Electric Bikes are popular for many reasons. Accessibility and convenience are factors – but speed is a big one. How fast an Electric Bike can go makes a big difference if you are considering a purchase.
How Fast Does An Electric Bike Go?
Modern Electric Bikes can go up to 28 miles per hour, or 45 kilometers per hour in European units. Most E-Bikes are actually capable of going faster than that – but 28 mph is usually the legal limit.
In most of the US for your E-Bike to go at that maximum speed, you’ll first need to be in a state that allows Class 3 E-Bikes. A Class 3 allows you to go up to 28 mph while pedaling, Classes 1 and 2 allow you to go up to 20 mph (pedaling and throttle respectively).
In most of Europe, an E-Bike is known as a “Pedelec” (EAPC / electrically assisted pedal cycle) and can go up to 15.5 mph or 25 kph. Above that is the “Speed Pedelec” which can go up to 28 mph but you’ll need to register the bike as a scooter/motorbike or similar.
Read more about E-Bike Classes
Can You Pedal Faster Than An E-Bike’s Top Speed?
The motor on an E-Bike is programmed to stop giving assistance at a certain speed, depending on what class the bike is set to. But you can pedal or coast faster than that speed. It’s only the motor that stops giving power.
For example with a Class 1 E-Bike (pedal power only, 20 mph speed limit) you can pedal to push the bike under your own power plus the motor will assist you. When you hit that 20 mph the onboard sensors pick it up and the motor stops.
At that point, if you have the energy to keep pedaling it still turns the wheels and you can go as fast as you can ride. You can also coast downhill faster. E-Bikes are not programmed to stop you from going faster than the set speed limit – just to stop providing power.
How Fast Can A Throttle Electric Bike Go?
Throttle Electric Bikes can go up to 20 miles per hour or 32 kilometers per hour in the US. In most of the US, there are three classes of E-Bike. The only Class that can use just a throttle (without pedaling) is Class 2.
Some US states allow 28m mph or Class 3 E-Bikes to use both the throttle and pedal assist. In New York Class 3 E-Bikes are limited to 25 mph but you can use both throttle and pedal assist.
In Europe, the standard “Pedelec” is not just throttle assist for the full 15.5 mph. The throttle can only be used if the bike is being pedaled as well or throttle only up until 3.7 mph (6 kph).
So basically the throttle in Europe is only for an assisted start or for walk mode, or to assist while you are pedaling. This was not the case before January 2016 when throttle E-Bikes were legal in most of Europe.
How Fast Can A Pedal Electric Bike Go?
A pedal assist Electric Bike can go either 20 mph or 28 mph in the US. Pedal assist means the E-Bike only gives motor assistance when you are pedaling. Class 1 E-Bikes can go up to 20 mph, and Class 3 can go up to 28 mph.
Can You Ride An Electric Bike Over 28 MPH?
Legal Disclaimer: We are not giving legal advice and you shouldn’t take this as the law. Check your local laws before riding and contact a local lawyer for clarification or in the case of an accident.
In many areas you are allowed to ride an Electric Bike over the normal legal speed limit if you are on private land. If the land isn’t accessible by the public and you have the landowner’s permission then speed, helmet, and age law is often different.
As soon as you are on public land or roads your E-Bike must stick to the local law. This normally means strict speed restrictions, staying on roads/paths your Class of E-Bike is allowed on, and adhering to helmet and age laws.
Much like driving schools or dirt bikes, if you are on private land you can do basically whatever you’d like. You could also still be prosecuted if you caused an accident or let someone else injure themselves or others.
A grocery store car park has public access and you probably wouldn’t get permission. So wheelies and burnouts on an unrestricted E-Bike after dark at Walmart is a no-no. Public lands include National and State parks, beaches, and cycle paths.
You can also build or buy your own E-Bike and register it as a moped or motorbike where you live. There’s often nothing in law to say motorbikes need to use gas. As long as it meets roadworthiness, you register and get plates, and have the right license – ride on.
Where Can I Ride An Electric Bike At 28 MPH?
Some states are different. For example, New York has a 25 mph top speed for their Class 3 E-Bikes. Washington D.C. only allows Class 1 and 2 E-bikes so 20 mph is their top speed. Check E-Bike Laws where you live
Why Are Electric Bikes Limited to 15 / 20 / 28 MPH?
The justifications for why Electric Bikes are limited to certain speeds aren’t exactly clear. In Europe, the standard for the lower level is 15.5 mph whereas in most of the US it’s 20 mph. For the next level, it’s 28 mph – not just 30 mph is the standard. Both feel a bit off.
We feel that 20mph is about the sweet spot for E-bikes for most users. At 20mph you are able to keep up with traffic much easier but the speed doesn’t feel unsafe. It also encourages people to seriously consider E-Bikes as a clean and healthier alternative to commuting and getting about by car.
According to Strava and Cycling Weekly the average speed for standard road bicycle riders is 25.61km/ph (15.9mph) for males and 19.84km/ph (12.32mph) for females. We don’t feel that an extra 4-5 miles per hour adds a significant danger – especially when you are exerting less energy and could have more control of the bike.
The next limit of 28 mph seems odd when 30 mph is a very common speed limit in cities and local roads. It isn’t huge but it would make sense to just make it 30mph so motorists can go the same limit without feeling you are holding them back.
What Speed Electric Bike Should I Get?
This really depends on your usage. If you will get serious commuting use on longer routes and will often use the road then 28 mph makes sense if possible. 20 mph is great for most and is very helpful on a standard commute or for leisurely rides.
At 15.5 mph you are still getting help and it is obvious – though it can be a bit frustrating if you are riding with traffic. We recommend trying an E-Bike at a local store to see what feels right for you.
Consider as well where your class of E-Bike can go. Many trails are limited to 20 mph pedal E-Bikes, and some areas restrict Class 3 28 mph E-Bikes to roads. This could block you from using bike paths and sidewalks and limit their usefulness.
Our course, speed and the assist level will affect the range you can achieve on your new E-Bike. Read all about how to improve Electric Bike range with our top tips.
What Is The Electric Bike Speed Limit Where I Live?
Check our full guide to E-Bike Laws per state and country for speed limits, regulations, plus helmet and age laws for the full shebang.
What Is The Fastest Electric Bike?
If you have a motorbike license you can buy Electric Bikes that go well over 28 mph. While there have been many hobbyist-built Electric Motorbikes over the year, there is now a growing market for the big brands.
Harley Davidson released the LiveWire – a fully electric Motorbike with a 95 mph top speed, 0 to 60 in 3 seconds, and a claimed range of 110 miles. With a price tag of $30,000
There are a now quite a few Electric Motorbike options out there with more realistic prices. Zero comes well-reviewed and makes a range of different motorcycles that fit quite a few bills.
If you’d prefer something that still resembles an actual bicycle there is the Swind EB-01 which can hit 60mph. It’s worth mentioning this is not street legal unless you modify it to have standard motorcycle safety extras.
It was also the bike that Simon Cowell was riding when he broke his back. It’s completely non-standard for an E-Bike and he even had previous E-Bike riding experience. Don’t let this put you off trying Electric Bikes.