Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation around cities. You might wonder, how fast are electric bikes? To answer that question, we’ll look at both the physical and legal speed limits of e-bikes.
You can’t just ride your e-bike as fast as you want. Usually, the maximum e-bike speed is set by local laws. Software is used to electronically limit the e-bike’s maximum speed. The legal speed limit depends on where you live. Of course, e-bikes also have a physical speed limit that depends on the e-bike class, motor size, battery performance, and pedal assist and throttle system.
Whether you’re commuting to work or just riding for fun, hopefully, this guide will help you choose the best electric bike for your location and riding style.
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How Fast Are Electric Bikes?
The max speed of an electric bike depends on the local laws where you live. In general, the speed limits are:
15.5 mph or 25 km/h in the U.K., most of Europe, and Australia
20 mph or 32 km/h in most U.S. states and Canada
28 mph or 45 km/h in some U.S. states
Electric bikes have both a physical top speed and a legal top speed. The legal top speed for electric bicycle rides is usually set by your state or local government. This is the fastest you’re allowed to ride on public roads.
In most jurisdictions, the legal speed limit of electric bikes is either 15.5 or 20 mph (25 or 32 km/h). Some places allow e-bikes to have a max speed of up to 28 mph (45 km/h).
The legal speed limit depends on where you live. Most e-bike laws in the United States limit riders to riding no faster than 20 mph on public streets and pathways. Some U.S. states have a speed limit of 25-30 mph.
In the UK, most of Europe, and Australia, the legal speed limit for electric bicycles is 15.5 mph (25 km/h). In most of Canada, the legal speed limit for electric bikes is 20 mph (32 km/h). Sometimes there are local laws as well. Your city may set its own e-bike speed limit.
The speed restrictions are electronically controlled. The bike’s control unit is programmed to limit the bike’s speed. After you reach the top speed, the power automatically trails off to zero. Once you fall below the speed limit, the motor kicks back in again. This is all controlled by software.
These speed limits are put in place to improve rider and pedestrian safety. They only apply when you’re riding on public roads.
Most e-bikes are physically capable of traveling at higher speeds. The maximum speed of an electric bike depends on a number of factors including the motor size, the bike’s weight, the battery voltage, and the bike’s overall design.
A high-powered electric bike may be physically capable of reaching speeds of 30-50 mph or even higher in ideal conditions if its top speed is not limited by software.
In some cases, it is possible to eliminate the speed limiter to achieve higher speeds. I’ll talk about this later on. If you want to ride at higher speeds legally, you’ll have to ride on private property, away from public roads.
Of course, outside factors, such as the terrain, the rider’s weight, wind, and outside temperatures, can also affect the bike’s maximum speed. For example, you may not be able to reach the maximum speed on a rough surface or while carrying a heavy load. Some e-bikes also reduce performance if the system begins to overheat to prevent damage to the system.
In the United States, electric bikes are categorized with a class system. Electric bikes are divided into three classes. The class indicates the top speed and the control type (pedal assist or throttle). In this section, I’ll outline the three classes of e-bikes.
Class 1 E-bikes
Class 1 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). They only offer pedal assist (pedelec). They do not have a throttle. After you reach 20 mph, the power trails off to zero. At that point, you can only pedal the bike. When your speed drops below 20 mph, the pedal assist activates again. In most other parts of the world, this class of e-bike has a maximum speed of 15.5 mph or 25 km/h. This is the most common type of e-bike. Most e-bikes fall into this category.
Class 2 E-bikes
Class 2 e-bikes also have a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). The difference is that these e-bikes have a throttle that allows you to ride without pedaling. The throttle is usually a lever on the handlebar that you operate with your thumb. Some models have a twist grip throttle. Most models also offer pedal assist.
After you reach 20 mph, the power trails off to zero. When your speed drops 20 mph the threshold, the throttle or pedal assist works again.
