Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (2023)

Electric bike sales have soared over the last few years due to their rise in popularity.

Bicycles with motors on make great commuting bikes for those who don’t want to arrive at work sweaty, as well as opening up cycling as a hobby to those who otherwise might not be able to access it. But with new technology comes new territory for lawmakers, and in 2020, the USA announced that electric bikes would not be considered motor vehicles. This meant that e-bikes would be able to ride on certain trails and areas they weren’t able to previously.

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (1)

This change saw the clarification of ebike classes, which now run from 1-3 for e-bikes, and anything higher is identified as an electric moped. These classes of ebikes help manufacturers to understand the limits of what they can produce, and for consumers to understand what type of capabilities the bike they’re buying has.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the different classes and discuss the capabilities and limits of each one.

E-Bike Classes Explained

Class 1: have only pedal assistance up to 20mph.
Class 2: have pedal assistance up to 20mph + throttle assistance up to 20mph.
Class 3: have pedal assistance up to 28mph + may or may not have throttle assistance up to 20mph.
Class 4: may have a top speed of over 28mph and motor wattage over 750W.

Why is the legal limit 750W?

750W = 0.75kW = 1 horsepower

  • Related

Class 1 eBikes

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (2)

These Co-op electric bikes have pedal assistance of 20mph and don’t have a throttle, so according to eBike classification, they are class 1 eBikes.

Class 1 eBikes are bikes that use pedal-assist to a maximum assisted speed of 20mph.

This means that they are pedal-assist-only eBikes, and they must be without throttle controls, i.e. you must pedal the bike to engage the e-bike motor. They’re also called Pedelecs, (pedal electric cycles) and they must adhere to the class 1 electric bike speed limit of 20mph.

(Video) E-Bike Classes Explained

From October 2020 this was written into legislation in the United States and has helped to clarify the confusing market of eBike classes and assistance levels. It also helps to clarify where these bikes can go. Previously, they were unable to be used on certain mountain bike trails and bike paths as they were in a grey area of motor vehicle status. Now, however, they can be ridden in more areas and not just on the road.

Main Features of Class 1 eBikes:

  • Pedal assistance
  • Assisted speed up to 20mph
  • No assistance without pedaling
  • The motor must be less than 750W
  • Mostly have the same rights and access privileges as regular bikes

Popular Class 1 eBikes are:

  • Co-op Cycles eBikes
  • Electra Electric Bikes

Best Class 1 E-Bikes

Class 2 eBikes

Class 2 electric bikes also have a maximum assisted speed of 20mph.

However, unlike class 1, they can include throttle assistance without the need for pedaling. This of course doesn’t mean the assistance cuts out if you do start pedaling, but the option is there for you to not pedal and use the throttle. Class 2 e-bike max speed is the same as class 1, at 20mph, and as with class 1 bikes, you can ride them as ‘unassisted’ bikes, i.e. with the motor off, and in the same places.

Class 2 bikes generally look similar to class 1 bikes, except they have the inclusion of a throttle assist. This is usually on the handlebars so can look quite subtle.

Class 2 eBikes have a throttle that assist up to 20mph.

Main features of class 2 eBikes:

  • Throttle assistance can be activated through a trigger, button, or twist-grip
  • Can be ridden without pedaling
  • May also have pedal-assistance
  • Maximum assisted speed is 20mph
  • The motor must be less than 750 watts
  • Mostly have the same rights and access privileges as regular bikes

Popular class 2 eBikes are:

  • Rad Power Bikes
  • QuietKat eBikes (if bought with a motor of 750W or less)
  • Lectric eBikes (Only when the top speed is limited to 20mph)

Best Class 2 E-Bikes

(Video) eBike Classes Explained

Class 3 eBikes

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (4)

These Trek class 3 bicycles assist you up to 28 mph.

Class 3 eBikes are slightly more confusing.

Their maximum assisted speed is set to 28mph making them quite high-speed electric bikes. They must also be equipped with a speedometer to let you know how fast you’re riding. The complicated part is the addition of a throttle. Some states don’t allow throttles at all on the bike (such as California), whereas others only allow the throttle to be used up to 20mp/h, but the pedal assist can continue to 28mph.

