Electric Bike Classes Explained: What are Class 1, 2, 3 E-Bikes

class 1 vs class 2 vs class 3 ebikes

There are 3 classes of e-bikes that are most common. Each one of them has different functionalities and benefits.

Choosing which class to buy is challenging because you never know which one fulfills your needs in the most effective way. 

In this article, we’ll examine all of them so that you can make the right decision and hop onto your next electric bike, or perhaps the first one.

What are E-Bike Classes

As we have already stated, there are 3 classes of electric bikes. Here we will see some of the key differences between all of them. 

  • Class 1: This class only supports the pedal. A motor installed in the vehicle allows it to move at speeds of up to 20 mph. In fact, this type of bike can reach speeds of over 20 mph when riding downhill but the motor will not support it. 
  • Class 2: This class has both pedal and throttle options. With pedals, it can reach up to 20 mph, similar to Class 1, but in addition to that, these bikes also have a throttle, which can also accelerate the bike up to 20 mph without using pedals
  • Class 3: This class differs from others in the fact that it has pedal assistance of up to 28 mph, which is considerably faster than both classes 1 and 2. Originally, class 3 e-bikes don’t have a throttle.

All e-bikes that fit in 3 classes must not have a motor of more than 750W.

What is a Class 1 E-Bike?

class 1 e-bike Ampler Axel
Ampler Axel is a class 1 e-bike.

In this class of electric bikes, there is an electric bike motor that helps the bike speed up to 20 mph. As these bikes can only provide assistance through the pedal, they are often known as pedelec.

One question that you might be thinking about here in this class is whether you can add throttle to it yourself or not.

You can, but it will work differently than the class that comes with a built-in throttle. Manually adding the throttle will function more like a booster. Before the motor engages, you will have to pedal.

But one critical thing to know is you still can’t exceed the speed limit of 20 mph with the support of a motor in this class because that’s what the authorities allow.

What is a Class 2 E-Bike?

Engwe C20 Pro class 2 e-bike in the middle of the bike lane
Engwe C20 Pro is a class 2 e-bike.

Compared to class 1, class 2 electric bikes have one major difference, which is throttle assist along with pedal support.

When you add a manual throttle to a class 1 e-bike, the motor only starts when you pedal; this e-bike’s motor also starts when you use the throttle. The speed limit is also similar to class 1 i.e 20 mph despite having throttle assistance.

This e-bike is ideal for those who want both fun and fitness.

With pedal assistance, you can exercise and save the battery by doing some of the work by pedaling. On the other hand, if you are tired and don’t want to pedal, you can just engage the throttle and rest while the motor does its work.

If you want an e-bike that gives you both comfort and fitness, then this class should be a good fit for you.

What is a Class 3 E-Bike?

Wing Electric Bikes produces class 3 ebikes, which have the possibility to also install a throttle.

Class 3 e-bikes are significantly different from both class 1 and class 2.

The most significant difference is that it supports speeds of up to 28 mph. Because of the higher speed, class 3 ebikes are also called speed pedelecs.

In addition, all e-bikes in this category are required to feature a speedometer in accordance with the guidelines.

Originally, class 3 bikes didn’t have a throttle. Nowadays, these e-bikes come in both, with or without throttle assistance.

It depends on the buyer which variant suits him/her, but just to let you know that most authorities do not allow throttle on class 3 e-bikes. 

If the class 3 e-bike also has a throttle, the throttle assistance can only speed up the bike up to 20 mph.

Also, if we talk about the restrictions, class 3 e-bikes may have more restrictions than the other classes due to their extended speed limit and power. 

Because of their speed and no fuel consumption, these e-bikes are suitable for people who want to save both time and money.

In any case, one should use proper safety precautions while riding an e-bike, but if you have or plan to get a class 3 e-bike, make sure you wear a helmet and other safety gear.

Are There Class 4 Electric Bikes?

1000w rambo electric bike
Rambo Bikes is known for manufacturing over 750W e-bikes that don’t fit under three class system. Photo: @Rambo Bikes Instagram

There are three main categories for electric bikes. However, some electric bikes do not fall neatly into any of these three categories. After that, people often call these electric bikes class 4 e-bikes.

The throttle is a standard feature on most class 4 electric bikes. These electric bikes have usually motors of over 750W and can travel at speeds of more than 28 miles per hour.

In legal terms, these e-bikes are typically categorized as mopeds or scooters due to their high speed and motor power.

Since it moves quickly and has a robust motor, it makes commuting less time-consuming and more convenient. However, in most countries, these e-bikes are not legal unless registered and insured.

Which Electric Bike Class to Choose?

We know it is so overwhelming to have so much information about each class of electric bike.

Making a decision about which of two options is correct is not a simple undertaking. Well, we are not done yet. As a result, you will definitely have clarity about what you should buy when you have finished reading this article.

Reasons to Get Class 1 E-Bike

Class 1 e-bikes are the most similar to traditional bicycles.

Those who are just learning about e-bikes and their different classes for the first time in their lives and are thinking about buying one for themselves should consider getting class 1 for now. 

This is due to the fact that class 1 is the most basic class among other classes. You better start off with this class, get some experience and then decide if you need to upgrade or not.

Reasons to Get Class 2 E-Bike

Class 2 is ideal for those who want a dual-purpose e-bike that they can use for both fun and fitness. Additionally, if you are happy with an average-speed e-bike, then this class is the right choice for you.

Also, class 2 e-bikes are perfect for elderly people who may have mobility issues. With class 2 e-bikes, they can ride a bike without pedaling.

Reasons to Get Class 3 E-Bike

Class 3 is for those who want to travel fast because they want to reach their destinations quickly.

They might not get the throttle option in this class but still, it is a viable choice for someone who needs speed.

Additionally, if you live in the US, take a look at our State-by-State Electric Bike Laws article to make sure what rules are in your state.


To that end, we hope this information has been helpful.

With all the right information in hand, you will be able to choose between the most suitable options for yourself when it comes to e-bikes!

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