What Are Electric Bike Classes and Why Do They Matter?


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Hi guys! I'm moving some content off of the main site and into the most relevant categories of the forum. This post was originally made on October 10th 2016:

As electric bicycles have become more popular in Europe, Asia and the Americas, different types of products have entered the space. Some could be considered “low speed electric bikes” as defined by U.S. Public Law, while others are more closely related to mopeds or motorcycles based on their power and speed. For this reason, several “classes” were created in Europe defining how and where specific ebikes could be used. Variations of these classes are now becoming relevant in America and other locales as laws are put in place determining whether and where an ebike can be used on the road, bike paths and mountain biking trails. The following video showcases one bike from each of the three classes and I get some expert advice from an electric bike dealer named Chris Nolte in New York City who owns a shop called Propel Bikes. His input is especially relevant because certain types of electric bikes are banned in NYC at the time of this article. You can learn more about the federal laws concerning electric bikes in the United States here.

Class 1: Pedal Assist
The electric drive system on the ebike can only be activated through a pedaling action and is limited to relatively low speeds. The sensor usually measures pedal movement, pedal torque or bicycle speed (sometimes all three) and sensors are located in the bottom bracket, rear hub or rear wheel. In parts of Europe this class is limited to 15 mph (25 kph) with motor wattage <= 250 watts. In America, because of our more liberal vehicle definition, this class is limited to a motor powered speed of 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage of <= 750 watts. Due to the low speed of operation and required pedaling action this class should benefit from the same rights and access privileges as non-assist bicycles and should be able to be used on streets, bike lanes, multi-use bike paths and off-road trails.

Class 2: Throttle On Demand
The electric drive system on the ebike can be activated through a throttle element such as a grip-twist, trigger or button and is limited to low speeds. The motor system may also be activated through a pedaling action as with Class 1. In parts of Europe this class would be considered a motor vehicle and is prohibited from use on trails and other bicycle-specific infrastructure and is therefore less common. For those locations where it is allowed in Europe, the top speed is limited to 15 mph (25 kph) with motor wattage <= 250 watts as with Class 1. In America this class is currently less restricted and therefore more common. The top speed is limited to 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage of <= 750 watts as with Class 1. Due to the low speed of operation without the required pedaling action, this class may be a bit more restricted but still benefit from the same rights and access privileges on paved surfaces as non-assist bicycles and should be able to be used on streets, bike lanes and multi-use bike paths.

Class 3: Speed Pedelec
The electric drive system on the ebike can be activated through a pedaling action to reach higher top speeds. In parts of Europe this class is also considered a motor vehicle and requires special licensing, the use of an identification plate at the rear of the bike may be required and use is limited to roads or private property only with a maximum speed ~28 mph (~45 kph). In America this class could still be considered a “low-speed electric bicycle” if human power propels the bike above 20 mph and as such, does not require special licensing but may be even more restricted to roads, adjacent bike lanes or on private property with a maximum speed ~28 mph (~45 kph) and motor wattage of <= 750 watts. In America this class is often combined with Class 2 which produces bikes that have a throttle element capable of powering the rider up to 20 mph (32 kph) on motor power only, as well as a pedal assist mechanism capable of powering the rider up to 28 mph (45 kph). In parts of Europe, where throttles are less common, most Class 3 electric bikes only offer pedal assist.

Class 4: Moped or Motorcycle
The electric drive system can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle. The top speed is above 28 mph (45 kph) and/or the motor wattage may be greater than 750 watts. In all major geographies this class would be considered a motor vehicle which requires licensing and registration and is limited to certain motorized off road trails or traditional roads. There has been some confusion in America where machines that resemble bicycles (having pedals) that are capable of high speed and power are used inappropriately without licensing or insurance and on infrastructure reserved for bicycles such as paths and mountain bike trails. This behavior is subject to the same legal action as driving a gas powered motorcycle or car and may result in severe legal ramifications.

The value of these classes and a key takeaway for the U.S. market is that the PL 107-319 law categorizes ebikes with <= 750 watts of power and top speeds of <= 20mph as bicycles. It does not determine where this class can be used however. In the U.S., use is determined at the State or Local level, sometimes in the vehicle code section of law. By introducing classes, specifically the first three classes above, cities and states can help guide use for ebikes. These classes are being established in the U.S. by the BPSA (Bicycle Products Suppliers Association) using a special Electric Bike Committee and are being modeled on what has worked in Europe. The BPSA committee is working directly with ebike manufacturers and suppliers for buy-in and is creating model legislation to guide States. This is why these classes are also being listed here at ElectricBikeReview.com to help consumers understand what they mean and how they apply to bikes for sale. The goal is to create some consistency in the ebike space so that one type of low speed electric bike could be used on paths or trails in multiple geographies across America. The BPSA has an awesome map that shows where the laws are in place in the USA that I recommend checking out here.


On October 7th 2015 California Governer Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that specifies ebike classes in California. It also paints a more clear picture for how mopeds can be used legally and the infographic grid above was launched to help guide consumers. In 2018, New York accepted and recognized Class 1 models.
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Following are some of the original comments that were made on that post:

I was hoping to see a review on electric velomobiles, also I was wondering are any electric bikes rated for people my size (6’4″ 440 lbs.)

Hi Darren, one of the larger electric bikes I know if is the Pedego Interceptor. It has a strong motor and oversized frame with larger balloon tires that add cushion. The two founders of Pedego are larger guys that have really focused on building solid bikes that will work for their own needs but these days they are also offering small frames for shorter riders. I’d recommend test riding a Pedego if there’s a shop nearby but otherwise you could connect with Long Island Electric Bikes out of New York (they ship nation wide and won a dealer of the year award for 1014). If you mention EBR they’ll throw in a set of fenders or a saddle bag for free and I’ll get a small commission. Regarding velomobiles, check out the Organic Transit ELF, it’s solar powered and includes a canopy for aerodynamics and visibility.

Class 1 : under 750W, limited 20 mph, PAS
Class 2 : under 750W, limited 20 mph, PAS + throttle
Class 3 : under 750W, limited 20 mph by throttle, 28 mph by PAS
Class 4 : over 750W, over 28 mph, throttle or PAS
It appears to me that we are essentially dividing ebikes into two classes, not four, with the first two essentially the same and the third an extension of class 2. It will be interesting to see how the BPSA plays this out. I think the laws need a modern update.

Hi Dan, great feedback! I tried to keep this article as clear as possible without missing any of the nuances. For me, the big difference between Class 1 and 2 is that mountain bikes without throttle may be allowed on some trails whereas those with may be disallowed. The big difference between Class 2 and 3 is that under 20 mph may be allowed on city bike trails whereas those capable of 28 mph may be kept to roadside bike lanes only. Class 4 is really just a motorcycle and doesn’t belong anywhere but in a street lane with a license or on dirt jumps or race tracks on private property :)

Sucks… NYC now only allows Class 1 ebikes, I removed my throttle.

