How fast are e bikes?
E bike riders come in all different shapes and sizes, as well as speed and comfort levels. The same could be said of e bikes themselves. How fast are e bikes? This is almost always the first question among would-be e bike buyers. It’s a valid question, but it always reminds me of shopping for a new laptop, endlessly sifting through specs and comparing RAM even though you know you will never come close to needing even 75% of the machine’s capacity! I mean, how frequently will you ride your electric bike at it’s absolute top speed rarely, if ever!
Anyways. Back to the question, “How fast are e bikes?” It’s a deceptively difficult question to answer. In our opinion the question should always broken down further into 2 x categories:
1) What the law says, and
2) Forget the law - how fast are e bikes maxing out in reality using some real world examples which incorporate up to date motor technology (i.e. how fast can these damned bikes go?)
So how fast are e bikes legally aloud to go?
Before we begin, it’s important to remember that your e bike can go as fast as you can pedal. The following government restrictions on how fast e bikes are allowed to travel are the imposed speed limits, after which the electric motor on the bike stops assisting you. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Act defines a “low-speed e bike” as having fully operable/usable pedals, a motor of 750 watts or less, and a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour. This means that, if your e bike complies with those speeds and requirements, you can generally ride it anywhere you can ride an old fashioned bicycle: streets, bike trails, and even sidewalks in certain jurisdictions.
Most governments around the world regulate the maximum speed e bikes can travel. Many countries classify e bikes similarly to traditional bicycles. This is done for several reasons such as encouraging e bike adoption, carbon footprint reduction targets and reducing vehicle traffic within congested areas.
Because e bikes are being treated with similar regard to bicycles, governments can’t allow electric bikes to go much faster. At higher speeds, e bikes become more dangerous and and require more skill to operate. In these cases, governments provide a lot more e bike regulation i.e. more protective helmets, vehicle license plates, driving test requirements, and insurance etc.
How fast are e bikes allowed to travel under U.S. e bike classification?
The US Federal E bike law classifies e bikes into 3 categories; class 1, 2 or 3. Speed-wise, the maximum permitted speed on public roads for e bikes is 28mph. However, some popular e bikes may go much faster in un governed. Note: Using an e bike in excess of these speeds is only legal on private property in the United States.
To see your specific state law on electric bikes, use this US state e bike law reference.
E bike speed classifications
E bikes within the U.S. carry a classification based on how fast they propel a rider and how they provide acceleration. For example by pedal assist only, or through the use of a throttle. The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) classifies e bikes based on the top speed at which the e bike motor assists the rider, and how much effort it takes to get the bike up to speed. Twenty-two states have now adopted this three-class system. An e bike’s classification will determine if you can ride your e bike on bike paths and in bike lanes, or strictly on roadways, these laws vary by state.
- Class 1 e bikes can have up to a 1hp motor that provides assist while you are pedaling at speeds up to 20 mph.
- Class 2 e bikes have a throttle and a 1hp motor that can propel a bike up to and maintain 20 mph, without having to continuously pedal.
- Class 3 e bikes can also be equipped with a 1 hp electric motor, but can assist you up to 28 mph.
All are allowed in most states and cities throughout the United States without the requirement of a license, registration or insurance. Unconquered Custom e bikes are categorized as Class 3 out of the factory but
each Unconquered Custom can easily be programmed post purchase to satisfy either of the other (class 1, or class 2) categories.
From the above, we see how fast e bikes are allowed to go in the United States as 28 miles per hour. However, this speed limitation only exists on public roads and property. On private property, you can remove the limit on your ebike and go even faster; as fast as the electric bike can physically go.
How fast are e bikes allowed to go under EU Electric Bike Classification
The EU legislation regarding e bikes is confusing to say the least. In addition, member states may maintain national rules different from the unified EU e bike law. Generally speaking though, the maximum speed permitted for an e bike in the EU is 45km/h. However, based on different classifications, e bikes may be limited to either 25km/h or 45km/h at the maximum.
Check this resource from Electric Travel to find out specifics for your country.
In Europe, e bikes are classified as either L1e-A or L1e-B
E bikes under this classification are referred to as “powered cycles” or “electric powered assisted cycle.” All e bikes with a maximum speed of 25km/h and maximum continuous rated power of 1kW (1000W) are L1e-A electric bikes. These are bicycles equipped with a motor; which only assists when rider pedals, or a motor that propels the bicycle by itself. Or a combination of both. These e bikes are treated similarly to bicycles across most EU member states.
L1e-B electric bikes are referred to as “two-wheeled mopeds.” These electric bikes may be designed to operate at a maximum speed of 45km/h and a maximum continuous rated power of 4kW (4000W). These electric bikes are treated similarly to mopeds/scooters across most EU member states.
How fast are e bikes able to go physically?
Now, this is the most interesting question. All (well, most) e bikes follow the government regulations and are speed limited. However, some e bike manufacturers have programmed their bikes with a “motorcycle mode.” Using this preset mode, legal speed restrictions are removed.
Fastest Electric Bikes
To answer how fast are e bikes topping out in these non regulated situations, or how fast e bikes can go, we’ve conducted some market research and found the two fastest e bikes by their listed top speed, motor wattage and price. Note: In most countries, these electric bikes require more registration and tax due to their higher speed
#1) HPC Revolution X: 60mph (96km/h) with up to 7kW (7000W) @ $13,000. #2) Swind EB-01: 60mph (96km/h) 15kW (15000W), @ $20,000.
As you can see e bikes built to be this fast from the factory can be cost prohibitive for the average person to afford, the much more reasonably priced e bikes are almost always 1500W motors and below and will ensure you remain street legal while on your journey.
How fast are e bikes rated at 1500W and below?
Another common speed question is “how do you translate motor wattage into mph?”. Provided similar conditions, a more powerful battery will always result in a higher speed. On average, a 1000w e bike should yield a top speed of 35 miles per hour. In general, a great rule of thumb is:
*These speed results are based on level or flat terrain.
Things to consider if opting for a fast e bike
Here’s a few simple things to keep in mind if you were thinking about purchasing a faster e bike. Logically, the faster you go, the more energy you’re going to use. That means that if you’re cruising along at top speed, and not pedaling at all, range may become a concern as you are going to drain your battery more quickly. While some “race track” riders will keep a spare battery so they can keep chugging along, this inevitably increases the cost.
Faster speed = larger battery & motor
On balance, a faster e bike requires a larger battery. This larger capacity battery will usually take up more space and weight on your bike.
Larger battery + motor = higher purchase price
A battery + motor with more capacity leads to an increase in cost of your e bike.
Larger battery & motor = heavier bike
As stated before, more battery and motor capacity translates to an increase in size which means more weight is added to your e bike.
Larger battery = higher cost to charge
A bigger battery may require more energy to fully charge.
More energy required = longer charge time
A bigger battery may require more energy to fully charge and thus, take a longer time to completely charge.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing better than pushing an e bike and yourself to the limit and discovering just how fast your e bike can go, but you might want to consider the day-to-day implications (comfort, maintenance cost, weight etc.) of operating and maintaining faster e bike first. Lastly, we’ve heard of riders and modifying our e bikes to travel faster than their classification allows, but we have to recommend never to do this, as this can be unsafe and potentially illegal.
So remember, e bikes can be fantastic for both those looking to commute at a comfortable pace or someone who wants to blast their way forward on a racetrack as fast as possible. But no matter how you choose to ride, always be mindful of your surroundings, be sure to remember that safety comes first and wear a helmet!