How fast can electric bikes go? This is one of the most asked questions by new e-bike enthusiasts looking for their maiden e-bike experience.
The simple answer is they can go as fast as you are able to pedal it. Even though they have a motor, you still have to put in the work; after all, they are still bicycles. So, what’s the point of the motor then? You might be asking. Well, their powerful motors assist you in achieving greater speed without all the sweat.
HOW FAST CAN ELECTRIC BIKES GO?
How fast an ebike can go depends on the size of its motor. It is common to see ebikes categorized regarding their speed and functionalities using a tier system of three classes:
Class 1 - 20mph with only pedal-assist
These e-bikes are one of the most passive of them all. In fact, when you are taking a ride, they will only assist your pedaling but not your throttle. A class 1 e-bike will help you once you start pedaling. They will cease the assistance when you’ve reached 20 miles an hour.
Class 2 - 20mph with only throttle-assist
All of our e-bikes have a throttle. This is either a twist throttle or a thumb throttle located on the handlebars. When the throttle is used, the e-bike can be propelled without the rider pedaling - similar to a motorcycle. When you're riding a bike, 20mph is an ideal speed. These aren't our fastest electric bikes, but a top speed of 20mph will get you where you want to go quickly.
Electric bikes with lower top speeds are great for leisure and exploring. Go out on the weekends to do a few errands close by, or take your bike down some paths that you've never visited. You don't need super high speeds to have a great time.With the throttle under your grip, you can adjust your speed as you go along. You can choose to use this type of model at its top speed, or ride at a slower pace. You can even test the bike to see if you can push it a little bit past the 20mph speed — just be safe if you choose to try it.
Class 3 - 28 mph with only pedal-assist
Class 3 e-bikes allow the bike to assist riders up to a speed of 28 mph when the rider is turning the pedals. When the e-bike reaches 28 mph, the motor assistance will be reduced until a speed of 28 mph or lower is maintained. Class 3 is a much more enjoyable way to experience the e-bike as it is closer to the speed a ﬁt cyclist can achieve without motor assistance.
With the higher top speed allowed by class 3 e-bikes, you have an even greater range of speed than a class 2 electric bike. If you want to ride more leisurely, you can absolutely do that. But, if you really want to get cruising, you can move a lot faster than other models. More speed is great when you have a tight time frame to finish your ride. Whether you're heading to work, an appointment or any other destination with a specific arrival time, these bikes may be the better option.
What Factors Affect the Top Speed of an Electric Bike?
Apart from the class of electric bike you’re riding and the top speeds it can achieve, there are several factors that will also influence the highest speed you can reach on your e-bike. Some of these include:
- Rider Effort
Sporty riders will be able to pedal harder than lazy riders.This means they will be able to accelerate much faster and reach higher top speeds, especially in e-bike models where the motor-assist provided is equal to the amount of effort you put into the pedaling.
- Controller Amperage
Controller amperage refers to the amount of current that the controller can transfer to the motor. Generally, higher amperage results in greater acceleration and subsequent top speed. To successfully achieve the rated power on the motor, the current must be capable of delivering sufficient current.
- Motor Power
A higher motor power on an e-bike provides a greater torque to let you reach and maintain higher speeds. This comes in handy when you’re riding on hilly terrain that requires more motor assistance to scale the slope.
- Wheel Size
This refers to the outer diameter on the bike’s tire. Bicycles are usually classified by the size of the tire, i.e. 20”, 26”, and 28” wheels, also known as 700c. However, there are fat tire electric bikes available, which make quick work of tricky terrain with uneven surfaces.
- Type of Terrain
The nature of the terrain you’re riding the e-bike on will also affect the level of top speeds you’re able to reach. Obviously, you will go much faster on flat and smooth roads than on rough roads.
EBIKE LEGISLATION: HOW FAST CAN I LEGALLY TRAVEL?
Regulations may ruin all the fun and extreme part of everything, but they are essential for keeping everyone’s integrity and security. At least in the U.S, the consumer product safety act defines a ‘‘ low-speed electric bicycle’’ as a vehicle with fully operable pedals, with a motor of 750 W or below and a maximum speed of 20 mph.
So, an e-bike with a motor below 750 watts and with a maximum speed of 32 kilometers is free and safe to ride anywhere you would probably ride on a normal bike.
In Europe, things are a little bit different and safer compared to the United States. In this sense, most of the European countries limited their e-bikes shutting down their engines at a maximum speed of 25 km/h. Even though some countries like Denmark are starting to approve superbikes that reach speeds of up to 45 km/hour.
Another important aspect is that in Europe watts limitation is 250 watts, which is way lower than that in the United States’ act dictating 750 watts.
National Requirements of European Countries
1. E-bike Laws in Belgium
The Belgium legislation has two laws on e-bikes. These laws categorize the umbrella term “electric bike” into three further subcategories. They are as follows.
