E-Bike Classes Explained

Last Edited
November 6, 2021

E-Bike Classes Explained

Christian Angelo 10-18-21

The specs and price of an electric bicycle are not the only things you should examine before buying; you also have to consider its classification when buying one. The class type can actually be the deciding factor as to whether you would want to ride them or not. E-bike classes may vary in different states; thus, we suggest that you check your local laws for e-bike rules compliance.

The e-bike industry and more than half of US states have widely accepted Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 classifications for e-bikes by 2020. However, there are slight variations in how these classifications are interpreted on different store and manufacturer websites today. 

This article will explain what each category means and how they differ from one another.

Class 1 E-bikes 

Most people may find their preconceptions of an electric bike in the first e-bike lesson. There’s a motor built inside your bike that makes it easier for you to pedal. On specific bikes, this implies that when you exert more effort, the help increases. With other bikes, you may choose how much help you want by turning the pedals, or selecting the level of assistance. 

A class 1 electric bike aid stops working at 20 miles per hour regardless of how it is provided. You can still go faster than 20mph but the motor would not provide any help, meaning you're on your own. An essential aspect of the bike’s design is handling the transition from assisted to non-assisted riding. 

Bike routes and lanes shared with traditional, non-assisted bicycles—what is referred to as analog bicycles—allow class 1 e-bikes. 

Some examples include the following:


Motor:250 watts
Battery:504 Wh
Maximum distance:50 mi.
Weight:52 lbs,


Motor:250 watts
Battery:500 Wh
Maximum distance:30-70 mi.
Weight:51 lbs,


Motor:250 watts
Battery:400 Wh
Maximum distance:26-69 mi.
Weight:56 lbs,

Class 2 E-bikes 

E-bikes classified as class 2 are nearly identical to those classified as class 1, except for the presence of a throttle. Using the throttle allows you to move forward without having to pedal, just like in a motorcycle. In addition, the throttle ceases to function at 20 mph. 

The critical speed is still set at 20 miles per hour. Even if the throttle is limited to 20 mph, there isn’t much difference in behavior. As with a class 1 bike, assistance is only provided up to 20 mph. Having a throttle accessible over that point defeats the purpose of the e-bike.

The subject of throttle is divisive. Having a throttle on an electronic bike may not appeal to everyone, but it does have certain advantages. Bikes equipped with electric motors are often bulky and cumbersome. 

The bike’s weight makes it a challenge to start, so having a throttle at the ready is a welcome addition; it comes in handy while merging into traffic. For example, when you need to pass through a stopped bus, throttling may help. Class 2 e-bikes are similar to class 1 e-bikes in that they can go everywhere a regular bike can go. 

For a better reference, here are some class 2 e-bikes:


Motor:750/1000 watts
Battery:696 Wh
Maximum distance:58 mi.
Weight:70 lbs,


Motor:750 watts
Battery:672 Wh
Maximum distance:45 mi.
Weight:74 lbs,


Motor:750 watts
Battery:672 Wh
Maximum distance:35 mi.
Weight:61 lbs,

Class 3 E-bikes 

In the third and most powerful e-bike class, you can expect assistance up to a peak speed of 28mph, making it ideal for racing, trailing, and faster travel. In the same way with class 1 and 2 electric motorcycles, riding above 28mph won’t gain you any help from the electric motor. 

Going faster than 28 mph is unlikely on an electric bike, but if it does happen (for example, going down a hill), there’s no limitation other than the engine ceasing to assist. There is no motor assistance until you start pedaling. 

Class 3 e-bikes must also include a speedometer to display your current speed. It’s not uncommon for class 3 e-bikes to also be classified as Class 2 e-bikes. Class 2 e-bikes can have throttles up to 20 mph as long as the user is required to pedal to obtain help. The only variation is where the assistance is shut off. 

Bikers can use Class 3 e-bikes in regular traffic lanes or a bike-only lane on the roadside (so-called curb-to-curb) for most states. However, you can’t use them on bike routes separate from the road or on multipurpose trails that are also used by walkers, such as those in parks. 

The following e-bikes are some examples:


Motor:240 watts
Battery:48 volts 6.9 Ah
Maximum distance:35 - 75 mi.
Weight:36.9 lbs,


Motor:250 watts
Battery:500 Wh
Maximum distance:52 mi.
Weight:55 lbs,


Motor:250 watts
Battery:500 Wh
Maximum distance:32 mi.
Weight:39 lbs,

E-bike classes and more

If you want the most value for your money, look for an e-bike class that offers the most features while remaining within your price range. Think of the overall cost and use of the bike when comparing e-bike pricing and courses, not just the initial purchase price. 

You’ll want to consider the company’s track record, customer reviews, and the amount of time the e-bike’s battery will last before making a purchase. A good Class 3 e-bike, for example, may be used for a variety of purposes, including commuting to work, relaxing rides, and even recreational pursuits like hunting and trailing. 

By taking your e-bike more frequently, you’ll save money on gasoline for your automobile. Because a gas-engine car pollutes the environment, becoming electric is better for the environment. You can even save more on gym memberships since you can substitute a nice and productive workout using your electric bicycle.

Finally, evaluate the quality of the bike itself to reduce the number of replacement components and services you’ll require in the long run. In buying an electric bike, quality is always more important than quantity. If you buy a low-grade e-bike, you might have to purchase a better one in the near future. Buy a decent bike to avoid this scenario.

E-bikes, regardless of class, must have a label on the frame that indicates the bike’s class type, wattage, and peak speed. If your e-bike has a 750W motor, a peak speed of 20 mph, and a throttle, it must be shown with a label that says it is a class 2 e-bike. If you’ve made modifications in its characteristics, you must update the label to show accurate information.

Variations of e-bike laws among states

Model three-class e-bike definitions were already used by 11 states as 2019 got underway. As of June 19, there are now 22 states that classify e-bikes as one of the three types, more than tripling the number in only six months. 

Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming are eleven new states. The other remaining states that have not yet adopted the three-class e-bike definitions either do not have stringent regulations or are still mislabeling e-bikes as motor vehicles.

Since the e-bike business is expanding, governments have realized that riders want consistent regulations for everyone’s safety.

Thus, it is now clear that regulations vary across states and between cities, and even various geographical regions. Only road-riding is permitted in specific locations, while others allow certain classes of e-bikes on the sidewalk. 

E-bikes and bicycles are allowed on the same trails and routes in some places with locality consent; however, there may be class limitations for the e-bikers. Whenever in doubt, consult your region’s regulations or speak with your local land Marshall to make sure you are free to ride. 

The general rule for the motor wattage of e-bikes is that it must not exceed 750W. However, 6 states allow an extension for up to 1000W. These are Virginia, Oregon, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Georgia, and Kansas. In Florida and Mississippi, there are no power limitations on electric bicycles


Because of the rapid increase in e-bike popularity, places that have not yet given e-bikes a second consideration are likely to pass more direct rules and regulations. For example, e-bike rules in New York are presently being revised to be more succinct since the city recognizes the urgent need for clarification. 

The recently discussed three-tiered system can help other jurisdictions define more uniform standards for motorists by serving as a starting point. A growing number of committed e-bikers worldwide are working with their governments to promote the advantages of e-bikes and encourage more people to ride. 

Now that you’ve learned about the various E-bike classes, you’ll be better prepared to choose the best e-bike for your needs. As e-bikes of all kinds gain popularity and more states and governments pass rules controlling their usage, this material may be updated to reflect that shift. 

To be a responsible and safe member of the bicycling community, always check with your local park or state to know the most up-to-date e-bike laws and regulations.

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