electric bike classes

Electric Bike Classes: 1, 2, 3(Explained)

Do you know that different classes of electric bikes have different regulations and features? In this blog post, we will explain the electric bike classes, how they differ from each other, and what are some of the popular models in each class.

 

What are the electric bike classes?


The electric bike class is a system that categorizes electric bikes based on their maximum speed and motor power. The system was created by the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) and PeopleForBikes to help consumers, retailers, and policymakers understand the different types of electric bikes and how they should be used. The system is adopted by many states in the US, but not all of them. Therefore, checking your local laws before buying or riding an electric bike is essential.

 

What is a class 1 e-bike?


A class 1 e-bike is an electric bike with a pedal-assist motor that only works when pedaling. The motor stops assisting when you reach 20 mph (32 km/h). A class 1 ebike has no throttle, which means you cannot use the motor without pedaling. A class 1 electric bicycle is considered a bicycle in most states and can be used on bike paths, trails, and roads where bicycles are allowed.

 

How fast can a class 1 e-bike go?

A class 1 ebike can go as fast as you can pedal, but the motor will stop assisting you when you reach 20 mph (32 km/h). This means that if you want to go faster than 20 mph, you will have to rely on your leg power. The actual speed of class 1 electric bicycle depends on several factors, such as your weight, terrain, wind, battery level, and gear selection.

 

Popular Class 1 e-bikes

Some of the popular class 1 e-bikes on the market are:

  • Trek Verve+ 3: A versatile hybrid e-bike with a comfortable upright riding position, a powerful Bosch motor, and a long-range battery. It is ideal for commuting, leisure rides, and fitness.
  • Specialized Turbo Vado SL: A lightweight, sleek e-bike that combines a smooth, quiet motor with a high-capacity battery. It is designed for urban riders who want speed, style, and range.
  • Giant Trance E+ Pro: A full-suspension mountain e-bike that delivers a responsive and agile ride on any terrain. It features a powerful Yamaha motor, a smart battery management system, and an adjustable suspension.

 

What is a class 2 e-bike?


A class 2 ebike is an electric bike with a pedal-assist motor and a throttle. The pedal-assist motor works the same way as a class 1 ebike, but the throttle allows you to use the motor without pedaling. The motor stops providing assistance when you reach 20 mph (32 km/h). A class 2 electric bicycle is considered a bicycle in some states and can be used on bike paths, trails, and roads where bicycles are allowed. However, some states may restrict or prohibit the use of throttles on electric bikes.

 

How fast can a class 2 e-bike go?

A class 2 ebike can go up to 20 mph (32 km/h) with motor assistance, whether pedaling or using the throttle. If you want to go faster than 20 mph, you must pedal harder without motor assistance. The actual speed of a class 2 electric bicycle depends on the same factors as a class 1 ebike.

 

Popular Class 2 e-bikes

Some of the popular class 2 ebikes on the market are:

  • Rad Power Bikes RadRunner: A versatile and affordable utility e-bike that can easily carry passengers and cargo. It features a powerful hub motor, a large battery, and multiple accessories.
  • Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X: A fast and powerful commuter e-bike that offers a smooth and comfortable ride. It features a mid-drive motor, a high-speed battery, and hydraulic disc brakes.
  • Electra Townie Go! 7D: A fun and easy-to-ride cruiser e-bike that offers a relaxed and upright riding position. It features a simple hub motor, a removable battery, and flat-foot technology.

 

What is a class 3 electric bicycle?


A class 3 ebike is also known as a speed pedelec. It is an electric bike that can assist you up to 28 mph (45 km/h) when you pedal. Unlike class 1 and class 2 e-bikes, class 3 ebikes require a license, registration, and insurance in some states and countries. They may also have restrictions on where they can be ridden, such as bike lanes or trails.

 

How fast can a class 3 electric bicycle go?

A class 3 electric bicycle can go as fast as 28 mph (45 km/h) with pedal assist. However, this does not mean that you will always reach this speed. The actual speed of your e-bike depends on several factors, such as your pedaling effort, terrain, wind, battery level, and tire pressure. Also, some class 3 ebikes have a throttle that can provide power without pedaling, usually limited to 20 mph (32 km/h) or less.

 

Popular Class 3 e-bikes

There are many models of class 3 ebikes available on the market, but some of the most popular ones are:

  • Trek Allant+ 9.9S: This high-end ebike has a carbon frame, a Bosch Performance Speed motor, and a dual-battery system that can extend your range up to 120 miles (193 km).
  • Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ: This is a lightweight and versatile electric bicycle with a Specialized SL 1.1 motor and an integrated battery that can offer up to 80 miles (129 km) of range. It also comes with fenders, lights, and a rear rack.
  • Giant Quick-E+: This sporty and agile electric bicycle has a Giant SyncDrive Sport motor and a removable battery that can provide up to 60 miles (97 km) of range. It also features hydraulic disc brakes and a suspension fork.