I appreciate the transparency, It is a positive step that ebike OEMs are working with the BPSA to define classes and assure a place for them to ride. I know Larry Pizzi is involved from other posts here at EBR.
Here’s the thing. There are two battlefronts. 1. A fight to get trail access (Mtn biking, bike paths) 2. A fight to get road/bike lane and commuter bike path access for ebikes. My concern is that the electric bike subcommittee is primarily focusing on the trails and letting the road commuters get stuck with mis-classification and over regulation.
Here is why.
**Serious commuters will NOT be satisfied with 750W and PAS only.**
The law says 750W, 20mph throttle only. The truth is that 750W, on a hybrid or road bike, or mtn with slicks, can get to 28mph with pedaling, whether as PAS or with the throttle. The committee seems to be excluding throttle bikes for Class 3 in order to appear compliant with the national law. Having a throttle vs PAS is significant in some factors, but it is a minor factor in the overall performance given identical bikes/motors/persons. It seems more discriminatory than justifiable.
Second, you quoted:
“Class 4 is really just a motorcycle and doesn’t belong anywhere but in a street lane with a license or on dirt jumps or race tracks on private property :)” Really? So ANYTHING over 750W with a throttle, should be in traffic lanes and not bike lanes, never be on a community bike path, and off road be limited to motorcross tracks with 125cc and 250cc dirt bikes? That is a class 4 ebike?
The problem here is reality. People who start to commute will eventually find that sweet spot of riding between 20-30mph with traffic, in the city, side roads (25-30mph) is a desirable performance. The newer high end PAS bikes like Turbo and Stromer 2, Spritzing appear to meet that ability, but lack a throttle. The throttle adds safety to accelerate from a stop light and get a start ahead of the cars. It also allows to keep speed, but stop pedaling on bumpier roads, so you don’t lose speed or balance – safety again. The power needed for such speeds is between 500W and 1200, IMO. These are NOT motorcycles. People still contribute to the power with their legs and the normal gearing is high enough to still be a factor. Once the power is so high that no leg power helps at top speed due to gearing or just ratio, THEN is becomes an e-motorcycle.
I hope the BPSA would consider the class 4 to be speed ebikes, or emopeds, PAS and/or throttle up to 1200W. Above that, I can see parallels to scooters, and make them class 5.
Again, this delineation between class 3 and 4 is not fair to road ebike commuters. WE (the ebike community) will be handcuffing ourselves and adding undue regulation if we leave out a speed-ebike, or emoped class of ebikes, which are closer to a bike than a motorcycle.
Again, serious commuters will NOT be satisfied with 750W and PAS only. Am I alone on this?

Hey Dan, I like where you’re coming from and really appreciate your well thought out feedback. My initial reply was more stating how laws see these “Class 4 ebikes” vs. how I feel. In my opinion, something like the Outrider recumbents or the Grace One which both go above 28 mph and have throttles fit exactly what you’re talking about. They still benefit from rider input and have enough gears (and are light weight enough) to make pedaling relevant but they aren’t as large or powerful as a motorcycle. These are effectively electric mopeds and maybe they could shift into bike lanes or even cross through a trail once in a while but technically they are more powerful than a speed pedelec and if they were involved in an accident the damage could be much worse. I’m not saying that tossing them into car traffic is a perfect solution, it’s akin to riding a gas powered moped in traffic. I agree that there’s this new blurry space and in many ways it resembles the “neighborhood electric vehicle” space that little golf carts and mini cars fit into.

Dan – you just described a moped.

Thanks for clarifying the legal perspective . I don’t want to dominate this post , but discussion and advocacy needs to happen.
I fear that the law will not favor the class 3 speed pedelecs and they will get combined with the class 4 and essentially get treated like a motorcycle. You mentioned liability for a Grace One that could be riding 30mph. That is not much different than a turbo going 28. Once the lawmakers realize that speed pedelecs are skirting the 20mph law, they will get all safety/legal tight and regulate them. No?
What is happening with class 1 and 2 is fine and covered under the fed law. The debate for 20-30mph bikes is on the table.
I hate the idea of regist, turn lights and licenses for an 800w ebike, required to stay off bike paths and the road only. It will kill effective ebike commuting.
Stealth fighter and Optinike R11 are both in this emoped category.
So again, I hope Larry Pizzi and the ebike committee reads this:
PLEASE add a class and make class 4 for ebikes beyond the 20 mph, throttle only, 750w. Class 4 should be considered high powered ebikes , call them emopeds. Cap them at 1200w and 35mph. Require front and rear lights, no turn . Recommend all class 1-4 allowed on bike trails, subject to local speed limits , for commuting purposes.
I stop and watch/listen.

I see a lot of bike paths with 25 mph speed limit signs. I think a class of ebikes that cut of there would make sense… enable faster commuting but still not overwhelm the human-powered pedestrians using the space.

Court said: “I see a lot of bike paths with 25 mph speed limit signs. I think a class of ebikes that cut off there would make sense… enable faster commuting but still not overwhelm the human-powered pedestrians using the space.” I have been thinking about this lately. Road bikes go faster than 25mph, why limit ebikes? Riders simply need to ride under control and follow the speed limits when posted. Any upper limits should be road speed based, not bike path based. Upper limits, for ebike road speed designs, tend to be converging to 30-35mph. Why? That is about the right speed where the power and weight from adequate batteries, for adequate range, converge to support the wind drag. Also, that speed is adequate speed for city and suburban traffic flow. Finally, ICE scooters, with 50cc engines, tens to have 2.7-4.5 hp and go 35-45mph, and we don’t want to be in their classification. We need a separate classification system for ROAD e-bikes.
For the road, 3 classes: 1. e-bike : 1 hp or less, 20mph with throttle/limited, 28mph pedelec limit (existing National Law) 2. e-moped: 1 hp -2.7 hp, throttle or pedelec, 35mph limit 3. e-moto: 2.7 hp+, an electric motorcycle or scooter. OR 2 classes: 1. e-bike : 1.5 hp or less, throttle or pedelec, 35 mph limit by design. 2. e-moped/moto: 1.5hp +, electric moped, motorcycle or scooter. fun stuff. Dan

Hi Dan, the majority of ebikes are capable of going above 25 mph but only under human power (just like on a road bike). Maybe there’s a cultural bias that people who are capable of pedaling faster are also capable of controlling themselves at those higher speeds. It requires a high level of physical aptitude that a high-speed ebike would deliver to the masses who may not have the same skills or reflexes. This is a philosophical viewpoint, it may come down to the simple fact that with traditional bicycles (since they were invented in 1817) there was no easy way to limit speed and bike paths didn’t exist. In a sense, they’ve been grandfathered in and now we post speed limit signs and enforce behavior vs. upstreaming the issue of high speed accidents as we’ve done with ebikes.
Here’s an interesting reference to the first recorded bicycle accident: “a Glasgow newspaper reported in 1842 an accident in which an anonymous ‘gentleman from Dumfries-shire… bestride a velocipede… of ingenious design’ knocked over a pedestrian in the Gorbals and was fined five British shillings.” source Wikipedia.

