Selecting a new electric bike is about more than just choosing which bike frame you prefer and what features you need in your electric bike.
Instead, when buying an electric bike, the most important task is to check the regional laws of your country or state to get familiar with which electric bike classes are permissible to ride.
If you choose to ignore the regional laws on electric bike classes, riding a prohibited electric bike class will get you fined and might even land you in jail.
What Are Electric Bike Classes and Why Do They Matter?
Just like you can find different categories to choose from when buying a four-wheeled car, such as a sedan, a sports car, an SUV, etc., you will also come across a similar choice when selecting an electric bike to buy or ride.
The different electric bikes are called classes, and they help organize electric bikes into separate groups based on their riding mechanism, speed, and permissibility.
People usually get to choose from three main types of electric bike classes. While some classes are available in almost all electric markets, some are relatively rare and harder to find.
The three types of electric bike classes are as follows:
- Class 1: Pedal-assist electric bikes
- Class 2: Pedal-less throttle electric bikes
- Class 3: High wattage pedal-assist and pedal-less throttle electric bike
Each electric bike class has its own features, unique pros and cons, speed limitations, and relevant riding rules.
While some countries do not have very strict laws regarding which electric bike classes can go on what kinds of roads, some countries and states have severe limitations that prohibit using some electric bike classes.
These laws are designed to ensure that a person with limited experience does not endanger their lives or the safety of others on the road by choosing a high-speed electric bike they cannot handle.
Moreover, the classification helps people choose suitable electric bikes that fit their particular abilities and needs.
Continue reading below to learn in greater detail about each of the different electric bike classes.
The article explains each electric bike class, how it differs from the other classes, and which electric bike is usually permissible to ride.
Also, read, What is the Fastest Electric Bike You Can Buy?
Let’s get started!
The Three Different Types of Electric Bike Classes
People who are not well-informed regarding the different electric bike classes may waste their money on an e-bike they either do not have the skills to ride, or cannot ride due to the regional laws.
Hence, to make a sound and beneficial investment to enjoy riding the futuristic two-wheeled automobile wherever and whenever you want, you must learn about what each electric bike class has to offer.
Class 1: Pedal-Assist Electric Bike
The class 1 or pedal-assist electric bike is the market’s most commonly found type of electric bike. Most electric bikes one can rent to stroll around town are usually always class 1 e-bikes.
While all electric bikes are significantly more expensive than traditional bikes, a class 1 pedal-assist electric bike is the most affordable e-bike one can find.
How Does a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike Work?
As the name suggests, the class 1 pedal-assist electric bike needs to be pedaled to remain in motion.
Design-wise the pedal-assist electric bike is most similar to the traditional bikes we all have grown up riding. This means that these electric bikes come with pedals on each side and must be constantly pedaled by the rider.
However, the only main difference that separates a traditional bike from a pedal-assist electric bike is the addition of the different electrical components.
The main electrical components that can be found in all class 1 electric bikes are as follows:
- A chemical battery
- An electric motor
- Motion sensors
- Energy transmitters
- LCD screen
- Connecting cable wire
Every single component plays a part in adding convenience and speed to a person’s ride. This is how the mechanism of class 1 pedal-assist electric bike works:
- Before a person can ride their pedal-assist electric bike, they need to charge the bike’s battery by connecting it to a power source.
- The electric charge that flows through the multiple cells of the battery gets stored in the form of chemical energy.
- As a rider begins to pedal their electric bike, the pedaling motion gets detected by the e-bike’s built-in motion sensors.
- The motion sensors pass the picked-up signal to the electric bike’s motor.
- This causes the electric motor to automatically turn on and begin functioning.
- The motor gets to work by discharging the battery and converting the stored chemical energy to kinetic energy and heat as the by-product.
- The freshly produced kinetic energy gets passed onto the electric bike’s tires via the built-in energy transmitters.
- As a result, with the added kinetic energy, the rider’s pedaling action gets aided, and the electric bike picks up speed and accelerates.
Usually, most class 1 pedal-assist electric bikes come with three modes of pedal-assistance, each allowing more kinetic energy assistance than the last one.
Hence, if a rider chooses to ride on the first mode of pedal assistance, their e-bike’s speed will mainly be dependent on their pedaling speed.
However, if they switch up the gear to the third mode of pedal-assistance, the e-bike will reach its highest speed while barely requiring any pedaling from the rider.
What is the Top Speed of a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike?
The top speed of the class 1 pedal-assist electric bike will primarily depend on the size of the battery and the total weight the electric bike has to pull.
In general, most pedal-assist electric bikes come with a 250-Watt or 500-Watt battery pack that allows them to have a top speed of 15-20 miles per hour.
However, the top speed will be compromised if the rider is overweight or carrying heavy luggage.
What is the Maximum Range Offered by a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike?
The maximum range a class 1 pedal-assist electric bike offers is also directly dependent on the size of the battery pack and the total weight the bike has to pull.
In general, most pedal-assist electric bikes can cover nearly 22 to 40 miles on a single charge; however, the exact number can vary by the total weight on the e-bike and the rider’s riding practices.
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike?
Pros of a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike
- The average range offered by most pedal-assist electric bikes is usually enough for commuting around town to work, school, the mall, etc.
- Hence, these e-bikes are excellent for inner-city travel.
- The top speed allows the rider to reach their destination on time and is safe to control for almost all kinds of riders.
- Hence, if a person is too young or old or is learning how to ride their first-ever electric bike, the pedal-assist e-bike is the safest and most reliable option.