In many countries, throttle-controlled e-bikes are illegal. Only pedal assist is legal. In some countries, e-bikes can only have a throttle that works up to around 5 mph. This makes it easier to start from a stop.
Class 3 E-bikes
Class 3 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 28 mph (45 km/h). These bikes can have a throttle, pedal assist, or both. These bikes must have a speedometer.
If a class 3 e-bike has a throttle, it usually only works up to 20 mph. This is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. At speeds over 20mph, the throttle stops working and you can only use pedal assist.
This makes these bikes compliant with class 2 regulations in some jurisdictions. After you reach 28 mph, the power trails off to zero.
When your speed drops below 28 mph, you can use the pedal assist again. When your speed drops below 20 mph, you can use the throttle again.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to ride a fast e-bike at high speeds all the time. Even if the top speed is 28 mph, you can still ride at 15 mph if you choose. You can set a different level of electric assist and choose your speed.
Pedelec Vs Speed Pedelec Ebikes
The difference between pedelecs and speed pedelecs is their maximum speed. Pedelecs can provide motor assistance up to 20 mph maximum (32 kph). Speed pedelecs can provide assistance up to 28 mph (45 kph). Speed pedelecs are faster than regular pedelecs.
These speed pedelecs usually have a larger motor than regular pedelecs. Oftentimes, speed pedelecs have a 500, 750, or 1000 watt motor while regular pedelecs usually have a 250 watt motor.
In some countries, speed pedelecs are treated the same as mopeds. This means they may need to be registered. They may even need a license plate. Some models include license plate mounting brackets in some markets. These bikes may also require mirrors, a horn, and signal lights to be considered street legal. You may even need a driver’s license or a special electric bike license. The laws vary by country.
Sometimes, speed pedelecs are not permitted to be ridden in bike lanes due to their high speed. You must ride in the street with traffic. This usually isn’t an issue because speed pedelecs are fast enough to keep up with city traffic.
Removing the Speed Limitor on an E-Bike (Chipping an E-Bike)
The top speed of most e-bikes is limited by software. Most e-bikes are physically capable of reaching higher speeds. They have plenty of power.
Software limitations are put in place to keep the bike compliant with local laws and regulations. The legal limit only applies when you’r riding on public roads.
Some people choose to “chip” their e-bikes to increase the top speed. By chipping your e-bike, you can increase the speed limit or remove the speed limit software completely. This is an easy way to make your electric bike faster.
On most electric bikes, it’s relatively easy to remove the software block so you can travel at higher speeds. Sometimes, the manufacturer will even tell you how to do it. This is common if the e-bike is sold as a class 2 but class 3 is legal where you live.
Some e-bikes come with a ‘racetrack’ mode. You can switch into this mode using the handlebar-mounted display. This mode eliminates the speed limiter. When this mode is enabled, you can ride as fast as your e-bike is physically capable. Pedal assist will continue working as fast as you can pedal. You can legally use this mode when you’re not riding on public roads. For example, you could use it on a race track or on your own private property.
The legality of chipping your e-bike varies. It’s illegal in some countries and cities. Sometimes, chipping your e-bike will change the way it’s classified under the law. For example, by chipping, you might convert your e-bike into a moped under the eyes of the law. You could transform your bike from the pedelec class to the speed pedelec class. In the U.S., it may convert your e-bike from a class 1 or class 2 into a class 3. If you plan to ride your e-bike on public roads, check your local laws before chipping your electric bike so you don’t inadvertently break the law.
Removing or changing the speed limiter on your e-bike can make the bike fall under a different set of regulations. For example, in much of Europe, you can ride a regular pedelec without any license, registration, or insurance. If you chip your bike and turn it into a speed pedelec, you may need a license, registration, and insurance, depending on where you ride.
Before you chip your e-bike it’s important to consider the consequences. In some places, it is simply illegal to chip your e-bike. You could be fined if you’re caught riding an illegal e-bike on public roads. The bike could be confiscated. If you cause an accident while riding an illegal e-bike, you could be held liable. For example, if you get hit by a car while riding an illegal e-bike, you could be at fault for going too fast.
