E-Bikes: Combining Exercise and Convenience

Close up of battery of an E-Mountainbike

Key Points

  • If you're looking for the fastest electric bike, you've found the right article.

  • Compare prices and speed options of the top-selling e-bikes.

  • Batteries, distance, and road rules are important considerations when choosing the best e-bike for you.

Electric-assist bicycles, or e-bikes, have gained popularity in the U.S. and Europe. In response to this wider array of customers, including those commuting to work and operating delivery services, e-bikes are becoming faster and more powerful.

When e-bikes entered world markets in the early 21st century, the best a buyer could hope for was a bike that might reach a top speed of 25 mph with a combination of battery power and pedal power. In 2022, the fastest electric bikes are steadily increasing in miles per hour.

The vehicle's benefit was immediately seen by early buyers, especially cyclists who commuted and older users who liked having the electric battery to help enhance speed and climb hills.

All major bike manufacturers have e-bike models. Prices are creeping downward due to competition and max speeds are rising due to improved technology.

Some pricey e-bikes with heavy, powerful batteries can go 50 mph. This puts them in or near the same category as automobiles, motorcycles and scooters on city and suburban streets, rural roads, and even secondary highways in those areas where state and/or local governments allow them.

These speedy e-bikes are not for the faint of heart or casual/ beginner riders. Nay, verily dear reader, this level of e-bike is for accomplished cyclists, experienced thrill seekers, and those for whom time is money — such as the aforementioned delivery businesses.

Man leans against ebike while using mobile phone

Understanding E-Bikes

Less expensive bikes (under $1,000) typically engage the electric motor as the rider pedals. More expensive e-bikes ($1000-$2500) enable the rider to use only electric power or use the motor to boost speed by engaging a throttle on the handlebars.

E-bikes with higher max speeds cost quite a bit more than standard e-bikes because they require more battery capacity to drive the electric motor.

The Speedsters

A survey of manufacturers concluded the following are among the fastest e-bikes available in the 2022 market.

  • Delfast Top 3.0i is thought by most sources to be the fastest electric bicycle in the world, with a max speed of 50 mph (80 km/h). Some e-bike purists say this model is closer akin to an electric motorbike — or an offroad dirt/mountain bike — than to the traditional e-bike. This bike has a 3000-watt electric motor powered by a high-capacity battery. The Delfast can travel 200 miles before needing to be recharged. The bike is shipped to buyers with a speed governor that limits the bike to 20 mph, but that can be easily disconnected by anyone buying this beast. Delfast notes that under ideal riding conditions you can cycle from New York City to Philadelphia and back again on one charge. Price: Around $7,000.

  • HPC Revolution XX is another "super e-bike," able to travel at 74 mph. It also has a speed limiter that holds it back to 20 mph to comply with government regulations on ultra-fast bikes. The limiter can be easily disconnected. If you have your heart set on this for Christmas, prepare to be disappointed. If the $20,000 price doesn't discourage Santa, the fact that HPC is making only 20 Revolution XX might.

  • Optibike Everest R22 can reach about 36 mph with a range of up to 300 miles, the farthest among e-bikes and matching that of battery-electric vehicles. The key to the R22 is a large 3260-watt battery. Price: Around $19,000.

Woman rides ebike through urban environment

  • Onyx RCR e-bike has a top speed of 60 mph and a range of up to 75 miles. It is made for both on-road and off-road e-biking. It has an “Eco” mode, which dials down the top speed to 20 mph for use in states and cities that limit e-bike speeds to 20 mph. To get that kind of range and speed, the bike weighs 145 pounds and skirts the edge between e-bike and electric motorbike. The price range is $3,999-$4,549.

  • 3000W Enduro e-bike comes from a company that offers customers a high degree of customization, including this 3,000-watt bike with a max speed of 50 mph. Price: $3,617.0

  • Bornelet is a manufacturer that markets a fat-tire mountain e-bike with a 1,000W motor powered by a 48-volt battery. It has a max speed of 50 mph and a battery charge range of 60 miles. The manufacturer says this model, available on Amazon.com, can also be ridden in the snow. It is the most affordable of the super-fast e-bikes with a price of $1,499.

