What is a Class 1 Class 2 and Class 3 ebike

What is a Class 1, Class 2 & Class 3 Ebike Explained

What are electric bike classes? If you’re new to the world of ebikes, you’ll likely come across many different ebike classifications. Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 ebikes. Some companies only sell Class 1 ebikes, while other companies focus exclusively Class 3 ebikes. But what is the difference between a Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 ebike?

Summary

Class 1 Ebike: An electric bike that can reach a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), and is pedal assist. This means the motor activates only when you are pedaling and will turn off when the ebike reaches 20 mph (32 km/h).

Class 2 Ebike: An electric bike that can reach a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), and is throttle assisted & pedal assisted. This means you can activate the motor with a throttle or button on the ebike, without pedaling.

Class 3 Ebike: An electric bike that can reach a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h) and is pedal assisted. This means the bike motor is only active when you are pedaling. Class 3 ebikes are also required to include a speedometer.

what is a class 1, class 2 and class 3 ebike

Simply put, ebikes are separated into different classes based on their top speed and hardware the bike is built with. Let’s explore what this means in more detail.

What is a Class 1 ebike?

Simply put, a Class 1 ebike is an electric bike that can reach a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), and is pedal assist. This means the motor activates only when you are pedaling and will turn off when the ebike reaches 20 mph (32 km/h).

What is a Class 1 Pedal Assist Ebike

Class 1 ebikes are the most common ebikes on the market and were some of the very first ebikes that were ever released. Class 1 ebikes are generally regarded as safe for most riders, as the motor only kicks on when you’re pedaling, and it turns off at a certain speed.

Class 1 ebikes are suited for a variety of riding styles, including leisurely rides around your neighborhood, or even just to get an extra kick when you’re mountain biking.

What does pedal assist do on an ebike?

Simply put, imagine pedaling a bike, and as you pedal, there’s an invisible friend helping you push. This friend only helps you pedal faster up to a certain speed, lets say 20 mph (32 km/h). After that, you’re pedaling on your own.

In more formal terms, pedal assist works when you start pedaling the bike. What happens is there are sensors inside the bike like a speed sensor and torque sensor. Based on what these sensors are reading, they calculate how much assistance you need.

In the most basic sense, pedal assist works as, if you’re pedaling lightly, it will provide you a gentle boost. If you begin pedaling harder or even uphill, it will begin to give you more power. This allows you to pedal easier and maintain a steady pace.

Some ebikes even have a control panel on the handlebars that allow you to easily select different levels of pedal assist on the fly.

Can you turn off pedal assist on an ebike?

It will depend on the ebike you have, but Yes, most reliable ebikes on the market today have the ability for you to disable pedal assist.

Often times you can disable it from the control panel, or turn your bike into a different power mode, which will also conserve the battery.

Disabling pedal assist can be useful for conserving battery life on longer rides, getting more exercise, or when you prefer the feeling of riding a traditional bike.

Is a Class 1 ebike fast enough?

One common question we get is will a Class 1 ebike be fast enough. At Pick My Ebike, we think a Class 1 ebike is a great introduction to ebikes.

If you have never ridden an ebike before, we feel a Class 1 ebike is one of the best classes to help you get acquainted. Due to the built-in safety features, we feel Class 1 ebikes are a great option for families or younger teens getting into ebiking. If you don’t want to worry about your teenager pushing the limits with their ebike, a class 1 is a great way to keep it safe.

However, if you own an ebike, or have ridden ebikes in the past, you may want a little more power. While 20 mph (32 km/h) sounds fast on paper, once you’re cruising down the road with cars, or have an open field, it’s not as fast as you’d think.

What is a Class 2 ebike?

Simply put, a Class 2 ebike is an electric bike that can reach a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), and is both throttle assisted and pedal assisted. This means you can activate the motor with a throttle on the ebike, without pedaling.

What is a Class 2 throttle assist ebike

A Class 2 ebike is the best of both worlds, as it comes with both throttle assist and pedal assist. This means you can choose which one you want to use, and are not only limited to pedal assist like a class 1 ebike.