Hey Court, Nice historical antidotes. I saw a documentary recently about the evolution of bicycles…lots of regulation when they first came out…interesting. So regular bicycles get grandfathered, and have no limits except human effort? Auto mobiles get grandfathered and are enforced/regulated by behavior? But not ebikes? We have to use technology to add governors and legislate the speed, ie performance and force human behavior? Not a good free market model.
Back on point, it seems the BPSA is catering to the Bosch mid-drive, and mid power systems for off road use, giving them 3 specific categories of usage, while throwing all +20mph, throttled, +750W system “under the preverbal bus” by clumping all into a motorcycle status. Who is this classification helping and who is it hurting? I would hope and ask that is be comprehensive enough to include all our ebike bretheren who want a fair shot at market share and practical use, and not be marginalized and over burdened by specific, non justified regulation.
First, can we try this and agree “When” an e-bike, whether it has pedals or not, should be classified as an e-motorcycle, requiring a title, license, turn signals, etc? What minimum specifications qualify in terms of power, weight and speed? Also, that would NOT be the same class as an e-Moped, where pedaling does assist. If we can agree on that, then all the “real” e-bikes can be classified and shown to need fair regulation. Dan

Very informative conversation, and I know I’m late to the party. A minor difference with “Serious commuters not satisfied with 750 Watt motors…” I was regularly commuting with no motor at all, and my Schwinn easily reached 35 MPH on the level and 45 MPH on the down side of the overpass. I know others more serious than I about commuting with or without motors of 500 Watts or less. They don’t seem unsatisfied. True, satisfied falls far short of the pleasure I took from my 350 Watt motor getting me to work without sweat on hot days when I would previously have opted to burn some fuel.
The reason I’m piping in is the statement “Auto mobiles get grandfathered and are enforced/regulated by behavior? But not ebikes?” Actually, no, the Safety Act that added the 750 and 20MPH limits in 2002 was precisely aimed at simplifying designation of vehicles we desire to be separated from code 49. The motor codes already had gas engine sizes, limits, licensing, where and how autos may or may not be operated, etc. Anyone wanting a bike to be treated like an auto is welcome to cross any of those limits and go to DMV to make it legal. These classes are partly helping avoid all that and partly simplifying confusion in the global market where no one country can set a law that changes another country’s law. Class 2 might need to be registered and licensed in one country but not another. So each shopper knows which classes to look at.
To be clear, I agree it is disconcerting: Before e-bike: Uphill at 5-10MPH in the shoulder, downhill at 40-45 MPH keeping with traffic, level at 25-35 keeping with traffic, Nobody ever questioned anything. After e-bike: uphill at 15MPH in shoulder (slower if a pedestrians is there), never over 30 on the level (bike just doesn’t have the gearing for it) but now I have to answer questions about is it legal? Not just the operation, either, there’s questions on post of authorized (leather equivalent) protection in boots, gloves, and jacket as well as business pants not having enough denim/leather protection. (Did I mention the highest limit on post is 15 MPH?) So I definitely agree all who follow the operational points of law and courtesy should be left alone no matter what they drive or look like. Of course, that would bring in lobbyists for deregulating insurance, etc, etc. We’re here preaching to the choir about unjustified regulation, now we need to go to the regulators to try to get them repealed.

Whoa!! Bikes weren’t “grandfathered” – they were the “grandfather”! Which is why its called Little Traverse Wheelway (albeit the dog owners currently run this strip)

My ecobike has tight wheel how can i pix my problem,,what i use for that tight wheel its okey to spray a WD40 inside of my ecobike??

Hi Marivic, to be clear, do you have an electric moped like this EcoBike Always? I’m not a mechanic but have had success using WD40 in the past when trying to loosen metal parts and reduce squeaking. You might be able to get some feedback from a company that carried this scooter in South Florida called AmericanElectric (305) 767.3289 or ask others here in the Electric Bike Maintenance Forums what they would do. It would help if you described the issue you’re having more clearly with details to help people understand what might be causing the wheel to be tight (and also explain which wheel, front or back).

Hi, Marivic, I had this happen once. It was a problem with the brake caliper. Check if you can see something dragging. After lube, possibly the wheel bearings are too tight.

Cool, thanks for chiming in with a solution proposal there Harold, much appreciated!

— First of all, y’all need to make it simple. There ain’t no one who can realistically pedal 25+ miles per hour on a level ground for a constant pace of more than 2 min with there bicycle. I don’t care what kind of bike you have, it ain’t happening. Try to keep up with cars going down your road at 25 mph and you’ll never do it. And, if you can do it, it’s only for a short sprint and you’ll end up arriving at your destination with your butt all wet from sweat. Not a pretty sight.
— eBike rules should be like this. Since they are motorized, simply limit the speed limit to that of cars on regular streets, roads, highways, but don’t allow them on freeways cuz that’s just too dangerous — too many cars and not enough protection in case you fall. Now in the city, bicycles (all bicycles, not just eBikes) should not be allowed to be IN the roadway where other automobiles are UNLESS they can keep up with traffic at all times that they occupy the road. No one likes tailgating a cyclist that’s only going 20 MPH on a 25MPH road. Most of the time the cyclist belongs in the bicycle lane or on the sidewalk (yes you can ride on the sidewalk — we all did it as children and never was there a problem). And if the road you’re cycling on has no shoulder, have some common sense and stay to the R side of the road so that automobiles behind you can pass around you safely. Don’t be foolish and occupy the road unnecessarily — you’re a bicycle and more often than not you ride much slower than any automobile can travel. If you’re a cyclist and you can’t keep up with the posted speed limit for automobiles, then get out of the road and into either the bicycle lane or onto the sidewalk where you belong. If you ride on the road and not in the sidewalk or bicycle lane, then you better be following ALL the rules as if you were traveling like an automobile (that means stopping at stoplights, using turn signals, accelerating at the same speeds as automobiles, etc.). Other than that, bicycles, with or without motors, do not need to follow automobile rules — unless they are traveling IN the road and LIKE an automobile.
— That’s how simple this should be. What kind of complications can arise from this? None.
— 2,324,993,281 people agree with me on this post.

Good feedback, thanks for sharing your thoughts… Did you know that 73.6% of all statistics (like your number of “agreeing” people) are made up on the spot?

A bit too much stupid in the post by ManOMan.
  1. Cat 1/2/3 cyclists often do 25+ MPH for hours. I ride Cat 4/5 and average 25MPH for 30 minutes, no motor assist. I normally ride about 20MPH on my commuter.
  2. A lot of places it is ILLEGAL to ride on the sidewalk, some have made exceptions for young children (age may vary, but typically up to about 10), it is more dangerous to ride on the sidewalk
  3. Sidewalks are horrible for riding bikes anyways, unless designed for it, on my commute (my anecdotal evidence) half of it has no bike lane, and the half with no bike lane also has a sidewalk which features a) garbage cans at least once a week, b) barely wide enough for single file pedestrians, c) often has peds walking on it d) telephone polls in the middle of the sidewalk
  4. Accelerating at some random acceleration is not required by law. If it was then Semi trucks, 3 bangers, and 50cc mopeds would be banned.
In the last 18 months I have had no problem riding on a road with 4 lanes, 2 in each direction, and having cars just go around me. Some move over half a lane, others actually change lanes.
On certain parts of roads I will, as the law allows me to, take the lane for safety. Some parts it is just not safe to be riding all the way to the right. One feature of the road I commute on are drains that are below level with the road and are dangerous for me to bike over, especially when wet. I will stay towards the middle of the lane to avoid these and to avoid swerving back and fourth every time one comes up. The greatest measure a cyclist can take for safety is to stay predictable.
I think a major safety concern for e-bikes is with the ease of speed making it possibly more dangerous to other riders on these bike paths and trails. I know on multi-use paths I often have to go much slower than my normal pace because of other traffic. Should it be left up to vehicle classification to regulate which ones qualify, and which ones don’t? Or should we leave it to common sense limits. Perhaps adding speed limits to multi-use paths could help.
The major complication from your suggestion is the spotty coverage of bike lanes. Often times while cycling in cities I will be on a nice bike lane, then suddenly no lane at all for 500 ft, and then a lane again. As my anecdotal commute I have a bike lane for about half a mile, then no bike lane at all for 1.5 miles, then a bike lane for 1 mile. I’d love for there to be a bike lane the whole way, but the city just repaved the streets and had no plans to connect these two sections. I’ve ran across many instances of this, some of them will be gracious enough to put up a “Bikes on Roadway” sign, others not so much.
I very much have enjoyed this article and the discussion here. I know it takes being one of the tribe to understand their dilemmas. Just like being a cyclist helps you understand the dilemmas faced by cyclists every day. Not being an e-bike user I don’t quite have the same perspective, and don’t understand the nuances of riding an e-bike vs. a traditional bike. Not having come across many on my commute (I’m lucky to see another cyclist commuting on most of it) I’m not sure of any safety concerns that may be present allowing mixed usage in bike lanes, but for now I’ll go with what my license plate states, “Share the Road”.