Additionally, the motor must have a capacity of less than 750W, and you cannot ride these on bike paths that exist outside of the road. To get around this, manufacturers apply a limit to the throttle speed (20mph). Some speed pedelecs can be adjusted so if you want to ride on a multi-use trail, for example, you can switch the throttle assist to max out at 20mph, and remove the limit when you ride on the road.

Check with your local legislation before using a class 3 eBike to figure out where you’re allowed to ride it.

Main features of class 3 eBikes:

  • Pedal assistance
  • Max assisted speed is 28mph
  • Equipped with speedometer
  • The motor must be less than 750W
  • Restricted from multi-use paths
  • Mostly with an age limit. Depending on the state, the rider must be at least 14, 15, or 16.
  • Optional throttle with 20mph assistance

Popular class 3 eBikes:

  • Ride1UP Roadster and Prodigy
  • Many electric road bikes
  • Ride1UP 500 and 700 Series (combined with class 2)

Best Class 3 E-Bikes

Class 4 eBikes

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (5)

(Video) E-Bike Classes Explained

QuietKat eBikes are class 4 when bought with over 750W motor.

Class 4 eBikes are not permitted to be used on the road and thus are deemed motorized vehicles which need to be insured and licensed.

This class of bikes use motors more powerful than 750W and class 4 ebike speeds are over 28mph. Some are even capable of being 50mph electric bikes, hence why they need to be licensed and insured. They are in a similar category to electric dirt bikes, with the main difference being the inclusion of pedals on a class 4 eBike.

As class 4 eBikes are only permitted to be used off-road, there is a more limited scope for the type of bikes you will find in this category.

Main features of class 4 eBikes:

  • Throttle and/or pedal assistance
  • Top speed 28mph and over
  • The motor can be more than 750W
  • Mostly need registration and licensing

Popular class 4 eBikes:

  • QuietKat hunting bikes (with motors over 750W)
  • Super Monarch AWD eBikes
  • 1,000W Rambo bikes
  • Dual motor eBikes

Best Class 4 E-Bikes

Which electric bike class should you choose?

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (6)

Image source: REI.com

So which class of eBike should you choose?

Well, it depends on the type of eBike you’re after, and where you are. In Europe, mainly only Class 1 Type eBikes are available, whereas in the US you have a much wider selection.

(Video) eBike CLASSES // What Are They? // Two Minute Explanation // Resources From the DMV

  • Class 1 – Typically where you’ll find the majority of electric bikes, particularly in Europe. Bikes such as commuter, folding, and less powerful road and mountain bikes can be found in this category.
  • Class 2 – For those that want assistance up to 28mph and perhaps a throttle assist (up to 20mph). Types of bikes often found in this category include mountain bikes, come commuters and cargo bikes.
  • Class 3 – As class 3 eBikes aren’t permitted to ride multi-use trails without limiting the throttle assist, they’re not as popular to produce with manufacturers. That being said, you’ll still find plenty of commuter and road bikes in this category for those that want to go fast.
  • Class 4 – Best for those who want to go off-road as class 4 eBikes aren’t permitted on the road as they need to be licensed and insured as they’re classed as motor vehicles. Bikes in this category are often off-road specific hunting bikes, or other outdoor activity focused.

FAQs

Are electric bikes street legal?

Bikes in classes 1-3 are largely street legal, with only class 4 being prohibited from riding in bike lanes etc. Class 3 eBikes need to have a restricted throttle speed of 20mph to be able to ride in bike lanes. For more specific information, check your state’s legislation before riding your eBike.

Electric Bike Classes Explained - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (7)

Image source: Peopleforbikes.org/topics/electric-bikes

When does an electric bike become a moped?

Although the US government clarified the eBike class system last year, some states are yet to implement these rules. In essence, it depends on the state you’re in to determine whether a bike with a motor is a moped or an eBike. According to the government, class 4 eBikes, or 30mph electric bikes are classed as motor vehicles and thus must be insured and licensed.

