Are you thinking about getting your very own electric bike? They are currently the latest trend in the cycling industry due to their eco-friendly nature and reliability for getting you around places with little effort.

But before you start looking into what kind of bike you want, you should first learn about the different types of classes they come in.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about ebike classes 1, 2, 3.

What Are Electric Bike Classes?

Electric bike classes are the law’s way of determining the rules and guidelines different models should follow. Since the popularity of electric bikes has increased in recent years, many states have questioned what type of vehicle it is.

Are these bikes similar to standard pavement bicycles, mainly used for recreational purposes and holding no real threat? Or are they classified as motorized vehicles because of their batteries and electric power?

Not until 2020 did the e-bike industry and almost more than half of the U.S. create distinctive classes for electric bike models. Not all are made the same and vary with functionality and speed.

Every retailer and state law has its interpretation of these classes that generally fall under three different types, and bikers must inform themselves about the regulations implemented in their state.

Some state rules might be more lenient than others and are hinged on the gear and limit the electric bike is packing.

What Is Pedal Assist?

The pedal assist function is a common feature of e-bikes. Using the motor power to its advantage, pedaling a bike is made easier on your legs and takes away the strain of cycling.

You can apply various levels of power to your pedaling, which is handy if you need to get to your destination without exerting much of your strength.

It is a handy feature for those who aren’t looking to exercise their legs and want to ride in comfort. Likewise, it can be a valuable aid when riding against a steep hill or awkward terrain.

What Is Throttle?

If the pedal-assist function can provide half the strength for a biker, then the throttle is the tool that completely takes over your cycling experience.

Similar to how a motorcycle or an electric scooter works, the throttle uses the motor power to propel the bike forward without assistance and do all the work for you.

The throttle is one of the main factors why the e-bike industry considered making the class system. Depending on the motor size, the electric bike can operate at high speeds, making it a potential threat to pedestrians.

Electric Bike Speed

The speed level is another factor that determines what class your electric bike falls into the system. Certain speeds exist for different e-bikes, and with the addition of the throttle and pedal assist, they can go even faster.

Most electric bikes can go as fast as 20 miles per hour with the throttle. That is ideal as it allows you to explore your surroundings without much caution.

The fastest speed a class 3 electric bike can go is 28 miles an hour. Some bikes utilize the pedal-assist function to reach top speed and maintain that with little change or increase.


What Is a Class 1 Electric Bike?

Class 1 electric bikes are considered standard for leisure and recreational activities, and are the safest choice.

These bikes are created without the throttle and make more use of the pedal-assist function. There is a pedal assist, but it only activates when active pedaling is involved.

With a class 1 e-bike, the fastest it can go is 20 miles an hour. All the features for this bike model will not let you go past that limit, making it a safe ride through the town or neighborhood.

What Is a Class 2 Electric Bike?

Class 2 electric bikes switch out the pedal-assist function with a throttle that maxes out to 20 miles an hour. If you don’t want to do any pedaling but remain at a safe speed, these bikes exist with that reason in mind.

Riders who choose class 2 e-bikes tend to use them for off-terrain surfaces. They can be seen more like ATVs or dirt bikes that enter muddy trails and can’t ride smoothly through.

In addition, class 2 e-bike models are an excellent option for those with a leg injury or limited mobility.

What Is a Class 3 Electric Bike?

Class 3 electric bikes are the fastest option in this category. These bike models have the pedal-assist function and throttle, allowing the vehicle to reach up to 28 miles an hour.

People who enjoy commuting and have a sense of adventure will find joy using these class 3 models. Most can see it as an all-for-one package with no limitations to how you ride.

However, many states put more restrictions on class 3 bikes. If you are considering getting this specific model, conduct your own research and learn about the current laws.

What Is a Class 4 Electric Bike?

Although not known by U.S. standards, there is an e-bike that goes beyond class 3. Also known as “Race Track Mode,” Class 4 electric bikes are one of the fastest models in the industry.

On the LCDs of your e-bikes, you can select race track mode, letting you go past 28 miles per hour. The speed depends on numerous factors, including motor power, wind, and ambient temperature.

This race mode function benefits riders who want more thrill out of their e-bikes and have years of cycling experience under their belt.

The Difference Between Class 1, 2, and 3 E-Bikes

The main difference between E-Bike classes 1, 2, 3 is their speeds and what set of functions their models have.

  • For Class 1 electric bikes, the models only have the pedal-assist function equipped and can run up to 20 miles an hour.
  • For Class 2 electric bikes, the pedal-assist function is replaced with the throttle but remains restricted to 20 miles an hour.
  • For Class 3 electric bikes, both the pedal-assist function and the throttle are available. These e-bikes are also the only ones in their class not limited to 20 miles an hour.

With that information on hand, you can best decide which class will work for you and your circumstances.

Why Are There Different E-Bike Classes?

The main reason there are different e-bike classes is that e-bike companies established guidelines to distinguish what vehicle category these bikes fall into the system.

Starting with California, more than 30 states have agreed to pass a “3-class” system to place the three common types into the correct bicycle infrastructure.

These regulations create the 3-class system based on the e-bike’s speed, wattage, and operation. They were responding to the booming e-bike trend and the need for a set of rules that bikers could follow.

What Class of Electric Bike Can Go On Trails/Sidewalks/Roads?

With the creation of the class system, bikers are more informed about where they can ride their electric bikes.

Since class 1 e-bikes limit themselves to 20 miles an hour with pedal assistance, they are treated as traditional mountain or pavement bikes and are allowed on sidewalks, bike lanes, and single mountain trails.

Some class 2 e-bikes are unsuited for single-track mountain trails in certain states. Nevertheless, they are accepted for multiuse off-road trails.

Class 3 e-bikes are not permitted on bike trails or multiuse paths due to their speed, but can ride on roads and on-road bike lanes.

What Is the Best Class of E-Bikes?

EBike classes 1, 2, 3 have their own advantages and disadvantages.

With class-3 bikes, you can get to a lot of places faster at your own pace and with little effort, thanks to the pedal-assist function. These models also carry the race track mode if you wish to ride even faster than intended.

In the end, the best e-bike should satisfy what you are looking for. If it’s for relaxation and leisure, class 1 models are perfect. Anything more than that, Class 2 and above will suit you just fine.

Conclusion: Ebike Classes 1 2 3

When starting to consider buying an electric bike, understanding the classes on e-bikes could help you make an informed decision. Once you understand the difference between them, start booking a test ride and purchase your bike!

Read Also: Do You Need a License For an Electric Bike