The increasing demand and popularity of electric bikes are proof that electric bikes are here to stay and conquer the transportation industry.
Whether you are a professional bike rider or a newbie, the vast range of electric bikes offers something for everyone.
Electric bikes are faster and smarter than analog bikes. The speed of some electric bikes is equivalent to a car.
Many people have switched from cars to electric bikes for daily commute. Now, you can reach your office faster than your car without getting stuck in traffic effortlessly.
Due to some reason, traffic rules and laws are unclear on the use of electric bikes. Some ask authorities to treat them with the same law as applied on bikes and scooters.
However, they have still updated versions of the traditional bicycles and you have to pedal them to generate power and to reach from one point to another.
The US government has applied some regulations on product safety for manufacturing and first sales but they left the area regulations on states.
All the states stand separately when it comes to electric bikes. Their main confusion is how electric bikes should be treated and where they are allowed to ride.
The main reason behind this confusion is the vast variety of electric bikes. Some run on human power and some of them are fully electric and mostly all of them are power-assisted.
This confusion and lack of rules are the biggest obstacles to the growth of the electric bike community.
Comparision Table of 3-Class System of Electric Bikes
|Features||Class 1||Class 2||Class 3|
|Riding mode||Pedal-assist only||Pedal-assist with throttle||Only pedal assist ( in some cases may or may not throttle)|
|Max speed limit||20 MPH||20 MPH||28 MPH|
|Age limit||None||None||Above 17 only|
|Paths allowed||All bike paths and lanes, On-road and Off-road trails, single tracks, etc.||Allowed on all places as Class 1, except single track mountain trails as they pose a greater risk||Only allowed at on roads and On-road bike lanes or Curb-to-Curb infrastructure|
Classification Of Electric Bikes
We all are clear on one thing whether the rules are clear or not: the popularity of electric bikes in the United States has increased rapidly in the last 5 years and we are expecting the industry to boom in the coming years.
More and more people are buying electric bikes every day and enjoying every bit of them.
No matter if you are a Gen X, Gen Y, or Gen Z. Electric bikes are bringing joy in everybody’s life and changing their lifestyle. It is safe to say that buying electric bikes are a huge investment and safe for our environment.
The lack of regulations is a huge setback and makes people ask questions before buying the best electric bikes.
Therefore, a group named PeopleforBikes has helped to move along the process and helped in the classification of electric bikes.
Now, more than 30 states have passed standardized regulations on the use of electric bikes based on their classifications, and manufacturers are advised to label every electric bike under these classes.
This legal model of classification of electric bikes is known as the “3-Class system”.
3-Class System is based on speed, wattage, and operation. Now, every state can apply its legal regulations based on the class of electric bikes. Now, let’s learn about the classification of electric bikes in detail.
Now, let’s understand the difference between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 Electric Bikes.
Class 1: Class 1 are the bikes that run on pedal-assist mode and have no throttle. The maximum assisted speed limit for class 1 electric bikes is 20 mph.
Class 2: Class 2 electric bikes also have a maximum speed limit of 20 mph but they have both pedal-assist and throttle-assist modes.
Class 3: Class 3 electric bikes are pedal-assist-only bikes without throttle and they have the maximum pedal-assist speed limit of 28 mph.
One more universal limitation on electric bikes is based on their motor power. All classes of electric bikes have motor power limited to 750W or 1 horsepower.
So, what are these Class 1, Class 2 & Class 3 E-Bikes are? Let’s understand the difference between these Electric Bikes.
What Is Class 1 Electric Bikes?
Class 1 electric bikes are treated as traditional or analog bikes and they follow the same rules and regulations applied on traditional bikes.
Class 1 e-bikes are allowed to use paths like bike lanes, roads, multi-purpose trails, and bike-only paths.
However, there is still some confusion about the single-track trails and mountain paths. Every state has its different opinions on this issue.
Few examples of Class-1 electric bikes are
1. Gazelle Easyflow Electric Bike
2. iZip Zuma Luxe Step-Thru Electric bike
3. Magnum Ranger 21Ah Fat tire electric bike
What Is Class 2 Electric Bikes?
Class 2 electric bikes are low-speed bikes with a throttle, they have the maximum assisted speed limit of 20 mph. For better understanding, you need to learn about the throttle function.
Class 2 bikes are quite similar to a motorbike or scooter. Just like you start a scooter with key ignition to start the motor similarly throttle assisted electric bikes don’t require you to pedal to power the motor.
Throttle mode provides the rider and motor with a quick burst of power to climb the steep slopes or crossing the busy streets or starting your electric bike without breaking any sweat.
Throttle modes help the rider to get relaxed while riding and enable them to enjoy their surroundings.
Class 2 electric bikes are a combination of human and motor power. They allow the rider to cover long-range distances in less time without putting in much effort.
However, when the motor reaches the maximum speed limit of 20 mph. The power cuts automatically and you can maintain the speed by pedaling and when the speed limit goes lower the motor starts running automatically powered by the throttle or pedal-assist mode.
Class 2 electric bikes can operate on On-roads, and bike lanes only but they are not allowed on regular bike trails or single track trails as they can damage the trails due to throttle-assisted mode.
Class 2 bikes can only operate on motorized or natural surface trails. Class 2 bikes are very popular for hunting, climbing, hiking, and so on.
Few examples of Class-2 bikes are
1. Magnum premium 2 low steps folding electric bike
2. Serfas Dart 500Wh Step-thru electric bike
3. Greenbike City premium foldable electric bike
You can buy one of the best e-bikes from these Recommended Electric Bikes.
What Is Class 3 Electric Bikes?
Class 3 bikes are commonly known as Speed Pedelec. They are power-assisted electric bikes that have a maximum speed of 28mph.
Some modern versions of Class 3 bikes may have a throttle to give an instant boost to the motor.
Another important feature of the class 3 bike is torque. It is generally high on premium mid-drive motors in comparison to rear-wheel drive on which speed pedelecs or class 3 bikes run.
They are also equipped with additional features such as LCD/ LED screens, speedometer, headlight, and taillights, large capacity battery, and premium quality motor power.
Wearing helmets and safety gear like knee pads are requirements. They are considered equivalent to high-speed scooters or cars.
They are also equipped with different types of sensors, once the maximum speed limit of 28mph is achieved motor stops assisting, and power cuts off immediately.
If you stop pedaling, the motor also stops. Speed pedelecs require continuous pedaling. They run on manpower mostly.
There is an age limit on Class 3 electric bikes. Riders above the age of 17 only can drive Class 3 e-bikes.
Class 3 electric bikes are considered more dangerous than traditional and class 1 and 2 bikes.
They are only allowed to operate on On-roads and On-road bike lanes. Singletrack trails, multi-purpose trails, and off-road trails are considered dangerous for others and class 3 riders themselves.
Few examples of Class-3 bikes are
- Specialized- Turbo Vado SL 4.0EQ
- Diamondback – Response E-bike
- Ride 1 up- Prodigy
Without a doubt, electric bikes are becoming an integral part of our lifestyle. They are gaining popularity in rural areas and urban cities rapidly
Electric Bikes are also one of the greenest and cheapest modes of transportation.
The Difference Between Class 2 And Class 3 Electric Bikes has helped to clear out most of the confusion on the operation of the electric bikes.
States like California and Michigan are the first few to implicate these standardized rights and responsibilities on the use of electric bikes and manufacturers are also following the legal implication set by the federal government.
Other confusion can be clear out according to the states and geographical locations.
If you are also looking to buy an electric bike, you only need to get familiar with your state’s regulations and buy the best electric bike for you and take 1 step toward cleaning your environment.