Riding an electric bike, often known as an e-bike, for the first time can feel like gaining a superpower. That's because pedal-assist e-bikes expand your two-wheel options: you can keep up with stop-and-go traffic, tote kids or freight more easily, arrive less sweaty at your destination, or simply enjoy a little extra oomph on trips that might have seemed too far or too mountainous otherwise.
E-bikes are first classified in the same categories as traditional bikes: mountain and road, as well as specializations such as urban, hybrid, cruiser, cargo, and folding cycles.
Understanding the Different Types of Electric Bikes
Electric bikes are classified into classes based on their level of motor assistance, mostly for regulatory purposes. A important decision point is determining which type of e-bike you require:
Class 1: The motor only activates while you pedal and stops assisting at 20 mph.
Class 2: Has a pedal-assist mode with a top speed of 20 mph as well as a totally throttle-powered mode.
Class 3: Is exclusively pedal-assist (as opposed to class 1), however assistance continues until you reach 28 mph.
The majority of novice riders begin with a class 1 e-bike. Class 1 motorcycles are the least expensive and, from a regulatory standpoint, the most widely approved. One can be ridden on city streets as well as various bike lanes. This type of e-bike is beginning to be permitted on regular mountain-bike trails, though access is not ubiquitous, so always double-check first.
Class 2 e-bikes are usually permitted in the same areas as class 1 e-bikes. Because both classes have a top speed of 20 mph for motor assistance. Because REI does not sell class 2 bicycles, this article will concentrate on class 1 and class 3 bicycles.
Commuters and errand runners choose Class 3 e-bikes. They are faster and more powerful than class 1 motorcycles (and cost more). The benefit of improved performance is that you can keep up with traffic more efficiently. They can also climb higher and carry greater weights. The downside is that you won't be able to ride on most bike routes or mountain bike trail systems.
Before deciding on an e-bike class, look into the access rules. All of the following access information comes with the proviso that regulations, licensing, registration, age limits, and land-management requirements are always changing. Check out People for Bikes' state-by-state guide to e-bike rules across the country for a state-by-state guide to e-bike legislation across the country. Also, check with local cities and land management in the areas where you intend to bike.