Electric bikes or e-bikes offer a great way to get around New York and other major cities. They are flexible and offer assistance for those who do not want to spend energy pedaling intensely. These bikes put your feet through less of a workout than non-electric bikes while still enabling you to get around at fairly high speeds.
How fast can electric bikes go? It depends on lots of factor like Terrain, Rider Weight, Motor Type, Rider Fitness, etc. A class 1 electric bike can go upto 20 miles per hour, Class 2 E-Bikes having speeds greater than 20 miles per hour and a Class 3 E-Bikes may reach speeds of up to 32 miles per hour.
You may be wondering how fast can electric bikes go? This guide will examine various types of electric bikes and what their top speeds are.
Average Speed For An Electric Bike
If you are interested in purchasing an electric bike, you should be aware that most models have a top speed of around 20 miles per hour. By comparison, the average running speed for humans is approximately 8 miles per hour. This makes electric bikes a much faster way to get around compared to running on foot.
So how do electric bikes compare to ordinary pedal powered cycles? Non-electric bikes reach an average speed of around 10 to 14 miles per hour.
Trained cyclists can reach and sustain speeds of 15 to 18 miles per hour. However, riders without endurance typically struggle to reach and maintain such high speeds.
If you want to give your legs a break without compromising on speed, electric bikes are certainly the way to go.
Factors Affecting Electric Bike Speeds
Before we answer the question “how fast does an electric bike go?”, it is worth discussing the different factors that affect their top speeds. This includes:
Terrain is one of the most significant factors that affect bike speeds. Most bicycles move faster on certain types of terrain compared to others.
The fastest type of terrain for any bike is asphalt. This surface offers the high friction required for maximum traction, which allows bikes to reach the top speed their motors are capable of cranking out.
You may be able to reach speeds up to 28 miles per hour with the right electric bike on asphalt. However, many people purchase e-bikes specifically because they want to drive on bike trails or sidewalks that are not composed of asphalt.
Pavement is the second-fastest type of terrain for electric bikes. However, many cities treat electric bikes the same as motorized vehicles in that they cannot be driven on pavement sidewalks used by pedestrians.
If you live in a region where driving an electric bike is permitted on pavement, you should be able to reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
Mud or gravel paths are much slower than pavement and asphalt paths. These paths provide very little traction due to the mud or gravel shifting under the weight of the bike.
Most electric bikes will struggle to reach speeds of 20 miles per hour on this type of terrain. However, there are special off-road e-bikes that can reach speeds in excess of 20 miles per hour on gravel and dirt paths.
Rider weight and equipment load will also affect the top speed of an electric bike. The estimates we have provided so far are based on average rider weight of 140 lbs. If you weigh more than this, your e-bike may struggle to reach its true top speed.
However, most e-bikes have powerful motors that can crank out a sufficient amount of force.
If you weigh less than 140 lbs, you should be able to reach the bike’s top speed on the right terrain with less effort. However, any equipment you may be carrying may slow down the bike’s speed slightly.
One common variation that exists between different electric bikes is motor type. Electric bikes are powered by either a hub-drive or a mid-drive motor.
Hub-drive motors are typically positioned on the front or the rear wheel and move the bike by directly spinning the tire.
Mid-drive motors are typically positioned directly in between the e-bike’s pedals and offer a more natural riding experience than hub-drive motors.
It is believed that mid-drive motors can reach higher speeds than hub-drive motors. The latter often struggle to maintain speeds on slow or very steep terrains.
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If you are in the market for an e-bike, you may already be aware that some e-bike classes do require some pedaling to function.
For these bikes, the motor is simply there for assistance. However, you can reach very high speeds by pedaling intensely along with the motor’s help.
Fit individuals with strong hip and leg muscles may be able to reach speeds of up to 28 miles per hour on an electric bike. However, maintaining this speed will be a challenge if you do not have good endurance.
