Are you wondering if you should invest in an electric bike? One of the considerations that probably come off the top of your head is speed. You want a bike that offers more than what your standard bike can do, after all. Ideally an electric bike can help you get from one destination to another as fast as you could and with ease.
As e-bikes become a mainstream option for cyclists and commuters, a lot of people have become curious about how fast these bikes can go. E-bike type, battery, and motor power level are generally the primary considerations that can affect the range and speed of electric bikes, but not only those. There are things you can do to improve your e-bike speed and there are government regulations as well.
On average, e-bikes can go from 20 to 28 mph (32 – 45 km/h). The maximum speed and range an electric bike can cover will be affected by factors like e-bike type, government regulations, battery, motor, body weight, and so on. When buying your first e-bike, make sure you are acquainted with the three main e-bike types so you will be aware of the fastest speed and range you can cover on a per hour basis.
Are E-Bikes Faster than Normal Bikes?
Electric bikes work just like how standard bikes work, but they can cover distances and harder terrains easier. This is because of additional features such as the battery and the motor. Contrary to what most people think, e-bikes are not like scooters because you still need to pedal, but with e-bikes, you’ll get to enjoy biking more because you’ll face fewer obstacles — you don’t need to sweat as much! You can also enjoy the extended maximum range you can travel.
Standard conventional bikes will allow you to travel for an average of 12 – 15 mph (19 – 24 km/h), while an electric bike can go up to a maximum of 20 – 28 mph (32 – 45 km/h). So with an e-bike, you can get almost twice as much when it comes to speed and range.
You’ll get to save energy when you opt to go for an e-bike. But you can still exercise! E-bikes make cycling more efficient so you can go farther without breaking your back and getting your legs worn out.
Speed and Range of Each Electric Bike Type
E-bikes are divided into three main types, also known as “classes.” Find out how each type differs from one another and the range you will get to enjoy with each class.
Class 1 e-bike is also known as the pedal-assist. Pedal-assist e-bike is the most common e-bike type used by commuters and hobbyists. All you have to do is pedal as you usually would to propel the motor. The motor will assist you so you can cover long distances in a shorter amount of time and with ease.
In Europe, Class 1 e-bikes can assist the cyclist up to a maximum of 15 mph (24 km/h), while it is up to 20 mph (32 km/h) in the United States.
Class 1 e-bike pretty much resembles every standard bike and how conventional bikes are used. It only makes biking more convenient, because you can go farther without sweating as much as you would on a conventional bike. You can freely use a Class 1 e-bike on a bike path without a license.
Also known as the throttle only e-bike, you can enjoy cycling through roads with less pedaling required. A throttle controls the motor, and all you have to do is to push it. You can control the amount of power released by the engine, depending on how far you push the throttle. This e-bike type works much like how a scooter or a motorcycle would work, but this is not the type that users commonly purchase.
You can still pedal if you’d like, but Class 2 e-bikes are generally for those who do not consider biking as part of their fitness routine. Class 2 is also a good option for older people who still want to go biking, but don’t have as much power on their legs as they used to have when they were younger.
Keep in mind that if you go for a Class 2 e-bike, the less you pedal, the more you use your battery, so make sure your battery level is high if you are cycling your way to far and steep places. In the United States, you can go to a maximum of 20 mph (32 km/h) on a throttle only e-bike, with no need for a license.
The Class 3 e-bike is also known as the speed pedelec e-bike. This is the fastest electric bike option you can legally get your hands-on. With this e-bike, your motor can go up to 28 mph (45 km/h). Class 3 e-bike works much like how a Class 1 e-bike would work, but you can go biking with higher speed. These bikes can be used legally on bike lanes.
The law requires Class 3 e-bike users to be 17 years of age and above, and a helmet must be worn. In some cases, a license is required when using speed pedelec electric bikes.
Here is a table comparing three class types for your convenience:
|E-Bike Class||Max Speed (US)||Max Speed (EU)|
|Class 1 (Pedal-assist)||20 mph||25 km/h|
|Class 2 (Throttle-only)||20 mph||25 km/h|
|Class 3 (Speed Pedelec)||28 mph||45 km/h|
For a comprehensive list, check the electric bicycle laws article on Wikipedia.
How Battery Affects Your E-Bike Speed
An e-bike comes with a rechargeable battery. A standard electric bike can cover up to 20 mph (32 km/h) on a single charge and takes an average of 3.5 – 6 hours to charge.
When choosing a battery for your e-bike, be sure to look out for the battery weight, charge cycle, and volts. Of course, the heavier your battery is, the more capacity it can hold, but the added weight can contribute to overall weight, hence slowing down your pedaling. Batteries are available from 5 to 20 lbs (2 – 10 kg). Try to choose a lighter battery. It is pricier but will pay for itself in the long run, considering that your priority is — getting as much speed as you possibly can.
Make sure your battery is charged up to at least 80 percent of its capacity before you use it on the road. A low battery level will have a lower voltage, so it can slow down the maximum speed your e-bike can cover. Also, go for batteries that can reach at least up to 1000 charge cycles so it can last for a long time.
