Why Are Electric Bikes So Slow?

Charles Miller
Charles Miller
Founder at - FlybyWheel

Charles Miller is a veteran bike enthusiast with over 12 years of experience dealing with bikes as a mechanic. Despite immense love and expertise for...

You're pedaling hard, but your electric bike seems to be moving at the speed of a snail; it's like you're trying to run through water. According to the European Cyclists' Federation, the average speed of an e-bike is 15.5 mph, but it feels much slower when you're trying to get somewhere quickly.

So, what's holding you back? Is it the bike, or is it something else? In this discussion, we'll unravel the mystery behind the perceived sluggishness of electric bikes and give you a clearer understanding of what's actually happening when you hit the road.

Buckle up, because we're about to get into the nitty-gritty of e-bike mechanics.

Key Takeaways

  • Motor power, motor size, and battery voltage all play a role in determining the speed of an electric bike. Increasing these factors can increase the speed.
  • Factors such as gear control, tire support, and mid-drive motor features also influence the speed of an electric bike.
  • Legal restrictions and safety regulations impact e-bike speed, with speed limiters often installed to ensure compliance.
  • Proper tire maintenance, including maintaining optimal tire pressure, is crucial for achieving optimal speed on an electric bike.

Understanding Electric Bike Mechanics

To truly grasp why electric bikes might seem slow, it's essential to delve into the mechanics of e-bikes, which involve factors such as motor power, battery voltage, and gear control. When you understand electric bike mechanics, you'll realize that these elements play pivotal roles in how fast your Electric Bike goes.

The motor power of eBikes is a crucial aspect. It determines the extra speed you gain from pedal assistance. A larger motor size can significantly enhance your speed performance. So, if you're yearning for a faster ride, you might want to consider an eBike with a potent motor.

Battery voltage is another key player in your eBike's speed. Higher voltage equates to higher speed. By simply changing the battery or increasing voltage, you can experience a noticeable change in your ride's speed, making your Electric Bike go faster, smoother.

Lastly, eBikes use mid-drive motors that allow gear control for your preferred speed. Interestingly, the rear wheel cogs have little effect on speed. It's all about controlling your gears.

The Power Behind E-Bike Motors

You need to grasp the mechanics and regulations of e-bikes to fully exploit their speed and ensure safety.

The power of the electric motor is pivotal, determining the additional speed you get from pedal assistance, with larger motor sizes enhancing speed performance.

However, factors like battery voltage, tire support, and gear on mid-drive motors greatly influence e-bike speed, and without regular maintenance, common issues can arise that lead to slowdowns.

Understanding E-Bike Motors

Diving into the heart of e-bikes, it's the electric motor that determines how fast you'll be able to go, with larger motors typically providing greater speed due to increased pedal assistance. Understanding e-bike motors isn't as complex as it sounds. It's about knowing how these powerhouses work.

Two main types exist: the Hub Motor and the Mid-Drive Motor. The Hub Motor, placed in the wheel's centre, directly propels the wheel. On the other hand, the Mid-Drive Motor, located at the bike's centre, employs the drivetrain to power the bike. Each motor type has its merits, but your speed, terrain, and desired level of exertion dictate the choice.

Speed Limitation Factors

Several factors limit the speed of your e-bike, including your fitness level, the terrain you're riding on, the e-bike's settings, the power and size of the electric motor, its rewind system, legal restrictions, battery voltage, the type of tire used, and the gear on mid-drive motors.

These speed limitation factors are crucial in determining your electric bike's maximum speed.

The bike's speed can be impacted by legal restrictions and the battery voltage, which powers the electric motor.

The type of tire used influences traction and rolling resistance, affecting speed.

The gear on mid-drive motors, such as rear wheel cogs and chainring size, can also alter speed performance.

It's essential to understand these factors to effectively navigate the speed limitations of your e-bike.

effects of legal restrictions

You may wonder why your e-bike doesn't go faster, and you'll find that legal restrictions play a significant part.

Speed limits on e-bikes are mandated by safety regulations and local laws, with speed limiters often installed to ensure compliance.

These laws vary internationally, with countries like the U.S. allowing higher speeds than some European countries.

Speed Limits on E-bikes

When it comes to e-bikes, the speed isn't solely determined by the rider's pedaling power; legal restrictions, based on the class and mode of motor assistance, play a significant role in dictating the maximum speed. These legal speed limits on e-bikes vary, with Class 1 and 2 e-bikes having a top speed of 20 mph, and Class 3 reaching up to 28 mph in the U.S.

Factors such as motor power, battery voltage, and tire support can also impact the e-bike's speed. Moreover, speed limiters are installed to ensure compliance with state regulations and safety.

Therefore, your e-bike's battery voltage, motor rewind system, and gear on mid-drive motors can significantly contribute to its legal speed restrictions. This intricacy is part of why e-bikes might seem slow.

Understanding Safety Regulations

Navigating the labyrinth of legal restrictions on e-bike speeds can seem daunting, but it's crucial to understand these regulations for both compliance and safety purposes. In the United States, electric bikes are categorized into three classes based on their speed limits and motor assistance modes.