Motor Wattage and E-Bike Speed
Motor wattage is one of the most significant factors that affects an e-bike’s speed in different terrain. We have devoted a whole section to this topic, as motor wattage will be the main deciding factor when choosing an e-bike for speed.
What Does Motor Wattage Mean?
There are two types of wattage that should be taken into consideration when choosing an e-bike. These are continuous watt rating and peak watt rating.
Continuous watt rating generally describes how much energy the e-bike motor can handle or sustain continuously. Peak watt rating tells you how much energy the motor can handle or consume for a short period or in bursts.
Continuous watt rating is maintained when driving your e-bike on ordinary and level surfaces.
The peak watt rating is utilized only under special circumstances, such as when the e-bike is attempting to drive up a steep slope or particularly difficult terrain.
The difference between continuous watt rating and peak watt rating can be somewhat significant.
An e-bike that has a motor with a 750-watt continuous power rating will have a peak power rating of 1000 watts.
Does Higher Wattage Mean More Speed?
After learning about e-bike motor wattage, you may be tempted to believe that motors with a higher wattage will definitely give you greater speed. After all, a high wattage motor cranks out more power, which should propel the bike faster.
However, the truth is that high watt motors may help your e-bike reach slightly higher speeds.
The main advantage of high watt motors is that they can reach their top speed with more ease than low wattage motors. This means they can reach close to their top speed on difficult terrain such as uphill roads.
High watt motors can also support heavier passengers or those traveling with heavy equipment at high speeds.
Typical Motor Wattages
Depending on the manufacturer and bike model, you can expect to find e-bikes in the range of:
- 250 watt
- 500 watt
- 750 watts
- 1000 watts
- 3000 watts
Wattage and Speed
The speed for each motor wattage are shown below:
- 250 watts: These motors can reach speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour on flat terrain.
- 500 watt: These motors can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour with ease on flat terrain.
- 750 watt: These motors can reach speeds of 25 miles per hour with ease, even on challenging terrain types.
- 1000 watt: This can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour on just about any terrain. Such motors are typically found on specialized off-road e-bikes.
- 3000 watts: These motors are less common, as people typically purchase motorbikes instead. Such motors can reach speeds greater than 30 miles per hour.
Understanding E-Bike Classes
E-bikes are also categorized on the basis of their “class”. There are three classes of e-bikes. These are:
- Class 1
- Class 2
- Class 3
Class 1 E-Bikes
Class 1 E-bikes are considered the most passive of the three classes. They have a top speed of 20 miles per hour, and do require some pedaling to operate. In fact, their motors offer assistance only while you are pedaling, as they do not throttle themselves.
Class 2 E-Bikes
Class 2 E-bikes are less pedal-intensive than Class 1 E-bikes. Their speeds are also limited to 20 miles per hour. However, they do offer low-speed throttle assistance. This means the motor will propel the bike forward even when you are not pedaling.
Riders may be able to achieve speeds greater than 20 miles per hour by switching the motor off and pedaling themselves.
Class 3 E-Bikes
Class 3 E-bikes are generally faster than the other two classes. They offer assistance when you are pedaling and are typically equipped with speedometers. These e-bikes may reach speeds of up to 32 miles per hour.
Do You Need a High Speed E-bike?
The motor wattages mentioned above are common in e-bike models that are widely available. Some e-bikes such as the Swind EB-01 have motors that churn out a whopping 15,000 watts of power.
This bike can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. However, do you really need that much power?
The truth is that most people can get by just fine with a 500 watt e-bike. These bikes offer a speedier way to travel short distances of a few miles. If you want greater speed to travel across longer distances faster, you may consider a 750 watt or a 1000 watt e-bike. For even greater power or speeds, it may be worth getting a moped or a motorbike.
U.S E-bike Laws
Before purchasing a speedy e-bike, it is also worth understanding U.S laws regarding e-bikes. In 2002 Congress enacted law HB 727. This law defines e-bikes as two or three-wheeled vehicles that have fully operable pedals and possess an electric motor of less than 750 watts, whose maximum speed on a paved surface is less than 20 miles per hour.
