How fast is an electric bike? That seems to be the burning question for most people interested in them. How fast can an e-bike go will depend on numerous factors. Where you live, the type of electric bike you have, and whether or not you're pedaling as well all play a part in your e-bike speed capabilities. In general, the electric bike speed is 20 to 28 mph (32 - 45 km/h), although 45 - 50 mph (72 - 80 km/h) is possible.
There are legal restrictions in place about electric bike speeds. What those are will vary by your location. Most bikes have a speed limiter built-in for that very reason. You can purchase a bike without one, or you can remove it if your bike has one (read on before you do this). I will talk about this in greater detail later.
What's an Electric Bike?
An electric bike, or e-bike, is not a scooter or a motorcycle. That is a common misconception. An electric bike is just that; a bike that is electric. The best way to describe one is to picture a regular bicycle. Now, add a motor, battery, and some other electrical components, and you have an e-bike.
Electric Bike Classes
E-bikes get sorted into three classes, class 1, class 2, and class 3. Most places use this set up to help regulate them. Each class has different features and speed capabilities.
We'll walk you through the classes to help you understand what they are and what it means for you.
Imagine riding a bike, and someone gives you a push. That's about what this class is, but with a little more power. Bikes in this category have no throttle, meaning it will not go if you are not pedaling. If you stop pedaling, the motor will stop, too. This class of bike is designed for pedal assist and will power off once you reach 20 mph (32 km/h).
If you're looking for a nice leisure bike, something for running nearby errands, or checking out a local path, an electric bike in this bracket would be suitable.
Your motor will work while you are pedaling and when you are not, meaning it does have a throttle. A throttle is located on the handlebars and is usually a twist or thumb throttle. A throttle gives you the ability to ride without having to pedal, much like a motorcycle or scooter. However, the motor will stop once you reach 20 mph (32 km/h). You can go faster than that by pedaling yourself.
The fastest of the three classes. Bikes here get referred to as an "electrically assisted pedelec." The motor on these bikes will continue to provide pedal assistance up to 28 mph (45 km/h). If you stop pedaling, it will decrease to the 20 mph throttle only maximum speed.
One important thing to note about Class 3 is the restrictions on them in some areas. They are still permitted on the streets and in bike lanes, but many places have banned them from paths, parks, and trails meant to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists due to their higher speed rate. It is advisable to check with your local parks and trails before riding this class of electric bike there.
Regardless of class, the bikes cannot exceed 750 watts (1 h.p.). In some places, like Europe, the maximum power output is 250 watts.
Countries and states vary in their legal stance involving electric bikes. They seem like a real downer when you want to ride the wind, but they are there for your safety and the safety of others. We'll explore a few countries to give you an idea of the variance surrounding the locations.
Australia is not very e-bike friendly, with massive restrictions on watts and speed. There, bikes cannot exceed 200 watts without pedal assist. With pedal assist, the limit is 250 watts. A top speed of 6 km/h (less than 4 mph) while using throttle gets enforced.
Strict laws can also get found in Europe. Most countries there opted to take a safer approach and limit e-bike power to 250 watts. Engines get designed to shut down once the bike has reached the maximum speed permitted of 25 km/h (15.5 mph). That is far lower than in other countries like the United States and Denmark.
The United States has the Consumer Product Safety Act, which defines an electric bike as follows:
- Fully functioning pedals
- 750-watt motor or lower
- Speed maximum at 20 mph (32 km/h)
As long as your bike complies with those specifications, it is allowed wherever a traditional bike can go. That includes streets, trails, and sidewalks.
In 2018, Denmark eased its restrictions on electric bikes. Speed Pedelec bikes, which are capable of 45 km/h (28 mph), are now considered e-bikes instead of their previous classification of a big moped.
Even though electric bikes are government regulated, those laws only apply when you are using the electric assist. There are no limitations to how fast you can go if it is solely powered by you pedaling.
Electric Bike Types and Speed
There are many types of electric bikes for you to choose, but having so many options can get confusing. This section will break down the e-bikes available to help you find a model that suits you.
These are the most common styles:
A cruiser style is a solid choice for more recreational cyclists who enjoy bike paths, flat trails, and paved roads. There are wide tires on this e-bike, and frequently have a shock reducing suspension system. If you have back problems, this bike may be the most comfortable for you with its higher handlebars for back ease.
Off-road enthusiasts will love the mountain e-bike. This bike is for adventure seekers who crave rugged terrain, steep hills, and dirt paths. Unique features are wide tires combined with flat handlebars.
