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Electric Bike Speeds: Everything You Need To Know

Electric bikes speeds are all over the place. Models typically advertise speeds in wide ranges (e.g. “15-28 mph”), and a lot of them shy away from calling out a specific top speed. In some areas, there are rules and regulations about bike classification that are effectively rules about their speed, but what’s important to actually know here?

Electric bikes typically go about 20mph (32km/hr) and can get as fast as 28mph (45km/hr), much faster than the average non-e-bike which may have manually achieved speeds of 12 to 16mph (19 to 26km/hr). A big difference between Class 3 and Class 2 bikes is the top speed of their pedal assist modes (28 vs 20mph).

So, with an e-bike, you can expect to go anywhere from 20mph to 28mph. But are there bikes that can go faster? What are the laws surrounding electric bike speed? Read to find out everything you need to know!

What Are Typical Electric Bike Speeds?

Man Riding E Bike Bicycle In City

If you’re interested in purchasing an electric bike, you may be wondering about its speeds and capabilities. The speed of an electric bike is mainly determined by what class it falls under. But, typically, you can find bikes ranging from 20mph to 28mph.

Class 1

Class 1 electric bikes have a motor that only assists the rider during pedaling and is called pedelecs. These bikes are limited to a top speed of 20mph. These electric bikes are typically allowed on bike paths and bike lanes.

A range of 20mph is by no means the fastest an electric bike can go. That being said, this range is an excellent place to be. At this speed, you’ll feel a significant rush of power and be able to get to your destination in a timely manner.

Take a look at the eAhora XC100 (on Amazon). This model offers speeds of 18-23mph. That means, with ideal circumstances, you can reach a fairly decent pace. For under $1,000, this is definitely a budget-friendly bike that typically marks the Class 1 division.

Class 2

In the Class 2 division, your bike will still be limited to 20mph. The difference here is these bikes have throttles that work when you’re not pedaling. Most of these bikes offer pedal assistance as well as throttle capabilities. You can typically ride these bikes in the same areas you can ride Class 1 models.

The benefit of the throttle system allows you to kick back and enjoy the ride without pedaling. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t pedal or that the motor won’t assist you when you do so.

One option that we’ve recommended in the past is the Pace 350 by Aventon. It’s a fairly standard bike that can suit all riders. At a starting price of $1,999, it starts to leave the budget-friendly zone, and you receive the advantages of higher quality and reliability.

Class 3

In the Class 3 division, the rules and regulations start to get a bit tricky. These bikes can go up to 28mph, must have a speedometer, and may or may not have a throttle. The rules and regulations for these bikes vary from state to state, which we’ll cover shortly!

If you opted for a Class 3 option, you might be looking at something like the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 EQ. This model doesn’t have a throttle system but can reach higher speeds of 28mph. This added speed can transform your commute and allow you to cover more ground in a shorter period.

What Factors that Affect E-Bike Speed?

Keep in mind; all these speed ranges are under ideal circumstances. Multiple factors can affect the speed of your electric bike besides its electrical components.

Weight: The weight of the rider, bike, or any gear being transported will affect the speed of an electric bike. Lighter frames are often more desirable because of this reason. This is also why it’s recommended to reduce what you carry on your commute.

Terrain: Traveling up hills or through rough terrain affects the overall speed of your electric bike as well. A bike traveling on a straight flat surface will go much faster than one going uphill. If you can avoid rough terrain or hills, your bike will surely go faster.

Wheel Size: The wheel size of your electric bike is also essential to its overall speed. Wheels sized at 26 inches are the optimal range for e-bikes. This range allows you to handle rougher terrain, speedbumps, and potholes without losing momentum or balance.

Wind: Just like how the terrain can affect your overall ride, so can environmental forces such as wind. It’s no surprise that riding on a windy day or through a headwind can slow you down.

What’s the Top Speed of an Electric Bike?

As mentioned earlier, with a Class 3 e-bike, you can expect top speeds of 28mph. But, some bikes and models can go significantly faster.

If you’re in the market specifically for speed, your options are going to resemble motorcycles instead of bikes. However, it’s important to note these models will not be marked as Class 3 and have different regulations.

Take the TOP 3.0 Electric Bike by Delfast, for example. This model is a Guinness World Record holder and can reach top speeds of 50mph! It’s no wonder this bike looks more like a motorcycle than a conventional bicycle.

If you wanted something that resembles more of a traditional bicycle or mountain bike, there are options as well. The Bakcou Flatlander Electric Hunting Bike has more of a bicycle design but doesn’t skimp out on power or speed. This bike is designed for hunting, rough terrain and can reach top speeds of 35mph.

How Do E-Bike Speeds Compare to Normal Bike Speeds?

Compared to conventional bicycles, electric bikes are much faster. Electric bikes will allow you to get to your destination in potentially half the time you would on a traditional bicycle!

The average cyclist is going to ride at a speed of around 12 to 16mph. The speed depends on the rider, bike, experience, fitness level, and more. Compared to an electric bike with an average speed of 20mph, conventional bicycles can be much slower!

