The speed of a normal bicycle is dictated by the rider. This is the case for electric bikes too, but of course the motor helps you along. Does this mean that you could potentially ride an e-bike much faster — say, like Chris Froom at 50 km/h? Also, what is the maximum speed that can be achieved on an e-bike? And what is the fastest electric bike? In this article, we will answer these three questions and more, as well as exploring why you might consider an ebike.
What Is the Speed of a Regular Bicycle?
OK, hold on tight, here we go… The speed of any object is the magnitude of the change of its position. So speed is measured as distance divided by time: miles per hour (mph), kilometres per hour (km/h), meters per second (mps), and so on.
50 km/h on your bicycle’s computer (ok, rather Chris Froome’s computer) means that he will travel exactly 50 km in one hour if he continues at the same speed. If slower, his distance will decrease, and, if faster, he will go further.
Still following this?
Nobody limits the speed of a cyclist, although of course there are some restrictions: the bike itself, the type of road, physical abilities of a rider, the style of cycling (aerodynamics), and even the hair on the legs (yes! Some cyclists shave it to be more aerodynamic), not to mention traffic lights — there are many restrictions.
What Is the Speed Limit of an Electric Bike?
To all of the above parameters we must add another, very important one — motor power. The maximum speed that an e bike can develop depends directly on the power of its motor, as the motor cannot produce more than a certain amount of power. And the power is measured in watts. But more than this, the speed the motor can assist to is limited by law. After that, you’re able to go as fast as you like but under your own steam.
Electric bikes have several types of motors with varying power and — consequently — the maximum speed they can achieve.
So, on an e-bike with a 250W motor, you can reach a speed of up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h) in assist mode — that is, when the motor is running and helps you to pedal. Of course you can go faster than that. The speed limit means that the motor will stop working as soon as you reach this speed.
Other motors are available that produce more power, for example 350W, 500W and 750W. Bikes with these motors must be registered as a motor vehicle in the UK. These more powerful motors assist you to greater speeds.
There are also more powerful e-bikes: 1000W, 3000W, 4000W, and even 5000W, and more. Careful with the legality of these…
What Is the Fastest Electric Bike in the World in 2020?
Surprise, it’s a British bike! Its full name: hyper electric bicycle with MTB wheels SWIND EB-01. It is manufactured by Swindon Powertrain Ltd in the city of the same name in south-west England. It’s really more of an electric motor bike than an ebike.
Swindon Powertrain Ltd was established back in 1971 and has since been involved in the production and maintenance of motors and other power units for motorsports in partnership with other manufacturers like, for example, Bosch and Motul.
The first release of SWIND EB-01, the world’s fastest e-bike, was just two years ago in 2018.
It can reach speeds of up to 60 mph (96 km/h) and its potential speed is up to 80 mph (128 km/h). Its motor power is 5000W. It can travel up to 80 miles on a single charge, and it only takes 90 minutes to recharge a bicycle. Amazing! We haven’t tried one yet. Simon Cowell did, and as you may know injured himself quite badly.
The designer of the electric bike is Raphaël Caillé, managing director of Swindon Powertrain. This is what he said in one of his interviews about what he was inspired by when he invented the bike:
“I got the inspiration for SWIND EB-01 from our customers, interestingly.
We embarked on designing this hyper bike as a demo to show that Swindon Powertrain could also deal with electric propulsion, and it was perfect for taking into meeting rooms or showing prospective customers.
It was initially a one-off demonstrator, and it was our customers who said we need to make it a product as people will want to buy it”.
Another surprise (which may make you wince): this ebike costs £16,500 ($21,200) on the manufacturer’s website. To get hold of one you need to pre-order it. The bicycle is customised for each person and takes 3 months, and payment can be made in stages.
The EB-01 is the most powerful and fastest electric bike in the world, but it is not the only one. Other fast ebikes worth mentioning are Revolution from High Power Cycles company in the US (max speed: 55 mph, cost: $10,000), and STEALTH B-52 from the Stealth company in Australia (max speed: 50 mph, cost: $6800).
Does This Mean That You Will Ride Faster on a More Powerful and Expensive Bike?
Yes, and no.
Yes, because, as you can see from the example above, a more powerful motor can allows you to go faster.
And no, because a more powerful motor doesn’t always mean more speed. For example, you can ride some ebikes with a 500W motor with the same maximum speed as ebikes with a 750W motor. In any case, just like with cars, the maximum speed is limited by reasonable limits. You can’t ride an electric bike at speeds over 100 km/h — you’ll just fly away.
Can You Ride a Powerful eBike Legally in the UK and the World?
In fact, this is the main question we ask when we talk about the speed of electric bikes, not the one in the title of the article.
Bicycles with a motor of 250W are called “pedelecs” (or e-bikes with pedal assistance mode). And the faster ebikes are called “speed pedelecs” or “S-pedelecs” for short. S-pedelecs are something between a normal “slow” e-bike and a moped or motorbike. Fast electric bikes are often related to mopeds at the legislative level.
Unlike electric bikes with a capacity of up to 250W, speed pedelecs can only be used without a license and registration on private roads, closed areas, during sports competitions or on special routes, etc. And to drive around the city, you need the necessary driving documents.
By the way, all the bikes in Velospeed’s shop have 250W motors with a max speed of 15.5 mph (25 km/h), which means that no documents are needed to ride one of them in a city. Or anywhere else, come to think of it.
But when buying an electric bicycle, note that in other countries the maximum power and speed limits for an ebikes may vary. In the USA, for example, the maximum permitted motor power and speed of an electric bike is up to 750W and 28 mph.
How Fast Can You Ride a Pedelec E-Bike?
And do you need a more powerful bike, in principle?
To answer these final two questions, let’s go back to the beginning of the article.
Here are some examples of the speed that a normal cyclist on a normal bike can achieve, not a Chris Froom:
- a novice rider at a distance of 10—15 miles (16—24 km) — 10—12 mph (16—24 km/h);
- a more experienced rider at an average distance of 20—30 miles (32—48 km) — 15-16 mph (24-25 km/h);
- an even more experienced rider at 40 miles (64 km) — 16—19 mph (25—30 km/h );
- a very experienced rider at 50-60 miles (80—96 km) — 20—24 mph (32—38 km/h).
Don’t worry if you ride a regular bicycle a bit slower. Many riders cannot achieve an average speed above 13—15 mph (20—24 km/h) on a regular bike on a middle or a long-distance ride. So they ride slower, too.
But you’ll definitely be able to achieve such a speed on an electric bike because you’ll have to put less effort and an electric motor will help you. And, as practice shows, and from feedback from cyclists on the internet, you probably won’t need a more powerful bike.
250W and 25 km/h is more than enough power and speed for trips to work or for cycling on the weekend.
As far as the city is concerned, bicycles with motors more powerful than 500—750W generate too much energy to ride around the city. In Germany, for example, out of 400,000 e-bikes sold, only 5,000 were fast S-Pedelecs.
Here is one final good argument for choosing a less powerful ebike for the main purpose of riding in a city: the average speed when driving around the city in the UK in 2017 was only 7 mph (11 km/h)! This is half as much as you can ride on a pedelec e-bike.BACK TO BLOG