E-bikes 101: Electric bicycles classes explained

Electric bikes come in many forms and sizes. Are you wondering what kind of ebike to buy? You have to consider ebike specs, ebike price, your capability as a rider, and the ebike class allowed in your location. If you’re worried about that last item on the list, you are not alone. While electric bicycles are becoming more popular, we are yet to see clear regulations that will help them achieve their full potential.

A clear set of ebike guidelines will promote the use of ebikes and help consumers understand the benefits of these personal electric vehicles. With more information, we can eliminate all the confusion in the marketplace today and help consumers make an informed decision on what ebikes best fit their budget, needs, and lifestyle.

The nearest we’ve got to a standardized set of rules for electric bikes is the 3-class ebike system applied in the United States. If you are not familiar with ebike classes, we have a quick guide on this classification system below.

Let’s dive in.


Class-1 ebikes

Class-1 electric bicycles are those that are pedal-assist only. They do not come with throttle control and their maximum assisted speed is limited to 20 mph (32 km/h).

This type of ebike will provide assistance while you are pedaling, but once you hit 20 mph (32 km/h), it will cease providing assistance.

Take note that Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 ebikes motor powers are limited to 750 watts.

Where can your ride Class-1 ebikes?

This ebike class is allowed on bike lanes, bike-only paths, roads, and multi-use trails.

Examples of Class 1 ebikes

Here are a couple of good examples of ebikes categorized as Class-1:

Propella 7-Speed ebike

Propella 7 speed ebike

Motor: 250 watts (400 watts peak)

Range: 20 to 40 miles (32 to 64 km)

Top Speed:  18.5 mph (30 km/h)

Price: $1,299

Cannondale Quick Neo SL 1  

Cannondale Quick Neo SL 1

Motor: 250 watts

Range: 47 miles (75 km)

Top Speed: 20 mph  (32 kph)

Price: $2,950


Class-2 ebikes

Class-2 ebikes also have a top speed limit of 20 mph (32 kph), but these come with throttle control. This means that you can propel the bike using the power of the motor alone or without you pedaling. The throttle comes in the form of a grip-twist or a button.

Where can your ride Class-2 ebikes?

Throttle-assist ebikes are also allowed where most traditional bikes are allowed. However, there are states that do not allow Class-2 ebikes on certain mountain bike trails because the power transferred to the wheels when throttling tends to damage trails.

Examples of Class-2 ebikes

Here are some good examples of ebikes under Class 2:

Aventon Pace 350 Step-Through Ebike

Motor: 350 watts

Range: 35 miles (56 km)

Top Speed: 20 mph (32 kph)

Price: $1,199

Charge City Electric Bike

Charge City Electric Bike

Motor: 250 watts

Range: 50 miles (80 km)

Top Speed: 20 mph (32 kph)

Price: $1,699


Class-3 ebikes

Class-3 ebikes are pedal-assist only ebikes. Unlike Class-2 ebikes, they typically do not come with throttle control. However, some states allow throttle but limit it to 20 mph (32 km/h). These ebikes max out at 28 mph (45 km/h).

Where can your ride Class-3 ebikes?

You can ride Class-3 electric bikes on roads and bike lanes on streets. They are not allowed on bike paths, multi-use paths, and bike trails.

Examples of Class-3 ebikes

Here are some good examples of ebikes under Class 3:

Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ

Motor: 240 watts

Range: up to 120 miles (193 km)

Top Speed: 28 mph (45 kph)

Price: $4,750

Priority Current e-bike

Priority Current e-bike

Motor: 500 watts

Range: 30 to 60 miles (48 to 97 km)

Top Speed: 28 mph (45 kph)

Price: $3,299


This concludes our ebike class quick guide.

We join the call for clears ebike regulations and updated state ebike laws. This will help the popularity of this green mode of transportation and improve safety on the roads, not only for bikers but also for other vehicles and pedestrians.

Always wear your helmet and other protective gear. Ride safe!