Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

electric bikes go

how fast do electric bikes go?

If you're new please join in and if you have questions pop them below and the forum regulars will answer as best we can.

Add new comment

23 comments

Avatar
Oldfatgit | 9 months ago
1 like

I've had my Synapse Neo 2 up to just under 48mph, on a long, straight, steep down hill.
Going up the same hill, it was about 8mph.

Assistance wise ....well, that cuts out at 15.5mph, so theoretically, once the assistance cuts out, it'll go as fast as your little legs* will carry you.

* which in my case, isn't much faster than the assistance cut out due to only having one leg that works properly.

Avatar
tobykeller | 9 months ago
0 likes

The speed of an electric bike varies depending on the type and model of the bike. In most countries, electric bikes are classified as either pedal-assist or throttle-assist, and their maximum speed is often limited by law. In the United States, for example, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour), while Class 3 electric bikes can reach up to 28 miles per hour (45 kilometers per hour) but are limited to pedal-assist only.

However, some electric bikes designed for off-road use or racing can exceed these speed limits and reach higher speeds, up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) or more. It's important to note that riding an electric bike at high speeds can be dangerous and requires appropriate safety gear, training, and caution.

Avatar
Cugel replied to tobykeller | 9 months ago
4 likes
tobykeller wrote:

The speed of an electric bike varies depending on the type and model of the bike. In most countries, electric bikes are classified as either pedal-assist or throttle-assist, and their maximum speed is often limited by law. In the United States, for example, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour), while Class 3 electric bikes can reach up to 28 miles per hour (45 kilometers per hour) but are limited to pedal-assist only.

However, some electric bikes designed for off-road use or racing can exceed these speed limits and reach higher speeds, up to 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) or more. It's important to note that riding an electric bike at high speeds can be dangerous and requires appropriate safety gear, training, and caution.

Yes but no but yes but ......

The speed that ebikes can go is not limited to this or that maximum by law.  Virtually every ebike can be pedalled by the rider to whatever speed the efficiency of rider to produce, and bike to use, power allows. The law only restricts the top speed above which motor power can't be added to rider power.

Many who know little of cycling seem to believe that ebikes are speed-restricted, or even forced to, 25kph. They aren't so restricted; only the use of the motor above 25kph is disallowed. 

This misunderstanding seems to give rise to all sorts of assumptions, for instance that:

* ebikes have to be illegally destricted if they're to go faster than 25kph/ (In fact, the rider just has to get fitter).

* ebikes are dangerous because novice cyclists will all go at 25kph in all circumstances as the motor forces them to, so they should be banned from so-called shared paths. (In fact, ebike riders will ride in exactly the same fashion as they would on a non-ebike, well or badly as their inclinations, attitudes and abilities drive them).

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
4 likes
Cugel wrote:

Many who know little of cycling seem to believe that ebikes are speed-restricted, or even forced to, 25kph. They aren't so restricted; only the use of the motor above 25kph is disallowed. 

Quite a few whom one would imagine ought to know a little about cycling as well, several times along the Chelsea Embankment I've had sporty-type riders shout "illegal!" as I've passed them on my road ebike at 35-40kph and they've clocked the rear motor, even though it had cut out at 25kph hundreds of metres previously. I think not only do a lot of people not understand that there's no speed limit on the bike itself, only on the speed it can do with the motor on, they also don't understand that with a road ebike once you've got it up around 35–40kph (the motor is a great help with the first part of this, obviously) it takes very little more effort to sustain that speed than it does on a standard bike. Some experiments I have done with my power meter have shown I only need about 25W more at 40kph on the flat on the ebike than I do on my road bike, and even that is only due to the weight of the battery and motor and the fact that I use bigger and more robust tyres on the ebike (35/32 compared to 28/25 on the road bike).

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes

Mostly quite agree - however:

Cugel wrote:

This misunderstanding seems to give rise to all sorts of assumptions, for instance that:

[ ... ]

* ebikes are dangerous because novice cyclists will all go at 25kph in all circumstances as the motor forces them to, so they should be banned from so-called shared paths. (In fact, ebike riders will ride in exactly the same fashion as they would on a non-ebike, well or badly as their inclinations, attitudes and abilities drive them).