Do you need a license to ride an electric bike?

In most cases no, for bikes in classes 1-3 you shouldn’t need to. However, this isn’t the case across all states. For specific information relating to your state, check out the PeopleforBikes site.

Do you have to pedal electric bikes?

No, you do not have to pedal all electric bikes. Some of them have both throttle and pedal assistance.

Class 1 – Yes, pedaling assists up to 20mp/h
Class 2 – No, you can use a throttle assist without pedaling
Class 3 – Yes, pedaling assists up to 28mp/h

What is the maximum legal assisted speed of electric bikes?

Class 1 electric bikes include pedal assistance up to 20mph. EBikes in class 2 come with throttle or pedal assistance up to 20mph. Class 3 electric bikes have pedal assistance up to 28mph. Some class 3 eBikes also have a throttle. By law, it can only assist you up to 20mph.

Read Next

Hub vs mid-drive eBikes

(Video) Is My E-bike Legal? The three classes of electric bikes explained.

Why eBikes Use a 1x Drivetrain

Best Electric Bike Racks + Buying Guide

FAQs

What is a Class 4 electric bike? ›

Under the U.S. electric bike classification system, Class 4 e-bikes are not permitted for road use, as their top speed is greater than 28mph and motor output is greater than 750W.

What makes an e bike class 3? ›

Class 3: The Class 3 e-bike is equipped with a speedometer, and only assists until the bike reaches 28 mph — an excellent choice for commuters. The most popular bikes fit into Class 1 or Class 3 because riders still want to pedal.

What is a Class 3 bike? ›

Class 3: A bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 mph, and is equipped with a speedometer.

What classification are electric bikes? ›

Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes
  • Class 1: The motor kicks in only when you pedal, and stops helping at 20 mph.
  • Class 2: Also has a pedal-assist mode up to 20 mph plus a purely throttle-powered mode.
  • Class 3: Is solely pedal-assist (like class 1), but assistance continues until you hit 28 mph.

What is the difference between Class 1/2 and 3 e-bikes? ›

Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph. Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted. Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.

Does a Class 2 Ebike need pedals? ›

Class 2: These eBikes have a pedal-assist mode, but the motor can also propel the bike without pedaling. The top speed for both modes is 20 mph.

How do you change a Class 2 Ebike to Class 3? ›

Press and hold the plus and minus buttons on the control pad until the main screen is shown once again. Power the bike off by holding the power button to save the settings you have just changed. After changing your settings, peel off the class 2 sticker on the bike's frame, below the seat, to reveal a Class 3 sticker.

How do I choose an electric bike? ›

You may need to check the regulations and access rules of your preferred eBike before making the purchase.
  1. The type and quality of Batteries you use. Anything that works on batteries has a limited number of hours it can run. ...
  2. The type of motor in your bike. ...
  3. Your E-bike Motor Torque.
23 Feb 2021

What should I look for in an e-bike? ›

Remember to focus on the main differentiators: looks, power, range, price, motor type (pedal, pedal assist, full electric), max supported weight, battery brand, and real world results. Good luck with your e-bike hunt!

Why are eBikes banned from trails? ›

Dangerous speed

While regular cyclists climb slowly and descent at a higher speed, e-bikers have changed it all. As they can ride fast even at stiff ascents they became less compatible with the other trail users and might also endanger them.

What class is RadRunner 2? ›

The RadRunner 2 is a Class 2 pedal- and throttle-assist compact utility ebike with a top assisted speed of 20 mph. A 750W geared hub motor powers the RadRunner 2, running on a 672Wh battery to supply 80Nm of torque via four pedal-assist levels and a half-twist throttle.

Do you need license for ebike 2022? ›

Earlier this June 2022, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reminded Filipinos that owning select e-bikes and e-scooters requires an LTO registration.

What is the difference between an ebike and an electric bike? ›

The main difference between a normal bicycle and an ebike is the motor. Pedaling an ebike is less work because they give you power while pedaling, but ebikes let you go further using less effort.