- Since the electric bike’s motion depends on the rider’s pedaling, regular riding can help the rider burn calories, shed some body weight, and benefit from a good cardio workout.
- Due to the relatively low top speed, there are not many laws restricting the use of a pedal-assist electric bike anywhere in the world.
- However, the rider needs to be at least 14 to 16 years of age.
- Moreover, some countries like Singapore require riders to wear helmets when riding a pedal-assist electric bike.
Cons of a Class 1 Pedal-Assist Electric Bike
- The top speed of a pedal-assist electric bike is usually not enough for people who prefer adventurous, high-speed rides.
- If a person has to commute to far-off destinations every day, the pedal-assist electric bike will be a poor choice for them as it will require frequent battery recharges during a single trip.
- Riders younger than age 14 cannot ride the class 1 electric bike.
- The low battery range may give the rider range anxiety.
Class 2: Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike
The class 2 pedal-less throttle electric bike is a more mechanized version of the class 1 e-bike and is ideal for riders who prefer riding at higher speeds.
The main difference between a class 2 and class 1 electric bike is that a class 2 e-bike is not dependent on a rider’s pedaling motion. This makes a pedal-less throttle electric bike more similar to an electric motorbike than a traditional bike.
How Does a Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike Work?
As the name suggests, the pedal-less throttle electric bike does not come with any pedals on its sides. Hence, the electric bike also lacks any built-in motion sensors.
To ride the pedal-less throttle electric bike, the rider either has to turn a plug or turn on a switch to get the e-bike’s motor running.
As soon as the motor is turned on, it begins discharging the battery pack and converts the stored chemical energy to kinetic energy.
The kinetic energy is passed onto the electric bike’s tires via the energy transmitters, allowing the electric bike to become mobile.
The higher the mode of electrical assistance, the higher the class 2 electric bike’s speed will be.
What is the Top Speed of a Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike?
Since the class 2 pedal-less throttle electric bike is not dependent on any physical pedaling, its top speed is higher.
Most pedal-less throttle electric bikes have a top speed of 20 to 28 miles per hour, depending on the e-bike’s battery pack size.
What is the Maximum Range Offered by a Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike?
Usually, a pedal-less throttle electric bike can cover almost 50 to 60 miles on a single charge. However, the total weight the e-bike pulls, the battery charging, and the type of riding terrain can affect the e-bike’s total range.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bikes?
Pros of a Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike
- Since people can cover longer distances on a pedal-less throttle electric bike, more people are encouraged to use eco-friendly electric bikes over gasoline-powered personal cars and public transport.
- As a result, annual emissions are controlled, and the dependency on fossil fuels is decreased.
- Since no pedaling is required, riders can reach their destination without getting sweaty or tired.
Cons of a Class 2 Pedal-Less Throttle Electric Bike
- Class 2 electric bikes are more expensive than class 1 e-bikes.
- Class 2 electric bikes are much heavier than class 1 e-bikes. Hence, not everyone can control and balance the e-bike’s weight during a ride.
- As a result, younger, older, or physically challenged people cannot safely ride the class 2 electric bikes.
- High-speed can be dangerous, and an accident or a crash can result in fractures and broken bones.
Class 3 Electric Bikes
Class 3 electric bikes are all those electric bikes that come with a high-wattage battery pack. This means that any pedal-assist or pedal-less throttle electric bike with a massive battery will be categorized under class 3 e-bikes.
These electric bikes function just like class 1 or 2 e-bikes; however, for an electric bike to be listed under class 3, the electric battery is usually between 1000 to 3000 Watts.
What is the Top Speed of a Class 3 Electric Bike?
The table below summarizes the top speed of different class 3 electric bikes.
|Class 3 Electric Bike Battery Size||Maximum Speed|
|1000-Watts||35 miles per hour|
|1500-Watts||38 miles per hour|
|2500-Watts||45 miles per hour|
|3000-Watts||50 miles per hour|
What Are the Pros and Cons of a Class 3 Electric Bike?
Pros of a Class 3 Electric Bike
- The high-speed class 3 electric bikes cover longer distances on a single charge.
- This makes these electric bikes ideal for inter-city travel.
- Class 3 electric bikes are ideal for people who love adrenaline-pumping adventurous bike rides.
- Class 3 electric bikes are usually built to be bulkier. Hence, overweight riders can ride these e-bikes easily.
Cons of a Class 3 Electric Bike
- Class 3 electric bikes can be more expensive than most standard-sized cars, making affordability very difficult
- The high-top speeds can be dangerous to control and can result in life-threatening accidents.
- Class 3 electric bikes can be too heavy for most bikers.
- Many countries, cities, and American states limit the use of class 3 electric bikes due to the potential risks associated with riding them.
Buying a new electric bike is always exciting; however, it requires careful consideration and a well-informed decision.
While the right electric bike can be an excellent accessory for your everyday travel, choosing the wrong e-bike can result in wasted investment and dangerous accidents.
Hence, a person must pay attention to how one electric bike class differs from the other to make a wise long-term investment.
You may also like the following electric bike articles:
- How Do Electric Bikes Without Pedals Work?
- Can you Pedal an Electric Bike Without the Battery?
- How Often to Service Electric Bike
- Can You Convert a Regular Bike to an Electric Bike?
- How Fast is a 1500 Watts Electric Bike?
- Best Electric Bike Under $1000
My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric bikes caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my e-bike. Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric bikes. Check out more.