How fast is an e-bike?

It’s a common misconception that riding an e-bike is all about speed. However, infact, the question of how fast is an e-bike isn’t always front of mind for our customers.


Many electric bike riders are looking for assistance with hilly routes, the option to ride further with less physical strain, or simply to be less sweaty on arrival in the office!


That said, we would be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy engaging power assist and zipping along on our daily commute or trip to the shops.


Indeed, if electric bikes are truly going to convince the wider public as a genuine alternative to driving, a certain level of speed is necessary to ensure time efficiency is comparable (particularly in urban areas)..


In this article, we discuss how fast is an e-bike and consider some of the rules and regulations surrounding electric bike use on the road.



How fast is an e-bike in the UK?


In the UK, an e-bike is limited to 15.5 miles per hour (25 km/h).


It’s worth noting that this limit refers to the speed the bike can be propelled by its motor alone. 


With some powerful pedalling, or taking advantage of an incline, riders will be able to ride their e-bikes faster than 15.5 mph. 


This e-bike speed limit is universal across Europe, but not globally. In the United States, there are a range of regional differences as well as multiple classes of e-bikes, with different speed regulations.


Although e-bikes in the UK are not classified in the same way, depending on motor size, style, and manufacturer, you may find models that won’t hit the 15.5 mph mark on their own steam.


There have been some discussions around increasing the max e-bike speed to 20 mph, and some vociferous arguments for doing so. We’ll leave our readers to make their own judgement, but it is worth monitoring this story going forwards as there may be rule changes in the pipeline.



Speed pedelecs: The rules surrounding fast e-bikes


We’ve said it before: not all e-bikes are made equal.


However, some e-bikes aren’t even considered e-bikes (or “electrically assisted pedal cycles” - EAPCs).


There are certain criteria an e-bike needs to meet in order to be road legal and treated with the same considerations as a traditional bicycle. One of these criteria is the max speed.


You may come across speed pedelecs, a type of e-bike with a more powerful motor (generally 500W), which can hit speeds of around 28 mph. 


As such, these bikes are considered light mopeds (L1e-B)  as opposed to EAPCs and will need to be registered with the DVLA.


A speed pedelec is easy to spot. It will likely have license plates, mirrors and a horn to comply with L1e-B classification.


A speed pedelec will need to be taxed (although at no cost, due to it being a zero-emissions vehicle) and the rider will be required to wear a moped helmet.



Riding an e-bike in the UK and the law


What makes an EAPC an EAPC?


As well as having a speed limit of 15.5 mph, an e-bike must:


  • Have pedals that can be used to propel it, 
  • Display the power output or the manufacturer of the motor 
  • Display the battery’s voltage or the bike’s top speed
  • Have an eclectic motor with a power output that does not exceed 250 watts
  • Weight no more than 30 kg 

While on the subject of regulations, it’s worth flagging that the minimum age to ride an EAPC is 14 years.


Note: these regulations are UK-wide and not exclusive to any particular region. 


No license, registration, or insurance is required to ride an e-bike in the UK, but covering the bike with your personal contents insurance is advisable. Remember, all Eco Bike Co. e-bikes are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.


Remember, there are rules that apply to cycling in the UK that also cover e-bike riding.


Adhering to the Highway Code, using the correct hand signals while riding, and using a white front light and red rear light for night riding are all essential.


Before heading out on your e-bike, it’s well worth getting up to speed with the UK rules for cyclists.



Speed versus distance: The battery debate


We’ve discussed best practices for looking after your battery before.


However, unsurprisingly, if you are pushing speed assist to the limit, you’re not going to be riding for as long.


There’s no reason not to take advantage of speed assist - it’s there to help - but if you are intending to cover some significant distances, you will want to be conscious of how often you use it, and if possible be sparing.


Again, the type of e-bike you have will be relevant here. The efficiency of the motor, weight of the frame, and size of the battery will all influence how much riding your e-bike fast impacts the distance you are able to cover.



How fast is an e-bike? Rounding up


While there isn’t a  globally universal speed limit, an e-bike can self-propel at speeds of up to 15.5 mph. This is the maximum legal speed in the UK and across Europe.


It is possible to find e-bikes that go faster than this (and certainly, using leg power you’ll be able to break that top speed). However, e-bikes with motors than can self-propel to speeds beyond 15.5 mph will be subject to rules and regulations if used in public settings - including on the road.


For an e-bike to be considered a bicycle in the eyes of the law (and the DVLA) it must meet certain criteria regarding its build,  performance, and weight.


At Eco Bike Co., all the e-bikes we sell are produced to the highest standards and comfortably meet all the criteria stipulated above. 


What’s more, we are riders ourselves and have a detailed knowledge of each of the models we sell and assist our customers in finding the right e-bike for them, whether they’re looking for speed, distance, portability - or a little bit of everything.


Why not get in touch today to begin your electric bike journey?

August 01, 2022 — Jarred Pitout