If you're in the market for an eBike (electric bicycle) you may have wondered, "how fast can an eBike go?" The answer to that question can vary based on your location, riding style, and the specific type of eBike you choose.
Class III eBikes have a top pedal assist speed of 28 MPH
Class III eBikes in the USA (they are commonly called "speed pedelec" in Europe) have a top speed of 28 MPH on pedal assist. That means the electric motor stops assisting when the bike hits 28 MPH. It's possible to go faster, for example, when descending a hill, but you won't have any electric assist; speeds over 28 MPH will come from leg power only.
An example of a Class III eBike is the Denago City Model 1. This eBike was named "best high speed electric bike" by the editors of Good Housekeeping. It offers top speeds of 28 MPH on pedal assist and 20 MPH on throttle alone.
Class I and II eBikes have a top pedal assist speed of 20 MPH
Class I eBikes have a top speed on pedal assist of 20 MPH. As with a Class III eBike, the electric motor stops providing help when you reach 20 MPH. It's possible to go faster; but only by using leg power.
A Class II eBike builds on a Class I model by adding a throttle mode. Throttles enable the rider to turn on the electric motor without pedaling. Both the throttle and pedal assist modes are limited to 20 MPH on this type of bike.
What about eBikes with throttles?
If you choose an eBike with a throttle, the top speed when used on throttle alone (no pedaling) will typically be 20 MPH, in order to comply with state eBike laws.
What about eBikes that claim to go faster?
Bikes that go more than 28 MPH on pedal assist or 20 MPH on throttle are not considered legal eBikes in most states and fall under the motorcycle / moped law instead, which means they require license, registration, and insurance.
If you're hoping to avoid license, registration, and insurance requirements, it makes sense to buy an eBike that's compliant in your state. Most states require that eBikes offered for sale have a frame sticker showing the Class (I, II, or III) as well as the top speed. Look for the sticker and shop with confidence!