How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go? Bike Classes Explained

Electric bikes have powerful electric motors, so they should be super fast, right? They are fast enough for most people, but the top speed of an electric bike may not be what you expect it to be. So how fast do electric bikes go?

You probably won’t want to start racing roadies over long distances, but the speed of an electric bike has many benefits. For example, you can cut your commuting time, keep up with younger and fitter riders, and power up steep hills.

The following information will inform you on staying on the right side of the law while understanding what to expect from riding an electric bike and answering the question of how fast do electric bikes go?

In this article, we will highlight:

  • What it is like to ride an electric bike
  • How fast do electric bikes go with assistance?
  • The different electric bike classes
  • Riding faster than the limited top speed
  • The motor power of electric bikes

Are you ready to learn the truth about e-bike speed?

How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go

What It Is Like To Ride An Electric Bike

People who haven’t ridden an electric bike are always curious about what they are like to ride.

The truth is that electric bikes are very similar to regular bikes. You sit on the saddle and start pedaling, then the motor seamlessly engages. The motor amplifies your pedaling efforts making riding uphill and into headwinds a piece of cake.

You can choose between several assistance levels to suit your fitness, mood, energy level, or terrain. Higher assistance levels reduce the effort you need to put into the pedals.

How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?

Most people who consider buying their first electric bike will be asking the question of how fast do electric bikes go? But what you need to know first is that electric bikes don’t all work like scooters or motorbikes.

To ride an electric bike, you need to pedal for the motor to engage. The motor assists your pedaling, so you still need to put effort into the pedals. There is an exception to this, but we will cover this later.

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How fast your electric bike can go depends on your location. Different countries have their own rules and regulations concerning electric bikes.

For example, if you live in Europe, the maximum power of an electric bike is 250W. European countries also limit electric bikes’ top speed to 25kph.

The electric bike laws are different in the U.S. you can ride your electric bike up to 32kph and have a motor of up to 500W. However, some states permit a top speed of 45kph.

How fast you can ride your electric bike depends on which classes are permitted in your area. Each class has certain characteristics that are considered legal in different locations.

Electric Bike Classes You Need To Know About

Electric bikes come under three different classes. The classes determine how fast your electric bike can go while using motor assistance, and are recognised in many different countries including the U.S.

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Class 1

Class 1 electric bikes are the most basic type and most affordable, making them the most popular ones on the market. The electric motor only kicks in when you pedal, and their top assisted speed is 31 kph.

Another reason why class 1 electric bikes are so popular is that they are permitted on most roads and cycle paths around the world. However, it is still worth checking your local regulations to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.

Class 1 electric bikes are not too powerful; therefore, they are ideal for people new to e-bikes or nervous riders.

Class 2

Class 2 electric bikes are the same as class 1 bikes, but they have an additional feature. Thanks to a throttle mode, you can ride a class 2 electric bike without pedaling.

The throttle allows you to ride your electric bike like a scooter. You control the speed of the throttle, usually with a button on the handlebars or by twisting the handlebar grip.

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Like a class 1 electric bike, class 2’s are limited to 32kph. This is enough for most people, as you often ride faster than inner-city traffic and regular bicycles.

Class 2 electric bikes allow you to arrive at your destination without breaking a sweat; therefore, they are ideal for commuters. But you can still get a workout on your ride home.

People with mobility issues can benefit from class 2 electric bikes in a few ways. For example, they can use the throttle mode to get moving before taking over on the pedals.

Another way people benefit from class 2 electric bikes is if pedaling aggravates an injury or tires them out. They can use the throttle mode to get home with no effort, as long as they have enough battery power left.

Class 3

Class 3 electric bikes work in the same way as class 1 bikes. However, their limited top speed is 45kph. When you reach the limited top speed, the motor will automatically alter how much assistance the motor gives you to keep you at 45 kph.

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You can have a lot of fun on a class 3 electric bike due to its higher speed. It is possible to reach similar speeds as a fit road cyclist, but you have the advantage of not being hot and sweaty as you ride.

Another benefit of riding a class 3 electric bike is that it is possible to ride further. But to do this, you need to manage your battery power well, as a more powerful motor requires more energy from the battery. If you don’t manage your battery power, you can run out of power before you get to your destination.

Many people who ride class 3 electric bikes love that they can easily maintain a fast cruising speed. They also like that they can ride faster than if they were riding a class 2 electric bike. This can obviously cut your journey time, but it is also lots of fun.

You Can Ride Faster Than The Limited Top Speed

The limited top speeds may seem like a negative, especially if you expect to be powering on unrestricted. However, these limited top speeds only apply when you ride using the motor’s assistance.

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Some electric bikes resist your pedaling. So no matter how hard you push, you cannot go faster than the limited top speed. However, they will allow you to freewheel downhill faster, as long as you don’t pedal.

You can buy electric bikes that automatically uncouple the drivetrain from the motor when you reach the limited top speed. This means you can continue to speed up, but your legs will be doing all the work.

In this case, your bike’s motor helps you accelerate. When you get up to speed, you can just continue with the bike’s highest assistance level or push on through for an effective workout.

Some people have managed to derestrict their electric bikes. This is highly illegal, so it is not recommended. You can face a hefty fine if you are caught, especially if you are involved in an accident.

Derestricting your electric bike is also very dangerous, as the batteries can overheat, causing dramatic fires.

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Does Motor Power Affect How Fast An Electric Bike Goes?

With the enforced speed restrictions, you may be wondering why you can buy bikes with motors with different power ratings.

Electric bike brands spend a lot of time and resources developing the technology used in motor and battery systems. Knowing about electric bike motor power is important, but you need to be aware of a couple of things.

If you have a more powerful motor, your electric bike is subject to the restrictions imposed in each class. However, you can still buy incredibly powerful electric bikes. But, depending on your location, you will probably need a license and insurance to ride one.

More powerful electric bikes are faster to accelerate, making keeping up with traffic easier. They also have more torque, making carrying stuff and climbing steep hills more manageable. But, the critical thing you need to know about electric bike motors is the tradeoff between power and range.

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Powerful electric motors demand more energy from the battery. Therefore, you need to have a battery that suits the motor power, or you won’t be able to ride very far with assistance.

To make sure your battery is a good match with the motor, you need to pay attention to the battery’s Watt-hour (Wh) figure. Watt-hours indicate how long your battery can endure 1 watt of power before it runs out of energy.

So, for example, A 500W motor that uses a 500 Wh battery will drain more quickly than a 250W motor with a 500 Wh battery.

How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go? – Answered!

Now you know how fast you can ride an electric bike. It is always advisable to check your local laws before you buy an electric bike, so you can stay out of trouble.

If you are not quite ready to buy an electric bike, we have lots of information on how to improve your cycling. Check out the blogs below to become faster and more efficient on the bike:

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One of BikeTips' regular content creators, Tom lives in the French Alps. When he isn't writing, he can be found charging downhill on a mountain bike or snowboard. Tom's other passion is fitness, which goes a long way to help him make the most of the Alpine lifestyle.

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