Here's a quick overview:

E-Bike Class Speed Limit (mph)
Class 1 20
Class 2 20
Class 3 28

These speed limits aren't arbitrary; they're set for safety reasons. Reducing potential accidents, encouraging manual pedaling, and deterring illegal use are some benefits. Remember, bikes exceeding these limits may be classified as motor vehicles, requiring registration and licenses. So, understanding these safety regulations isn't just about compliance; it's about ensuring your safety too.

Impact of Local Laws

Local laws significantly influence the speed capabilities of e-bikes, often necessitating the installation of speed limiters to ensure bikes adhere to regional regulations. The impact of local laws is indeed a major factor in why electric bikes may seem slow. Understanding these laws can help you better grasp their effects:

  • Laws and regulations:
  • Dictate your e-bike's maximum speed.
  • Require speed limiters for legal adherence.
  • Legal variations:
  • Differ for e-bike classes (Class 1, Class 2, Class 3).
  • May have separate speed limits for sport or walkway use.

Role of Battery Voltage

importance of battery voltage

Delving into the role of battery voltage, you'll find it plays a crucial role in determining the speed of an electric bike. The higher the e-bike battery voltage, the higher the speed. This is because the power from the motor is directly influenced by the battery voltage.

The e-bike battery resistance also affects the voltage and adaptability, contributing to the overall speed of the electric bike. Essentially, a higher voltage can lead to an increase in speed and performance. Therefore, by changing the battery or increasing the voltage, you can effectively increase the speed of your e-bike.

However, it's important to understand the role of battery voltage in your e-bike's operation to optimize your riding experience. Not only does it affect speed but it also impacts the overall performance of your electric bike.

The role of battery voltage is crucial in determining the speed capabilities of electric bikes. It's an important factor to consider when selecting or modifying an e-bike. Ensuring you're aware of this can help you feel more connected and informed in the e-biking community.

Influence of E-Bike Tires

Shifting focus to the influence of e-bike tires, it's important to note that tire support and stability significantly affect your riding speed. The condition and type of your tires play a considerable role when you ride a bike, especially one with pedal assistance like class 2 eBikes.

The impact of tire size and type:

Slimmer tires are generally faster, particularly when you're going uphill. However, they may not provide the same level of comfort or grip as wider tires, which can affect your control and confidence on the bike.

The importance of tire maintenance:

Regularly checking your tire pressure is crucial. Under-inflated tires can significantly slow you down and make your ride harder. Over-inflated tires, on the other hand, can lead to a rougher ride and increased risk of punctures.

In essence, the influence of e-bike tires on speed is a balance between comfort, control, and efficiency. Carefully selecting the right tires for your riding conditions and diligently maintaining them will help you get the most out of your e-bike's performance.

Gearing Systems of Mid-Drive Motors

mid drive motors and gearing

Ever wondered how the gearing systems of mid-drive motors affect your e-bike's speed? Understanding the mechanics of these systems can help you optimize your bike's performance.

Mid-drive motors, located at the heart of your electric bikes, offer control over the bike's gears, allowing you to tailor your ride to your preferred speed. Unlike traditional bikes where rear wheel cogs significantly affect speed, in mid-drive motors, they've a minimal effect. Instead, the motor's gearing system plays a crucial role.

Incorporating larger chainrings can reduce the torque's effect on flat surfaces, making your ride smoother. However, the magic of mid-drive motors lies in their adaptability. Their gear systems can be adjusted to suit different terrains and your personal riding preferences. This flexibility makes electric bikes versatile companions for any journey.

The gearing system also ensures efficient power transfer, maximizing the motor's performance. This optimal operation creates a harmonious synergy between you and your bike, making every ride a seamless experience.

In essence, the gearing systems of mid-drive motors may not make your electric bikes the fastest, but they guarantee a ride tailored to your needs, giving you a sense of true belonging.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Electric Bikes Be Made to Go Faster?

Yes, you can make electric bikes faster. Tweaking speed regulation, performing upgrades, increasing battery capacity, and boosting motor power can enhance speed. However, always consider legal and safety implications before making modifications.

Why Are Ebikes Limited to 20 Mph?

You're limited to 20 mph on e-bikes due to speed regulations, safety concerns, and legal restrictions. It's also about power consumption – faster speeds drain your battery quicker. It's not always about speed, but sustainability.

What Is a Good Speed for an Electric Bike?

A good speed for your electric bike balances safety measures, speed regulation, battery efficiency, and riding comfort. You're not in a race, you're part of a community enjoying a sustainable, efficient mode of transportation.

What Is the Main Problem of Ebike?

The main problem with your ebike likely stems from battery issues or electric motor performance. High costs and ongoing maintenance can also pose challenges. It's vital to regularly check these aspects for an optimal ride.


Just like a race car's speed is limited by rules of the track, your e-bike's pace is ruled by law, motor power, battery voltage, tires, and gearing.

It's not about being the hare in a race, but more of the tortoise, embracing a steady and safe ride.

By understanding these factors, you'll unlock your e-bike's potential, not just in speed, but in providing a harmonious balance between power, regulation, and your own riding style.

Charles Miller is a veteran bike enthusiast with over 12 years of experience dealing with bikes as a mechanic. Despite immense love and expertise for his Tacoma, he rides his Trek Ebike more. Anytime you meet him, you’ll either hear him talking about Bikes, or writing about all things bikes and cars on this blog. 

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