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In the exciting and ever-expanding world of EVs (electric vehicles), an electric bike is one of the most popular choices. For most commuters and casual riders, an e-bike can offer convenience and practicality that a regular bike does not. With three different types, or classes, of e-bikes available, you can find one that fits everyone’s needs. So, let’s look at the three categories of e-bikes and why you might consider each one.

An Aik pedal-assist electric bike (e-bike) at the Cake booth at CES 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada
An Aik e-bike | David Becker/Getty Images

What makes electric bicycles an excellent option for anyone looking for their next EV? In addition to not needing a license in most U.S. states and being legal to drive at ages as young as 14, the following three points are other great reasons to invest in an e-bike.

  • Affordable: E-bikes are significantly less expensive than a car or a motorcycle but work just as well for recreation or commuting. 
  • Swift: E-bikes take the pressure off of the rider to work excessively hard to travel quickly, as their electrical components assist the rider to be able to reach speeds from 20-28 mph with little effort. 
  • Eco-friendly: Even though e-bikes use electrical components, their impact on the environment is negligible. 

The 3 types of e-bikes

According to Bosch, an e-bike manufacturer, electric bikes can be sorted into three classes. E-Bike makers now clearly distinguish their products by these three classes, so you can quickly distinguish them from each other and pick the one that is right for you. 

  1. Class 1: Pedal Assist – A Class 1 pedal assist e-bike has an electric motor that only aids you while pedaling. With a 20 mph max speed, this e-bike will be like a more convenient version of your classic bike experience. 
  2. Class 2: Throttle Only – A Class 2 throttle-only e-bike has a motor you can use without needing to pedal. There is still a 20 mph maximum speed, but this type of e-bike can be particularly helpful because the motor can help you keep traction even when turning. 
  3. Class 3: Pedal Assist 28 mph – The third class of e-bike is ideally suited to commuting, as it has a maximum speed of 28 mph. However, being able to travel so quickly means that there are more regulations, such as a helmet requirement

Which one is best for you?

How can you decide which type of e-bike is right for you? Consumer Reports offers comprehensive evaluations of many available electric bikes. Begin by evaluating your expectations. Are you hoping to make your casual bike rides a little easier? Are you hoping to commute every day in high-traffic areas? Are you hoping to mountain bike?

Begin by looking into the class that best suits your needs. Wheel World explains the bike styles that are available in your chosen class.

The three main styles of electric bikes

  • Cruiser: Designed for comfort, these e-bikes will have cushier seats and a more comfortable upright seating design. A cruiser would be the ideal choice for short errands and casual rides.  
  • Commuter/Hybrid: these fast, sleek, practical e-bikes are designed to get you where you need to go quickly. Many are equipped with racks to carry daily items, such as a laptop, bag, or groceries. These e-bikes are likely to include features such as integrated lights and street tires, so they are ready for daily use. 
  • Mountain/Off-Road: Rugged and ready for adventure, this style of electric bike makes the morale of mountain biking accessible to anyone. These e-bikes will have sturdier tires and their motors positioned low to increase stability on the trails. 

Finding the right e-bike is easy when you understand the classes and styles. Evaluate your riding goals, check out the styles, and be ready to enjoy biking like never before!

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