Do you need a license to drive electric bike? ›

You can ride an electric bike if you're 14 or over, as long as it meets certain requirements. These electric bikes are known as 'electrically assisted pedal cycles' ( EAPCs ). You do not need a licence to ride one and it does not need to be registered, taxed or insured.

Does Trek make a Class 2 ebike? ›

Trek makes only Class 1 and Class 3 electric bikes (no throttle) as they provide the most natural ride feel, promote exercise, and help to keep you in control while you're riding.

Are Rad Ebikes Class 3? ›

What Class Are Rad Power Bikes Ebikes? Rad Power Bikes designs Class 2 ebikes.

What class is the Heybike Ranger? ›

In addition to the large battery, the Ranger is fitted with a 500W brushless hub motor that can propel it to a top speed of 28 miles per hour. This speed limit is in place due to the fact that it is a Class 3 e-bike.

What class is a Heybike Mars? ›

The Mars is a class 2 e-bike that can reach speeds of around 21 miles per hour at the highest level of pedal-assist. It has a 500-watt brushless rear motor and a 48V 12.5Ah battery that charges in about six to seven hours.

Do you always have to pedal a mid drive ebike? ›

This makes mid-drive motors a lot more efficient than hub motors. However, you do need to pedal with a mid-drive motor, while with hub motors (that also include pedal assist), you can take short breaks and let the motor power the ebike until it slows down.

How do you ride an electric bike with gears? ›

How and Why to Use Gears on Your Electric Bike - YouTube

Do electric bikes charge while pedaling? ›

Sometimes people ask whether our electric bikes will recharge while pedaling. Although it is conceivable that this could be done, because of the low 10% return on input, you would need to pedal 10km to give 1km charge. For this reason all our electric bikes simply plug into the wall to charge.

How can I make my class 2 electric bike faster? ›

There are a few easy things you can do to make your ebike faster that don't involve modifying it or it's settings.
  1. 1 – Always ride with a charged battery. ...
  2. 2 – Change the tires. ...
  3. 3 – Add more air to the tires. ...
  4. 4 – Remove any speed limiter. ...
  5. 5 – Make the speed sensor think you are going slower for mid-drives.

How do you hack the eBike limiter? ›

The sensor of an eBike is usually located on the frame base, while the magnet is located at the rear wheel.
...
Manually Delimiting an E-Bike
  1. Remove the sensor and magnet from the eBike.
  2. Find the pedal bracket of your electric bike, and attach the magnet to it.
  3. Move the sensor by turning it to face the magnet. That's it!
4 Sept 2022

How do I turn off the throttle on my eBike? ›

  1. Step 1: Make the Electrical Connections. Surely you already know how to connect a switch but you have to pay attention to which wire to interrupt the throttle. ...
  2. Step 2: Interrupt the Red Throttle Wire. ...
  3. Step 3: Position the Switch So That It Cannot Be Seen. ...
  4. Step 4: And That's It!

What is the most comfortable ebike for seniors? ›

The Aventon Pace 350 is an excellent e-bike for seniors. It has a comfortable seat and low step frame, making it easy to get on and ride. The backlit LCD display keeps you informed of your speed, battery level, distance covered, and pedal assist level.

What is the most powerful e-bike? ›

The Delfast Top 3.0 is regarded as fastest electric bike in the world. With a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), the Top 3.0 holds the title as the fastest production e-bike. This is the result of using a 3000 W electric motor, powered by a high-capacity battery.

Which motor is best for electric bike? ›

Rear motors are best for riders wanting or needing more power, or those looking to incorporate a throttle. There are also some new electric road bikes with small 250W rear hub motors that can be very stealthy with an integrated battery for a clean, traditional appearance.

What is a step through bike? ›

What is a Step-Through Bike? Step-through bikes are the compromise between the low-step and the step-over frame, which we will discuss shortly. Step-through bikes offer riders the most upright riding position and will also be the easiest for riders to mount and dismount by simply stepping through the curved frame.