There are safety considerations as well. If you remove the speed limiter on an electric bike that was not designed for riding at high speeds, the brakes may not be able to slow you down fast enough. The tires may not be able to handle the higher speeds. Some e-bike tires are only rated for speeds up to 20 mph. The bike frame and components may not be up for the task either. High speeds put more stress on the bikes’ components. A catastrophic failure while riding at high speeds can be extremely dangerous.
Before changing or removing your e-bike’s speed limit, make sure you understand the laws of where you live and ride. It is also important to make sure your bike is physically capable of operating at higher speeds safely.
What is the Maximum Speed of an Electric Bicycle?
In the U.S., the maximum speed of an e-bike with a throttle control is 20 mph or 32 km/h. With pedal assist, e-bikes with a max speed of 28 mph or 45 km/h are legal in most states.
In most of Europe, the maximum legal speed of an electric bicycle is 15.5 mph or 25 km/h. In most Canadian provinces, the maximum speed of an electric bike is 20 mph or 32 km/h.
The maximum physical speed may be much higher. The max speed of an electric bicycle can vary considerably based on its design and power output.
Most commercially available electric bikes have a max speed of around 25-30 mph. Some higher-end models are capable of reaching speeds up to 40 mph or even beyond.
There are electric bikes that are capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 mph. These models kind of blur the lines between electric bikes and electric motorcycles. Some don’t even have pedals.
How Much Faster Is an Electric Bike Than Normal Bicycle?
A beginner on a normal bicycle averages around 10-12 mph. A more experienced cyclist can average around 15-16 mph. Professional cyclists can average 25-28 mph.
Electric bikes are significantly faster. Particularly for beginner and intermediate cyclists. Beginners can maintain 20 mph on a class 1 or class 2 e-bike.
On a class 3 or speed pedelec e-bike, a beginner cyclist can maintain a speed of up to 25-28 mph. That’s about as fast as a professional cyclist.
E-bikes aren’t just faster. They also help you maintain a more consistent speed. For example, with a normal bike, a steep hill might slow you down to 3 mph. With a powerful e-bike, you could speed up the hill at 20 mph. Riding up a hill can feel the same as riding on a flat surface. This makes your average speed much higher.
E-bikes are always faster than regular bikes. Of course, the speed of an electric bike depends on the power output of its motor, the battery, terrain, headwinds, the weight of the rider, etc. You can’t maintain the top speed at all times. Some low-powered e-bikes slow down significantly on hills. Particularly if the rider is heavy.
The World’s Fastest Electric Bikes
The fastest electric bike that you can buy today is the Hi Power Cycles Revolution XX. This powerful electric bike has a listed top speed of 70 mph (112.7 km/h). Some riders have claimed to reach a top speed of 74 mph (119 km/h) while riding on a flat surface.
Another one of the fastest electric bikes is the Hi Power Cycles Revolution X. This bike has a top speed of 65 mph. The SWIND EB-01 has a top speed of 60mph. The Stealth Electric Bikes B-52 has a top speed of 50 mph. The Delfast Top 3.0i also has a top speed of 50mph. These are some of the fastest electric bikes currently on the market.
For more info on the fastest electric bikes, check out this interesting article.
If you want to travel at higher speeds, you’ll have to look at electric motorcycles.
Safety Gear for Electric Bikes At High Speeds
Safety should always be a top priority when riding an electric bike. Particularly if you’re riding at high speeds. To ensure maximum protection, it’s important to always wear the right safety gear.
While riding an e-bike, you should always wear a helmet, at the very minimum. Helmets are essential for reducing head trauma in the event of an accident. Most e-bike riders wear a standard bicycle helmet. If you ride a regular class 1 or class 2 e-bike, a bicycle helmet is sufficient. If you ride at higher speeds, a standard bike helmet may not provide enough protection.
