Electric Bikes, or ebikes, are peddle bikes which are also powered by electricity. The power from the attached battery gives the rider an assist, which makes using the electric bike easier. Electric bikes have surged in popularity recently, and one of the more common questions asked is how fast can an electric bike go.
First, it’s still a bicycle. Sometimes, new buyers get a little confused with electric motorbikes. Ebikes are still peddle bikes and the electric aspect comes from a battery attached to the frame designed to give the cyclist a boost while peddling.
Battery capacity is usually measured in WH (Watt Hours). Different manufacturers attach different capacity batteries to their frames. However, 400WH and 500WH are some of the more popular.
Remember, the WH doesn’t denote speed. A higher WH doesn’t necessarily mean you can go faster, it just means the bike will have power for longer.
The short answer: In general, road legal electric bikes can hit from 20mph, right up to 28mph.
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How Fast Can An Electric Bike Go
In reality, an electric bike can go as fast as you can peddle. The lithium Ion, or lithium lipo battery is designed to give an electrical assist to the pedals, not to completely power the bike over a long period. Electric bikes are also great for exercise, some think even better than normal unpowered bikes.
The speed of an electric bike has been dropped into a three tier class system, whichever bike you buy or are thinking of buying will likely fall into one of these classes, which denotes the average speed the bike can hit over a set of chosen technical parameters. These can be variable too depending on what country or state you live in, but broadly:
Class one electric bikes can’t provide extra power when you’re going over 20 miles per hour (32km). The electric motor attached to the bike only works when the rider is actively peddling. These have been dubbed as pedelec. It means you can’t use any form of assistance without pedaling. There are some class 1 ebikes which come with a throttle, but pushing them won’t work unless you’re using your legs at the same time.
Class one bikes are usually regarded as those with the least amount of electrical assistance, but with that said it’s still pretty powerful and shouldn’t be seen as a lower class of bike. You’ll always be peddling with a class 1, but that’s just how a lot of cyclists like it.
Class two electric bikes don’t provide power over 20mph either, strangely. The key difference is that the throttle will work when you’re not pedaling. So you can take a break from using your legs and twig the throttle for a short boost, which you can’t do with a class one. However, the throttle won’t take you over 20mph.
The battery on these kinds of bikes is sometimes larger than the class one as it needs to be able to power the bike completely by itself. With that said you don’t really get people buying a class two with the intention of using the throttle by itself, and they do still provide an electrical assist to the pedal when you’re using the bike as normal.
Class three electric bikes provide a real speed boost up to 28mph (45km). In the USA, this usually means the bike has to have a speedometer. However, the bike might not have an actual throttle, just far more power going to the pedals to increase speed. More of a speed assist than classes 1 and 2 provide. Those class three bikes that do have a throttle usually have it limited to 20mph, with electricity still being provided to the pedals up to 28mph.
These are usually the choice of commuters, or those who like to ride their bikes on main roads. These also include bicycle lanes and dedicates roads for bikes, however you might have some trouble taking them onto offroad bike paths as class 3 can be a little too powerful in these situations and have been deemed a safety risk by many.
Some manufacturers have added a switch witch effectively changes a class 3 to a class 2, hoping the speed reduction mode allows its users to utilise the bike on dirt roads too.
How Fast Can Electric Bikes Go In The UK
The UK, and indeed Europe as a whole has a differing take on electric bikes than the USA one above. The UK law and legislation covering the use of Electric bike speed is written in EN15194, which is in line with European law. There’s been no move to change anything since Brexit either.
Your bike is an “electrically assisted pedal cycle” (an ebike of any kind) if: the bike has pedals that propel it; the electric motor will not assist you when you’re travelling more than 25 km/h (15.5mph); and the power doesn’t exceed 250 watts.
The bikes which meet these requirements (which affect the common two-wheeled bikes mose people use, but also tricycles and tandems that you can see nowadays) can be ridden on any cycle paths and anywhere that bikes are usually allowed to go.
In the UK you have to be over 14 years old to use an ebike but you don’t need a licence, you don’t have to register it or pay any kind of road tax either.
There are often off road bikes which can go a lot faster than 15.5 mph by flicking a switch, but in the UK, even with the switch, they’re not compliant with the above law and aren’t legal (yet) for UK roads.
Ebike Speed Going Forward
So they can go pretty fast, and give you a nice boost but they aren’t anything near electric motorbike speeds. Things will change over the next few years as ebikes become more proficient, faster, and hold better batteries but for now, they only really go as fast as you can peddle with Class three bikes giving you a speed boost up to 28mph. Definitely enough to control for the average cyclist and nothing too fast.
You see some manufacturers using crazy fast ebikes as concepts for the future, while some are even being sold. The Top 3.0 is an example and has been recognised as the fastest ebike in the world. The 3000WH electric motor sees it surge to speeds of 50 mph and Delfast, the manufacturer, has called it the fastest ebike in the world. Definitely not your common electric bike. Whether this is the future or not is to be seen.
You can read more informative articles on ebikes and electric bikes in general on our blog.