What Is a Class 3 Electric Bike?

Did you know there was once a time when e bikes were deemed illegal? It might sound far-fetched but it’s true. Laws seldom run with the times or technology and it took a while before e bikes got the approval to be considered legal modes of transportation.

mountain bike, e bike, bicycle, class 3 ebike

California in October ’15 finally decided it is time to catch up and gave in to the increasing demands of e bike hype and put it into the law. Hence electric bikes were officially born and defined as a bicycle that has operable pedals with a motor that shall not exceed 750 Watts.

Moreover, the world was introduced to the e bike three classes system. Now, what is this system you might wonder? Today we will be explaining all of that.

The law created the three electric bike classes system with varying rules and speed limits to educate buyers on what is the right way of going about dealing with e bikes. The e bike class 1, class 2, and class 3 are the terms you will hear thrown around a lot when talking about electric bikes but while class 1 and 2 are simple, class 3 is a little tough for it carries some additional restrictions.

So what is class 3 e bike? It is the pedal-assist e bike that comes with a 28mph speed limit. The motor is only set to enable power when pedaled. Keep reading and we will go into detail regarding all classes.

There is much to discuss and we are glad to impart all the electric bike knowledge we know to you.

Classes System-Why The Need?

Some countries consider e-bikes motor vehicles while others still deem them bicycles so long as they are meeting specific requirements. Hence came the need for the class system and so the three different classes system came into being.

class 3 e-bike

The classification is based on factors like power, speed, federal level, local laws, etc.

Every class explains how an e bike is categorized and how it should be ridden, the places you can ride it, etc. Our goal today is to educate on all things classes and in doing you will learn which e bike will be the choice for your level of commute or usage.

Pedal Assistance and the Throttle

Before we dive into defining classes, allow us to let you in on some critical information about the classification system. The pedal assist and throttle and what are they all about.

Pedal Assistance

When we talk pedal assists it implies that when you pedal, the motor is programmed to instantly kick in and get you going.

class 3 ebike features

The purpose is to empower you with that extra boost that revs it all up. The moment you stop pedaling, the whole thing stops. E bikes today come with different pedaling levels to select from.


The throttle in e bikes does not need a pedal to get the motor going, just a flick of your wrist will do the trick to get the bike boost.

class 3 ebike throttle

There are different levels of twist with throttle though. You can either get the full twist like in the traditional bikes or the smaller half twist. Lastly finger or thumb twist.

What Is a Class 1 Electric Bike?

The type 1 e bike is your pedal-assist electric bikes that cannot surpass the speed limit of 2mph. This class e bikes offer assistance when you need it only. The moment you stop the pedal, the motor stops immediately the moment your speech touches 20mph.

class 1 ebike

Just as a class 1 bike reaches its designated speed limit, its controller gets to work restricting all the current flow towards the motor. Hence the bike cannot exceed this speed limit because the design and structure do not allow it.

Places Type 1 Electric bikes are Allowed

Many places consider type 1 electric bikes to be the basic bicycles that are powered by the riders so there aren’t many restrictions surrounding where to ride them and they are typically allowed everywhere. You can ride them anywhere traditional bicycles are allowed. Such spots can include:

Bike paths


Trails, etc

Who is Class 1 Ideal For?

As we established that the type 1 category is a very easy and fundamental one so there are not many rules and regulations. Therefore people who ride for fun or those who commute for errands can benefit the best from this category.

So long as you don’t have a problem with pedaling, the type 1 e bike can meet all your essential needs in taking you from one spot to another.

The 20mph limit solely applies to the motor power. The Class 1 bike, just like a traditional bike, will go as quick as you can pedal. The motors merely stop assisting after a certain limit.

What Is a Class 2 Electric Bike?

Let’s move on to the next class, shall we?

The Class 2 electric bike is a different case from class 1 for it is a motorized vehicle that brings the functionality of throttle actuation. The e bikes of this class don’t necessarily require a pedal to the motor to make it go.

