eBike Classes

Curious about the different ebike classes? Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3? Pedelec or throttle? If you’re brand-new to electric bikes, you may be wondering–what does the class system of ebikes mean? In the United States, electric bikes are classified by the top speed a bike can reach with either a pedal-assist or throttle motor. Let’s start with the pedal-assist bicycles that we produce at Gazelle. Also known as pedelecs, these bikes will only go if you pedal—no free rides here! There are two classes of pedelecs: Class 1 and Class 3.

Comfort up to 20 mph

Class 1 eBikes

Class 1 electric bikes are pedal-assisted up to 20 mph. Bombing down a steep hill? You may surpass 20 mph thanks to momentum alone, but the electric motor assistance will cut out at 20 mph. In most states, the speed limit for multi-use paths is 15mph. Meaning, even though Class 1 electric bikes can go faster, riders must adhere to the posted speed limit.

View Class 1 eBikes

Performance up to 28 mph

Class 3 eBikes

Class 3 electric bikes are pedal-assisted up to 28 mph. Similar to Class 1 electric bikes, the motor will cease its assistance once you reach the top speed. Class 3 electric bikes tend to have higher capacity batteries, measured in Wh (watt-hours). They also have more powerful motors, to support longer rides and more demanding terrain. With these features, Class 3 ebikes also tend to be a bit more expensive than Class 1 ebikes.

View Class 3 eBikes

Class 2 eBikes

Now onto something a little bit differentClass 2 bikes, also known as “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycles.” Class 2 electric bikes are throttle-powered, meaning a rider does not have to pedal in order to ride. However, the maximum speed is capped at 20 mph. Here at Gazelle, we only manufacture Class 1 and Class 3 electric bikes because we believe pedaling is essential to enjoying the ride. If you are interested in learning more about the differences between these two systems check out our post on hub drive vs. mid drive ebike motors.

We hope this helps answer any questions you may have had on electric bike classes. Picking the right bike for you will depend on your riding style, the distances, the terrain you cover, and the type of routes you travel. For example, if you have a commute exceeding 10 miles, the speed and range of a Class 3 bike may be the best option.

Be advised: laws regarding electric bikes vary by state. New legislation is being passed every year as eBikes grow in popularity. People for Bikes is one of our favorite resources for keeping up to date.

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