All ages can ride e-bikes without a helmet as long as the maximum rated power is 250 watts and the top speed is 25 km/h. This category is simply referred to as “e-bikes”.
Citizens of 16 years or older can ride “motorized bikes” with 1000 watts of power and 25 km/h top speed as long as they have a conformity certificate. Helmet is not mandatory.
“Speed pedelecs” are e-bikes with 4000 watts of maximum power and a top speed of 45 km/h. They’re classified as mopeds, and the same requirements apply.
2. E-bike Laws in Denmark
Denmark’s parliament has officially approved speed pedelecs to be operated on cycle paths. A speed-pedelec is an e-bike with a maximum assisted speed of 45 km/h.
3. E-bike Laws in Finland
The Finnish legislation regulates the usage of e-bikes by limiting the top speed and motor power to 25 km/h and 250 watts respectively.
Moreover, the motor must not replace pedaling, instead, it should only assist the rider in pedaling. Also, there are insurance laws for motors with power ratings of between 250 to 1000 watts.
The EU regulation classifies such high-power bikes as L1e-A motorized bikes. These too must stay below 25 km/h of speed at most and require insurance for use on public roads.
Additionally, L1e-A class e-bikes can assist the rider without them having to pedal. If you own a 250 W e-bike that assists without pedaling, it’ll be classified as an L1e-A vehicle.
4. E-bike Laws in Sweden
Similar to other e-bike laws in Europe, Sweden applies ordinary bicycles laws to electric bikes as long as the nominal motor power is no more than 250 W and the engine doesn’t support the rider after reaching a speed of 25 km/h.
5.E-bike Laws in Switzerland
Switzerland, not being part of the European Union, has quite different laws on e-bikes.
For instance, Switzerland has paved the way for liberating the use of higher-speed e-bikes. This is done by easing the process of getting a license for e-bikes with an assisted top speed of over 45 km/h. It is very different from other e-bike laws in Europe and serves as an alternative to the 25km/h e-bikes.
In 2012, Switzerland updated its e-bike laws. Since then, electrically assisted bikes are categorized as “light e-bikes” as long as their maximum power output is less than 500 watts.
The maximum allowable speed of these bikes is 25 km/h if the rider is pedaling, whereas the motor alone can only assist the rider up to 20 km/h.
6.E-bike Laws in Germany
Germany has taken several steps in the direction of enabling electric mobility over the years.
E-bikes fall within the category of Personal Light Electric Vehicles. These are restricted to a top speed of 20 km/h, but you can ride faster if you have a helmet.
Insurance and number plates are necessary. The maximum motor power is 500 watts for e-bikes. Furthermore, e-bike riders are to use cycle paths unless there aren’t any, in the case of which, they’re allowed to ride on roads.
7.E-bike Laws in France
France sets the legal maximum assisted speed of an e-bike at 25 km/h. There’s another special category of e-bikes as well, referred to as speed pedelecs that can go as fast as 45 km/h.
Overall, the legal technicalities of owning and using an e-bike in France can be quite overwhelming. You also have to present your tax clearance and ensure that the e-bike manufacturer is in Europe.
8.E-bike Laws in Italy
Italy allows e-bikes to have a maximum speed of 25 km/h on main roadways, whereas they’re to remain below 6 km/h on pedestrian paths. The maximum allowable power output of the motor is 500 W.
You have to be 14 years or older to ride an e-bike, and a helmet is mandatory for riders between 14-18 years of age. License or insurance is not mandatory.
9.E-bike Laws in Spain
The Spanish legislation, like most other countries on this list, caps the top speed at 25 km/h and a maximum motor power of 250 W. Riders cannot operate their e-bikes on pavements, and will be subjected to a fine if they’re found doing so.
Additionally, you must have a circulation certificate which is provided to you by the manufacturer of your e-bike. License or insurance is not mandatory.
Finally, the authorities encourage the use of helmets – though it is not mandatory. The same is the case with wearing a reflective vest to protect yourself on the road.
10.E-bike Laws in Ireland
The Irish government hasn’t regulated the use of e-bikes officially as of now, but statements have been made by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan.
The soon-to-be e-bike laws will probably not have any insurance or license requirements. However, the recommended minimum age is 16 years, and helmets are mandatory for people between 16-18 years old.
Additionally, riding on footpaths is completely banned and the maximum engine-assisted speed is set at 25 km/h. In short, a new legal framework is going to be established specifically to regulate the use of e-bikes and e-scooters in Ireland very soon.
11.E-bike Laws in Austria
The Austrian legislation has a particular definition for pedelecs, and the same laws apply to e-bikes as long as they fit the description. The electric motor must assist the rider up till they reach the speed of 25 km/h.