How do I choose an e mountain bike? ›

How To Buy The Best EMTB For You | Choosing An Electric Mountain Bike

Do you need a license to drive electric bike? ›

You can ride an electric bike if you're 14 or over, as long as it meets certain requirements. These electric bikes are known as 'electrically assisted pedal cycles' ( EAPCs ). You do not need a licence to ride one and it does not need to be registered, taxed or insured.

What is the difference between an ebike and an electric bike? ›

The main difference between a normal bicycle and an ebike is the motor. Pedaling an ebike is less work because they give you power while pedaling, but ebikes let you go further using less effort.

Are electric bikes allowed on bike paths? ›

Electric bikes are also subject to the same road laws as other bikes. For example, it is legal to ride a bike or e-bike on cycle paths and shared-use paths, as well as on the road. But it is not legal to ride a bike or e-bike on the pavement.

What is the fastest ebike? ›

The Delfast Top 3.0 is regarded as fastest electric bike in the world. With a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), the Top 3.0 holds the title as the fastest production e-bike. This is the result of using a 3000 W electric motor, powered by a high-capacity battery.

Are 1000w eBikes legal in UK? ›

It's not illegal to own an e-bike with a power output exceeding 250 Watts, or where the electrical assistance doesn't cut off at 25kph.

What size electric motorbike can I ride on a car licence? ›

If you do have a car licence:

If your Full car licence was obtained before 1st Dec 2001, you can ride a 30mph electric motorbike without L-plates or a CBT certificate. If it was obtained after 1st Dec 2001, you must have a CBT certificate first.

Will ebike laws change in UK? ›

According to UK law, you do not require a licence to ride an e-bike. However, that does change as soon as your e-bike goes above those power and speed laws mentioned earlier. Up to that 15.5 mph and 250 watts limit, anybody can ride an e-bike.

How hard is it to pedal an e-bike without assist? ›

It actually depends on the bike. Some would be almost impossible to pedal any significant distance, others feel just like a normal bike, just a smidge heavy. Another option are the bikes with regeneration. Pedaling becomes harder than normal because you are choosing to put energy back into the battery.

How do I choose an electric bike? ›

You may need to check the regulations and access rules of your preferred eBike before making the purchase.
  1. The type and quality of Batteries you use. Anything that works on batteries has a limited number of hours it can run. ...
  2. The type of motor in your bike. ...
  3. Your E-bike Motor Torque.
23 Feb 2021

What is the most comfortable eBike for seniors? ›

The Aventon Pace 350 is an excellent e-bike for seniors. It has a comfortable seat and low step frame, making it easy to get on and ride. The backlit LCD display keeps you informed of your speed, battery level, distance covered, and pedal assist level.

Why are E-bikes banned from trails? ›

Dangerous speed

While regular cyclists climb slowly and descent at a higher speed, e-bikers have changed it all. As they can ride fast even at stiff ascents they became less compatible with the other trail users and might also endanger them.

Can you ride a sur Ron on the road UK? ›

Certificates Road Legal: Yes Electric moped (L1e) which requires the appropriate licence registration, insurance, and road tax (currently free on electric vehicles) with a top speed of 30MPH.

Why are E-bikes limited to 15 mph? ›

"It's commonly accepted in the cycling community that the current limit reduces the likelihood that people will swap their car for an electric bike and that the speed difference being so much lower than a car increases the danger presented to cyclists when sharing the road.

How fast can a 36V electric bike go? ›

How Fast Does A 36V Electric Bike Go? On average, a 36V electric bike can have a top speed of 15-20 mph. These electric bikes usually fall under classes 1 and 2, with a maximum speed limit of 20mph in most states. A 36V electric bike is fast enough to ride across cities and towns.

How fast is 1500w 48v? ›

How Fast Does a 1500w Electric Bike Go? A 1500w electric bike goes approximately 40 mph (64 km/h) on flat ground.

What speed are e bikes limited to? ›

But when buying an electric bicycle, note that in other countries the maximum power and speed limits for an ebikes may vary. In the USA, for example, the maximum permitted motor power and speed of an electric bike is up to 750W and 28 mph.

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