Who is saying that ebikes should be banned from shared paths?  Assuming we're talking ebikes per e.g. the UK / European definition (no significant electrical assistance above 25kph).  There is sometimes concern about what are effectively "electric motorbikes/mopeds" or "speed pedelecs" (e.g. may be limited to 45 km/h assist).  Or the illegally modded ones to which no standards apply!

There is some evidence that (25kmph assist) ebike riders have a different crash / injury profile at least. PDF here says in NL in 2021 ebike riders had a 1.6x chance of an A&E visit compared to those on an unassisted bicycle - apparently that's corrected for age, gender, kilometers cycled, obesity, physical complaints and medication use.

So rather than saying "bike riders will ride in exactly the same fashion as they would on a non-ebike" it might be fairer just to note that they have a slightly elevated risk profile.  They could be riding the same or not ... and / or perhaps there's something about ebikes that increases risk (Bike weight?  More time at higher speeds?  Accelleration?)

Interestingly it wasn't just older people - who might not cycle without an ebike and may have less physical strength / reaction time / come off much worse in any fall.  There was an increase over time in younger victims on ebikes.  The linked infographic doesn't show if it's just that many more younger people were using an ebike however.

Avatar
Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
0 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

Mostly quite agree - however:

Cugel wrote:

This misunderstanding seems to give rise to all sorts of assumptions, for instance that:

[ ... ]

* ebikes are dangerous because novice cyclists will all go at 25kph in all circumstances as the motor forces them to, so they should be banned from so-called shared paths. (In fact, ebike riders will ride in exactly the same fashion as they would on a non-ebike, well or badly as their inclinations, attitudes and abilities drive them).

There is some evidence that (25kmph assist) ebike riders have a different crash / injury profile at least. PDF here says in NL in 2021 ebike riders had a 1.6x chance of an A&E visit compared to those on an unassisted bicycle - apparently that's corrected for age, gender, kilometers cycled, obesity, physical complaints and medication use.

So rather than saying "bike riders will ride in exactly the same fashion as they would on a non-ebike" it might be fairer just to note that they have a slightly elevated risk profile.  They could be riding the same or not ... and / or perhaps there's something about ebikes that increases risk (Bike weight?  More time at higher speeds?  Accelleration?)

Interestingly it wasn't just older people - who might not cycle without an ebike and may have less physical strength / reaction time / come off much worse in any fall.  There was an increase over time in younger victims on ebikes.  The linked infographic doesn't show if it's just that many more younger people were using an ebike however.

The link to the stuidy gives me a "site not available" message.

As I recall, that study didn't exclude those riding delimited, perhaps illegal, ebikes ..... ? In other words, the would-be motorbike riders seemed to contribute to the increased crash rate. But perhaps that was a different Dutch study?

But you do make a valid point that there can be something about particular technologies that encourages a more dangerous use than with similar-but-lesser items. This is obviously true of cars, especially "sports" cars, that are made, advertised then driven to emulate the antics of drivers in Formula One, rallies and the like. It's also true of those MAMILs on (non-ebike) TdeF bike clones riding about in all the gear with no idea, imagining themselves to be in a race.   1

So it is possible that a novice rider begining wth an e-bike might employ the e-bike power to ride with more vigour & vim than they've learnt to control well. But then that's true of those MAMILs as well, on their non-ebike TdeF lookalike, especially if their other hobbies of running and squash have made them aerobically fit. 

***********

Myself I feel that ebikes are just bikes that are "more efficient" at turning your pedalling power into forward motion - up to that 25kph only. They're nothing like motorbikes and are controlled in exactly the same way as is a non-ebike. 

Personally I'd lift the cut-off speed entirely but restrict ebikes via the software governing them so that a motor power restricted to 200 watts maximum can never contribute to pedalling power above 200 watts from the rider. As the rider power increases, the motor power decreases within that 200 watt envelope. That would allow the less fit to be assisted at speeds greater than 25kph but not by very much.

 

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
1 like
Cugel wrote:

The link to the stuidy gives me a "site not available" message.