If I may, To clarify/correct ManOMan’s opening statement:
“— First of all, y’all need to make it simple. There ain’t no one who can realistically pedal 25+ miles per hour on a level ground for a constant pace of more than 2 min with there bicycle. I don’t care what kind of bike you have, it ain’t happening. Try to keep up with cars going down your road at 25 mph and you’ll never do it.”
This statement is unequivocally wrong. For semi-empirical evidence that a great number of cyclist can maintain a minimum speed of 25mph on the flat for two consecutive minutes, please refer to the smartphone app “Strava”. In fact, if you are not able to maintain 25mph on any popular, flat, +/-2.4 mile segment, you’re likely to find yourself in the slower half of all riders.
In a more anecdotal vein (anecdotal yet officially recognized by all cycling oversight parties) I averaged nearly 34 mph (solo) on a 15+ mile ride. What is more, this was in 1989, an era when road bikes were considerably slower as compared to their modern day counterparts, and LONG before any e-bike existed (or at least an e-bike manufactured for retail markets). I’m not sharing my performance to brag but only b/c it’s a great example of how off-base and nonsensical current e-bike classifications seem to be. Even in my old age (54 years old!!!) and running errands on my 3-speed, 35lb, beach cruiser – wicker basket on handlebars and all – I find myself tailgating/passing cars on roads with posted speed limits of 25 mph.
My suggestion would be that the governing bodies, through documented, peer-reviewed research, determine the point of “critical mass” (i.e. weight of bike) when a bicycle could reasonably be considered a threat to the health of a person traveling in a motor vehicle should the two commuters’ vehicles (bike & car) collide.
Let cyclists (at least those on bikes that aren’t big enough to win-out against a vehicle in an accident) govern themselves. If too slow for normal traffic, stay out of the road. if riding on a sidewalk, give pedestrians the right of way, and if your driving your car in the left-most lane and you notice a bicycle 10 feet off your bumper, move out of the fast lane to let me pass.

Greg! It’s an honor to receive your thoughts here, thank you for taking the time to connect and share on the subject of electric bicycle law. I like the idea of regulating behavior, not technology, and agree that cyclists are probably not a threat to cars… however, they could be a threat to each other as well as pedestrians on foot who share spaces where cars do not go (paths and trails). With the increased speed and weight of ebikes the damage suffered in an accident could be greater than on an unpowered bicycle… but in practice, modern ebikes aren’t much heavier than old-fashioned pedal power bicycles and the ability to pedal faster than 25 mph (as you explained) is not uncommon… even on an electric bike that’s turned off. So it would seem that the upside of an ebike being permitted to attain higher speeds far outweighs the straw-man risks posed by regulators.
So where does this leave us? The grey area to me is really that underaged cyclist who is untrained, not legally accountable and now has a fast, heavy vehicle at his or her disposal. This is the person who is showing off with friends, causing erosion on trails or being disrespectful to fellow cyclists, riding recklessly and putting others at risk that would otherwise be reduced if the bicycle was unpowered. The one bad apple spoils it for us all! Well, unfortunately I have been this bad apple on my snowboard, and was knocked unconscious two times even while using a helmet. I cut the ropes, went way too fast in slow sections and passed people at high speed on catwalks. Thankfully I really only hurt myself. I blame testosterone and evolution, perhaps I was also a bit spoiled and needy for attention at that age. Some of this may be a social issue, maybe I didn’t have the support from my community or friends that cold have lead to better behavior but the consequences are still real. If I had been on a powered snowboard could things have been even worse? Maybe… I’m just not sure, just sharing from my own experiences… Now that my knees hurt and I’ve lost the desire to go so fast (because I don’t heal as readily) I definitely don’t want to be hit by a kid who’s out hot-rodding on an electric bike. The proper benefactors of higher speed ebikes seems to be the commuter who wants to zip up to speed with cars in between sections of bike path or the the road cyclist or trekker who is going for speed in beautiful locals or long distances across the countryside.
Would the world really end if electric bikes were allowed to go 30+ mph? Maybe we’d just need to dedicate some social resources to police watching out for reckless riders or add a new training certificate similar to a driver’s license for high speed ebikes but not require insurance or a driver’s license? I also surf and there’s a social dynamic where people hold each other accountable and you get your ass kicked if you put others at risk, maybe that would happen with bikes, I think it already does to some extent. We could develop better safety gear, create fast lanes on the bike path and so many other things to make this work. In any case, thanks again for your thoughts and great job in the World Championship and Tour de France… you’re an inspiration and welcome here anytime. I travel a lot and test ebikes everywhere so ping me if you’d like to try a new model or just go for a ride and continue this conversation :)

I own a class 3 pedelec, a Focus S27 2014. I decided to purchase it after a local bike shop let my father use it when his class 1 Jarifa 3.0 was sent back to Germany with a rear hub issue. I had used his jarifa a few times to test it out and was impressed but dissapointed that I could not reach the much higher speeds I could on my old 2006 Kona xc’ish hardtail on the flat or downhill, but my average was higher on the identical 10 mile hilly UK country lane commute I do. The class 1 e-bike did it in just over 30 mins as opposed to just about 40 mins (if the wind is favourable) on the normal mountainbike. When he borrowed the class 3 S27 I took it to see what difference it would make to my work run as it is very simular to the Jarifa 3.0 sharing identical frame and better but simular components and I fell in love with it and managed to cut my travel time down to just over 20 mins, I had to have it and made the shop a offer for it and got it for a lot less than retail due to it being ex demo :) I had to have it because I had the best of both worlds all and more of the hill capability of the jafira 3.0 but a top speed that got closer (but not as fast) as the old Cindercone. Realisticly the S27 is rated as a 28mph pedalac and does continue to assist up to that speed but due to a reasonbly low gear for road use and real life conditions and my choice of tyre I dont exceed it that much on the flat and due to the old cindercones higher gearing I can still go faster over short distance favourable roads non powered on a road spec bike my top speed would be higher still so potentially more dangerous concidering it would have less brake power and skinny tyres. The class 3 actually feels safer on roads with traffic than the other options I have because it does not hold faster road users up like the class 1 or the non powered bike can. But any bike should be ridden responsably I turn mine down to eco mode in areas with pedestrians and shared paths etc but some people are idiots so it is a grey area certainly but I do not feel like im causing more potential danger using the class 3 bike than I do with a normal bike or a class 1.

