The Ultimate Guide to Understanding eBike Classifications

It isn’t any kind of secret- eBikes are changing the scene in the biking genre, be it in the city, on the trails, or throughout neighborhoods. As more people are lining up to trade their traditional bikes in for an eBike upgrade, they wind up being faced with a couple of questions.


“What are eBike classifications?” is one question, and another would be, “What kind of eBike classification should I go with?” The following is meant to be a resource for those who need answers to these questions, not to mention answering a lot more questions that may arise along the way.


How to Choose the Right eBike for You

If you’re new to the eBike scene, you might be surprised to learn that different eBikes out there are meant for different (sometimes specific) tasks. Just think about the reasons behind choosing a pickup truck over a sports car, or work boots over running shoes. If you’re looking for utility, you’d likely be after a pickup or a pair of work boots; if you’re more interested in buying a vehicle or footwear for leisure, you’d be more likely to choose a sports car or running shoes. Yes, a clumsy couple of examples, but you get my point.

There are plenty of options out there in eBike design and models to cover a range of bikes that can cater to your specific needs or wants. As a means of helping customers make the wisest choice out of the variety of eBikes out there, they have been broken up into three classifications.

What are eBike classifications?

The following classifications are primarily relevant in the United States. Bear in mind, it would be wise to see if there are any local regulations against any class of eBike sharing bike paths or other trafficked types of areas. Chances are, there isn’t anything in place for most parts of the country as there are only 36 states that recognize these standards. Busier towns or cities are where you’d rather err on the side of caution and investigate regulations.

Here are the three classifications for eBikes:

Class 1 eBikes

A Class 1 eBike is equipped with pedal assistance only (no throttle), and will not reach an assisted speed over 20 mph. You could say that this classification is the closest of the three to a traditional style of bike (operationally speaking), that offers measured assistance as you pedal. This is a great option for flat terrain, city street bike lanes, or busier bike paths.

Of the three, this option isn’t as widely used as many eBikes come stock with features that disqualify them from being class 1. A good deal of eBike manufacturers makes all of their bikes with an option of a throttle, as it is a defining reason why people turn to eBikes over standard pedal bikes in the first place.

Class 2 eBikes

The largest difference between a class 1 & 2 is the inclusion of a throttle. Rather than pedal assist, you can use a throttle to give your legs a break when you feel like it. Like class 1, the system will not exceed 20 mph either under pedal assistance or by the power of the throttle.

Class 3 eBikes

The class three eBikes is where you begin to cross into a more commuter-minded style of biking. The overall look and additions to some class three bikes include a speedometer, are often more powerful, reach higher speeds (typically up to 28 mph with any form of assistance), but don’t typically have a throttle, helping the rider with pedal assist only.

But as aforementioned, most manufacturers either equip all of their bikes with some form of a throttling system or leave the option there to be included in an order. That said, it is tough to find a pure class 3 bike that does not come with a throttle.

Shift from One Class to Another

There are some bikes out there that can be switched between classes. A lot of Hovsco eBikes can be swapped between class 2 to class 3 electronically through the use of their app. Though most of their bikes can fit into any of the categories, the app switch from a class two to three unleashes the system to take the eBike from a top speed of 20 mph assisted to 28 mph assisted.

When the bike is swapped down from class three to class 2, the bike becomes governed (assistance-wise) to 20 mph, which makes it easier to traverse through class 1 or 2 zones without running the risk of speed trouble or compromising the safety of others around you.

A Great Class 2- HovCity 27.5" Step-Thru Cruiser Electric Bike for Adults

The HovCity Cruiser is a world-class choice for a class 2 eBike that is built for city life. It is powered by a 500w brushless motor located on the gear hub, powered by a 36v 15ah Samsung /LG Lithium-ion Battery boasting a 60-mile range between charges. As mentioned above, this eBike is equipped with the option to switch classes between 2 and 3 through the Hovsco app.

The 7 speeds are managed through the Shimano 7-speed shifter, and has a light-weight frame, making it easier to bring it in and out of buildings in city-living situations.  The tires are appropriate for city streets, being less bulky than bikes meant for more off-road purposes.

A Great Option for a Class 3- HovAlpha 26” Step-thru Electric Fat Bike

This is a bike that is a class 2 out of the box but is best when upgraded to a class 3 due to its frame build and beefy appearance. The HovAlpha is just as at home on the trails as it is on the road, and is even capable of driving safely through snowy conditions where other bikes wouldn’t get far at all.

The reason why I say that this is a better option for a class 3 is due to the extras that are included in the build. Extras such as front and rear lights, front, and rear fenders, and a front suspension that is capable to absorb things that make travel safer at a higher speed.  

To power this model, the HovAlpha is propelled by a 750-watt brushless gear hub SUTTO motor, designed to eat up steep inclines and push steady regardless of the conditions or terrain. Fueling this motor is a 48V 20Ah Samsung/LG Lithium-ion Battery that can provide a strong 80 miles per charge while using pedal assist mode, and up to 60 miles when using all throttle mode.

Between These Two Bikes

These were not off-the-cuff choices but were picked to represent classes 2 & 3 for good reasons. Chief of which is that between the two, they generally cover a majority of different things people would be looking for in an eBike.

For example, if you’re looking to use an eBike to commute to work and don’t anticipate much off-road biking, the HovCity is built to accommodate these kinds of tasks. It also fits the bill for leisure riding or on-road exercise-intended riding with all the power you’d want as a class 2.

As another example, if you’re looking to experiment with riding in a variety of terrains, and would like a bike that means a bit more business, the HovAlpha is better equipped to be used as a class 3 speed bike safely and reliably.

The only thing that is missing capability-wise with either of these models, is the ability to transport a decent amount of cargo, or the ability to easily use the eBikes for work rather than transportation to work. But, Hovsco does make a great workhorse of a bike that comes stock as a class 2 but upgrades to class 3 (like the others) that is perfect for hauling reasonable cargo up to 400 pounds when utilizing any combination of 200 different accessory configurations. The HovCart/Wagon is outstanding in this department.


When considering which eBike classification is right for you, all you need to do is figure out what you’d be using the bike for. If you’re interested in doing laps around the neighborhood to get some exercise in, or for leisurely reasons, class one might be your choice. If you’re looking to commute to work and back and aren’t always interested in doing all the pedaling to get to your destination, or if you’re opting to use a bike to get to the store and back over a car or truck, you’d be better served with a class 2 or three.

Ultimately, a class 2 bike is the most versatile option of the three, as you don’t have to use the throttle if you don’t want to (which makes it as good as a class 1), and, if you go with Hovsco technology, you can have your class 2 upgraded to a class 3 with the touch of a button. A class 2 bike can serve most purposes and is ready to handle most situations.

But, if you’re a trail runner and tend to have a more adventurous riding style, a class three bike is equipped to handle the terrain that the other two might not handle as well. Of the three classes, which would you choose for your ultimate eBike?


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