He's linked to his downloaded pdf. Searching for it gives this link https://www.veiligheid.nl/sites/default/files/2022-06/VeiligheidNL%20infographic%20fietsongevallen.pdf

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
0 likes

How embarrassing - so I did!  Thanks for locating the original.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes

I should say - I mostly agree with you and mostly think that ebikes - in the 25mph assist sense - are a Good Thing.  In the context of our current motornormative UK they're clearly a great improvement on driving and possibly a pragmatic way to move beyond our current issues.

Cugel wrote:

The link to the stuidy gives me a "site not available" message.

As I recall, that study didn't exclude those riding delimited, perhaps illegal, ebikes ..... ? In other words, the would-be motorbike riders seemed to contribute to the increased crash rate. But perhaps that was a different Dutch study?

My bad - HP fixed this.

Not 100% sure but they produced a much more detailed report into bikes, electric bikes, snorfiets (moped, limited to 25 km/h speed) and bromfiets (moped limited to 45 km/h speed) crashes.  So I suspect they've checked - haven't read it all yet though.

Aside - there are all kinds of queries over combustion-engined snorfiets and bromfiets, never mind possible electric ones.  One issue is that for manufacturing efficiency these are often literally the same vehicle but the snorfiets version just has a limiter added.  That's apparently often removed - I'm not sure whether an e-version would be better or worse in this regard.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes
Cugel wrote:

But you do make a valid point that there can be something about particular technologies that encourages a more dangerous use than with similar-but-lesser items. ... It's also true of those MAMILs on (non-ebike) TdeF bike clones riding about in all the gear with no idea, imagining themselves to be in a race.   1

[...]

But then that's true of those MAMILs as well, on their non-ebike TdeF lookalike, especially if their other hobbies of running and squash have made them aerobically fit.

Well - it's a Dutch study, so we should note the average Dutch bike (without assistance) is probably a bit heavier than a UK one.  For this or other reasons the average unpowered cyclist may be slower there.  (Roadies are a tiny fraction of cyclists in NL - the UK situation selects for "sportier" cyclists I believe).  So ebikes could be boosting average speeds more than you might expect.

The crucial difference between powered and non-powered contraptions though is there is *much* more user feedback and often a pretty hard limit in the case of the latter: the (human) motor!  When unpowered the "potential maximum" may not be reached very often or maintained for long.  With power, you're more likely to reach the limit and stay there.

Of course driving a car can also give you more power than you can control when things go wrong.  But they're also much better at protecting you.

The issues in the study seem to highlight issues for the young and those over 55, especially women.  For the former less experience / less caution is an issue.  For the latter - and possibly both - it may be simply that strength is important here.  That might be for handling to avoid a serious incident or in mitigating things if people do crash.

In your example the "MAMIL" - if aerobically fit - is probably also sufficiently strong to physically manage a bike / better weather a crash - compared with e.g. the average older woman

The other point is yes, nothing's stopping the unfit getting dropped off with an unpowered Scott Foil at the top of a mountain and swiftly getting to a speed outside their ability.  Except ... they need to get there.  There's the potential effect on others also - big hills don't tend to be highly populated / busy with traffic.

Avatar
Cugel replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
0 likes
chrisonatrike wrote:

The crucial difference between powered and non-powered contraptions though is there is *much* more user feedback and often a pretty hard limit in the case of the latter: the (human) motor!  When unpowered the "potential maximum" may not be reached very often or maintained for long.  With power, you're more likely to reach the limit and stay there.

How much control one has of bike or ebike is a function of how much practice and learning one has with the particular bike. In some ways, ebikes are much easier to control than non-ebikes, as the rider isn't devoting all of their attention & time to making the pedalling effort. My relatively novice-cyclist wife, for example, finds her ebike much less demanding to control than her non-ebike as she isn't periodically exhausted by the Welsh hills we go over constantly.

chrisonatrike wrote:

Of course driving a car can also give you more power than you can control when things go wrong.  But they're also much better at protecting you.

