If you’re thinking about buying an electric bike, or e-bike, you need to be aware of the 3-class electric bike system.
Electric bikes are divided up into 3 classes according to their functions and speed limitations. This is important information to know before you purchase an electric bike.
In this article, we will be specifically focusing on class 2 electric bikes. We’ll be explaining what features and functions an e-bike must have to be included in class 2, as well as how to know whether a class 2 electric bike is the right choice for you.
What is the 3-Class Electric Bike System?
We’ve briefly touched on how the 3-class electric bike system works already, but let’s pause for a moment to explore this system in more detail.
The 3-class system for e-bikes was introduced in the United States to make it easier for U.S states to specify which bikes could legally be ridden where.
When electric bikes initially made their way onto the market, it was very unclear which bikes were permitted in which areas.
This was partly due to the fact that most people weren’t sure whether their bikes should be classified as regular bicycles or put in the same category as motorcycles.
In 2020, the 3-class system was introduced in the U.S to clarify these issues on a state-by-state basis. Using this 3-class electric bike system in conjunction with the legislation in your state, you can get a clear idea of where your bike can be ridden safely and legally.
What is a Class 2 Electric Bike?
As we said, we’ll be focusing on class 2 electric bikes in this article. These bikes are interesting because they occupy a kind of middle ground between class 3 (the bikes with the most restrictions on use) and class 1 bikes, which are the most similar to ‘analog’ bikes.
In order for an e-bike to be classified as class 2, it must meet the following criteria:
- A top speed of no more than 20 miles per hour
- A throttle that works without pedaling
In most class 2 electric bikes, the throttle also works when the pedals are activated, providing assisted pedal function. However, where these bikes differ from class 1 bikes is that the throttle works whether you’re pedaling or not.
If you’re wondering how class 2 electric bikes are different from class 3 e-bikes, the main difference is the maximum speed.
For class 2 bikes, this is 20 miles per hour, whereas 28 miles per hour is the limit for class 3. Class 3 bikes are also legally required to have a speedometer, which isn’t the case for class 2 e-bikes, and while all class 2 bikes have throttles, class 3 models might not have throttles because they already travel at such high speeds.
Restrictions on Class 2 Bikes
The riding of class 2 electric bikes is not as heavily regulated or restricted as class 3 bikes, but there are more restrictions in place on their use than there are for class 1 e-bikes.
For the most part, class 2 bikes can be ridden in the same places as class 1 bikes and traditional analog bicycles. However, if you live in either Michigan or New York, your class 2 e-bike will be subject to additional restrictions.
In New York, class 2 electric bicycles can only be ridden on highways where the speed limit is less than or equal to 30 miles per hour.
The state also has restrictions in place on the dimensions of these bikes. Class 2 e-bikes in New York must have a width of no more than 36 inches and the motor must not surpass 750 watts.
Who Should Get a Class 2 Electric Bike?
If you’re unsure whether a class 2 electric bike is the right choice for you, here are some things to bear in mind:
- If you’re not interested in traveling at speeds of over 20 miles per hour while riding your bike, that rules out class 3 e-bikes. This means that you’ll either want to purchase a class 1 or class 2 electric bike.
- If you want electric assistance while pedaling, a class 2 bike will be the best option for you. If not, you’ll want to opt for a class 1 bike.
- If you live in New York, you will also need to take into account any legal restrictions on the use of class 2 bikes. This ultimately comes down to whether, from your perspective, the features and functions of a class 2 bike are worth the trouble.
- If you’re planning to ride on single-track mountain bike trails, you may want to avoid class 2 e-bikes because these bikes have been known to damage these kinds of trails. Class 2 bikes are a more suitable choice for OHV trails.
Class 2 electric bikes are e-bikes that have top speeds of 20 miles per hour and have throttles that work regardless of whether the pedals are being used, often in addition to electric pedal assistance.
These bikes are a great choice for bikers who don’t want to travel at the higher speeds of 28 miles per hour provided by class 3 bikes but want more motorization than is offered by a class 1 bike.
If you’re going to purchase a class 2 electric bike, check the laws on the use of these bikes in your state because some states, such as New York, have additional restrictions on this bike class.