This definition covers e-bikes that are powered by motor alone or through a combination of motor power and pedaling.
However, the 20 miles per hour limit refers to the speed through only the motor. If your e-bike’s motor-powered speed is under 20 miles per hour, you can legally reach speeds above this by pedaling.
E-bikes in the U.S with higher motor wattage or speeds require license and registration, and cannot be used in bike lanes or multi-purpose trails.
Reasons to Get a Speedy E-bike
Now that we looked at the top speeds of various e-bike classes and motors, it’s worth looking at some reasons why you would want a speedy e-bike.
Reaching Your Destination Faster
The most obvious reasons to consider getting a high speed e-bike is the ability to get around faster. If you do not want to purchase a car and get stuck in traffic every morning, an e-bike may be the best solution for your morning commute.
These electric bikes are much faster than ordinary bikes, and do not weigh much more. Non-electric bikes weigh between 30 and 35 pounds, while most electric bikes weigh around 45 to 50 pounds.
This weight difference is relatively minor, and should not cause a problem when attempting to move and store your electric bike in the same place as an ordinary bicycle at your workplace.
Getting Moderate Exercise
If you purchase a Class 1 or a Class 3 e-bike, you won’t need to pedal very hard to reach a decent speed. This classifies riding on a Class 1 or Class e-bike as minor or even moderate exercise.
If you want to tone your leg muscles without putting in a great deal of effort, a high-speed e-bike could be just what you are looking for.
Feeling the Wind
Many bike enthusiasts will tell you they enjoy riding at high speed to feel the wind against their bodies. This also adds to the appeal of purchasing a high-speed e-bike.
You can reach top speed with little effort on one of these bikes. This means you can feel the wind rushing past you without tiring yourself out significantly. E-biking is a great way to experience the outdoors and take in some fresh air at the same time.
Reasons You Should Think Twice About Getting a Speedy E-Bike
E-bikes add a lot of conveniences to your life. However, getting a speedy e-bike does come with a few drawbacks that are worth considering. These reasons may not be a dealbreaker for you; however, they should still be kept in mind before dropping money on a high-speed e-bike.
Risk of Injury
The biggest drawback of having a high-speed e-bike is the increased risk of injury. You may already be aware of the high accident rate among motorcyclists. Much of these accidents are caused by driving at high speeds.
E-bikes do not typically reach the same speeds as motorcycles. However, their motors do enable riders to attain the speed levels that would be difficult through pedaling alone. This adds to the risk of severe injuries or even fatalities occurring.
The risk of injury may be even greater when you consider that some riders take e-bikes that aren’t meant for off-road cycling onto dirt or gravel paths.
Taking an e-bike without special off-roading tyres onto unpaved paths could be a recipe for disaster if you aren’t careful.
As mentioned earlier, many types of e-bikes are classified as mopeds in different parts of the U.S This means they cannot be driven on sidewalks and other pedestrian walkways.
In addition to this, you may need to be above a certain age and possess a valid driver’s license to operate one of these e-bikes.
The laws vary greatly from state to state. For example, in New York state, e-bikes cannot be faster than 20 miles per hours, and cannot be throttle controlled.
By contrast, there is no speed limit for e-bikes in Alabama, but you may require an M class license. For this reason, it is crucial to look up the e-bike laws in your state before making your e-bike purchase.
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As you can see, e-bikes do vary in top speed greatly. Getting a fast e-bike may seem like the way to go initially, but it does come with certain drawbacks that should be taken into account. If you are in the market for your first e-bike, you should assess what your speed needs actually are, and whether or not you would run into legal issues by purchasing and driving your e-bike on your desired route.
I am Michael, an avid rider and bike expert. I am here to provide, biking tips and expert advice on in-depth bike reviews covering features, capabilities, price range, and much more. Specially on electric bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, etc. I will provide honest product reviews, along with expert advice on purchasing, training, and maintenance. Check out my complete profile.