Should there be a restriction on the speed of electric bicycles?
Let's start by saying that in the market you can find so many kinds of ebikes packed with powerful motors and a lot of speed, so you're already thinking about buying the best and fastest one, isn't it true?
Unfortunately in each country there are different rules and regulations about electric bikes, and some of those aspects are about the maximum speed that it can reach on the street to be considered a legal e-bike. At the same time they consider the max watt power of the motor.
That kind of classification is needed because legal models are considered equal as standard bicycles and they will not have to bear any kind of tax, insurance or registration plate, as other vehicles have to. So, if you want to drive a legal model, first of all you need to check your local legislation about electric bikes.
In most parts of the USA electric bicycles are no longer defined as motor vehicles or off-road vehicles, but they are properly defined within three categories: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.
According to that classification there are some speed limits and motor power limits in terms of Watts. For example, it can't exceed the speed of 28 mph and must equip an electric motor with a max power of 750W.
So, don't be tempted to raise or unlock the speed of your ebike, or it will be considered an electric vehicle and you will get high fees for not being in line with rules!
So answering to the first question, definitely yes, there are some restrictions about the ebike speed.
Let's go deeper in details, adding some valuable advice.
Ebikes speed and power regulations in the USA
The situation in the US regarding electric micro-mobility is changing rapidly, ebikes are spreading faster all over the country and the Department of Transportation is working over new rules regarding the use of electric bikes on public streets.
The new regulation removes electric bikes from the motorized vehicle category, freeing them from use on non-motorized trails. In particular the law provides that:
"Electric bicycles are no longer defined as motor vehicles or off-road vehicles, but are properly defined within three sub categories:
class 1: pedal assist only / maximum assisted speed 20 mph;
class 2: Pedal assist and throttle / maximum engine speed 20 mph. Classes 1 and 2 are regulated exactly like standard bicycles.
Class 3: Pedal assist only / maximum assisted speed 28 mph. Due to the higher speed, that category has some restrictions, from certain bike trails and bike paths. "
Electric bike cyclists have similar rights, privileges and duties to traditional cyclists that pedals with a standard huma propelled bicycle.
Anyways, on some occasions, local area managers may authorize some or all categories of electric bicycles on roads, paths and trails where they are permitted.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the adopted rules largely finalize the existing federal definition of eBikes as a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of no more than 750 watts of power.
If the power or the max speed exceed that value, electric bikes are considered as Vehicles and they have to bear with a different regulation.
Is it good to go at full speed?
Certainly, if you're looking for fun and leisure, full speed will be something to enjoy, naturally if you do it in the right place in safe conditions!
We recommend wearing a helmet and driving after a proper check of your electric bike, in a safe environment without traffic and with a regular surface. Avoid speeding in traffic jams and while the street is wet or snowy.
The speed will give you emotions and the feeling of riding a motorbike, to go faster to your destination or simply to roll around your city enjoying the fresh wind in your face.
But we also have to mention some drawbacks, regarding the higher risk of accidents and about the motor and battery consumption. In fact, the faster you go, the longer braking space you will need to stop the ebike.
Safety matters a lot, so you can speed up only in safety conditions, with safety distance from other road vehicles.
If you're looking for a long range ride, remember that reaching and keeping the Max speed will dramatically increase the battery consumption, faster you go, faster will drop down the battery level.
We can also say that the electric motor will get a higher stress from a continuous full power use, so the speed should be alternated with lower values to make the motor rest and avoid overheating the power unit.
To summarize, if you want to be free from taxes and other obligations of vehicles, you must buy a legal ebike with a 750W motor that doesn't exceed 20 mph (if it has a throttle). Don't unlock the speed of your ebike or it will be considered equal to any other road vehicle with a lot of duties to observe.
You can have fun teaching the full speed, but remember to balance with lower speed and do it only in full safety conditions!
Enjoy your ride and have fun!
P.S. If you're looking for your first ebike look at those brand new legal models from Meebike.