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How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go

Man Sitting Next to Electric Bike

As urban areas become more congested and people seek sustainable alternatives to cars, e-bikes have become a popular transport choice for many people. If you’re a city commuter or an outdoor adventurer, considering whether you should get an electric bike, you may also wonder how fast e-bikes can go. 

Find out how fast an e-bike can go and look into the different things that might change your riding speed to see if an e-bike is a good fit for you.

Speed of Different Bike Classes

Electric bikes come in various classes, categorized according to the maximum motor speed and whether it is pedal or throttle-assisted. The three primary e-bike classes are:

Class I

Class I e-bikes are limited to a top speed of 20 mph, and their electric motor works only when the rider is pedaling. These bikes provide electric assistance and are perfect for beginner electric cyclists, making uphill climbs and long rides more manageable.

Class II

Class II e-bikes are also limited to maximum speeds of 20 mph. However, they have throttles that work even when you’re not pedaling. Most Class II e-bikes offer electric pedal assist alongside throttles, allowing you to choose how you want to ride.

Class III

Class III e-bikes can reach maximum speeds of 28 mph and typically come equipped with a speedometer. However, they may or may not have a throttle. These e-bikes offer a faster and more exhilarating ride, perfect for those looking to cover longer distances in less time.

Class IV

Class IV e-bikes, often called speed pedelecs, can achieve speeds exceeding 28 mph, making them ideal for rapid commutes. These high-speed e-bikes come with powerful motors and advanced features, including enhanced brakes and improved suspension for safety at higher speeds. Note that regulations for Class IV e-bikes can vary by region and may require licensing and registration. Always check local laws before using one.

Factors Affecting Speed

Regardless of whether your e-bike is pedal or throttle-assisted, numerous additional factors can impact the top speed. Consider the following before choosing an e-bike model:

Motor Power

Understanding how electric bike engines work is essential when considering the speed of an electric bike. The heart of an electric bike is its motor, and the power of this motor, measured in watts (W), determines the bike’s speed. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the motor and the faster the e-bike can go. 

Standard wattages for different e-bikes range from 250 W to 750 W. For urban commuting and light off-road riding, a 250 W to 500 W motor provides enough power to manage moderate inclines and transport heavy loads. However, if you’re a mountain biker, consider a higher-wattage motor for increased speed and performance on uneven terrain. 

Battery Life

Different types of electric bike batteries can have varying impacts on speed and range. They are typically measured in watt-hours (Wh). A higher watt-hour rating indicates a larger battery capacity, allowing longer rides and potentially higher speeds.

The battery’s condition and age can also impact its performance. If you have a used electric bike, the battery may have degraded over time, reducing the capacity and distance you can travel on a single charge. To maintain optimal speed and range, keep your battery charged between 30% and 50%, and store your battery at room temperature of 55-75°F.

Weight and Aerodynamics

The weight of the rider and the bike can affect speed. Heavier riders may experience slightly slower acceleration and top speeds than lighter cyclists. The bike’s weight, including any cargo or accessories, impacts its overall performance.

Aerodynamics also influences whether you can attain higher speeds. Aerodynamic bikes feature streamlined tube shapes, integrated components to minimize drag, aggressive rider positioning for a smaller wind profile, deep-rimmed wheels for reduced drag at high speeds, and narrow handlebars with concealed cabling for a sleek front end. These bikes may also be constructed from lightweight materials like carbon fiber or titanium. 

Terrain and Conditions

The terrain you ride on and the weather conditions can impact how long an electric bike lasts as well as its top speed. Riding uphill or on rough, uneven terrain naturally reduces your speed, even with an electric motor’s assistance. Smooth roads and mild weather can enable you to reach and sustain higher speeds, primarily due to reduced friction and wind resistance.

Legal Restrictions

Before you hit the road on your electric bike, it’s crucial to be aware of the legal restrictions in your area. Different regions and states may have varying speed limits and regulations for e-bikes. 

For example, effective August 2020, New York made it legal to ride an e-bike on roads with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour, effectively capping e-bike speeds at 30 mph in the state. California and Washington have their own specific regulations concerning motor power and throttles for e-bikes.

Some states classify e-bikes as mopeds or motor vehicles, which may come with their own set of rules and limitations for speed. Researching and understanding local laws and regulations before purchasing and riding an e-bike is essential, especially if you plan to own a high-powered model.

How Much Faster Is an Electric Bike Than a Standard Bicycle?

Compared to traditional bicycles, electric bikes offer a significant speed advantage. Regular bicycles typically top out at around 17 miles per hour, whereas e-bikes can reach up to 20 miles per hour (Class 1 and 2) or even 28 miles per hour (Class 3).

This increased speed allows you to cover longer distances in less time and makes tackling hills and headwinds more manageable. E-bikes bridge the gap between traditional biking and motorized transportation, providing a faster and more efficient means of getting around.

Travel Faster With an E-Bike From Upway

At Upway, we understand the importance of speed, convenience, and performance in your cycling journey. Our affordable electric bikes and new or used e-bikes are carefully inspected for electrical and mechanical operability, ensuring you get the best ride possible. Explore our complete range of refurbished e-bikes to find your perfect ride.

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