in place.

This is where the confusion stems from in respect to class 1 e-bike and class 4. There are highspeed machines that resemble bicycles some even having pedals causing people to paint a broad brush over all e-bikes.

The true difference comes from the wattage levels and top speed of e-bikes.

What Effects Your Electric Bikes Speed?

There loads of factors that can contribute to your electric bike’s speed. The motor style, wheel size, and voltage of your battery all have impacts on speed.

Many electric bike riders will fiddle with these areas to increase speed.

For example, when it comes to motor style, mid-drive systems deal out power along the drive-train more efficiently than hub motors.

Riders looking for good top end speed and performance should look a mid drive electric bike.

There are also external factors to consider. Hill climbing, bumpy terrain, or wind can decrease a riders momentum.

Not to mention a riders weight can also play factor here.

8 Tips To Enhance Your Electric Bike Speed

1. Swap out your old electric bike battery for something new and powerful.

This method is a bit more complicated. Switching a low voltage battery for something higher is a good way to juice up an e-bikes speed.

For example, 36v could be upgraded to a 48v, but the e-bike controller needs to be rated to handle that voltage.

2. Swap out your motor

The motor is a key determinant for an electric bike speed. Like the 1st tip it’s an advanced approach, but upgrading to a motor with a higher number of RPMs is a great way to increase your speed.

4. Switch out tires to something that is sleeker and street-friendly

If you tend to be more of road warrior than a mountain biker; it’s a good idea to switch to a versatile sleek tires.

The smoother tires will give you less road resistances.

5. Lower your wind drag

At some point in your cycling journey, you’ll end up battling the wind. A good way to decrease your wind drag and increase speed is to crotch over the handlebar or invest in a windshield.

6. Properly inflate your tires

This will greatly impact how your bike will perform. Hire tire pressure will help in lessening rolling resistances felt on the road.

Impacting your top end speed. The only caveat is you’ll be experiencing bumpier rides.

7. Hack Your Electric Bike

This may be controversial for some but hacking your electric bike is another good way to increase speed.

It won’t work for all e-bikes, but some will have display settings or control wires that can be altered.

You can even remove the rear wheel speed sensor and place it facing to the outside. In-doing so, the e-bike motor will no longer measure wheel speed.

Instead, it will record the cadence. Thus allowing riders to keep on pumping more power. Be mindful of hacking your e-bike as it can break the manufactures warranty.

8. Keep your battery cool conditions

The battery is a very sensitive component of the electric bike and requires special attention and care.

Keeping your battery in cool conditions will help maintain consistent voltage.  This directly correlates to more speed.

Are Electric Bikes Faster Than Normal Bikes?

When it comes to a true comparison of speed between Electric Bike vs.

Regular Bike, you have to plan for the fact that regular bikes are 100% powered by your feet. There is an increased amount of energy you can exert at any given moment.

With pedal assist bikes, you get the additional power from your electric bike.

It can really benefit riders that have difficult time going up hill or have prolong knee injuries and can’t push like they used to.

Conventional bike speed can range anywhere between 10 – 13 mph with an average rider. Compared to an e-bike which can very easily get you over 25 mph.

This is where the value of the speed matters more because you can go just as fast as a regular bike with the freedom of conserving your energy and get the most comfort out of your ride.

Plus with all the e-bikes, when you feel like going faster you can very well push the pedal to the metal to get where you need to go faster.

Ultimately, e-bikes win out on the speed category every time!

Are throttle electric bikes legal

Are throttle electric bikes legal?

Yes! e-bikes are very legal in the United States and Canada. However, dependent on the style of bike you get will determine how you must ride it to not break the law.

In the US E-bikes are still considered fully operable vehicles. If the motor is 750w or below and stays at a max speed of 20mph everything is fine.

New York recently legalize the use of e-bikes and e-scooters. Which is big step for New Yorkers.

Riders must not ride on sidewalks and stay on bike lanes. There certain age restriction for each state so if your underage the age of 18 make sure you do some research before riding.

Certain states require riders to use helmets or to ride on the street to avoid pedestrian sidewalks. While other states are fine without wearing helmets under a certain CC speed.

Here’s a list of different states and their laws explained a bit more thorough so you know what the laws in your area are.

In Conclusion

As someone who commutes and plans to ride for many miles daily. Electric bike technology can give you some true understanding of speed and enjoyment out of your ride no matter the weather.

These bikes get built quite similarly to the vehicles we are used to with comfort in mind. They are well built to endure years of usage.

The speed you can get from electric bikes can really make that extra difference on your daily commute or even wanting a fast ride for the heck of it!

Whether you choose an e-bike that has motor assist to give you some push while riding or getting a fully throttled e-bike to take you from A to B with the least effort possible.

You’ll definitely be enjoying the opportunity to get out of a car and onto a bike that will give you more freedom while out in the town.

We recommend that you pay attention to the laws in your town before buying an electric bike that has some extra kick to it.

You may have to go around certain barriers before really taking your bike on a joyride.

Related post

Electric bikes do pose some risk, but it’s also safe. In the wrong hands e-bikes can be very dangerous.

Since the dawn of time people and wheels have always coexisted. Just like other inventions before the e-bike people hesitate to adopt something new.

The same can be said with cars, bikes, skateboards or anything on wheels moving at low to moderate speed.

As with any new mode of transportation everyone adapts. Read More Here.