Nice! Sounds like you’ve got a bike that really works well and achieves those higher speeds but didn’t cost so much. Glad you got to demo one first and came away with a solid experience, hope it stays good for you for many years!

Your last comment on the slowing down in shared use area seems to be the basic concern over regulation. These e-bikes can be dangerous if used to their full potential, and whether or not having that potential is justification for classification and regulation.
If everyone was as sane about how they ride as you sound like you are then it wouldn’t be an issue. Sadly there are those who may take their bikes out and full throttle through shared pedestrian areas.
I guess the question is where do we draw the line, and what justification and rational do we use for drawing it?

Great conversation, but the regulations are generated by the undereducated/inexperienced. The danger/risk in mixing modern ebikes with people and cars is based to 3 variables. Weight, speed and the judgment (age) of the operator. Maximum speed should be controlled with a speed limit sign (On streets and paths, etc.). WHERE you can ride should be limited by the weight of the vehicle and the age of the rider.

I like your thinking on this… Lots of people appreciate high-speed ebikes because they commute on streets and want to keep up with the flow of traffic and reduce the annoyance caused by cars, they want respect and control. Other people buy those oversized electric vespa scooter type things and ride them on bicycle paths where they just don’t fit in… Your ideas around weight and obeying speed signs appeals to me, just like we hold people accountable for pedaling way too fast if they are on a bicycle path with a 20 mph top speed sign posted, the motor makes it easier to break the law but also empowers the rider in areas where the law does not exist. I’m not a fan of forcing people with settings and hardware vs. educating and holding responsible but then again, young people without license and insurance can use these and may not have the same level of maturity to not break the law and in turn put others at risk.

Brilliantly simple, sound-minded logic, Jon! Those same variables comprise the backbone of current motor-vehicle traffic laws so why re-invent the wheel. Pun intended. Best

There is another class that should also be considered. I currently have a trike that is powered by a 900W cyclone mid drive. I cannot use my legs because i am a paraplegic. I would still like to be able to ride on mountain bike trails and on the road like any other cyclist. I consider my trike an electric wheelchair but given the guidelines above it appears that it is a moped and I should have license etc…

Interesting point Mike… I wonder if there are compromises or special rules for people with limited mobility? I can understand why you’d need more power (especially for off-road terrain) if you cannot contribute much as a rider. This was the primary focus the guys designing the Outrider Horizon and most of the recumbent ebikes they sell are outside of these “low speed electric bike” classes. I can’t add much here besides my support and hopes that you are able to enjoy riding and be safe :)

Hi, excellent site and thanks for all the work your doing. On question, as I’m based in Ireland and so I’m regulated by the European Union do you have the web address where I could find the relevant European regulations. I’m considering building my own bike as a project and do not want to fall foul of the regulators. Thanks in advance, John f

Hi John! Good thinking… I haven’t gone in-depth with EU laws here on the site but you can find a lot of great resources on this Wikipedia article. Ebike laws are evolving and different country to country (state to state here in the US) so this wiki page is a great place to check in :)

I’m new and know very little about this stuff, but correct me if I’m wrong, I cannot consider buying a Specialized Turbo to commute on a class 1 path because it is a category 3 bike?
People want to keep fast EBikes off the bike paths for safety reasons… Bike paths in general cut through some pretty shady areas so bikes are the last thing they should be worried about.
200mph cars are allowed to drive on the streets just like 28mph bikes should be allowed to ride on a class 1. All classes should be allowed IMO and obey 15-20mph speed limit.

Excellent points Kyle, I tend to agree with you. One thing comes to mind as a possible reason that hardware is regulated in the ebike space vs. behavior (which is the case for automobiles). To drive any type of car legally an operator must be licensed and insured… This is not the case with vehicles classified as bicycles. Basically anyone can hop on and pedal away and this presents the increased risk of misbehavior by an uneducated, unskilled and uninsured user. On the flip side… most people can pedal unpowered or powered bicycles above 20 mph and still have an accident that causes damage. This second point highlights a gray area where a reckless cyclist would be held responsible for crashing while a reckless ebiker would get that charge as well as operating an unregistered motor vehicle without a license which could result in much more extreme fines, penalties and even jail time. The consequences could get even worse depending on where the violations occurred… on street vs. public park or trail vs. private property where you could be sued by a private party for gross negligence if a person is seriously injured or killed. I’m not a lawyer but this is my interpretation of what I’ve read while exploring the web and speaking with some individuals.

Darn it. Well I’m not surprised about the rules that came from Chris Christies state. I live in a mountainous area where the only way out of the mountain is Hwy 17 to Los Gatos, or a class 1 path. Hwy 17 is technically legal to bike on or walk, but its pretty much a death wish as there is no shoulder, and the 50mph speed limit is not even followed by big rigs (and they have a 35mph speed limit)
I guess I would use the trail and plead that I have no option. Of course I would be respectful and don’t expect to get into an accident of my own doing so I feel it isn’t a problem. I just don’t want a ranger flagging me down because he knows its a category 3 bike even if I’m only going 20mph. Just a bunch of bull I don’t want to deal with especially if I need to commute a couple years to pay for it.
I cant wait until our bike paths double in size and bikes will have their own lane. Motorcycles need their own lane left of fast lane too. Things need to change, too many people around here!

Yeah, I believe we will see many things change in the next five and ten years with the introduction of self driving cars… way fewer cars on the road, fewer people owning, fewer police patrolling roads with speed traps and profiling. People will still want independent and healthy ways to get around and ebikes and electric cycles may grow in popularity. I used to live in Los Gatos by the way, beautiful area :)

This move by the bike lobby is “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” as the saying goes, but it is far from adequate. Limiting technological innovation within the platform is nonsense, and unprecedented in transportation sector. Speed limits on roads govern motorists who purchase vehicles freely that are capable of speeds 10x legal limits, and more. There is no reason to believe speed limits on infrastructure for bicycles will be less effective.

Has anyone considered doing the sums? A cyclist’s speed of 20 MPH is equivalent to falling off a one story building if he hits something solid. At 25 MPH it would be the same as jumping off a two-story building (20.5 ft). A crash at 30 MPH makes for a bone-crunching splat landing as if he jumped from a three-story building (30 ft)…. In comparison a driver in a car has the protection of his car, seat belt and air bags. A racing driver has a double harness and a complete helmet… A bicyclist has exactly what in his favor?

*A bicyclist has exactly what in his favor?*
The answer to this question is: Motorcyclists. Like a bicyclist, they have no seat belts, airbags or cage of steel to protect them… and they go very much faster on their two wheels.

Typo: severe is spelled “sever”

Great catch Derek! I’ve fixed it and just wanted to say thanks ;)

I have a bad hip and knee and need a Class 2 electric bike (pedal assist isn’t a good option as the slightest effort will trash my hip). I want to be able to ride bikes with my husband and friends in areas where mopeds/scooters aren’t allowed. I’m 5’11” about 145 lbs. I can’t seem to find an easy way to figure out which bikes are Class 2 and, of those, which are most recommended. Thoughts? I appreciate any guidance very much.

