Electric bicycles are gaining popularity for many reasons. They’re environmentally friendly, fun, and easy to ride. But what exactly can they do and how fast can they go?
An average electric bike can be as fast as 20mph. However most electric bikes can go as fast as 28 mph or 45 km/h with the recorded top speed of 45 mph for any electric bike.
When buying an electric bike you want it to go more and more faster; but because of the safety concerns electric bikes are often restricted in its top speed of 20 mph ( Class 1 ) and 28 mph ( class 3 ).
Further different countries have different limits; For example, in the US and much of Europe the top speed for e-bike is 28mph. In some places ( ex. Australia, UK ) the limit is as low as 15 mph.
However, you can still pedal harder to go faster or use downhill to your advantage to go beyond the set speed limit. It is only the motor power that cuts off beyond the speed limit.
So It’s important to understand how these vehicles work and how fast do they go so that you can use them safely.
Everything You Need To Know About Electric Bikes
Electric bikes are also known as e-bikes, pedal assist bicycles, and pedelecs. These bikes use an electric motor to help you pedal. An electric bike uses electricity instead of gasoline to power its motor.
This means that it has no emissions and produces zero noise.
You can pedal as hard as you’d like without worrying about getting winded. In addition, electric bikes are much easier to maneuver than traditional bikes because they have smaller wheels and handlebars.
These bikes use an electric motor to help you pedal. There are two main types of electric bikes: throttle controlled models and pedal assisted models.
Throttle controlled electric bikes require you to manually control the speed by turning a dial or pressing a button. Pedal assisted electric bikes allow you to pedal at any speed you choose.
Many people buy electric bikes because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. They believe that riding an electric bike will save them money on gas and lower their emissions.
Others buy them because they want to enjoy cycling without having to work hard.
Different Class of E-Bikes & How Fast Can They Go?
Do you know electric bikes are divided into three different classes? Today most countries including United States follows this classification of e-bikes into class 1, class 2, and class 3 respectively.
The said category is based on the bike’s wattage, speed, and operation. Let’s look into these classifications and how they came into being and adopted around the world.
Electric bikes gained traction in the last decade; spreading itself from Europe to American and then Asia. But that also cause a need for change in laws and their categorization.
In a lack of proper guidelines and regulation at the federal level different Us states made different laws governing electric bikes in time frame of 2005 to 2015.
This leads to a situation where some states have no laws; while others have inadequate, old, contradictory or challenging laws ( making things hard for all; i.e bike manufacturers, customers and authorities.
To bring uniformity and standard classification among electric bikes; major bicycle manufacturers, several US states and trade associations came together in 2014 to present 3 class approach to classifying electric bikes.
In 2016, California becomes the first US state to adopt this 3 class system. This includes Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 electric bikes. Since then it’s been adopted by many states and now is accepted worldwide.
Class 1 Electric Bike
The electric bikes that fall under this category ( Class 1 ) have motor that works only in paddle assist mode. This means they will only function once you push the pedal.
It is one of the most common types of electric bikes found in the market. These are the most passive of all and are called peddle assist bikes or pedelec bikes based on their mode of operation.
Here the rider needs to pedal normally in order for the motor to assist up to 20 mph and motor wattage up to 750W. After that, it is up to you how fast you can go pedaling.
With pedal assistance, it takes less effort to ride this bike and you can also go faster. Further, you can easily control the level of assistance you need when cycling.
These E-bikes can be used on all tracks, roads, and pathways and do not require any license to ride.
Class 2 Electric Bike
Much like a moped, they include a throttle to push forward but still have those peddles just in case you run out of power. Because of their mode of operation, they are often called slow-speed throttle assisted e-bike.
The electric bikes that fall under this category ( Class 2 ) has the maximum speed of 20 mph. Bikes with both pedal assist and throttles are classified under class 2.
Here you have two working modes; full throttle and zero power or basic bicycle mode. These bikes can be easily propelled by the throttle without ever need to pedal.
Limited by their speed at 20 mph these electric bikes are more common in the US, China, and other Asian countries; because of the much stricter laws in the EU. The best part is the control is in your hands; this means you can ride it even with a broken leg ( just saying ).
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Class 3 Electric Bike
Also known as speed pedelec these e-bikes are most efficient, faster and are refined versions of normal class 1 pedal-assist bikes. By their name, these are more powerful, have longer battery life, aerodynamic and have a top speed of 28 mph or 45 Kmph.
Just like the class 1 pedal-assist bikes here the motor will only assist when you peddle.
These E-bikes are restricted by law to go in dedicated bike trails and multipurpose pathways used mostly by walkers.
Furthermore, they must include a speedometer and must need a helmet to ride. Just like the Class 1 and 2 bikes here too you did not require a license or need to register your bike.
