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Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes

October 27, 2019
Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes
Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes

As electric bikes have become more common, legislation differentiating between the three classes of ebikes has been passed. According to the 2015 bill AB 1096 in California, none of the following classes of electric bikes are subject to requirements for mopeds, scooters and other street-legal motor vehicles. Here’s a breakdown of the three major ebike classes. A clearer sense of the meaning of pedal assistance and full-electric operation is helpful when comparing electric bikes for sale.

Class 1 

The motor on a class 1 ebike only functions when the pedals are being pushed. In other words, a class 1 ebike has pedal assist mode, but is not capable of operating completely on electricity alone without any pedal action. The top speed of a Class 1 bike is around 20 miles per hour and the maximum motor wattage is 750W.

The primary advantages of a Class 1 bike that only provides power for pedal assistance include a longer mileage range and operation time than any full-electric Class 2 or Class 3 model. Full electric operation will drain an ebike battery faster than pedaling or using pedal-assist power. Any bike that has a throttle to allow for full-electric operation on demand is automatically classified as a Class 2 ebike.

Class 2 

Some of the most popular womens ebikes are class 2 models. The drive systems on this class of electric bicycles can be activated by a throttle such as a button or grip-twist located on the handlebars or another easily accessible location. The top speed for a class 2 ebike that has throttle on demand is around 20 miles per hour.

AroundtheBlock and EVRYjourney 250W models feature thumb throttles on the left side of the handle bar and can reach top speeds of 15 miles per hour full-electric or up to 24 miles per hour with pedal assist. Trips can range from 15 miles full-electric all the way up to 30 miles with pedal assist. The top speeds and other features of these ebikes fall between standard Class 2 and Class 3 specifications.

Class 3 

Class 3 ebikes may or may not have throttles, but these electronic bikes may have upgraded motors that are still under 750W. Even with this limitation, the average class 3 electric bike can travel at top pedal-assisted speeds up to 28 miles per hour. In California and other parts of the United States, use of this class of ebike is restricted to riders ages 17 or older and use of a helmet is required. In other parts of the world, these bikes may be subject to motor vehicle licensing requirements and use restrictions.

If you are interested in the fastest ebikes, the AroundtheBlock 500W and EVRYjourney 500W 7 Speed Electric Hybrid Bicycle match this rating with pedal assist and can also travel up to 20 miles per hour on full electric. The battery will power a trip of about 20 miles on full electric or up to 40 miles in pedal assist mode. Once you decide which class of ebike you are most interested in, you can compare bikes in subclasses or the full range of features available in each class. Some bike models strike a balance between the features of multiple classes or have a pedal-assist speed rating that pushes the limits of Class 2 specifications.

Review the details of the most popular ebike and hybrid ebike models, such as the AroundtheBlock or EVRYjourney ebikes with either 250W or 500W batteries. Once you decide on the right class of ebike for your transportation needs, you can compare designs and specifications to select a comfortable frame and a battery with sufficient power for faster and longer rides.

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