Hi Megan! Sorry to hear about your hip… I can see why having a throttle would be nice. The advanced search options here let you choose different drive modes and you could check twist throttle and trigger throttle to get the results for all Class 2 reviews. I could be more specific about ones I like if you share your ride style (more active forward, semi-upright or relaxed cruiser) along with your budget and maybe what kind of terrain you’ll be going on (road, sidewalks, trails or mountain?) I’m going to take a wild guess here that this is mostly neighborhood around town riding on bike trails and that you want something comfortable… Consider any of the Pedego or E-Lux modelsand possibly Magnum. I believe they all offer throttle mode :)

I am seeing a Black Max e-bike that appears to be from the Olympic Peninsula area and it seems new on market. Wondering if there’s any independent reviews available. I have been nearly ready to pull the trigger on a pair of Rad Rovers. I like a couple of the models from this new company! And their price point is great if the components are quality.

Hi Mark, would it be possible to share a link to this new electric bike you mentioned? Maybe I could try to review it someday! In the meantime, I do like and trust the RadRover product. That company offers good value as long as you don’t mind buying online and doing some basic assembly. My website here is full of great reviews and there are more coming, but you can also ask around in the EBR forums for feedback and advice.

I have a cargo bike that seems to defy classification. It’s a Surly Big Dummy and is equipped with a Stokemonkey assist motor kit. It’s speed limited to 20 mph. But here is what’s different; it has a hand throttle but there isn’t a free ride because the motor drives through the entire drivetrain so use the power one has to pedal along with it. The closest classification seems to be class 2. While the motor is capable of 500 watts, I have it set to a sweet spot for me of 200 watts. This setting works well with the crowded streets where I live. I ride on pathways and cruise about 4-8 mph, on streets about 12-16 mph. I feel good about using it as a class 1 even though it doesn’t fit any class.

Very interesting! Whatever class it is, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Considering that you have to pedal even with the throttle system, maybe it is closer to a Class 1?

I tested a Turbo Levo with and without the speed limiter and found that I could only reach 22 mph without the limiter anyway. This is because it was limited by the power of the motor + my power input, as well as the gearing. For this reason, I think class-1 bikes should be defined as 750 watts or less, pedal-assist only, but no speed limiter. Aerodynamic drag will take care of the rest, unless someone does an aeroshell, which case that is an unusual situation. The speed limiters are very annoying feeling them come on and off. But, I guess then they would be class-3 bikes (though without throttles).

I’ve been giving this issue a lot of thought since I bought a class 3 bike for myself and a class 1 for my wife in December. After reading all the posts I sympathize with those who would rather regulate behavior than technology. For one, behavior is more easily observable than technology. Why not make a law that you have to carry your driver’s license or an id while riding your ebike on a path or street? Then, if you’re reckless, you can be id’d and ticketed. As with driving a car, if you go crazy fast, you get a bigger penalty, ultimately losing privileges altogether. Speed limit signs are cheap and they do help. Those speed sensor signs are more expensive but very effective at promoting self regulation.
The other thought I had was mandatory training of some kind, even if it’s online. They do mandatory video training at Yellowstone before you go backcountry hiking so you know what to do when you enounter a grizzly. Same idea, when there’s a danger it’s good to provide education. I was going over 30 mph down hills on my (non-electric) bike in first grade. It might have been good to have some education around impact and consequences at 30 mph, versus 20 mph, versus 10 mph.
The irony of ebike regulations hit home the other day while my wife and I were riding down a paved path (shared with pedestrians) at about 18 mph. A non-motorized bike whizzed by us at about 28 mph or more. He was gone in a flash. It was a sunny day, the path was crowded with pedestrians and it was plainly dangerous. He wouldn’t have been going any faster on my class 3 ebike.
On the same ride, we were passing a family with a toddler. We slowed down to 5 mph and the toddler stepped out in front of us. We stopped. The toddler looked up at us in awe and toddled off to the side. Giving pedestrians, especially toddlers, a safe leeway is hugely important on any bike, right? This strikes me as more of a training, awareness, and behavior regulation issue than a technology issue (well, brakes are a *very* important technology here).
Ebikes will get lighter, quieter, faster, and more stealth in the future. It will be more and more difficult to identify a bike based on it’s potential max speed. It’s not easy now – and you can always speed dongle a class 1, 2, or 3 ebike to go faster. My class 3 and my wife’s class 1 look nearly identical to the untrained eye. They both have Bosch systems.
The upside of electric bikes for personal, community, and global wellbeing are profound. We have a technology here that can provide transportation to those who are not athletes at somewhere around 2,000 mpg equivalent with an extremely low manufacturing footprint compared to automobiles (See the ebook by Average Joe Cyclist) and they can get many of us to work and back in a reasonable time frame without arriving all sweaty. At the same time ebiking provides the exact kind of light exercise that so effectively fights diseases (i.e. diabetes, heart disease, etc) caused by sedentary behavior.
I realize that every approach has related problems to it, but regulating behavior and supporting positive behavior with training, much like we do with cars, seems to be the more sustainable and effective approach.

Great post John, I agree with you and appreciate the perspectives and real world experience. There’s room for level headed discussion here and you draw on great examples from automobile regulation and the national park training. Thanks for sharing your time and thoughts!

The EBike market continues to develop quickly. I am in Northern California, could you provide clarification regarding Bike Classification for when an EBike provides the user with OPTIONS for using PAS only, a trigger throttle installed, and an option for placing the bike into an “off-road mode” for increased speeds up to 28mph? Technically I feel like the answer will be that the bike falls into the Class 3 category.
Ebikes are such a helpful way for injured or less fit people to enjoy bike riding with others that are more fit, not rely on cars for getting around, etc. Guess I wish there was a way to avoid the potential unlawful use penalities with a bike that offers the rider all 3 of the above benefits, so long as they were using the bike mode appropriate to the law of a particular trail, etc.
I assume that a ticket for unlawful use would come from a Ranger most of the time. Perhaps a way to show that I was riding in PAS mode without using throttle and not in the off-road mode could be developed to indicate this to law enforcement AND other riders (a light with changing colors?).
We all pay the costs associated with most of our trail systems, EBikes appear to offer a method for people to enjoy them and maybe we all would benefit from things like decreased car traffic and the related pollutions, a healthier population, and host of other things.

Hi Skot, the only way I know of to get these three different modes (and off-road 20+ throttle or 28+ pedal assist) is to purchase a kit and update the settings or completely unplug the throttle at times. You can do this with several of the Electric Bike Outfitters kits that I reviewed recently. Most purpose built ebikes have one particular class in mind. They are usually Class 1 or Class 3 for the really nice ebikes, because most European nations don’t allow throttles at all. I hope this helps guide you, I did create an advanced search option here on EBR to help you filter and narrow down which bikes offer what. Most throttles can simply be unplugged and removed, so that’s a good way to go from Class 2 to Class 1.