Electric-bike speed is determined by the size of the battery and electric motor, and the weight of the rider and bike. A stronger motor and lighter rider will yield faster speeds and longer ranges. Below is a breakdown of how different electric-bike motors perform on flat tracks:

  • A 250 W motor reaches a max speed of 20 mph (32 km/h);

  • A 500 W motor reaches a max speed of 25 mph (40 km/h);

  • A 750 W motor reaches a max speed of 28 mph (45 km/h);

  • A 1000 W motor reaches a max speed of 35 mph (55 km/h)

  • A 1500 W motor reaches a max speed of 40 mph (63 km/h)

  • A 2000 W motor reaches a max speed of 43 mph (70 km/h)

  • A 3000 W motor reaches a max speed of 50 mph (80km/h)

  • A 5000 W motor reaches a max speed of 65 mph (100km/h)

In theory, manufacturers can make e-bikes go as fast and as far as the batteries can allow, as long as they aren’t constrained by price or battery weight. Some bike manufacturers have pursued speed with no regard to either weight or price.

Four Classes of Bikes

Regulators put e-bikes into four categories, or “classes.” State, county and other local governments can write ordinances governing what class(es) are allowed and disallowed in their jurisdictions.

Some states govern e-bikes the same as conventional bikes with typical age or license restrictions as follows:

Class 1: Pedal-Assist Only Up to 20 mph

The electric motor assists the rider's pedaling up to 20 mph (32 km/h) when the electrical assistance ceases.

Class 2: Pedal-Assist and Throttle Up to 20 mph

This class has a top speed of 20 mph, including a throttle feature similar to what is found on a motorcycle or mo-ped.

Class 3: Pedal-Assist Only Up to 28 mph

Class 3 functions like Class 1 e-bikes but are capable of reaching a max speed of 28 mph. 

Class 4 or Unrated: Unrestricted

This class of e-bike has no restrictions, and the super speedy bikes discussed above fit into this category if they are equipped to go over 28 mph.

Man commuting on ebike in urban environment

Regulated For A Reason

Because of the rapid rise of e-bikes by Europeans for pleasure, commuting, and petrol-free commercial delivery purposes, the European Union has been more active in regulating e-bikes. The EU restricts street-legal bikes to Class 1 and Class 2.

Class 4 e-bikes, or unrated bikes, cannot be legally used on the road. They are classified in the same category as electric dirt bikes. It is illegal to modify e-bikes by disconnecting the speed limiter for road riding.

Even if you can increase the bike's maximum speed, it does not mean its brakes or other parts can safely operate at those higher speeds. For that reason, it is dangerous to operate an e-bike above its designated max speed.

As of late 2022 — at the time of this writing — only six American states explicitly allow electric bikes with a maximum power of 1000 watts: Kansas, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Only Florida and Mississippi have no maximum power limits for electric bikes.

In his October 4, 2020 article on Wired.com, author Matt Jancer addressed the danger of adjusting speed regulators to bypass local laws.

"Don't use ebikes unlocked on a bike path or around parks with pedestrians if they aren't set up to comply with local regulations," Jancer advised. "You don't want to mow anyone down, and for your own sake, you shouldn't be going so fast that you don't have time to react when an inevitable person, pigeon, or Porsche wanders into your path."

Man using ebike through a field of grass

Affordable Speed

Looking at more affordable e-bikes, and considering max speed and range, is more useful to many buyers who don’t want to spend as much on an e-bike as they might spend on a late-model used car.

Besides the capacity of the battery and output of the motor, the two biggest variables determining speed and range are the weight of the bike and the weight of the rider. E-bikes with a range farther than 30 miles weigh over 60 pounds. 

Manufacturers usually specify the recommended maximum weight of the rider when advertising average speed and range. For example, a bike's specifications claim it has a 40-mile range and maximum speed of 28-30 mph with a combination of electric and pedal power. The range will increase if the rider is lightweight and decrease if they are heavier, but that factor will not have much effect on its maximum speed.

Of course, disconnecting or modifying the speed regulator will turn your street-legal e-bike into an "outlaw" Class 4 bike.

If you are looking for "speed with economy," consider these e-bikes priced under $2,000.

  • Aostirmotor S18 is a fat-tire e-bike with a 1500W motor that can achieve 40 mph and has a range of 40-50 miles.

