Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes

Understanding the Three Classes of Electric Bikes

While electric bikes have long been a mainstay in Europe, they are quickly gaining new popularity among cycle enthusiasts in the United States. With an electric bike, you can take your ride to the next level with the power to give your pedals an extra push. If you've been considering this type of cycle, the first step in your research is to determine what type of electric bike best fits your needs. Electric bikes come in three different classes as well as the typical bike categories like road, mountain and hybrid bikes.

Classes of Electric Bikes

Most states regulate electric bikes as bicycles and recognize these three main categories:

  • Class 1 e-bikes are the most common types of electric bikes and usually provide the best experience for new riders. With a Class 1 electric bike, the motor begins operating when you pedal and stops when you either stop pedaling or reach 20 miles per hour. This is the most affordable category of electric bike and the most likely to be allowed to travel on bike paths and streets in your area.
  • Like a Class 1 bike, Class 2 electric bikes for men and women provide pedal assistance until you reach 20 mph. However, these bikes also have a mode in which you can operate on throttle power alone. Usually, municipalities permit Class 2 electric bikes on the same streets and paths where you can legally ride Class 1 electric bikes. However, they may not be allowed on all mountain bike trails.
  • Class 3 e-bikes offer the most powerful performance, so a Class 3 bike may be the ideal choice if you use your cycle for deliveries, errands and/or commuting. However, these bikes can usually travel only on main roads and streets, not on bike paths, sidewalks and mountain bike trails. For this reason, Class 3 e-bikes are popular among urban riders. 

Regardless of the bike class, the motor must deliver less than 750 watts of power, the equivalent of 1 horsepower.

Benefits of Electric Bikes

Anyone who can ride a regular bike can ride an electric bike, so these power-assisted vehicles are appropriate for new riders and seasoned cyclists alike. In most states, you can ride an e-bike without a special license or registration.

At the same time, electric bikes give you the power to go where you may have been unable to go before. For example, the motor can provide the stamina for long rides, uphill rides and other trips that would have otherwise been too challenging. If you're a fitness novice, riding an electric bike can help you keep up with more experienced friends and family members when you cycle together.

Electric bikes also have benefits for your regular ride. Commuters find that the motor power lets them keep pace with traffic and arrive at work or school without breaking a sweat. This is especially helpful if you frequently carry cargo like books, deliveries, groceries or little ones on your bike.

Once you've decided on the perfect men's or women's electric bicycle, check the regulations in your area. Make sure you can take your new bike everywhere you want to go, then get a new lease on your cycling life.