Court, Sorry for the delayed response, I thought that I would get a notification indicating that you had answered my question.
Thanks for all the great information and suggestions. The particular bike that I am looking at comes from M2S bikes and does not appear to have been reviewed yet, the search feature indicates “nothing found” using “M2S”. Here’s (Link Removed - No Longer Exists) to the specific bike that I was referring to when asking about it’s most likely classification.
Unplugging the throttle is a great option for bringing the bike into compliance as needed. I would love your thoughts on many of the M2S bike lineup. I’m considering a new bike for my wife as well (she enjoys a much different riding style than I do, but it’s still great fun to ride together). M2S has several great options to consider, but I think the simplicity of the NuVinci CVT shifter offered by Evelo bikes is something that really fits her style well, thanks for your excellent reviews on these models

Brent did a great review a little whileback regarding the FLX “Trail” e-bike. The FLX website answered my specific question, in a similar way that Court wrote:
The California Standard
Electric Bicycles are defined by the California Vehicle Code.
New legislation became effective in January 2016. The current regulations define an “electric bicycle” as: a bicycle equipped with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, separated into three classes:
  1. A “class 1 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
  2. A “class 2 electric bicycle,” or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
  3. A “class 3 electric bicycle,” or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, (no throttle) and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour and equipped with a speedometer.
Local government ordinances are allowed to permit or ban any class of electric bicycles on dedicated bicycle paths and trails, with Class 1 & 2 permitted, and Class 3 banned, by default
All our bikes come as standard with an electronic speed limiter and a throttle. This gives you the option to convert your bike into a class 1, 2 or 3.
To comply with class 1 regulations, program the speed limiter to 20 mph and remove the throttle. The motor will stop providing assistance at this speed. You’ll still be able to go faster but anything above 20 mph will be from your own input.
To comply with class 2 regulations, program the speed limiter to 20 mph and leave the throttle attached. You’ll now be able to achieve 20 mph purely using the throttle. The motor will also provide assistance whilst pedaling up to 20 mph.
To comply with class 3 regulations, program the speed limiter to 28 mph and remove the throttle. The motor will provide assistance up to 28 mph whilst pedaling.
For private land and off road use (where laws permit), program the speed limiter to 60 mph. This effectively removes the speed limiter so the motor will keep providing assistance until you run out of steam. Our record on the Roadster is 37 mph! Try and beat it but please be responsible. We want eBikes to provide a fun, practical alternative to regular bikes and other transport methods but we need to ensure that we’re not a danger or nuisance to other road users.
Laws vary in different states / countries. Please check your local regulations. Here is another good resource by People for Bikes with information on US laws.
There are some very specific questions regarding e-bike classification that I cannot seem to find answers to... please help.

1) How does anybody know? Is there a sticker or visible mark required for Class 1/2/3 bikes?

2) Class 1/2 Bikes are often digitally restricted (i.e. the motor could go over 20, but the computer won't let it) - so legally speaking, if I restrict a bike that could theoretically do 28 down to 20 does it become legally class 1/2?

2 again!) This one is the tough one... I want to know if it's more legal to purchase a "Class 1/2" and then "unlock" it up to 25 or whatever it's capable of or... if its more legal to purchase a Class 3/4 and self-regulate it down to 20 mph.

Maybe nobody knows the answer to this question but I think it would be important to make that clear.
There probably are no answers to these questions since there are different rules in different jurisdictions. And even within a jurisdiction, the enforcement may be inconsistent or even non existent, making the effective legal status ambiguous at best. The safest approach is to know the laws/rules for e-bikes in the jurisdictions where you intend to ride, then buy a bike that meets those laws/rules and don't make modifications. That said, I suspect many enthusiasts would rather buy and modify to get what they really want and just take their chances.
+1 to @AlanDB said.

How could they know your motor is 1000 watts instead of 750? How would they know your bike is capable of 28 mph if you're riding at 15?

I see the ability to set a speed limit on my bike as a useful tool, to help me stay within the limits a certain jurisdiction may have set, not as a legalistic Get Out Of Jail Free card.

Get what you want, ride responsibly, don't be a jerk.
I wasn't a fan of the class system setup by California with the aid of the ebike industry. The industry essentially wrote the law that sort of mimics the EU law, with some higher limits and no license plate for speed pedelecs. In the law the watt spec of 750 watts, it states motor spec. if a manufacturer specs the motor is a 750 watt motor, that's what the law goes by and not by end user adjustments. They covered all this in the law and many people apposed the law for this reason. There are pages on this forum from a few years ago when the law was making it's way through the legislature discussing this very issue. The industry wanted this law. I think because it wasn't difficult to up the watts and speed a little from existing European ebike systems. US and North American market didn't have the market share to dictate a complete change to motor systems. You could never take a 250 watt Bosch drive and up it to 1000 wats with 30 mph limit. That would take an entire new motor and a completely new bike frame. All that for 100,000 units for the US? They're making millions for the Euro market and just reprogramming a few for us. The USA is use to dictating the specs of everything, but we're late to the ebike game. They will dictate to us what we can have.

Many states have yearly car safety and emission tests. If ebikes ever get really big, I can see having to take the bike to a certified bike shop for inspection and an inspection yearly sticker slapped on the front fork. Many states inspect autos, trucks and motorcycles, annually or biannually. I hate that ugly sticker on the fork of my MC.

I'm agin it! It's not even a good, accepting name: "Class System". Sounds a bit upstairs - downstairs.
If I simply unplug the throttle on my 2014 NeoJumper will it qualify as a type 1?
(The sticker on the bike indicates it is 250 watts.)
If I simply unplug the throttle on my 2014 NeoJumper will it qualify as a type 1?
(The sticker on the bike indicates it is 250 watts.)
That's a really good question. You can't use it unplugged. Just another hunk of plastic on the bike. The other thing is that the BH throttle won't work while in pedal assist mode, it must be turned on to even work, no over-ride. So if it's not turned on, is that still class 2? Maybe class 1-2/3:)

It is a good question. Since the bike existed before the law, it wasn't classed. Very few BH bikes have a throttle today. There's probably a lot of bikes that don't fit new law.
When I first purchased the bike in 2014 I was allowed to ride on most trails.
Then the BLM rules changed, with no real input I ever knew about.
I would like to be able to ride those trails again.
I'm older (67) and not all that aggressive, but much prefer single track to the sandy roads I'm relegated to now.
I only use the throttle when walking up steep terrain, or during stream crossings too rough to ride across.
I'm piping back in after a couple years...

I have been commuting 17 miles, one way since 2014. I have a Focus speed pedelec, 28mph PAS. I also have a converted DIY mountain bike using a Falco 500W system, PAS to 28mph+, on demand throttle to 28mph+. (hits 35ish tucked, down 3% grade)

The Focus is great with lights/fenders and mid drive power. If I push hard, I can commute around 50-52 min, relaxed 55min.
On the Falco, I can commute in 46-50min, or relaxed at 52 min. The performance is about the same between my Class III and my class IV "motorcycle".

As to regulations:
1. Post speeds on bike trails/bike lanes and expect people to comply.
2. Single track - class 1, and class 2 with medical permit.
3. I resist registering Mopeds, but that is up to the states. A normal driver's license seems sufficient.
4. We can't legislate the safety to prevent the damage from a bike/auto collision beyond a helmet. Providing safe bike paths for all classes is the best solution.

my 2c is change the table below, and update my previous post to:
Class 1 : equal/under 750W (1hp), limited 20 mph, PAS
Class 2 : equal/under 750W (1hp), limited 20 mph, PAS + throttle
Class 3 : equal/under 750W (1hp), limited 20 mph by throttle, 28 mph by PAS
Class 4 : equal/under 1500W (2hp), 35 mph, throttle or PAS


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Per above, Why 1500W, 35mph? From my experience and knowledge, these limits are where the bike experience and ebike technology converge.
- 1500W allows for good speed up road hills (25-30mph) and can top out at 35 mph down hills.
- About 1000-1200W is needed for 25-30mph on flatter roadways with pedaling.
- A fit man on a road bike will travel 25-30mph on flats, and 35mph down hill.
- 35mph tops out gearing for ebikes, requiring a 50/52T front and 11 rear, or a Rohloff.
- Air resistance at 35mph converges the power and weight limits. To go faster, one needs more power > bigger motor and battery > more weight > more like a motorcycle.
- Having 2hp of power on a light pedal bike does not negate the opportunity to operate at reduced power levels and experience the typical ebike environment.
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+1 to @AlanDB said.

