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Class 2 e-Bikes: electric bikes featuring a throttle (max 20 mph)

A Class 2 e-Bike offers pedal and throttle assistance up to 20 mph.

 

Class 2 e-Bikes: Electric Bikes With a Throttle 

The Class 2 e-Bike has a throttle-controlled motor and a top speed of 20 miles per hour. To engage the electric assistance of these e-Bikes, you simply push the throttle lever — no pedaling required. You’ll be zipping away from the traffic light effortlessly with these speed machines.

Class 2 e-Bikes are available in every style for every e-Bike rider, including road, mountain, hybrid, commuter, cargo, and more. Class 2 e-Bikes are some of the best city e-Bikes available. Most American cities, towns, and other jurisdictions permit Class 2 e-Bikes on bike paths and bike lanes as well since they have a top speed of 20 miles per hour. But because of the throttle, they aren't allowed everywhere traditional bikes are. Class 2 e-Bikes are great eco-friendly transportation options and just as good for weekend rides in the park.

The Class 2 e-Bike Defined: Understanding Its Unique Features

Class 2 e-Bikes have a throttle-assisted motor and an assisted speed limit of 20 miles per hour. This throttle is what sets Class 2 e-Bikes apart from other electric bikes. Some even feel like a moped or motor vehicle more than a traditional bike. But you can still pedal this e-Bike class like an electric pedal-assisted bike, which sets it apart from mopeds and motorcycles. 

With other e-Bikes, you have to pedal to engage the powerful electric motor. But with Class 2 e-Bikes, you engage the motor by pressing the throttle lever on the handlebars. This throttle engages a rear hub motor and propels you forward by spinning the back wheel. Though most Class 2 e-Bikes have rear hub motors, there some in this e-Bike class that have mid-drive motors, where the motor is integrated into the frame near the pedals, cranks, and bottom bracket. 

But before we dive too deep into Class 2 e-Bikes, let's get a better understanding of the three-class system used and the differences between e-Bike classes.

Electric Bike Classes: Class 2 vs Class 1 e-Bikes 

There are three distinct classes of e-Bikes: classes 1, 2, and 3. All these e-Bike classes usually have motors with wattages of 750 watts. But, some mid-drive or rear hub motors are less than 750 watts. Class 1, 2, and 3 e-Bikes have other differences beyond motor size as well. 

A Class 1 e-Bikes assists you as you pedal and has a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. Class 2 e-Bikes are similar to Class 1 e-Bikes, but they have handlebar-mounted throttles that engage the motor assistance without pedaling. The powerful motor cuts off at 20 miles per hour with Class 2 e-Bikes as well. 

Class 3 Electric Bikes vs. Class 4 e-Bikes

Class 3 e-Bikes are the fastest "legal" electric bikes. They are another type of pedal-assisted bike, like Class 1 e-Bikes. But Class 3 e-Bikes have higher levels of pedal assistance and can reach speeds of up to 28 miles per hour. 

Class 3 e-Bikes have a speedometer and often have a larger lithium-ion battery to create a higher max operating range, so you can go farther between charges. However, since these bikes go faster, they use more power, so they typically have a lower max range than Class 2 and Class 1 e-Bikes. 

Beyond the official e-Bike classes, there are Class 4 e-Bikes. These "unofficial" e-Bikes go faster than 28 miles per hour and sometimes even have unrestricted levels of motor power.

Class 3 and Class 4 e-Bikes should only be ridden by adults on streets with speed limits. 

Navigating the Legal Landscape: Regulations Surrounding Class 2 e-Bikes

Familiarize yourself with the local e-Bike laws before you ride, especially on mountain bike trails and other multi-use paths. Some jurisdictions restrict e-Bikes with throttles to streets with speed limits, so you might not be able to ride that Class 2 e-Bike on your local mountain bike trails.

According to Public Law 107-319, the U.S. government defines "low-speed electric bicycles" as "two- or three-wheeled vehicles with fully operable pedals and an electric motor," with a maximum power output of 750 watts and a top speed of 20 miles per hour.

On the federal level, there isn't much more legislation regarding Class 2 e-Bikes. They're regulated like traditional bikes under Consumer Product Safety Commission's 16 C.F.R. Part 1512. But there aren't any electric bike laws at the federal level beyond this, except for in national parks. 

There is a diverse range of e-Bike laws across individual U.S. states. Some states treat e-Bikes like traditional bicycles, others categorize them as motorized vehicles, and some states have no specific regulations for e-Bikes at all.

The three-class e-Bike system outlined above was first suggested by the bike advocacy group People For Bikes. Momentum for this framework took off in 2015 with the passage of California's Assembly Bill 1096, establishing the three-class system as law. Many states have adopted similar laws since. 

AB 1096 not only defines the classes but also designates where each class of e-Bike is allowed. It permits Class 1 and Class 2 e-Bikes in areas designated for traditional bicycles while restricting Class 3 e-Bikes to public roads or bicycle paths near roads.

Class 2 e-Bikes for Different Lifestyles: From Urban Commuting to Leisure Rides

Class 2 e-Bikes are a great choice for any style of e-Bike riding, but they're especially good for those who don't always want to pedal. With a Class 2 e-Bike, you can let your bike do the work!

When you have a long ride home after a grueling day of work, letting that mid-drive motor do all the work can be nice. If you're going on a leisurely weekend ride, it's relaxing and fun to coast along while engaging the throttle. 

Key Advantages of Owning a Class 2 e-Bike

Class 2 e-Bikes with throttle control are some of the best electric commuter bikes. They're ideal for relaxed recreational bike rides, instances where you need to accelerate quickly, and quick trips around town.

You can cover short to medium distances without excessive physical exertion, so you won't show up to work covered in sweat. They also accelerate quickly, so you reach maximum speed quickly.

Cost of a Class 2 e-Bike

In an e-Bike performance comparison, Class 2 e-Bikes are relatively affordable. Whether you need a new e-Bike for urban commuting, grocery shopping, or leisurely rides on the bike trail on weekends, there's an affordable Class 2 e-Bike for you.