Another important factor is the voltage of your battery. Remember this — the higher the state of your battery charge, the higher the voltage. Higher voltage means more power, and the more your e-bike can assist you for fast and time-efficient travels. Make sure your battery is charged to a high level at all times. Another option that will make your life easier is selecting a battery with a high voltage in the first place. Batteries are usually available in 36 V (volts) and 48 V, but most of the options on the market range from 24 to 72 V.
How Motor Affects Your E-Bike Speed
You can classify an electric bike by its motor and the corresponding power level. The standard power rating used by e-bike cyclists is from 250 to 350 watts. In Europe, the maximum allowable e-bike watt is up to 250 watts while in the United States, it is legal to use an e-bike with a power rating of up to 750 watts. A standard electric bike with a power of 250 watts may not seem to have much power, but it has! It can help you cover long distances without getting drenched in sweat.
An e-bike with a power of 350 watts will allow you to go up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) on flat roads without feeling like you are exerting so much effort on pedaling.
If you are buying an e-bike with going uphill in mind, consider getting one with a power of 500 – 750 watts. This power rating will make pedaling up hills easier because the motor can assist you even with minimal pedaling. If you live in an area with uneven terrain, or if you want an e-bike so you can go up on hills without exhausting yourself, you can get a bike with a motor level of 750 watts if you live in the United States.
Getting an e-bike with a maximum watt higher than 750 watts will require registration, a license plate, and can only be used on specific bike lanes because these are considered motor vehicles already.
Do not confuse higher wattage and higher speed, though! High wattage only means more motor power, so you get more assistance as you pedal. This can help you cover distances faster and with ease, especially if you are going uphill.
|Motor Power||Maximum Speed|
|250 watts||20 mph (32 km/h)|
|350 watts||20 mph (32 km/h) with ease|
|500 watts||20 mph (32 km/h) with ease|
|750 watts||28 mph (45 km/h)|
|1500 watts||37 mph (59 km/h)|
Tips to Make Your E-Bike Go Faster
Now that you know that a standard e-bike can assist you up to 20 – 28 mph (32 – 45 km/h), take a look at some things you can do to make your e-bike go faster, so you can get to work or wherever you want more efficiently.
Get a Battery with Higher Voltage Capacity
You already know that a higher battery voltage makes electric bikes go faster because it pushes energy to assist your pedaling at a faster rate. So do you want an e-bike that goes quickly? Check the voltage of your battery! You can avail of a battery with a higher voltage at a higher price, but the speed you can enjoy can be rewarding. While you’re at it, also check the battery weight. If you can select a lighter battery, the better it can help you when you want to travel with your e-bike as quickly as possible.
Keep Your Battery Level High
You can get your hands on a battery with higher voltage, but if you don’t recharge it well, then there is no use. Even if your battery has a high voltage capacity, its voltage will begin to decrease once you run low on battery level. The solution? Charge your e-bike battery at least up to 80 percent before you use it for travel.
Consider Your Motor Type
Aside from the power level that can be exerted by the motor, there are motor types for e-bikes. Rear hub drive motors are ideal for commuting on flat roads and even covering hills. You can continue to pedal your bike with this motor also as you run out of battery. Commuters generally prefer this motor type.
Another e-bike motor type is the center drive motor, which is efficient in covering long distances and steep hills. The engine is not necessarily heavy as manufacturers make it a point to produce it in a lighter weight. Center drive motor is ideal because it works well even if you use your e-bike for exercise or going uphill, but it is more expensive compared to a rear hub drive motor.
Use Correct Tire Type (Tread) and Pressure
Friction between a tire and the road creates something called “rolling resistance” — this is the energy lost as a result of the force resisting the motion. Different types of tires provide different performance on different terrains and you need to pick the matching tire profile. This will improve the overall speed for couple of more percent. Also, make sure that pressure in tire at matches recommended value by the tire vendor.
Try to Bring Fewer Items If You Can
The more you have with you, the more effort it will take for you to pedal. Try to bring only the essentials with you when you’re traveling using your e-bike. Your body weight already affects how fast and how easy it will be for you to bike around, so it follows that if you bring heavy bags with you, it might slow you down as well. Pack as lightly as you can so you can go faster on your e-bike.
Using an e-bike is a faster way to get around town and even go to work, compared to conventional bikes. With an electric bike on hand, you can arrive to work in no time without breaking too much sweat. Plus, you’ll get to sustain the fitness benefits of biking!
Take note that even though your e-bike has a battery or motor power that can go incredibly fast and with an impressive range, rules and regulations still apply. These regulations are the main determining factors on how quickly you can go on your e-bike legally.In Europe, you can get an e-bike with a maximum of 250 watts, and you can go up to 15 mph (24 km/h). In the United States, the maximum allowable watt is 750 watts, and you can go biking without a license up to 20 mph (32 km/h). For e-bikes with higher motor power and higher combined speed and range, you will need a license.
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