Let’s take, for example, if you were going to travel 10 miles up to the store. With a traditional vehicle, you may be able to cover this distance in 15-20 minutes. If you opted for a bicycle, it would take you around 45-60 minutes, and you would be pretty spent by the end of the trip.

With an electric bike going 20mph, you could cover the same ground in just 30 minutes! Not to mention, this would be a much more leisurely ride and a comfortable experience.

So, a simple trip to the grocery store on a conventional bike can take you up to two hours on commuting alone. With an electric bike, this time is halved.

Are There Laws around Electric Bike Speed?

Human hand pressing a button on the device of a black electric bicycle

The laws surrounding electric bikes are somewhat tricky and vary from state to state. A good rule of thumb before purchasing and riding is to check with your state’s laws regarding electric bikes.

As of now, 44 states and the District of Columbia have defined electric bikes in some capacity. The states who have not defined electric bikes include Alaska, North Dakota, Missouri, New Mexico, Alabama, and Massachusetts. If you live in one of these states, be sure to check with your local regulations before purchasing and riding!

As mentioned earlier, 26 states out of the U.S. have adopted the three-tiered e-bike system. The laws, language, and safety requirements for these states are near-identical but check locally just to be sure.

At least 25 of the continental states have rules and regulations regarding helmets. These laws vary from state to state. Some of these states have age requirements while others do not.

Insurance and Licensing for Electric Bikes

Many states with the three-tier classification system do not require registration, license, or insurance to ride an electric bike. That being said, all of the 26 states require an e-bike to have a label stating the classification, top-assisted speed, and motor wattage.

There are at least six states that require a license to ride an electric bike. These states include Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, and North Dakota. Again, the laws and specifications will vary from state to state.

As for bike paths and where you can ride your electric bike, that depends heavily on your state. To wrap it up, be sure to check with your state laws and legislation before purchasing and riding an electric bike!

How Do Pedal-Assist And Throttle Speeds Compare?

Both the pedal-assist and throttle systems on an electric bike allow and aid the rider. Both have varying speeds and capabilities. To get a better picture, we have to define our terms.

Pedal-Assist: Pedal-assist is a system on an electric bike that gives you an easier time riding. Once you activate pedal-assist, the motor kicks in while you are pedaling; electric bikes will stop providing pedal assist once you reach the top speed of their classification. Hence the name, pedal-assist.

  • Class 1: Pedal-assist up to 20mph
  • Class 2: Pedal-assist up to 20mph
  • Class 3: Pedal-assist up to 28mph

Throttle: The throttle mode of an electric bike is what gives it that motorcycle or moped feeling. Throttle provides your bike with power with or without pedaling. This is what allows you to cruise and sit back and relax. For throttle systems, the classifications are relatively similar. The main difference is the throttle is fully limited to 20mph for every classification.

For example, if you had an electric bike and reached 28mph using the throttle, once you stopped pedaling, the bike would gradually slow down to the 20mph throttle limit.

So, what’s the verdict? Class 3 pedal-assist allows you to have motor assistance at a higher top speed. That being said, you will still have to be pedaling to reach this top speed. That doesn’t mean you can’t put your bike in low gear and theoretically “cruise.”

With throttle options, you will be able to reach a lower top speed but won’t have to do any of the leg work. The choice you make will depend highly on your needs, and you plan to use the bike.

How to Choose the Right Class of E-Bike For You

It’s hard to say the speed and classification of an electric bike are unimportant. The speed of your e-bike allows you to get to your destination faster and, most importantly, enjoy the ride. Choosing the suitable classification and speed is going to vary highly on your needs.

For Beginners: Class 1 or Class 2 E-Bikes

The classification is equally important besides motors, batteries, frames, and everything else that comes with an electric bike. Typically, most new riders purchase a Class 1 e-bike. This class gives you pedal-assist up to 20mph, provides decent speed, and is usually budget-friendly. The downside of Class 1 is the lack of throttle and potentially the lower quality. If you don’t mind a more intensive ride, Class 1 won’t be a problem.

As far as Class 2 goes, these e-bikes give the rider a more leisurely experience while maintaining the same max speed. With this class, you’re still limited to the 20mph top speed, but you have the advantage of the throttle. The throttle allows you to kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride. If you were considering purchasing an electric bike for a less intensive ride, be sure to buy one with a throttle system.

For Someone Upgrading, or With Higher Power Needs

Class 3 electric bikes can be a bit misleading if you aren’t aware of the system or laws surrounding them. With Class 3 e-bikes, you’ll have a pedal-assist system up to 28mph and may or may not have a throttle.

Keep in mind, if your Class 3 electric bike does come with a throttle, it will still be limited to the 20mph max speed. With this class, you’re getting a higher motor-assisted top speed, potentially higher quality, and the possibility of a throttle. Class 3 is typically the most enjoyable form of an e-bike, offering leisure, speed, and quality.

Again, the choice is going to come down to your needs, commute, and budget. If you don’t mind less speed and power, go with Class 1. If you want more of a moped experience and a less intensive ride, opt for Class 2. If you want the total capacity of electric bikes and more control, Class 3 might be your best bet.