When you ride a class 3 or speed pedelec e-bike, consider wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet. Try to choose a helmet that meets both DOT and Snell standards. A motorcycle helmet is a good idea because you’ll be riding at much higher speeds. These helmets provide much more protection than standard bicycle helmets.
A number of companies also offer helmets that are specifically designed for electric bikes. These are kind of a cross between a bicycle and a motorcycle helmet. They look like standard bike helmets but offer additional protection for those riding at higher speeds. These helmets offer MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection). Some also offer integrated lights and other useful features like turn signals. For more info and some recommendations, check out this guide to e-bike helmets.
While riding an e-bike, it’s also a good idea to wear protective clothing. Wearing thick long sleeves and long pants can help protect your arms and legs from road rash in the event of an accident. A thick shirt and jeans can provide good protection for your arms and legs.
If you ride a particularly fast e-bike, it’s a good idea to wear a motorcycle jacket. In addition to protecting you from road rash, riding jackets are also ideal for added protection against the wind, rain, and cold weather. Riding pants are also a good idea for leg protection.
While riding an e-bike, it’s also a good idea to wear gloves. They offer extra protection for your hands as well as better grip on the handlebars. You should also wear sturdy shoes or boots while riding your electric bike to protect your feet.
The faster your e-bike, the more important safety gear becomes. You’re more likely to get injured while traveling at a higher speed. When you’re wearing the proper safety items, you can ride your electric bike with peace of mind.
For more in-depth info on safety, check out my guide: Are Electric Bikes Safe?
Electric Bike Motor Power Output
The continuous power output of electric bikes is legally limited in most countries. In the U.K. and most of Europe, pedelec e-bikes are limited to 250 watts of power output. In most of the U.S., e-bikes are limited to a max motor size of 750 watts. The maximum motor size is 500 watts in most of Canada.
Sometimes, peak power output is higher. For example, some 250 watt e-bikes have a boost button on the handlebars that increases the power output to 500 watts temporarily. This is useful when starting from a stop or while climbing a hill.
Electric Bike Torque
Torque is a measurement of the amount of rotational force that the motor can generate. Electric bikes with higher torque are more powerful. They can accelerate faster from a stop and climb steeper hills.
Higher torque motors are common on cargo bikes. The extra torque helps accelerate a heavy load. Electric mountain bikes also come with high torque motors. The extra torque allows the bike to climb steeper hills.
An average electric bike motor has a torque figure of around 40-50 Newton meters (Nm). This would be a common torque figure for a city e-bike.
A high torque electric bike will have a torque figure of 70-90 Newton meters. A couple of popular high torque e-bike motors include the Bosch Performance Line and the Shimano EP8.
Electric Bike Acceleration
Acceleration can be more important than the top speed. Particularly if you’re riding in stop-and-go city traffic. A good electric bike can accelerate from 0 to 20 mph in 3-4 seconds.
The acceleration depends on a number of factors including the motor type and motor power. An electric bike with a mid-drive motor or a geared hub motor can accelerate faster than an e-bike with an e-bike with a direct drive. Direct drive accelerates slowly. A more powerful motor will also accelerate faster than a smaller motor. Higher voltage e-bikes can also accelerate faster.
How Fast is a 250w Ebike?
250 watts is the most common e-bike motor size. A 250w e-bike can reach a maximum speed of around 20 mph (32 km/h) on flat ground. On a hill, a 250w e-bike may only be able to reach 3-5 mph. On a steep hill with a heavy rider, a 250w e-bike may not have enough speed to reach the top. You may have to get off the bike and push. 250w is the maximum e-bike motor size in most of Europe.
How Fast Does a 500w E-bike Go?
