A regular bicycle is a great way to stay fit. It also keeps the environment pollution-free. But when it comes to actual commuting, it isn’t a practical option. Why? Because it tires you out too soon! You are likely to be soaked in sweat by the time you reach your destination. This is why electric bikes are the talk of the town these days!
Electric bikes use a battery and a motor to assist your pedaling efforts. Riding an e-bike feels like someone giving your bicycle a push, so you don’t have to exert yourself too much. Sounds fun, but let’s not forget the main question here: How fast can you go on an e-bike?
Continue reading to know more about the speed of electric bikes.
How Fast Can You go On an E-bike?
The laws determine the maximum speed limit of any vehicle. These laws vary in different parts of the world. The highest speed allowed for e-bikes on the road is around 25 mph (miles per hour) in the USA.
You can enjoy even higher speeds on some e-bikes, but not on the roads (such e-bikes are only allowed on the race tracks).
Numerous other factors determine how far you can go on an e-bike (while staying within the maximum speed limit mentioned above). These factors can be divided into two major categories:
- External or environmental factors, like wind, ambiance, temperature, and terrain.
- Internal factors of a specific e-bike and its rider, like components of the e-bike and strength of the rider.
Let’s have a brief look at some of them.
- Classes of E-bikes: Law has divided the e-bikes into three classes. Each class is restricted to a maximum speed limit.
- Battery Voltage: More volts means more speed! A powerful battery with high voltage can take you faster.
- Controller Amps: The higher the current (amps), the higher the top speed of electric bikes.
- Motor Wattage: A motor with higher wattage pulls weight more easily, letting you enjoy more speed.
- Type of Terrain: E-bikes can travel faster on smooth plain roads than rough terrain and high lands.
- Tire Size & Pressure: Larger wheels absorb shocks better, making the e-bike go faster on rough roads.
Knowing the things that affect the speed of electric bikes can help you buy one that suits your needs perfectly. Continue reading to learn about each of these factors in detail.
1. Classes of E-bikes
In the United States, E-bikes are categorized into three classes to regulate their use: Class 1, class 2, class 3. These categories can be defined in terms of their motor power, speed, and operations. Scroll below to see the specifications of each class.
The e-bikes in class 1 work only on the pedal-assist mode. In other words, the motors of e-bikes in this category do not push the bike on their own; you have to pedal for the motor to work.
- The top speed of electric bikes under this classification is around 20 mph. Once you reach the top speed, the motor automatically stops assisting you.
- The maximum motor wattage found in class 1 e-bikes is 750W.
- With e-bikes in this category, you can enjoy a longer mileage and preserve battery power too.
- You can ride them anywhere the regular bicycles are allowed, including bike lanes, roads, multiuse trails, and bike-only paths.
- Best for people who want to enjoy the cycling experience without exerting themselves too much during steep climbs.
- The pedal-assist e-bikes provide different levels of assistance; there are sensors located in the bottom bracket, rear hub, or rear wheel that detect pedal movements, pedal-torque, or bicycle speed to provide you with the level of assistance you require.
The e-bikes in this class give you the best of both worlds: pedal-assist and throttle mode. The throttle is a system that propels your bike without needing you to pedal. This system, found on the handlebar, can be activated by a thumb button, half-twist, or a full twist.
Activating the throttle gives you a quick boost to your e-bike and allows you to enjoy a pedal-free ride.
- Similar to class 1 e-bikes, the top speed of class 2 e-bikes also max out at 20 mph (yes, even with a throttle).
- The motor wattage for this category is also the same as class 1.
- Like class 1 e-bikes, they are also allowed in the same places where you can ride regular bikes.
- People who want to reach somewhere without exercise can benefit from a class 2 e-bike. Plus, it is the best option for people with limited mobility in their bodies.
The e-bikes in this category are much faster. Although they are also pedal-assisted like class 1 e-bikes, the motor can assist you up to a maximum speed of 28 mph.
- The motor stops assisting you once you reach 28 mph. The assistance won’t start again until you lower the speed to 28 or less.
- You can usually find a speedometer on them.
- You will find a 750 watt motor in most e-bikes under this classification.
- These high-speed, pedal-assisted e-bikes may be restricted from certain bike trails and bike paths.
- These e-bikes may also be subject to other law restrictions, such as age limits and helmet requirements.
- As the fastest e-bikes allowed in public spaces, they are best for serious commuters and adventure-lovers.
These bikes are not permitted for use on the roads because of their high speeds. In other words, they are the fastest e-bikes in the market.
- They are treated more like motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and dirt bikes. The only difference is that e-bikes have pedals and motorcycles don’t.
- This vehicle involves proper registration, license, and other legal formalities.
- You can only ride them on race tracks or any private property where you don’t have to follow the rules imposed on public places.