How could they know your motor is 1000 watts instead of 750? How would they know your bike is capable of 28 mph if you're riding at 15?

I see the ability to set a speed limit on my bike as a useful tool, to help me stay within the limits a certain jurisdiction may have set, not as a legalistic Get Out Of Jail Free card.

Get what you want, ride responsibly, don't be a jerk.
Machiavelli noted that a law that can't be enforced is useless.
Things are far more organised in the European Union although minor differences between member states do exist. There are practically two classes that are relevant for e-bikes:

1. "A bicycle is a vehicle propelled by the force of human muscle, it shall not be wider than 0.9 metre. It may be assisted by electric motor of continuous power not greater than 250 W and it must assist pedalling in the way the assistance gradually drops down with speed and any assistance is cut off at 25 km/h". That's more or less the EU definition of a bicycle and e-bike in a single paragraph. No license is required for grown-ups. Use of bike lanes is mandatory wherever they do exist and roads can be used in absence of bike lanes. No helmet is required and no lights need to be mounted on the bike for daytime riding at good visibility. That is why restricted e-bikes gained so much popularity in Europe although the 25 km/h speed limit is very restrictive.

2. S-Pedelecs are classified as L1e-B vehicles and are equivalent to low-speed motorbikes. The speed is limited to 45 km/h, the max wattage is 4 kW. First of all, an S-Pedelec needs to carry a sticker with rated speed limitation, wattage and Vehicle Identification Number. The S-Pedelec needs to carry front and rear lights at all times, be equipped with adequate brakes, rear-view mirror and a bell or horn. S-Pedelec has to be registered as low-speed motorcycle, carry a lit registration plate, be insured. No word about the throttle, so it is allowed. The rider must wear the helmet but no driving license is required from grown-ups. S-Pedelecs sold in Europe, e.g., Specialized, Haibike, Trek etc. all are equipped for the legal requirements and come with proper documentation, that is, the sticker on the frame and EC certificate of conformity. S-Pedelecs are not allowed on bike lanes. S-Pedelecs are subject to Technical Inspection. These requirements make S-Pedelecs less popular in Europe.

Ah, I forgot about electric tricycles and cargo e-bikes. These are classified as "motorized carriages" and are subject to even more limitations.
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I'm glad we have higher limits in the U.S, even though I ride mostly at 12-14 mph to conserve power & enjoy scenery.
28 mph can get me past unpleasant traffic areas & out of dodgy situations. My German bike appears
designed for sale outside the EU regulation which may be why they named the model 'Moscow'.
That presently isn't helping U.S, sales much.:rolleyes: They ought to call it Cheyenne for the capitol of Wyoming.
Anyway I painted over the Moscow to avoid potential beatings & renamed mine Cheyenne.
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When I first purchased the bike in 2014 I was allowed to ride on most trails.
Then the BLM rules changed, with no real input I ever knew about.
I would like to be able to ride those trails again.
I'm older (67) and not all that aggressive, but much prefer single track to the sandy roads I'm relegated to now.
I only use the throttle when walking up steep terrain, or during stream crossings too rough to ride across.

The law was just changed, your good to go except in designated wilderness.
My German bike appears designed for sale outside the EU regulation which may be why they named the model 'Moscow'.
An NCM? Well, 500 W motor means it falls under L1e-B class, which is not forbidden in Europe. Yet given the e-MTB has no required accessories, you might use it on trails in Europe as long they are not public roads.
An NCM? Well, 500 W motor means it falls under L1e-B class, which is not forbidden in Europe. Yet given the e-MTB has no required accessories, you might use it on trails in Europe as long they are not public roads.
That good to know if I ever get to Europe, I was thinking in terms of the 25 kph speed limit. How seriously is that enforced?
Thomas Jefferson said: "Not only should one disobey unjust laws, it is one's duty to do so." But ,may I add, don't get caught!;)

P.S. If required accessories mean lights & a mirror I put those on all my bikes.
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That good to know if I ever get to Europe, I was thinking in terms of the 25 kph speed limit. How seriously is that enforced?
Thomas Jefferson said: "Not only should one disobey unjust laws, it is one's duty to do so." But ,may I add, don't get caught!;)

P.S. If required accessories mean lights & a mirror I put those on all my bikes.
The point is an L1e-B must be registered and insured. However, you do not need to do that if you avoid public roads. Single track is not, I think, a public road.

How seriously is it enforced? It depends on the country. Germany or Switzerland are serious countries. As many as 29 years ago I was fined for riding a bike into pedestrian zone in Germany. There's no surprise that almost all normal e-bikes in Europe are sold as restricted to 25 km/h. What manufacturer would like taking a legal risk? S-Pedelecs are on sale, too but you get all instruments to be able to register and insure your fast bike.

I know about at least one manufacturer, the Polish Ecobike who deliver an e-MTB S-Pedelec without required accessories but they assume it will be ridden off-road only.

Enforced or not? Whatever, take part in an road accident with illegal e-bike and you are in deep trouble. AFAIK, many people in Poland de-restrict their e-bikes because they cannot stand the thought they spent big bucks to not be able to get past 25 km/h.
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So then if you have a fast ebike, don't let a car run you over or you'll be in big trouble?:eek: Being able to quickly
avoid those situations was my main reason for having a fast bike. How do escape a car at 25 kph?
Come on, @john peck :) There are plethora of situations in which one might get involved. Many people are just reckless or have bad luck. Fancy accidents on bike lanes.

There is still no regulation related to electric scooters in many EU countries; I hear Germany made rules only last summer but no rules for Poland yet. Now, there was a guy speeding on an electric scooter on a bike lane and he was met by an accident -- that is -- he was met by a normal bicycle riding in from behind a corner. The outcome was fatal to one of them and meant serious injuries to the other. Now, who was the guilty? Hard to say. No law for electric scooters meant the scooter rider was a pedestrian and he should not have entered the bike lane at all. Or, was he protected as a pedestrian? It would be a long legal discussion.

I am not the advocate of the 25 km/h PAS limit. I only say that's the law we have in the EU. A restricted e-bike? Then you enjoy many privileges pertaining to cyclists. S-Pedelec? If registered and under insurance you are a motorcyclist and follow the rules. Yet, in case it is an unregistered S-Pedelec or de-restricted e-bike and anything wrong happens, you are the guilty, because the other driver had a technically sound registered car and insurance; if the car runs over you then you are the guilty.

Note I just discuss the law not if it is good or bad.

And that's why I intend to register my Turbo Vado 5.0 and pay the insurance as soon as I am sure the display issues have been fixed by the Specialized dealer and I do not need to return or replace the bike. I want to sleep well.
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