Just How Fast Are Electric Bikes?

Photo by KBO Bike on Unsplash

One of the joys of riding a bike is feeling the outside air and maybe a little wind in your hair while you just ride and enjoy nature. Electric bikes are pretty awesome, and they can potentially even replace a vehicle in some cases. 

But how fast does an electric bike go? 

This is probably one of the most common questions we see about electric bikes. We get it! If you’re going to depend on your bike for transportation, you need to know your speed capabilities so you can plan accordingly. 

And maybe you’re just a little bit curious. We promise – you’re not alone there! 

The answer is that it depends, but let’s dig a little deeper so you can have a realistic expectation. 

Ready. Set. Fly!

Electric bikes have been known to go pretty fast at times. There are some high-speed models out there that have been created for races – or just for someone who enjoys a little speed. 

Most e-bikes are designed for the range of 20-30 mph. That being said, some of them are capable of going much faster. One of the fastest e-bikes ever made was known to top out at a whopping 60 mph. Rumor had it that with some adjustments, some of them can even reach speeds of up to 80 mph. 

While you might be able to get that fast on electric bikes, that is not a normal speed for them. Yes, that one bike could go that fast, but we don’t want you to expect that you can just fly anywhere you need to go at that speed on your e-bike. 

Logically speaking, your e-bike has a motor to help you pedal and increase your speed slightly. 

You should plan on a much lower speed, at least for everyday use. 

E-Bike Speed Class

E-bikes fall into three basic categories when it comes to their speed capabilities. At some point, there may be official laws surrounding this. For now, there is some legislative guidance, and most companies design their bikes to fall within those categories. 

The categories are Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. 

Class 1

A class 1 e-bike has the lowest threshold. This level of bike will generally travel up to 20 mph when the pedal assist is being used. While it might be possible to go faster on the bike, the companies typically limit the motor to this capacity. 

Class 2

Class 2 is almost the same. The top speed for this classification is still 20 mph. However, class 2 bikes also offer a throttle function. With the throttle function, you may not need to pedal at all. 

So with this class, you get 20 mph using pedal assist, plus you get the throttle functionality

Class 3

Finally, class 3 is the highest class for most e-bikes. This class is assumed to top out at a high speed of 28 mph with pedal assist. There is no throttle function, just the pedal assist. 

This is the highest class for traditional electric bikes. 

Factors that might affect your speed on your bike also include the load the bike is carrying, the conditions you are riding in, and the output the motor on the bike can provide. 

How Fast Can E-Bikes Legally Go? 

While so far there is no official speed limit for an e-bike, they are compared in capacity to a regular bike, which is where the class limitations come into play. 

Each state can actually set its own requirements for what an e-bike is allowed to do and the speed that they can travel. While 20-28 mph in a car feels like a crawl, riding that fast on a bike will feel fast. 

The 20 mph design began because regular bikes can potentially reach around 20 mph maximum speed, depending on the cyclist and the path they are riding at the time. 

It’s a good idea to check out the legislation for your state. Some states actually won’t even allow you to ride an electric bike on bicycle paths and trails, so pay attention to your local allowances. In most cases, those limitations only apply to Class 3 – but again, check your state’s regulations. 

Here are a couple of examples for reference. 

  • In California, class 3 bikes may not be used on bike trails/paths. You also must be 16 to ride them. 
  • In Nevada, all 3 classes are accepted anywhere that bikes are legal, and there are no age restrictions. 
  • In New York, a class 3 bike can only be ridden in NYC. There are no age limitations. 

Speed Vs. Distance

While electric bikes might be able to give you some speed, using that maximum speed might limit the distance that you can travel on the bike. If you’re pushing your motor to go at top speed, you simply won’t be able to ride as far or as long without needing to charge the bike. 

If you’re looking for distance, you will need to dial it back a little bit on speed. Going faster doesn’t necessarily hurt your bike, but it could potentially cause your battery to run out of juice before you’re ready. 

Final Thoughts 

In closing, you might be able to find specialty e-bikes out there that will reach higher speeds of 45, 50, or 60 miles per hour. However, most e-bikes are not designed to reach those speeds. 

Generally, your e-bike is going to have a maximum speed of around 20 mph. If you always push your motor to its limit, you sacrifice the distance you can go for the speed that you are enjoying. 

20 mph is still pretty fast on a bike, and that pedal assist will give you a quick and comfortable ride in most cases. 

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