500 watts is twice the power of the average electric bike motor. An electric bike with a 500w motor will be capable of reaching speeds of 20-25 mph (32-40 km/h) on flat ground. With this much power, you’ll be able to ride up any hill without having to get off the bike and walk. Even if you’re a heavier rider. You won’t be able to ride up hills at max speed. The bike will still slow down when you encounter a steep hill. This is the maximum legal electric bike motor size in most of Canada.
How Fast Can 750w Electric Bikes Go?
Most class 3 and speed pedelec e-bikes come with a 750 watt motor. A 750w motor is capable of reaching speeds of 28 mph or 45 km/h on flat ground. Without a speed limiter, a 750w e-bike may be able to reach speeds of 30+ mph (48 km/h). A 750w motor has enough power to climb up steep hills with ease. You can ride up a steep hill as if you’re riding on a flat surface. This is the maximum legal motor size in most of the U.S. E-bikes with motors larger than 750w are not common because they are classified as mopeds in most countries.
How Fast Can a 1000w Ebike Go?
A 1000w electric bike can reach a max speed of 28-35 mph (45-56 km/h) without a speed limiter in place. A 48V model may be capable of reaching speeds of 38 mph (61 km/h). This is considered a powerful e-bike. 1000w e-bikes are not legal in most countries.
How Fast is a 1500W Ebike?
A 1500w electric bike can reach speeds of 40 mph or 64 km/h on flat ground if no speed limiter is in place.
How Fast Does a 3000w Electric Bike Go?
A 3000 watt electric bike can attain a max speed of 50 mph or 80 km/h on flat ground if there is no speed limiter in place.
How Fast Does a 5000w Electric Bike Go?
A 5000 watt electric bike can reach speeds of up to 60 mph or 96 km/h on flat ground if no speed limiter is in place. Motors larger than this are really only found in electric motorcycles.
How Fast Does a 10,000w Electric Bike Go?
A 10000w electric bike would be capable of reaching speeds of up to 85 mph. This probably wouldn’t be considered an electric bicycle. It would be considered an electric motorcycle.
Battery Size and Power Output
Electric bike batteries are measured in watt-hours. Watt-hours indicate the number of hours that a battery can output a given number of watts. For example, a 500 watt-hour battery could output 250 watts of power for 2 hours (250 watts x 2 hours = 500 watt-hours).
In practice, the number of hours a battery can last isn’t so straightforward. On a pedal assist e-bike, the motor isn’t always operating at full capacity because the rider must provide part of the pedal power. The motor isn’t doing all of the work. Higher torque motors require more power than lower torque motors. They do more work and drain the battery faster. Your battery will also drain faster when you’re using a higher level of assist.
The terrain can also affect the battery usage. You’ll use more power when climbing hills or while riding into a headwind.
Battery Voltage and E-Bike Speed
The battery can also have a direct impact on the speed of the e-bike. This is because the voltage of the battery plays a role in determining the amount of power that an e-bike can produce. A higher voltage battery means more power and faster speeds. A lower voltage means less power and slower speeds.
Most electric bike batteries range from 24 to 72 V. Voltage is a measure of electrical potential, or the difference in electric charge between two points. The higher the voltage, the more power an electric device needs to operate. A higher voltage battery can increase the top speed of your e-bike.
If you want to increase your e-bike’s speed, you may be able to install a higher voltage battery. For example, it may be possible to upgrade from a 36V to a 48V battery. Many e-bike controllers can handle a slightly higher voltage.
Before over-volting, you should check to make sure your controller can handle it. Double-check the voltage rating or ask the manufacturer.
You shouldn’t simply swap out your battery for a higher voltage model without checking. You could fry your controller if it’s not designed to handle the higher voltage.
It’s also important to note that your current battery meter may not work properly after swapping out the battery. The reading won’t be accurate. You may have to swap it out for a different meter that is designed for the appropriate voltage of your new battery.
I wouldn’t recommend swapping to a higher-voltage battery unless you really need the extra speed. Overvolting can cause the motor to overheat more easily. Some electric bikes automatically reduce the power if the system begins to overheat to prevent damage.