Class 2 ebikes are also extremely common when you’re shopping for an ebike. The Class 2 ebike can be a little more attractive than a Class 1, as you can engage the motor without pedaling. When most people think of an electric bike, they think of pushing a button and the bike starts moving. This is exactly what a Class 2 ebike is.

Class 2 ebikes are also generally regarded as safe for a wide variety of riding types, including leisure bike riding around your city or even mountain biking. Class 2 ebikes also have the same built-in safety features, where the motor will turn off when the bike reaches a maximum speed of 20 mph (32 km/h). Making this another great option for younger families or newer riders.

What is throttle assist on an ebike?

Simply put, imagine this bike has a magic button. When you press it, the bike moves on its own without you needing to pedal, but only up to 20 mph (32 km/h). You can also pedal if you want, with or without the magic button’s help.

In more formal terms, the throttle is usually a twist-grip, thumb-press, or a trigger style button, depending on the ebike model. When you engage the throttle, by twisting, pressing or pulling a trigger, it sends a signal to the ebikes motor to turn on.

Unlike pedal assist, which requires you to pedal to activate the motor, throttle assist works independently of pedaling. This mean you can rest your legs and not pedal at all, while the ebike keeps moving forward.

Can you turn off throttle assist on ebikes?

It depends on the model of your ebike, but Yes, most reliable ebikes on the market allow you to disable throttle assist.

Most ebikes will have a control panel or display that allows you to adjust the throttle assist, including the ability to disable it. Often times you can also turn your bike into a different power mode, which will disable the throttle assist and also conserve the battery.

Throttle assist is a little different then pedal assist, as its not automatic. Meaning you may not actually need to disable throttle assist, you just choose to not use it.

Three Types of Throttles

Within the Class 2 ebikes, there are three main types of throttles. We have a lot of two’s and three’s going on here, just stick with us!

Twist Grip Throttle

Similar to motorcycle throttles, twist-grip throttles are integrated into the handlebar grip. You activate the motor by twisting the grip towards you, much like revving a motorcycle.

Thumb-Press Throttle

These are small levers or buttons placed near the handlebar grip, activated by pressing them with your thumb. Pressing the lever or button engages the motor.

Trigger-Style Throttle

These throttles work like a trigger, and are located under the handlebar grip. You pull it with your index finger to engage the motor.

The most common types of throttles you will encounter are the twist grip throttle and the thumb press throttle.

What is a Class 3 ebike?

In the simplest terms, a class 3 ebike is an electric bike that can reach a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h) and is pedal assisted. Pedal-assisted, meaning the bike motor is only active when you are pedaling. Class 3 ebikes are also required to include a speedometer on the ebike.

What is a Class 3 ebike

Class 3 ebikes are some of the newest models of ebikes on the market. The main attraction, being that you can reach a maximum speed of 28 MPH (45 km/h).

There is a bit of controversy online when it comes to the discussion, are Class 3 ebikes safe? Many biking trails are beginning to restrict bikes that exceed 20 mph (32 km/h), and some online even claim riding above this speed on public trails with others can be dangerous.

At Pick My Ebike, we believe a class 3 ebike can be ridden safely, but as stated above, you need to ride it safely. You should be very mindful if you are on a public road, sidewalk or trail, and be very mindful of other riders and families that may be walking around.

Do all class 3 ebikes use pedal assist?

Yes, one defining features of Class 3 ebikes is that they only use pedal assistance up to 28 mph (45 km/h).

The design of class 3 ebikes typically focuses on higher speed pedal assistance rather than throttle control. Class 3 ebikes also require a speedometer, helping you control your speed to ensure you stay within the legal limit.

What is a Class 4 Ebike or Offroad Ebike?

Class 4 ebikes are not federally regulated, and there is not a specific terminology for them yet.

In the simplest terms, Class 4 ebikes are an “electric vehicle” that has a motor exceeding 750W and does not have a maximum speed limit. The motor can either be throttle or pedal assist.

Class 4 ebikes are the newest kid on the block and generally follow the same restrictions as an electric dirt bike. The only real difference being that your ebike has pedals, while a dirt bike does not.