Commuters are an ideal bike for getting you to and from work, running errands, or getting you to your destination quickly, even if it's a long distance. The tires are big and narrow, and the seats are comfortable.
Often compared to the cruiser e-bike as both are for flat surfaces and recreational purposes. What sets the electric road bike apart is its lightweight with drop handlebars and narrow tires. It's a perfect bike for those who desire speed.
Touring electric bikes are similar to the commuter bike, but with a more sturdy frame style and heavily treaded tires. They are a heavy-duty bike designed to carry gear and luggage for road trips. They may seem bulky, but they will get you far.
Motor Power and Battery Life on E-bikes
Electric bikes store their energy in a battery, which then powers the motor on the bike. The power gets measured in watt-hours. Most e-bike batteries are around 300 to 1,000 watt-hours (WH).
Speed hungry riders or those wanting to use the throttle will need more power. For that, we recommend a bike with a rear motor. There are models available with an integrated battery that gives it a sleek appearance.
Legally, and depending on your location, motors cannot exceed 250-750 watts. There are more powerful motors available, though. We'll compare them to give you an idea of their capabilities.
Here is the most common motor on e-bikes, particularly in countries with a 250-watt restriction. A 250-watt bike is sufficient if you plan on riding on flat surfaces or if you need a boost going up hills. Additionally, the less you weigh, the more suitable 250 Watts will be for you. If you are more than 250 pounds, you're probably going to want to go with a 500-watt motor.
A 250-watt motor will go about 15 miles an hour by itself. If you are pedaling as well, then your speeds will be higher.
With a 500 watt motor, you're looking at a top speed of about 20 to 25 miles per hour with no peddling. The main difference between a 500 watt and a 250-watt motor is the torque. You're going to have more power with this size motor, Which will be evident when it comes to going uphill and with pedal assist.
With a 750 watt electric bike, a 170 lb person can make it across a flat surface at about 28 miles per hour. This bike has approximately one horsepower.
You can reach about 30 miles per hour on a 1000 watt electric bike. It has more power and can last longer.
Determining how long your battery will last is based on many factors. Of course, the greater your speed, the quicker you are going to use up your battery. Some things that affect your battery are:
- Size of the wheels
- Power of the motor
- Controller Amperage
- Whether or not you're pedaling
- Your weight
- Weight of your gear
- Surface your riding on
If you plan on riding great distances or at faster speeds, we recommend an extended range battery. It can give you about 50% more battery power. That equates to approximately 60 miles of additional riding with assistance.
Speed Limiters and De-Restricting
A speed limiter is a device that comes pre-installed on your electric bike to restrict how fast the bike can go. Many places have laws governing the allowable speed of an electric bike. The speed inhibitor ensures that the bikes do not exceed the legal limit.
Many cyclists believe the speed inhibitor is detrimental to the e-bike experience, particularly riders who train on their bikes. Being limited on speed is a significant hindrance. If you fall into the category of anti speed inhibitor, there are ways to bypass or remove it. The process is called "de-restricting."
De-restricting, or tuning, involves removing the speed inhibitor from your electric bike. The manufacturer adds this device per the governing laws for the area. By removing the speed limiter, the full power of the e-bike can get realized, which includes moving at higher speeds than before.
You can also de-restrict the bike while leaving the speed limiter intact. Putting something between the sensor magnet of the wheel and the computer that calculates the speed will cause the computer to send incorrect signals resulting in a lower current speed. Having that lower speed is what will prevent the limiter from being triggered. The result is your ability to travel at a higher rate without the restrictor kicking in. A de-restricted bike can travel up to 60 miles per hour but no higher.
Warning for De-Restricting
If the bike is de-restricted, it will also use more motor and battery power. That means your battery will not last as long. Most importantly, you are breaking the law if you de-restrict your electric bike. Also, you could void your manufacturer's warranty.
Please take all of this into account before deciding whether or not to de-restrict your electric bike.
How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?
There are a lot of factors that determine how fast your electric bike will go. Most bikes will go 20 to 28 miles per hour. You can de-restrict, or tune, your e-bike to remove or bypass the speed limiter enabling your bike to go as fast as mechanically possible. That could mean speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
The velocity you reach, regardless of whether your bike is restricted or not, will be determined by your weight, wind, the terrain, and many other factors. Be sure to check the laws in your area regarding electric bikes before choosing your dream bike.