For more info, check out this guide to overvolting an e-bike.
E-Bike Range: How Far Can an Electric Bike Go On a Charge?
Electric bike range varies greatly. Lower-end electric bikes may only have a range of 20-30 miles. Mid-range to high-end e-bikes can have a range of 50-100+ miles.
The range depends on a number of factors including the battery size, motor power, rider weight, terrain, wind conditions, etc. Lower-powered motors will provide more range than higher-powered motors, assuming the battery is the same. Heavier riders or those carrying extra weight will get less range than a lighter rider. You’ll also get less range while using a higher level of pedal assistance. Riding lots of hills or riding into a headwind can also reduce your range.
Some hub motor e-bikes include regenerative braking. This technology turns the bike’s motor into a generator. It creates resistance to slow you down and convert your kinetic energy into electricity that can charge the battery. This can improve the range by around 5%.
If your e-bike runs out of battery while you’re riding, you can still ride it home. You’ll just have to pedal normally. The ride will be a bit less efficient because you will have to carry around the extra weight of the motor and battery.
Overall, an electric bike’s range varies depending on many factors. If you want to maximize your e-bike’s range, consider investing in a higher-capacity battery. Alternatively, buy a second battery and swap them out when one runs out of power. Most e-bikes have removable batteries.
Pedal Assist Vs Throttle-Controlled Electric Bikes
Pedal assist e-bikes only provide power when you pedal. You activate the pedal assist system by simply pedaling the bike. When you start pedaling, the motor engages automatically and assists you by making pedaling easier. The electric motor provides part of the pedal power. When you stop pedaling, the power cuts off automatically. This is the most common type of electric bike around the world. Pedal assist is also called Pedelec.
A throttle controlled e-bike operates like a moped or scooter. When you engage the throttle, the motor provides power and the bike moves forward. When you release the throttle, the motor stops delivering power.
With a throttle, you don’t have to peddle the bike at all to ride. The motor does all of the work. The throttle is mounted to the bike’s handlebars. You control it with your fingers.
Most throttle controlled e-bikes also include a pedal assist system. Some e-bikes only have a throttle.
For more info, check out my guide to pedal-assist vs throttle-controlled e-bikes.
Electric Bike FAQ
In this section, I’ll answer a few frequently asked questions about electric bikes and how fast they go.
What is the Top Speed of Electric Bikes?
Electric bikes typically have an electronically limited top speed of 15.5, 20, or 28 mph (25, 32, or 45 km/h). The top speed depends on the local laws where you live. These speeds may vary depending on the motor size, battery, weight of the bike, etc. When not limited by software, some electric bikes are able to reach speeds up to 40 mph (64 km/h) or more.
Can an E-bike Go 50 MPH?
Yes. Some electric bikes are capable of reaching speeds of 50 mph. In order to reach 50 mph, you would need an electric bike bike with a motor with 3000 watts of power or more. A less powerful motor would not be capable of reaching 50 mph.
How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go? Final Thoughts
Electric bikes are one of the most versatile, fun, and cost-effective modes of transportation out there. Not only do they offer an environmentally friendly alternative to driving a car or taking public transportation, but they can be a great way to stay active and get some exercise.
They’re also surprisingly fast. Most electric bikes are limited to 15.5 or 20 mph (25 or 32 km/h). Some class 3 or speed pedelec electric bikes can reach speeds of 25-30 mph. These speed limits are controlled by software. Some high powered electric bikes that are not software-limited can reach speeds of 40-50 mph (64-80 km/h) or more.
No matter what speed or power you’re looking for, there’s an electric bike out there for you. Just make sure to wear the right safety gear and practice safe riding when operating an electric bike. That way, you can enjoy all the benefits of electric bikes in a safe and responsible way.
Do you ride an electric bike? How fast does it go? Share your experience in the comments below!
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