E-Bike Information

eBike Classes Explained

When shopping for an eBike, it’s important to make sure that the brand and model you choose is safe, legal, and appropriate for the places you plan to ride. In the United States, many states and municipalities have adopted the Class I, II, III eBike classification system. eBike manufacturers are required to label their products with the appropriate Class I, II, III labels in those states, making it easy for customers to understand the capabilities of specific models.

Class I, II, and III eBikes have some features in common – they all have pedals, and they all have motors that can’t exceed 750 watt output.

Class I eBikes

Class I eBike use a battery and electric motor to provide assistance at up to 20 MPH when the rider is pedaling (pedal assist). Class I eBikes can go faster than 20 MPH, for example, when going downhill, but the electric motor will stop providing assistance once 20 MPH is reached. 

EBikes with throttles can turn on the electric motor and propel the bike without the rider pedaling. Class I eBikes cannot have a throttle – they can only provide assistance when the rider is pedaling.

Class II eBikes

Class II eBike work in two ways. First, the electric motor provides assistance at up to 20 MPH when the rider is pedaling, just like a Class I eBike. Second, Class II eBikes include a throttle, which can go up to 20 MPH without the rider pedaling.

This flexibility is ideal for many riders. On a Class II eBike, the rider can pedal for fun, exercise, and fitness, but retain the ability to use the throttle for help when desired without pedaling – like getting over a challenging hill.

Class II eBikes cannot be used in some regions. Off-road trail riding locations, like mountain bike trails, often permit only Class I eBikes. Class II eBikes with throttles cannot be used.

Class III eBikes

Class III eBikes provide pedal assist at up to 28 MPH. These more powerful electric bicycles are capable of higher speeds than their Class I and Class II peers.

You’ll notice that some Class III eBikes have a throttle, and others do not. When Class III eBikes include a throttle, they are usually limited to 20 MPH maximum speed on throttle (even though the bike can go faster when the rider is pedaling).

Class III eBikes are primarily intended for higher-speed riding on streets and roads, making them ideal for bicycle commuters who want to arrive at work or school without breaking a sweat. They also often feature more powerful motors that produce more torque – ideal for handling headwinds and steeper hills.

You’ll find Class III eBikes are commonly disallowed on bicycle paths, trails, bikeways, horse trails, and hiking trails.

Are Helmets Required on an eBike?

We recommend that all riders should wear a helmet when riding any type of bicycle, eBike or not. Some states may have additional requirements regarding eBike helmet use. 

Note: Helmet requirements may also vary by age: for example, California requires everyone under 18 to wear a helmet when riding any type of bicycle, including eBikes.