What are Electric Bike Classifications And The Roadways It Can Ride On?

Electric bikes are getting more and more popular in recent years, and there are lots of different style of electric bikes released on the market. It is necessary to know what the classification is of electric bike that you have owned, and learn whether it is legal to ride on footwalk, road lanes or bike-only lanes in your city.

electric bike classifications

There are three different e-bikes classes: Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Even on today, interpretations of these classes differ a lot from retailers and manufacturers' websites. Below, we will share details on what each class of electric bike means, the place where you can ride the e-Bike on, and more, so we may know some basic knowledge about e-Bike classifications.

Class 1 Electric Bike:
The Class 1 e-bikes provide assistance only when you use the pedal, and stops assisting when the speed reach 20 mph. The Class 1 electric bike is great for bike lanes, bike paths, roads or anywhere you'd take a traditional bike. A bike that has an electric motor that assists only during pedaling is called a pedelec.

Class 2 Electric Bike:
The Class 2 e-bikes are also limited to a top speed of 20 miles per hour, but they have throttles that work when you're not pedaling. That doesn't mean the motor won't assist you when you decide to ride the e-Bike with pedal. Most Class 2 e-bikes offer electrically assisted pedaling alongside throttles. As with Class 1 e-bikes, you can generally ride them on the same places as an analog bike.

Class 3 Electric Bike:
The Class-3 e-bikes are somehow the same as Class-1 e-bikes in terms of riding way. The e-bike can go up to 28 miles per hour and must have a speedometer, but may or may not have a throttle.

It depends on the state writing the rules. California, for example, doesn't allow Class 3 e-bikes to have throttles at all. In other states, throttles are allowed as long as they only work up to 20 miles per hour, while pedal-assisted electric power continues up to 28 miles per hour. Most states let you take a Class 3 e-bike into road lanes or a bike-only lane in the shoulder of the road. But you can't take them on bike paths that exist outside of the road or on multi-use trails shared with pedestrians, like in a park.

A few e-bikes try to work around these restrictions by adding a mode that limits the speed to 20 miles per hour so that you can ride them on multi-use paths and places. Toggle the setting or remove a special physical key and you can unlock the bike's full potential.

The following table is showing clearly for the differences among the 3 classes e-Bike.

Features Class 1 Class 2 Class 3
Pedal assist YES YES YES
Throttle / YES /
Max speed 20mph 20mph  28mph

What Is A Class 1 E-Bike?
Most people treat the class 1 e-bikes like regular street and mountain bikes. The fundamental distinction is that electric bikes have pedal-assist technology that works when you engage the pedals. When using this mode, the motor will not run itself without any pedaling. However, as we mentioned above, class 1 electric bikes can only get a pedal-assist boost up to 20 miles per hour.

Before getting a class 1 electric bike to use in your place, research local rules and regulations, they may be widely different between cities and states. Many new electric bike users start in this class 1 electric bike.

Class 2 Electric Bike
The electric bike classes make many customers assume that class 2 electric bikes are one direct step up from class 1 e-bikes in handling or difficulty. Instead, the class 2 e-bike is suitable for a few extra surface terrain types, such as off-road vehicle paths.

When you are considering whether to buy a class 1 or class 2 e-bike, check out the features of the bikes first. Like class 1 bikes, class 2 e-bikes have pedal assistance up to 20 mph and throttle-only mode, where the motor can work independently. This mode may be valuable to you if you don't want to pedal or you're unable to pedal because of an injury.

Class 3 Electric Bikes
The main difference for the class 3 e-bikes and the other 2 classes e-Bike is the maximum speed. Because class 3 e-bikes offer pedal assistance up to 28 mph, they help riders go faster. Electric bikes under this classification continue to get support by e-bike fans, especially the rider who are eager for adventures.

Is a class 3 electric bike the ideal choice for your unique needs and riding style? If you're interested in both commuting and adventuring, the answer is "YES". Please be noted to obey the local rules if you're using bike-only paths for your cruising. Many places have electric bike regulations that prohibit class 3 e-bikes from some lanes and trails because of their higher speed, and such rules discourage visitors from racing. It is for safe concern.

Now we may have some basic knowledge about the electric bike classification and the roadway where each class e-Bike can ride on. It will be much easier to find out which electric bike is more suitable for us, off course we should refer to the local laws of the electric bike as well.
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