For some riders, speed is the last thing on their mind when selecting an eBike. They’re concerned about comfort, safety, efficiency, and ease of use.
For other riders, it’s all about speed, and that’s OK as well. Let’s take a look at how fast eBikes can go and the regulations that cover their speeds.
Speed limits for Class I, II, and III eBikes
About 2/3rd of the United States have adopted the People for Bikes model eBike legislation, which lays out the following classes for eBikes:
- Class I - up to 750 Watt motor, pedal assist only (the electric motor only assists the rider when they are pedaling) with no throttle, maximum speed 20 MPH.
- Class II - up to 750 Watt motor, pedal assist plus throttle, maximum speed is 20 MPH on both throttle and pedal assist.
- Class III - up to 750 Watt motor, pedal assist up to 28 MPH. Some class III eBikes are also equipped with throttles, if so, the maximum speed on throttle is 20 MPH. Denago's City Model 1.0 line falls into this category.
For all eBike classes, the “top speed” means that when that speed is reached, the electric motor stops providing assistance. The eBike can still go faster, via the rider’s pedaling input, or while coasting downhill, it just won’t have assistance from the electric motor.
Some brands advertise even faster speeds - how?
Most speed limiters are in eBike software, which means they are easily changeable with the built in controls, if the manufacturer provides access to those settings. Some bikes can have the speed limiter modified or removed entirely as a result. This can be reasonable and appropriate - for example, riding at high speeds on private property you own or have permission to use.
Removing the speed limiter can also be irresponsible or outright dangerous - imagine riding a modified, high-speed eBike on your local bike path with joggers, dog walkers, and children present. Before you think about riding at high speeds, do your research and make sure you’re ready to ride responsibly and in a way that’s legal, appropriate, and safe for your surroundings first.
For the vast majority of riders, the Class I, II, and III established limits are appropriate and more than fast enough for exercise, errands, or commuting to work.
What if I want to go slower?
It's also possible to set a lower speed limit on some eBike models. Denago's City Model 1.0 eBikes, for example, allow the user to set a speed limit as low as 11 MPH. This is useful for riders who are more cautious and prefer slower speeds.
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