What E-bike Class is Right For You? Part 2: Speed

Consider Speed

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In the world of cycling, faster is better! Right? So when I started shopping for an electric bike, I instinctively focused on the fastest e-bikes I could find. That mindset immediately narrowed my search to class 3 e-bikes. Class 3 bikes are the only class that provides assistance up to 28mph. Class 1 and 2 bikes only provide assistance up to 20 mph.

I never really considered how often I actually ride at 28 mph. In reality, unassisted I generally only reach 28 mph on the downhills. Even then, that’s about the speed I start thinking about gently applying my brakes to safely maintain control of my bike so I can maneuver around obstacles I might encounter on the roadway. I know I’m not alone here. After checking Strava, I found the median cycling speed is somewhere around 15 mph.

In addition to not feeling natural riding at higher speeds than I normally ride, there was another unexpected consequence I hadn’t considered.

Most drivers didn’t expect a bicycle to be moving so fast and they were misjudging safe distances to pull out or turn in front of me.

While I’ll admit it was a thrill to pick up my speed to 28 mph on a safe straight section of road, I feel that the class 1 bike rides at speeds closer to the speed I feel most comfortable riding and that drivers can more accurately judge my speed to safely interact with me on the road. So when choosing the e-bike class that is right for you, consider how fast you ride now and if you would feel safe riding significantly faster.