Electric Bike

Class 1, 2 Vs 3 Electric Bike: What’s the Difference?

May 8, 2024


Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are often divided into different categories based on the top speed and components used. To put it simply, a Class 1 e-bike has a top speed of 20 mph, while Class 3 can reach 28 mph.

If you are confused about the difference between these categories. Learn about these differences through this article to help you choose the right electric bike for you, allowing you to ride safely and conveniently in traffic environments.

What Is a Class 1 E-Bike?

A Class 1 e-bike, also known as a low-speed pedal-assist e-bike, is a bicycle equipped with an auxiliary motor that only activates when the rider pedals and automatically stops when speeds reach 20 mph Provide motivation. 

This type of electric bicycle does not have a throttle function and emphasizes pedaling while receiving motor assistance, making it suitable for commuting and leisure riding.

Here are some of the main pros and cons of Class 1 e-bikes:

1. Enhances biking performance, making riding easier1. Speed limited to 20 mph
2. No special license or registration required2. Motor assistance only while pedaling
3. Permitted on most bike paths and roads3. No throttle, cannot rely solely on motor
4. Suitable for beginners and non-professional cyclists4. May be heavier than non-electric bikes

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What Is a Class 2 E-Bike?

A Class 2 e-bike, also known as a throttle-assisted electric bicycle, features both pedal-assist and throttle modes. This type of e-bike allows riders to engage the electric motor through a throttle without pedaling, making it convenient for various riding conditions. 

The motor assistance is capped at 20 miles per hour, similar to Class 1 e-bikes, but with the presence of a throttle Provides convenience for the use of bicycles.

Here are some of the main pros and cons of Class 2 e-bikes:

1. Offers both pedal-assist and throttle control1. Speed limited to 20 mph
2. Allows for easier starts and hill climbing2. Heavier than non-electric bikes due to extra components
3. No special license or registration required3. Throttle mode may reduce the need for physical exertion, decreasing the exercise aspect
4. Can be used on most bike paths and roads4. May consume battery power more quickly when using throttle

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What Is a Class 3 E-Bike?

Class 3 e-bikes, also known as speed pedal-assist e-bikes, allow the rider to provide power assistance while pedaling, but unlike Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes, they can reach higher speeds up to 28 miles per hour. 

These e-bikes usually come with a speedometer and are suitable for experienced riders who can handle higher speeds safely.

Here are some of the main pros and cons of Class 3 e-bikes:

1. Higher maximum speed (up to 28 mph)1. Speed may not be suitable for all bike paths
2. Ideal for longer commutes2. Requires more skill and caution due to higher speeds
3. No special license or registration required3. Generally more expensive due to advanced components
4. Features like a speedometer enhance safety and control4. Limited to road use in some areas due to speed capabilities

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Class 1 Vs Class 2 Vs Class 3 Electric Bike: What’s the Difference?

Electric bike

When comparing Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes (e-bikes), several factors can help you differentiate between them and choose the right e-bike for you by riding terrain and type of commute, legal restrictions, and fitness and experience.

Riding Speed

Class 1: Speed limit is 20 mph with maneuvering assistance.

Class 2: Also limited to 20 mph, but can reach this speed with or without pedaling.

Class 3: Supports higher speeds up to 28 mph with pedal assist, making it the fastest option for e-bike riders.

Battery Life

Class 1 electric bikes: Can support approximately 800 to 1,200 charge cycles. With reasonable use and proper maintenance, this usually means the battery will last about 3 to 5 years.

Class 2 e-bikes: Because the use of a throttle valve on Class 2 e-bikes may result in more frequent charge and discharge cycles for the battery, battery life may be slightly lower than Class 1, at approximately 700 to 1,000 charge cycles. It can be used for about 3 to 5 years.

Class 3 e-bikes: Due to higher speed requirements and greater power output, the batteries in Class 3 e-bikes may deplete faster, perhaps between 500 and 1,000 charge cycles. This translates into a lifespan of 2 to 5 years, depending on the frequency and intensity of riding.

Commuting Terrain

Class 1: Suitable for light to moderate terrain, including urban and rural areas.

Class 2: Also suitable for all terrains, the accelerator has the added benefit of making it easier to start from a standstill and navigate steep slopes without having to pedal.

Class 3: Ideal for challenging terrain and hilly areas where more speed and power can aid in longer, tougher rides.

Electric Bicycle Law

Class 1 and 2: Generally allowed on bike lanes and bike lanes where conventional bicycles are allowed, as they have a motor-assisted speed limit of 20 mph.

Class 3: Driving is generally restricted to cycle lanes shared with pedestrians due to speed limits of up to 28 mph, and is generally only allowed on cycle lanes on roads and public roads.

Physical Fitness and Experience

Class 1 E-Bikes: Class 1 e-bikes require constant pedaling and are a good choice for people who want to stay fit while riding, and they offer a more traditional riding experience.

Class 2 E-Bikes: Class 2 e-bikes are for riders who need or prefer to ride without pedaling at times, which is helpful for riders with physical limitations or those who need to take a break.

Class 3 e-bikes: Class 3 e-bikes are suitable for experienced riders and can safely handle higher speeds.
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In summary, understanding the differences between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes can help us make better choices when buying a electric commuter bike

Use this article to weigh the features and legal limitations of each class and make an informed decision that best suits your riding style and local regulatory requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can cycling help you lose weight?

Yes, cycling is an effective way to lose weight because it increases your heart rate, increases calorie burning, and boosts your overall metabolism. 

Cycling can help you lose weight. As an aerobic exercise, it can not only help burn fat, but also enhance cardiopulmonary function and improve physical endurance and health. Regular cycling, combined with a balanced diet, can effectively reduce weight and maintain a healthy body.

2. What is the top speed of an electric bicycle?

The top speed of an e-bike usually depends on its type and local regulations. For example, in the United States, Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes have a top speed limit of 20 mph (approximately 32 km/h), while Class 3 e-bikes can reach a top speed of 28 mph (approximately 45 km/h). 

Some modified or purpose-built high-speed e-bikes may reach or exceed 50 mph (about 80 km/h). Different countries and regions may have different regulations, so the specific speed will also vary.

Related reading: How long do electric bike batteries last

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