Going by the results of most serious car "accidents" I would say that the nature of cars affords far less protection, mostly because their speed and momentum have huge bite - on the occupants as well as those outside the crashing tin box.

chrisonatrike wrote:

The issues in the study seem to highlight issues for the young and those over 55, especially women.  For the former less experience / less caution is an issue.  For the latter - and possibly both - it may be simply that strength is important here.  That might be for handling to avoid a serious incident or in mitigating things if people do crash.

In your example the "MAMIL" - if aerobically fit - is probably also sufficiently strong to physically manage a bike / better weather a crash - compared with e.g. the average older woman

It doesn't take "strength" to control a bike but a familiarity and confidence with the means of control. Age and gender may have an effect on crash statistics but it's unlikely to have anything to do with "strength". Much more likely to be something to do with experience or lack of it; and an associated  under-confidence.

As to the "strong" MAMILs - this ability to ride the bike fast but in an inexperienced and over-confident fashion is often the cause of their inclination to become the cause of crashes, as anyong who has been in a sportive or similar will know all too well. They're like sprogs in a road race but much worse because heavier and more aggresive!

 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Cugel | 9 months ago
0 likes
Cugel wrote:

My relatively novice-cyclist wife, for example, finds her ebike much less demanding to control than her non-ebike as she isn't periodically exhausted by the Welsh hills we go over constantly.

I'm very glad that - like several people I know - you're finding this an enabling technology. Especially in terms of helping someone take up / enjoy more cycling.

Sadly my father has recently given up and sold his bikes. e-bikes might have helped him continue. However a combination of a very cycling-unfriendly local area and his wife having "missed the bike" on the much more user-friendly ebikes of the last decade mean this won't happen now.

Cugel wrote:

Going by the results of most serious car "accidents" I would say that the nature of cars affords far less protection, mostly because their speed and momentum have huge bite - on the occupants as well as those outside the crashing tin box.

You're quite right, we have made motor vehicles "safe on the *inside*". I think the statistics show that a combination of huge efforts in that area, protective engineering of roads, some social / rule changes (wearing of seat belts, less drink-driving) and of course advances in medicine and ambulances mean that we've made it extremely safe for drivers. Of course sitting down to travel rather than walking or cycling has its own health implications over time...

Cugel wrote:

It doesn't take "strength" to control a bike but a familiarity and confidence with the means of control. Age and gender may have an effect on crash statistics but it's unlikely to have anything to do with "strength". Much more likely to be something to do with experience or lack of it; and an associated  under-confidence.

I don't know the reason but the results certainly had older women in particular with a greater incidence of injury. I'm not sure they'd have less "experience" given this data is from NL. I believe statistically women there cycle slightly more frequently than men. Also cycling for transport has always remained mainstream there. Unlike the UK where it's been close to extinct for generations.

I'm speculating as I've not seen further breakdown of the stats (still not read their detailed report). However given that the majority of these crashes were "no other party involved" it's quite possible that some were "stop and then fall over". Or "fall while getting on/off" or even "falling while pushing the bike". All of those require a bit more strength than just controlling the bike in motion. Also if you're "transport cycling" eg. for shopping - then mounting, dismounting, pushing the bike and parking will be frequent activities.

When in a crash the natural reaction is to put your arms out so maybe having more upper body strength is protective here?

Avatar
HoarseMann | 9 months ago
0 likes

You can get away with electric assist up to 16 mph in the UK:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/motorcycle-single-vehicle-app...

Avatar
Hirsute | 9 months ago
2 likes

Downhill with a following wind up to 40 mph.

On the flat, you can vary the assistance but as Steve says a legal bike will cut out at 15.5 mph.

Assistance is handy for heavy loads, trailers, physical impediment - knee, hip, heart, etc, age.

If you have a bike made before (?) then it does give non pedalling assistance of a few mph.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Hirsute | 9 months ago
0 likes
Hirsute wrote:

If you have a bike made before (?) then it does give non pedalling assistance of a few mph.

