E-bikes have been around for a while and are now gaining more popularity in the United States as riders learn about their convenience, health perks, and sustainability benefits. In 2020, the United States government, along with many e-bike manufacturers, agreed on a broad set of definitions for the different classes of e-bikes. This has been helpful for riders to better understand the laws for the use of their preferred e-bike brand such as Himiway E-bikes.
E-bikes are broadly divided into three categories: Class 1 E-bikes, Class 2 E-bikes, and Class 3 E-bikes. The differences are important and below we will discuss all three e-bike classifications in more detail so you can be confident that you are obeying all local, state, and federal laws governing your e-bike usage. The information in this article is current as of August 2021, but you should always check with your state or National Park for any updates to the legal definitions and laws on your favorite modes of transportation such as e-bikes.
Class 1 E-bike Overview
The two most important pieces of information about Class 1 E-bikes are that they have a top speed of 20 miles per hour (mph) and the onboard motor is only active while the rider is pedaling with their feet. This means if you are not pedaling, the electric motor will not provide power. If the motor can be activated without pedaling, it is not a true Class 1 e-bike. You should not need to exert yourself to the maximum, but you should need to at least be moving your legs and feet a bit for the motor to engage.
Class 1 E-bikes can be used anywhere traditional non-electric bikes are used such as city roads, pathways, dirt trails, and sidewalks in some areas if a bike lane is not available. You will still want to be aware of helmet laws and traffic laws in your area with a Class 1 E-bike, but because they have a slow top speed, they are allowed anywhere regular bikes are acceptable.
The Definition of Class 2 E-bikes
The main distinction between Class 1 e-bikes and Class 2 e-bikes is that Class 2 e-bikes can use a throttle and electric motor even if the rider is not pedaling. Of course, the rider can choose to pedal at any time, but it is not mandatory to move the bike forward. Class 2 e-bikes can be a great choice for anyone unable to pedal for whatever reason. Class 2 e-bikes also have a top speed of 20 miles per hour. For this reason, Class 2 e-bikes and Class 1 e-bikes do not have much of a difference in terms of power.
Must-Know Facts About Class 3 E-bikes
Class 3 E-bikes have a few additional laws and regulations because they have a higher top speed. The maximum speed of a Class 3 E-bike is 28 miles per hour during commuting, adventuring, or regular use. This top speed can only be achieved using a combination of pedal-assist as well as the electric motor and throttle at the same time. Once 28 miles per hour is reached, the e-bike will not add any additional power from the motor. Class 3 e-bikes must also be equipped with an onboard speedometer. Some Class-3 e-bikes can also be considered class 2 e-bikes when the correct speed settings are chosen.
According to U.S. Federal Law, riders must be at least 16 years old to operate a class 3 e-bike and must also wear a helmet. Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed on general bike paths due to their higher speed capabilities. Class 3 e-bikes are allowed to travel at speeds up to 28mph because the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that because riders can pedal and use the throttle at the same time, the speed will naturally be higher than 20mph.
The Best E-bike Class Worth Buying
The best e-bike class is going to be the one that meets most of your needs and is affordable for your budget. As you are comparing the different prices and classes of e-bikes, consider all the factors that will affect the total cost and usage of the bike, not just the initial price tag. You will want to look at the reputation of the manufacturer, user reviews of the bikes, and the battery power and life of each e-bike.
For example, if you purchase a high-quality Class 3 e-bike, you may be able to use it to commute to work quickly, use it for leisurely rides, and use it for recreational activities such as hunting. Therefore, you will likely save money on gasoline for your car because you will want to take your e-bike more often. It will also be better for the environment because you are not polluting with a gas-engine vehicle. Another area you may save money is by reducing your gym membership because you can get some or all of your exercise with the pedal-assist option which is standard on all Himiway bikes. Finally, you will also want to consider the quality of the bike itself to limit the number of replacement parts and service you’ll need.
Himiway e-bikes are all considered Class 2 e-bikes but they have a top speed of 25-28mph. However, a great feature of Himiway bikes is the option to set your maximum speed to whichever number you want and monitor it on the backlit LCD which shows speed, mileage, and power which may allow them to function as Class 2 e-bikes at lower speeds. This opens up even more places for you to adventure on your e-bike. Always be aware of speed limits, access rights, and the settings you choose for your bike on whichever trail you choose.
Now that you know the different E-bike classifications, you can make an informed decision on the right e-bike for you. If you want to have the greatest flexibility with where and how you ride your e-bike, a Class 3 e-bike is for you due to the flexibility it offers. As all classes of e-bikes grow in popularity due to their many benefits, and more states and governments enact laws governing their use, this information may change. Always check with your local park or state laws to be a safe and responsible member of the biking community in your area.