These e bikes give the rider the power when it is demanded. However, just like the Class 1 bikes, the speed limits a factored here too and the top speed is set a 20mph.

Places Class 2 E bikes are Allowed

Generally, one can ride their class 2 bikes in all the same places a conventional bike can be ridden. However, there are policies on riding this category of bikes in certain areas. Dare we say that these restrictions can be on the stricter side.

For instance, in some states, riders have to be at least 16 years of age to ride on a throttle-activated bike. However, some states like NY are a big no on using any throttle functionality on electric bikes. So you have to check with the laws of your state to ensure you are abiding by the law.

Who is Class 2 Ideal For?

Not a fan of pedaling? Then class 2 is right up your alley. People with a long commute or cargo transporting needs can benefit from this category well.

The motor on these e bikes activates with a simple hand throttle. Therefore those riders that love the idea of an e bike but want to get the pedaling out of the equation then this class may be the most suitable option.

What Is a Level 3 E-Bike?

The Class 3 electric bike is another pedal-assist e bike so if you are wondering what’s different then it would be the top speed limit. You can ride on a 28mph limit with this one.

This ultimately implies that the motor will give power only when pedaled, but will throttle the current output when the speed touches the limit defined. A class 3 e bike in the U.S can generate power only up to 750 Watts.

Places Class 2 E bikes are Allowed

Owing to the top speed, this class comes with a certain set of rules.

For instance, the legislative bodies in some areas restrict riding these bikes in parks, most bike paths, or other non-motorized areas. You can ride them on roadways but only within the bike lanes and bike trails. So there are certain legal aspects to it.

Who is Class 3 Ideal For?

With the maximum speed and motor power among ebike classes and top functionality, this class is the best option for folks who have to commute long daily.

The electric power this class provides is unmatched rendering it ideal for those seeking quick and fast electric bike trips and a sturdy bike frame.

What a is a Class 4 Electric Bike?

When discussing e bike classes, another question pops into the mind. Are there any class 4 electric bikes? Well, you are in luck because we are going to be touching on that too. Unfortunately, as of now, there are no legal class 4 e bikes either within the U.S or in other countries.


Nonetheless, some people may refer to a bike model or anything which exceeds the 28mph limit or which uses the combination of both pedal assist and throttle and goes over the 750 Watt power limit as a Class 4 electric bike.

Mopeds or Motorbikes

Moreover, technically, e bikes that cross the 28mph threshold– be they pedal-assist or throttle-based – are classified as motorbikes or a moped. This means that they have to follow the motorbike laws.


If you wish to ride a class 4 bike then you need:

A proper and valid license

Follow the helmet requirements

A license plate

You must be of age.

Which Electric Bike Class is the Best?

Wondering which class takes the win? Well, that depends on your needs because one class is not bad or worse than the other. The only difference is in what they offer you and the limitations they hold.

Class 1 offers a vast riding range with lax laws and regulations however things become rather strict as you move up in classes. In some areas, riding a class 2 may be fully prohibited and punishable by law.

Then the class 3 e bikes only give you more speed than the previous two classes but you cannot ride these bikes in public places like bike-only paths where pedestrians roam free and there are non-motorized rides around you.


Therefore which class is best depends on how many regulations you can handle and how easily and freely you can ride without breaking any laws.


And that’s all on the ebike classes folks. We have laid out all that we knew about what these classes are, what differentiates them, and why they matter. We hope you can find an ebike that fits your needs ideally and that you can practice safe riding. Remember to follow the law and take all the necessary precautions.


I am Aman Dwivedi. I am a self-proclaimed e-bike enthusiast. I love nothing more than spending my days researching, testing, and writing about all things electric bike related. From the latest e-bike models to the best accessories and conversion kits, I am always on the lookout for new and exciting ways to get people riding electric bikes. Whether it's helping people find the perfect e-bike for their needs or sharing my latest electric bike adventures, I am passionate about getting more people riding electric bikes and loving it!

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