How Fast is an Electric Bike? (Hint – They’re Fast!)

how fast is an electric bike?

This may be the question I get the most, either while working at the bike shop or out riding my own ebike. Part of riding an electric bike is to go faster, right? First, let’s define “electric bike”.

To be legally considered an “electric bicycle” in the United States, the electric motor can only assist up to a certain speed. There are 3 classes of legal electric bikes – 

Class 1 – Pedal assist only (no throttle) and the motor will assist up to 20mph

Class 2 – Any electric bike with an integrated throttle and pedal assist, assisting up to 20mph

Class 3 – Pedal assist only (no throttle) and the motor will assist up to 28mph

In all 3 classes, the motor can not exceed 750 watts of power. 

Any electric bike that does not fall into one of the 3 classes listed above is not legally an “electric bicycle”. There are bikes with electric motors that go well beyond these classes, but they are usually off-road only and may require a license in your state.

Most ebikes will be one of these 3 classes, and you don’t need a license, insurance, or registration.

Now keep in mind that even though the motor will cut out once you reach these speeds, you can still go faster, (usually going downhill) but the motor will not be helping anymore. Once you slow back down, the motor will kick back in and start assisting again. I have reached over 40mph on my ebike, but the motor wasn’t assisting and it was a steep downhill.

What is the fastest electric bike?

The fastest electric bike in the world is –

Outrider USA – Modified 422 Alpha

The fastest legal electric bike is a class 3 electric bike where the motor will assist up to 28mph.

These classes have been designated so that electric bikes can be identified and categorized, then laws can be put into place accordingly.

There are electric bikes sold in the US that far exceed the 3 classes of ebikes.

That’s not to say that you can’t ride one, just know that if the motor is more than 750 watts or the motor can assist above 28mph, then you will need to look into your local state laws to find out if you will need a license, insurance, or registration.

You can find do-it-yourself kits that go up as high as 5000 watts and reach speeds of near 50mph. That’s not what I’m here for. Stick to the legal classes of ebikes, laws are in place so that we can keep riding without being hassled.

It’s all about respect for one another and for our surroundings.

What is the average speed of an electric bike?

Just know that when your bike now has an electric motor helping you out, you will be able to ride for longer and at a greater speed than ever before.

One of the best things I’ve experienced when riding my ebike is how easy it is to ride up hills. We like to call it “uphill flow”. This is a term to describe how when riding an ebike there is more of an even flow through the ride.

If you’ve ridden a regular bike for a lengthy ride, there are usually some uphill sections, some flatter sections, and some downhill sections. While riding along you hit an uphill section and have to work extra hard to go much slower. What goes up comes down and we find ourselves flying down the other side of the hill.

This becomes an uneven dance of putting in more effort to go slower and less effort to go faster. Not much of a flow to it.

With an ebike, you don’t lose as much speed going uphill and it takes much less effort, in turn, you don’t feel the need to gain speed on downhills so you can get up the next. You can just keep your pace more even and have a ride that flows like a favorite song as you are no longer riding your bike, you’re dancing with it.

How much power does an ebike motor produce?

Now, this is the power question and power is the point.

The key to just what your ebike is capable of is how much force the motor can put out. This is especially important for heavier riders like me. Different ebike motors will be able to produce different amounts of power.

The power of a hub-drive motor is usually determined by the max wattage is that the motor can produce. You should be able to find this on the dealer’s website for whichever ebike you’re looking at.

The power of a mid-drive motor is determined by the amount of Newton meters of torque it can produce.

  • For a power breakdown of the most widely used mid-drive motors available in US ebikes –  CLICK HERE 
  • For a breakdown of hub-drive motors –  CLICK HERE

It is also important to note what type of gearing your ebike has. The wider range of your cassette is, the lower gearing you will be able to shift down to.

For most people, especially lighter-weight riders, this is not super important. For us bigger riders it can be the difference between being able to ride up a steep hill or not.

I’m 6’4” – 220lbs. My ebike has a Bosch gen3 performance cx motor which has 75nm of power. Matching that motor with 11-speed mountain bike gearing (11-46 cassette) there is almost no hill I can’t climb with ease.

Is an ebike faster than a normal bike?

For most of us, you are going to be significantly faster on an ebike if you want to be. If you are an elite cyclist on some ultralight racing bike you will probably be faster than me on my ebike. The great thing about electric bikes is that you are in control of your speed.

Sometimes when riding a regular bike it can feel like the bike is riding you. You pedal as hard as you can in your lowest gear and don’t seem to be going anywhere. With an ebike, you can just have the motor help out in those situations. On an ebike, you don’t lose as much speed climbing hills and you don’t get as tired on a longer ride.

I can guarantee you that your average speed will be faster on an ebike. This is important if you want to commute to work. I find that in the city it’s usually faster to ride an ebike than drive.

So yes,  for most an ebike is faster than a normal bike and in some cases, an ebike is faster than a car. It’s always nice to go all the way up to the stoplight at every intersection and when you get to know the paths and back streets of your town, you can save even more time

At the End of the Day

To conclude – You have control over your speed. Riding an electric bike is a ton of fun and if you ride in the higher assist modes it will be considerably faster than riding a regular bike.

Even the class 1’s and 2’s that assist up to 20mph are quite the speed machines. But if you want a little more, then go with a class 3.

My first ebike was a class 3 and it was a lot of fun being able to keep my average speed up higher, but I noticed that it drained my battery a lot faster. So it’s a good idea to know beforehand how much range you may need to get out of your bike first.

My current ebike is a class 1 and I actually like it a lot better. It still goes plenty fast, but I get much more range out of it and I’ve noticed I enjoy the ride more. It’s good to slow down a little and pay a bit more attention to what’s going on around me.