Most e-bikes in this category have motor of capacity 750W or higher. Further because of their greater speed and risks you need to be 18 years or higher to ( 17+ ) to ride these bikes.
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All About Speed – What The Law Says?
Let’s face it your 250W electric bike can easily go up to 36 mph but the law restricts it to go beyond 28 mph. Regulations always kills the thrill and suck the fun out of any sport or activity.
But they are there for our own safety and need to be followed. Otherwise, there would have been total chaos, accidents, and breakdown of the transportation system.
The consumer product safety act in the united states restricts to use or sell electric bike above 750W or 28 mph top speed without a license and proper registration.
In Australia, pedal-assist (or “pedelec”) bikes are limited by law to have maximum speed of 25 kmph and to be EN15194-certified with maximum power of 250W electric motor.
According to Canadian law a vehicle is considered to be e-Bike if it is assisted by electric motor, does not exceeds 500W motor wattage and top speed of 32 km/h or 20mph.
Vehicles that does not fit under above definition fall under motor vehicle and similar laws will apply to them.
Similarly for European countries that do not approve high-speed electric bikes; the maximum speed limit is 15 mph. In countries such as Denmark which allows for class 3 E-bikes; the speed limit is 45 km/hr or 28 mph.
In all of the European Union, the maximum power limit for the electric motor is 250 W.
Further, if you are riding a class 3 bike you are required by law to wear a helmet irrespective of your age. Plus while you still can ride on the bicycle lane on road but can not go for a dedicated bike trail.
How Far The Motor Will Assist You?
How far the motor will assist or what is the effective range of the E-bike is the most asked question after how fast can E-bikes go?
When you are buying a brand new bike its often overwhelming and confusing with all the options; specifications, wattage, voltage, and gears.
So it’s obvious to look for a helpful guide that helps you buy an electric bike that best suits your needs.
Buying something and new and special is always an emotional decision. We often get lost in our excitement and take things on gut feeling. For example, we often think the expensive the bike is the more range and speed it has.
Similarly, people misunderstood wattage with speed. A higher wattage represents more power and not more speed.
1 ) Motor Power
How long or how much the e-bike will assist depends on the power of the motor. Since electric bikes are not electric mopeds these motors are quite small and low powered.
Yes, super high power electric bikes ( >=1000W ) do exist but then you need to do more paperwork and require a license.
In the united states, the allowed range for motor capacity in e-bikes is 0 to 750W. Normally the heavier is the bike or its load capacity; the more power it needs to operate.
Plus the weight of the rider plays a role in total load and there are also topographic effects involved. For example in the semi mountain region, plains or cities a 250W electric bike is enough for an average person.
But if the same person wishes to go for a steeper mountain; he or she would require a heavy powered electric bike with at least 750W electric motor.
2 ) Battery Capacity
Your battery capacity plays a critical role in how long will the motor will assist. Most electric bikes have lithium-ion batteries installed close to your peddle.
This ensures the bicycle is more stable and thus go faster.
The size of your battery end its energy capacity is one factor that greatly affects the range of your bike.
The motor type or its wattage does have its impact but the capacity of the battery has a bigger impact on its range.
When we are calculating battery capacity it is either calculated in watt-hour or ampere-hour. Calculating watt-hour is easy and you can obtain ampere-hour just by dividing it with the voltage.
Now suppose your e-bike has a 36V 10Ah battery. The total wattage is 360 ( 36×10 = 360 ). This means on average you get 22 miles of range for a 250W motor and 18 miles of range for 500W motor.
3 ) Type of Terrain
The type of terrain also affects the peddling effort and in turn, the effective work required. The steeper the mountain or path is the more assistance you need to ride.
Thus the battery capacity will be affected as the motor drive more power, and we get the net lower range per charge. If the pedaling effort increases and becomes unbearable after some time.
So when we go on a steeper train our speed reduce, effort increase and range/mileage decrease. That is why dedicated mountain bikes are designed with greater power to suit those needs.
These bikes are built like a tank, have better suspension and tires to tackle challenges of a mountain track. Plus the powerful motor allows for better speed and control.
4 ) Pedaling Efforts
Electric or e-bikes are mostly pedelec and the pedal effort depends much on the assistance or load on the motor. Class 1 e-bikes are the worst in terms of pedal free assistance.
Class 3 electric bikes are not much different and only provide greater assistance and speed than class 1 type. In class 2 electric bikes only you get assistance by throttle and may not require to pedal at all.
So when it comes down to the question of “how long the motor will assist” or “what will be the effective range of the bike?”; your pedal effort will decrease or increase the distance.
For example, if you ride with heavy assistance; the battery may not last for more than 18 miles.
But if the assistance is kept low the same bike will go as far as 30-32 miles. So its too harsh to curse your bike or the company if it does not meet your expected range/midge each time.
As there are many things that contribute to the range or how long will it last.