Actually it's still legal to have a "walking pace" throttle as long as it propels the bicycle at no more than 6 km/h; with any bike built before 2015 a throttle that can go up to the limit of 25 km/h is permitted.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
1 like
Rendel Harris wrote:

Actually it's still legal to have a "walking pace" throttle as long as it propels the bicycle at no more than 6 km/h; with any bike built before 2015 a throttle that can go up to the limit of 25 km/h is permitted.

and if you're prepared to pay £55 for a DoT inspection, you can have a throttle that will propel you all the way up to 16 mph - whilst still being classed as a bicycle.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to HoarseMann | 9 months ago
2 likes

I'm personally of the opinion that they may as well remove the throttle restrictions anyway, after all electric scooters don't have them. I personally don't need one but they are a terrific help to more infirm or disabled riders to get them away from the lights and up to speed quickly, much safer in traffic in my view.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
1 like

I'm looking forward to the aero electric scooters - riders doing "the superman" with track cycling helmets and possibly a cape.

Let the e-scooters, the mobility buggies, clip-on power for wheelchairs and adapted bikes have a throttle.  Keep the requirement for pedalling with ebikes though.

I am not quite sure why I feel that way - and it is more of a feeling if I'm honest.

I've no strong feelings about electric motorbikes / motorscooters except that they shouldn't be on the bike infra.  Experience from NL seems to show it doesn't really "work" having much faster powered riders on the cycle paths.  The odd (and they are) velomobile pedalling at 30mph - not a biggie.

Avatar
HoarseMann replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
1 like

Yep, for most cyclists going to an e-bike, pedalling is something they'd want to do anyway. But for those who couldn't/wouldn't consider pedalling a bicycle, but might choose a throttle e-bike, there's a chance that they might start pedalling and develop better fitness/mobility. Certainly got to be better than an e-scooter.

The downside is it encourages 'motor scooter' style e-bikes, where the pedals are barely functional. But again, probably better than an e-scooter.

It's frankly surprising that Rees Mogg has overlooked the potential Brexit benefit of removing the EU throttle restrictions from e-bikes sold in the UK! I'm pretty sure the only reason they've had to create the 250W LPM class and mandate a £55 MVSA inspection is to comply with the EU legislation.

Avatar
Steve K | 9 months ago
1 like

Depends how fast you pedal.  But, legally, the motor has to cut out when  you get above 15.5mph.

Avatar
Cugel replied to Steve K | 9 months ago
0 likes
Steve K wrote:

Depends how fast you pedal.  But, legally, the motor has to cut out when  you get above 15.5mph.

As with all bikes, it depends on several other factors. Nor is one factor how fast you pedal but how much power you pedal at, with the motor perhaps adding various amounts until the road speed gets above 25kph. (How fast you pedal is determined by the gear ratio and the road speed).

When out and about, I notice quite a few Panzertank ebikes (those 28 kilo monsters) going everywhere at 25kph - but rarely faster. One suspects the pedaller is doing 50 watts and the Panzer is doing 250 (until the cut-off speed is reached).

Myself I have a racey Fazua-equipped ebike (Lapierre eXelius 700) that goes like a rocket, often well above 25kph, usually with the motor switched off (or even absent the frame) and me pedalling just shy of blowing up. 

Mind, I also go up long steep hills at speeds approaching 25kph, which requires another 150 watts (the maximum I allow myself) from the motor. I am once more aged 29 (not 74, at least) and at my peak!

In short, ebikes go as fast as non-ebikes, which speed varies with the available rider-power + e-power actually applied, the gradient, the tyre rolling resistance, the air-drag, the mental state of the pedaller, the rider+bike weight, the  ...... . (Quite a long list of factors, really).

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Steve K | 9 months ago
1 like

Actually that's not quite correct.  It has to cut out at an average of 25km/h.  It's actually allowed to spike or dip either side of that.  Essentially to let the power roll off gradually rather than a total dump.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 9 months ago
0 likes
Secret_squirrel wrote:

Actually that's not quite correct.  It has to cut out at an average of 25km/h.  It's actually allowed to spike or dip either side of that.  Essentially to let the power roll off gradually rather than a total dump.

Respectfully, I think you're mistaken there: the power is allowed to be an average, so if it surges to 300W when climbing at 20kphthat's not a problem, but the speed always cuts at 25kph.

Latest Comments