Price: $1,500

  • Imren 750 Electric Bike has a max speed of 32 mph with a range of 60 miles (90 kilometers). Powered by a 750W motor, the Imren 750 e-bike is a fat-tire bike that weighs 50kg/110 pounds and has a rider weight limit of 350 pounds. This could be one of the fastest bikes with less than a 1000 W motor.

    Price $1,349.00

  •  Wing Bikes Freedom X has a max speed of 24 mph and a range of up to 60 miles, depending on the size of the battery. Powered by a 500W motor.

    Price: $1,350-$2,050

  •  Ride1Up 700 Series has a max speed of 28 mph and a range of 30-50 miles. Powered by a 750W motor, with a max output of 1000W, this bike weighs 62 pounds and has a max rider weight of 300 pounds.

    Price: $1,395-$1,695

  •  Senada Fat Tire Electric Bike has a max speed of 30 mph. Powered by a 1,000 W motor, this bike weighs 72 pounds and has a rider weight limit of 330 pounds.

    Price on Amazon.com: $1,500

Stem of ebike with power button

More Important Than Speed

For the casual and recreational e-bike rider, speed should not be the primary concern when shopping for a bike. Range, price, bike weight, and the maximum weight of the rider are all more important.

The need for speed aside, what are "the best" e-bikes available?

There are many factors to consider, including reliability, ease of service, and customer support. There are also many new manufacturers on the scene, competing with the more established names. Some companies merely import bikes from China.

Many new e-bike buyers will be most comfortable buying their bikes from a local bike shop selling familiar brands. A key advantage to this is that service is easy to schedule and receive when it is needed. Many bike shops are reluctant to service e-bikes they do not sell. If they are willing and able to do the work, they may have difficulty getting the necessary parts.

Many newer companies that sell only by mail have difficulty lining up repair shops to work on their products.

Going with a local bike shop and taking some advice from the people who will service the bike is a good idea.

The first thing you will need to know before you start your e-bike search is what kind of bike you want: commuter bike, mountain bike, touring bike, folding bike, fat-tire bike, etc.

 The best bikes from established companies in 2022 include:

  • Specialized Turbo Vada 4.0 Step-Through: Commuter/Urban Bike; Top Speed 28 mph; Range 60 miles; 250W motor; Weight 57.5 lbs; Rider weight 300 lbs. Consistently good design and this line of bikes feel refined and competent. Top manufacturer of standard and e-bikes with plenty of retail/service points.

    Price: $3,250-$5,500

  • Trek  Domane + AL5: Road Bike: Weight 31 lbs.; Top-speed 20 mph; Range: 55 mph; 250W motor. Trek has been a leading bike manufacturer for decades. Its e-bikes have proved as reliable as standard bikes. Product support is easy to find in most markets. It has a rider weight limit of 275 lbs. (125 kg)

    Price: $3,499

  • Diamondback Union 1: Commuter bike; Top-speed 28 mph; 350W motor; Range 35-55 miles; Weight 51 lbs.; Rider weight 250 lbs. Smooth, reliable e-bike with an intuitive electronic interface to manage performance.

    Price: $3,000.

  • Buzz Cerana T (Trike): Top Speed 20 mph; Range 40 miles; 350 W motor; Weight: 83 lbs; Rider weight 350 lbs; This bike includes features like lights, fenders, and cargo baskets. E-bike trikes have many uses and are great options for people who have balance issues or disabilities, are older, or are heavy and trying to increase exercise to lose weight, get healthier and be more active.

    Price: $1,700

Ebike supported by kickstand on a sidewalk

Hitting the Road

Achieving speed is fun for many riders, but being able to cover greater distances without being in the best of physical condition is a benefit that is hard to beat. Hills that might thwart a rider in average or below-average physical condition can be tackled with an e-bike.

Another benefit is being able to adjust the level of electric input, based on the amount of effort the rider wants to contribute. Plenty of exercise can be achieved with the lowest level of electric input. Higher inputs can make a bike trip faster for getting to work or school, making a delivery, or making a quick trip to the store without a lot of sweat.

As more and more cities add bike lanes to their streets, e-bikes will continue to proliferate and give their owners many miles of enjoyment. Before you hit the road on your search for your new e-bike, review the facts and factors presented here to make sure you know what kind of e-bike and what features you value most — and, of course, the budget considerations.

The e-bike really is an almost perfect combination of the freedom of a bicycle and the convenience of a motorized vehicle. Try one out today!

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