 

Key Difference Between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 electric bikes


Maximum Speed

The main difference between class 1, class 2, and class 3 electric bikes is the maximum speed they can assist you with pedaling. Class 1 e-bikes can assist you up to 20 mph (32 km/h), class 2 ebikes can assist you up to 20 mph (32 km/h) with or without pedaling, and class 3 e-bikes can assist you up to 28 mph (45 km/h) with pedaling.

 

Legal Requirements and Regulations

Another difference is the legal requirements and regulations for each class of electric bicycle. Class 1 and class 2 ebikes are generally treated as regular bicycles in most states and countries, meaning you do not need a license, registration, or insurance to ride them. However, some places may have specific rules for where you can ride them, such as bike paths or roads. Class 3 e-bikes are more regulated and may require a license, registration, and insurance in some states and countries. They may also be prohibited from certain areas, such as bike lanes or trails.

 

Price and Performance

The final difference is the price and performance of each class of e-bike. Class 1 and class 2 electric bicycles are usually cheaper and simpler than class 3 ebikes but offer less speed and power. Class 3 electric bicycles are more expensive and complex than class 1 and class 2 e-bikes but offer more speed and power.

 

How to choose between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 Electric Bicycles?


Reasons to choose a Class 1 E-Bike

  • Class 1 electric bicycles are legal in more places. Class 2 and class 3 ebikes are not legal in all jurisdictions. Class 1 ebikes are legal in most places, making them a more versatile option.
  • Class 1 electric bicycles are more affordable. Class 2 and class 3 e-bikes are more expensive than class 1 electric bicycles. This is because they have more powerful motors and batteries.
  • Class 1 electric bicycles are easier to ride. Class 2 and class 3 ebikes can reach up to 28 mph speeds. This can be too fast for some people, especially in areas with a lot of traffic. Class 1 e-bikes have a top speed of 20 mph, which is more comfortable for many riders.
  • Class 1 electric bicycles are better for exercise. Class 2 and class 3 ebikes can do most of the work for you, so you get less exercise than you would on a class 1 e-bike. If you want to exercise while you ride, a class 1 e-bike is a better option.

 

Reasons to choose a Class 2 Electric Bike

  • Class 2 electric bicycles are more versatile. Class 2 electric bicycles can be pedaled or powered by the motor, giving you more options for riding. For example, you can use the motor to help you up hills or into the wind, or you can pedal if you want to get some exercise.
  • Class 2 e-bikes are more affordable. Class 2 ebikes are more affordable than class 3 electric bicycles because they don’t have as powerful motors.
  • Class 2 ebikes are easier to find. Class 2 e-bikes are more common than class 3 electric bicycles, so you’ll have more options.

 

Reasons to Choose a Class 3 Electric Bike

  • They are faster. Class 3 electric bicycles can reach up to 28 mph, faster than class 1 and class 2 e-bikes. This can be good if you are looking for an e-bike that can keep up with traffic or if you want to cover more ground quickly.
  • They have more powerful motors. Class 3 ebikes have more powerful motors than class 1 and 2 electric bicycles. This means they can provide more assistance when you are pedaling, making it easier to ride up hills or into the wind.
  • They are more versatile. Class 3 electric bicycles can be used for various purposes, such as commuting, running errands, and recreational riding. This is because they have the speed and power to handle various riding conditions.

 

the 3-class ebike system legal status in different states

Source:Peopleforbikes.ORG

The 3-Class E-Bike Law Adoption Status Among States


States that Adopted the E-Bike Class System

According to Peopleforbikes, 36 states have adopted/enacted the system, see below

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

 

States that Have Not Yet Adopted the E-Bike Class System

As of April 2023, 36 states have adopted the e-bike class system, while 14 states have not. The states that have not yet adopted the e-bike class system are: 

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Vermont

 

Is it legal to ride an e-bike in these 16 states?

Check the legal guide here:https://www.peopleforbikes.org/electric-bikes/state-laws

 

It is always best to check with your local authorities before riding an ebike to ensure you follow the law.

 

Final Thoughts on The 3 Electric Bike Classes


Electric bike classes, including class 1, class 2, and class 3, are designed to categorize e-bikes based on their maximum speed and motor power. Choosing the right class depends on your specific needs, including legal requirements, speed, and cost. Check local laws and regulations before purchasing or riding an electric bike.


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