Most likely, you already know what an e-bike is. You may even already know how awesome and fun they are too. You know e-bikes make riding a bicycle for fun, commuting, and transportation easier and more convenient. And they make it easy for current bike riders to go out riding more often and for farther distances. But, maybe you've been scratching your head when somebody mentions e-bike classes. Not the group get-together for instruction from a teacher, but the different classifications of the types of e-bikes. Here in the US, most states follow the classes designated by the nice folks at People For Bikes. There are three:
Class 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches 20 mph.
Class 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor, that ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches 20 mph.
Class 3: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches 28 mph.
Here at LaMere Cycles, we only deal in Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes. Thanks to the new Shimano EP801 motor, we can now build Class 3 eMTBs (electric mountain bikes) because this motor is capable of getting to 28 mph right out of the factory. Almost all eMTBs currently on the market are Class1 e-bikes, limiting you to 20mph out on the trails. Most mountain bikers, if they check their stats on their bike computers, will see they go faster than that on analog bikes at mulitple places in their trail riding. Having a Class 3 eMTB allows you to go your natural pace and is safer for hitting jumps because you won't be having your speed artificially limited.
Please check with your local and state laws and regulations to see where e-bikes are allowed. People For Bikes has a great state-by-state rundown of current e-bike laws. Here in Minnesota, all classes of e-bikes may ride on a bicycle path or shared-use path where bicycles are permitted. But local governments have the authority to restrict the use of e-bikes. When in doubt, please check for your local rules and regulations.