The 3 Classes of Electric Bikes In The USA
Electric bikes (E-Bikes) can be your favorite transportation medium soon when you try them. Apart from adults, kids, and youngsters, these bikes have become popular with even those people who think that they may not be able to ride. You can go to your workplace now devoid of sweat and can also conquer hills when you ride an electric bicycle. Electric bicycles also come in different styles and classes in the USA. It is in contrast to other regions of the world, such as Europe where there is only a single class for all the electronic bikes.
The Classification of E-Bikes in the USA
At the Federal level, the general definition for the e-bikes is that they should all be having pedals and should have a 750-watt motor at its maximum that can run up to a maximum of 20 mph. However, the definition gives lots of room for interpretation and many states have also added their distinctive legal frameworks. Certain states including Kentucky indicate that they will be governing the e-bikes under the existing bike regulations, while some others including Alabama and Missouri do not define the segment and the regulations clearly. However, the majority of States agree to the well-defined three-tier system for the classification of electric bikes.
Defining Class 1,2,3, of Electric Bikes
Electric bikes and their production and selling in the USA have been divided into three classes, due to regulatory reasons and certain other factors as well. These three classes viz. Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 are described briefly below.
Class 1 E-Bikes
The major defining characteristics of Class 1 electric bicycles are that they:
- Do not have a throttle.
- Come with the pedal-assist feature only.
- Can reach a top speed of 20 mph only at maximum.
Class 1 bicycles are the bicycles that a person may normally imagine when thinking of an e-bike. The motor can go up to a speed of 20 mph only and anything more than that may come only from the efforts of the rider. Some of these bikes may experience a cut-off and a transition from assisted to non-assisted riding abruptly, while others may have a better design. In a Class 1 e-bike, the motor can assist the rider only when he or she is pedaling.
Class 2 E-Bikes
The important and distinguishing characteristics of Class 2 electric bicycles include:
- Presence of pedal assists feature.
- Presence of throttle assist feature
- A maximum speed of 20 mph.
In Class 2 electric bicycle, the motor can be used exclusively. Therefore, the bike may be propelled by the motor even when there is no pedaling by the rider. The throttle-assisted bicycles can however reach a maximum speed of 20 mph only. The throttle may be operated through a button or a grip-twist feature. However, some bikes may require the rider to start pedaling before the throttle engages, due to safety issues and reasons.
Class 3 Electric Bikes
The important and defining characteristics of Class 3 electric bicycles include:
- The maximum speed of 28 mph.
- Absence of throttle.
- Presence of pedal assists feature.
The Class 3 range of bicycles can also provide power through a motor and the bicycle can reach a maximum speed of 28 mph. These bicycles also come with a speedometer. However, the motor will not propel any further beyond the speed of 28 mph. If there is a downhill, the motor will stop to contribute after the maximum speed is gained, while the bike makes gain even more speed. The Class 3 e-bikes may resemble the Class 2 e-bikes in many aspects, except that they have the assisted cut-off at a different speed.
Advantages of Class 2 E-Bikes
Class 2 bicycles get the same access privileges and rights on the paved surfaces as the other non-assisted bicycles do. People can use them in the bike lanes, streets, and at the multiuser bike paths as well. Some of the benefits of the Class 2 bikes include:
- A safe option as the speed does not go beyond 20 mph.
- There is no fuel consumption for the lass 2 and other electric bikes. It is therefore a more cost-effective transportation medium that can be purchased at a much affordable cost.
- The bike comes with a throttle-assist as well as a pedal-assist feature and therefore provides more options to the rider when compared to other bike classes.
- The maintenance of this bike costs quite less.
Policies and Laws Governing E-Bikes In the USA
The Class 3 or the speed e-bikes can only be run on the on roads, bike lanes, and the road lanes. They cannot be used on the other bike paths meant for traditional bikes that lie outside a road. The speed bikes can also be run on a trail that is shared with the pedestrians. Some states also ban the speed/Class 3 bikes and these include Tennessee and California. New York recognizes only the Class 1 electric bicycle as an electric bicycle and others are regarded as motorized scooters. Therefore, it is important to know more about the laws and regulations that are applicable in a state before purchasing an electric bicycle
Electric bicycles are quite affordable and can be used for both personal as well as vocational purposes. They require much lesser maintenance when compared to other modes like cars and motorcycles, and are also safe as they can only be operated under certain low-speed limits.