Class 4 Ebikes are also required to have headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals and a speedometer equip on them.

The discussion regarding, are Class 4 ebikes safe, is a bit controversial online. Many stating that they are currently unregulated, while others say the lack of a top speed is dangerous. However, many others believe Class 4 ebikes are extremely fun, as they can reach a top speed conventional ebikes have never reached before.

Class 4 ebikes aren’t actually recognized as an official class of ebikes, however there are a handful of ebike companies that say they have a Class 4 or Off-Road mode.

Class 1 Class 2 and Class 3 Ebike Explained

What is the difference between a Class 1 and Class 2 Ebike and Class 3 Ebike?

The main difference between a Class 1 ebike and a Class 2 ebike is how you engage the motor.

A Class 1 ebike is the most classic form of an ebike. You start pedaling, and then you are able to engage the motor. You stop pedaling, and the motor stops.

A Class 2 ebike is another classic form of ebike. You have a throttle on the bike that allows you to engage the motor whenever you like. Meaning, you can activate the motor, even when not pedaling. Class 2 ebikes also come equip with pedal assist, so you have the best of both worlds.

The only main difference with a Class 3 ebike is that it goes 28MPH (45 km/h) and is only pedal assist.

Is pedal assist better than throttle?

There is no right or wrong when choosing an ebike. It depends on the type of experience you are looking for.

Some riders enjoy a nice automated cruise where, you don’t have to control the speed. Just a light pedal and you are moving. While other riders also enjoy the experience of the throttle. Having the ability to kick back, and control their ebike speed at their own leisure.

If you aren’t sure what type of ebike you would prefer, go to a local ebike dealer like Green Motion EBikes in Wenatchee, Washington, and give them a free test ride!

Can Class 1 or Class 2 ebike go faster than 20 mph?

Yes and No. This is kinda a two-parter based on the technicality.

Yes, the ebike can reach a speed above 20mph (32 km/h).

No, the motor will turn off once you reach 20mph (32 km/h). It does not continue to accelerate. Keep in mind, the motor stopping does not stop the bike, if you are say riding downhill.

So yes the bike can move above 20mph (32 km/h), but the electric bike component won’t push past the 20mph (32 km/h) limit.

Why are ebikes limited to 28 mph?

While the legality and compliance within the ebike industry is shaky at best, they are trying to form some level of safety and compliance.

Safety is one major factor as higher speeds can increase the risk of accident and injury. Limiting the speed can also ensure that you can safely integrate into traffic and maintain safety.

A major factor is trying to create some regulatory compliance. By establishing clear speed limits, governments can create consistent regulations that refine where and how ebikes can be used.

Another key piece to remember is many people are riding bikes in versatile locations including roads, bike lanes and trails. Not all of these terrains are the same, so keeping a maximum of 28mph (45 km/h) ensures you can travel at a safe speed.

The last and most realistic piece of this is the battery. Limiting the maximum speed of the ebike helps maintain a longer battery life. Higher speeds require more power, which require more battery causing your ride to not be so long.

Should I buy a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 ebike?

When it comes down to choosing a reliable ebike, the only difference between the classes is how fast you want to go, and how you want to engage the motor.

Class 1 and Class 2 ebikes are nearly identical, the main difference being how you activate the motor. Class 1 ebikes make you pedal to engage the motor, while a Class 2 ebike has a throttle that you use to engage the motor. Both these ebikes only reach a maximum speed of 20MPH (32 km/h).

Class 3 ebikes are a bit newer and can reach a maximum speed of 28MPH (45 km/h).

At Pick My Ebike, we recommend Class 1 and Class 2 ebikes to:

  • If you are new to ebikes
  • If you are buying an ebike for a younger rider
  • If you want a safe and reliable bike

And we would recommend looking into a class 3 ebike if:

  • You have ridden an ebike before
  • You want more out of your ebike
  • You are using the ebike for longer and more intense rides

At the end of the day, you can go wrong getting a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 ebike. It just comes down to how fast you want to feel the wind blow through your hair!

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