Here is a table that sums up the maximum speed of all the classes.
|Max Speed||Miles per hour||Kilometer per hour|
2. Battery Voltage
You will mostly see the volt rating on the battery of an e-bike. Volts refer to the force that pushes the electric current through the system. It basically means how much power your battery holds.
The more powerful the battery, the more it can lend to the top speed of electric bikes. Batteries of e-bikes usually come in the sequence of 12V, 24V, 36V, and 48V, with 36V-48V batteries being more commonly used. A battery of 48V will propel a bike faster than a 36V battery. With a 36V battery, your body would have to work harder to reach the same speed as an e-bike with 48V.
However, the battery performance also depends on numerous factors, like weight and terrain. If you are heavier than average, you will need a high voltage battery to go faster. Similarly, an e-bike with a 48V battery will climb up steep hills faster than an e-bike with a 36V battery.
3. Controller Amps
A controller acts as the brain of an e-bike. It is the device that links all the electrical parts of the e-bike together, including battery, motor, throttle, display, pedal-assist, and different sensors. Its primary job is to regulate the current from the battery and pass it on to the motor.
The ratings you will find on a controller include voltage measures in volts and amperage is measured in amperes. The overall power ratings of your battery should be equal to or less than the power of your controller.
The main part here is amperage; it defines how much power flows through the system. The higher the current (amps), the higher is the top speed of electric bikes.
Also, no matter how high your motor’s watt rating is, your e-bike cannot access that power until the control amp delivers the required current.
4. Motor Wattage
The motor is the heart of an e-bike. The total power that an e-bike motor can handle or deliver is measured in watts. The number of watts used by an electric motor at a given point of time is the voltage coming from the battery multiplied by the current flowing from the battery to the motor (watts=volts x amps).
A motor with a high wattage rating can pull weight more easily, which means you can enjoy more speed. However, the watt rating alone does not determine how fast your e-bike can go.
In other words, a higher wattage does not directly translate into speed. Besides wattage, many other factors determine how fast your motor performs, like the motor’s position, the rider’s weight, peak watt rating, and torque.
Let us explain it with an example. A 750-watt motor can pull up to a speed of 20 mph faster than a 250-watt motor, assuming that all other factors like weight, terrain, and position are the same for both motors.
In the United States, there are restrictions on the motor’s power too. You cannot ride e-bikes with motors of above 750 watts on regular roads. Such high-wattage motors are only allowed on private property or dirt-bike tracks and paths.
5. Type of Terrain
Your e-bike will always go faster on a smooth road as compared to rough terrain. Similarly, you can ride down a hill with more speed than climbing up. This means that the same e-bike will have different speeds when used on different kinds of terrain.
Therefore, you should buy an e-bike keeping your purpose in mind. If you plan to use it for commuting on simple & smooth roads, don’t worry about the specifications much. Pretty much any model of an e-bike can handle your requirements.
If your daily use involves climbing uphill or you love mountain trails, look for an e-bike with a powerful motor, battery, and controller. High-performance e-bikes are specifically designed to assist mountain bike sessions. Try them out to enjoy the trails without over-exhausting yourself.
However, weight also comes into play here. That means you will need more watts to support your weight if you are heavy. Make sure you choose the right amount of watts to support your weight during steep climbs.
6. Tire Size & Pressure
The wheel size refers to the diameter of your e-bike’s wheel. The larger the wheel’s diameter, the further your e-bike travels over one revolution of the wheel. You can find e-bike wheels in sizes of 16, 20, and 26 inches.
However, 16 and 20-inches wheels are not commonly used because they cannot handle faster speeds well. On the other hand, a 26-inch wheel does not slow down as they go over speed bumps, potholes, dirt, or curbs.
Size is not the only thing that matters when it comes to wheels; tire pressure also plays a vital role. Ideally, you would need e-bikes with high-pressure tires on a smooth road to go faster.
However, is there any such thing as a perfectly smooth road? No! On rough-surface roads, fully inflated (high-pressure) tires don’t absorb shocks, and you find yourself shaking and wobbling. This obviously makes your e-bike go slower.
How fast can you go on an e-bike? The answer to this question largely depends on the speed regulations in your country and state.
In the USA, the laws classify e-bikes into categories, and each category has a maximum speed limit to which the motor can assist you. Factors that affect the speed of electric bikes are battery voltage, controller amps, motor power, type of land, wheel size, tire pressure, and weight of the rider.
So, what speed should you consider when choosing an e-bike? It totally depends upon your needs. Some people use e-bikes for daily commute to work, while others use them for adventurous mountain trails and hill climbs. You have to figure out what kind of e-bike will suit your needs the best.
Related electric bike articles:
- How to Convert a Mountain Bike to Electric Bike
- Can You Ride an Electric Bike on the Sidewalk?
- Are Electric Bikes Allowed on Bike Paths?
- Can You Use An Electric Bike Without A Battery?
- Electric Bike Keeps Cutting Out
- How to Derestrict an Electric Bike
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.