- Technical and Legal Differences between Electric Bikes and Speed Pedelecs
- Fastest Electric Bikes – Top 5 Picks for 2020
- Fastest Electric Bikes – Frequently Asked Questions
We feel like we're repeating this often – possibly every chance we get – but it's true:
An electric bike is a fantastic way of getting around – quick, convenient, and oh-so-fun.
Then again, there's a not-so-fine line between "quick" and "mind-boggling, adrenaline-inducing, stupendous fast" – and the electric bikes in our round-up dared to cross it.
So, if you're a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie in search of the fastest electric bike, keep reading:
We reviewed five e-bikes capable of pushing the limits of street-legal pedal-assisted speed!
In a hurry? After 43 hours of research, we recommend:
Fastest Hunting E-Bike
BAKCOU's known for making top-of-the-line e-bikes for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. Flatlander's no exception, packing a 750-watt motor and extended-distance battery that let it hit 35 mph with ease!
Fastest Budget E-Bike
Rad Power RadRover 5
RadRover’s blend of ruggedness, extra-wide tires, and a 750-watt motor – with the 25 mph speed to boot – makes for excellent off-road biking experience. Oh, and the bike doesn't cost an arm and a leg!
Fastest Road E-Bike
What better way to switch from "conventional" biking to fast pedal-assisted cruising than a speed pedelec built for efficiency and versatility? Domane+' top speed of 28 mph, 60-mile range, and streamlined endurance geometry make it the fastest road e-bike!
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Rad Power RadRover 5
Rugged but charming, go-anywhere, do-anything electric bike
Fastest Hunting E-Bike
Fastest hunting electric bike made to tackle flatter grounds
Versatile and efficient do-it-all e-bike built for endurance
Technical and Legal Differences between Electric Bikes and Speed Pedelecs
Do you already have an e-bike that meets your daily commuting needs, but you want something with a bit more "juice" to it? Or is this your first time shopping for an electric bike?
Here's why we're asking:
Even though the popularity of e-bikes has exploded in recent years, there's still a lot of confusion regarding what an electric bike is – and isn't. It gets even worse when you throw the relatively new category of speed pedelecs into the mix.
And since it's hard to ignore speed pedelecs when talking about the fastest electric bikes, we figured it's best to clear things up before we go any further.
So, what's the difference between traditional electric bikes and the high-speed alternatives known as speed pedelecs? And what's a pedelec, anyway?
Let's start at the beginning:
"Pedelec" – short for Pedal Electric Cycle – is a collective term for electric motor-powered bicycles that rely on pedal-assist as a means of propulsion. With pedelecs, motor assistance kicks in automatically when you start pedaling, but there is no throttle present.
That still sounds a lot like an electric bike, doesn't it?
That's because the electric biking community tends to use the two terms interchangeably – which brings us to our next point:
There's a difference between an e-bike and a speed pedelec – and it boils down to propulsion methods.
A pedelec can deliver varying levels of pedal-assist but no throttle. The motor's there to boost your pedaling power, not replace it entirely. On the other hand, an electric bike is generally throttle-based, delivering power on demand – without the rider necessarily having to do anything.
That wasn't too hard, now, was it?
Now, pedelecs are generally split up into two separate categories based on the top speed at which they can provide motor assistance to the rider. You have the "conventional" electric bikes with an assisted-pedaling speed of 15.5 mph and those that can reach – and exceed – 28 mph in pedal-assist mode.
If you're here looking for an electric bike that can achieve the latter, what you're after is the so-called speed pedelec – or, simply put, a high-speed e-bike.
How Fast Is Too Fast?
So, we already pointed out that, if you want a fast e-bike that's approved for use on United States' roads, a Class 3 speed pedelec is your best bet.
We'll dig deeper into how this classification works later on in the article. For now, it's important to remember that it groups electric bikes based on motor power and achievable top speeds.
An electric bike with a pedal-assist speed of 15.5 mph is treated the same as a "conventional" bike in most countries worldwide. That means that you don't need a license or a license plate, and you're not required to wear a helmet – even though we highly recommend that you do.
A speed pedelec (or a high-speed e-bike) can easily hit the 28 mph mark in pedal-assist mode. It doesn't sound like a lot – not compared to a car – but make no mistake about it:
You'll be dealing with dangerous speeds whenever you hop on a high-speed electric bike – and that's never something to be taken lightly!
So, unsurprisingly, the regulations are a lot more rigorous when it comes to fast e-bikes:
You'll likely have to register your two-wheeler with your country's vehicle registration authorities, get a driving license, and wear a helmet at all times. Plus, you'll have to obtain liability insurance.
If that doesn't tell you how serious things can get at these speeds, we're not sure what will.
Laws and regulations ruin all the fun, huh?
But we're talking about introducing electric motor-powered two-wheelers that reach speeds of up to 28 mph onto the roads. Oh, and just for comparison, the average cycling speed is around 10 to 12 mph.
It's easy to see why high-speed electric bikes are no joke.
Fastest Electric Bikes – Top 5 Picks for 2020
These days, there seem to be two distinct flavors of electric bikes hitting the streets:
The more casual-feeling e-bikes that meet the needs of daily commuting, running errands, and cruising around town – and the high-powered beasts that take top speeds to a new level.
The five electric bikes listed below decided to go down the fast-and-furious road – and are our top picks for the fastest electric bikes of 2020!
1. BAKCOU Flatlander - Fastest Electric Hunting Bike
When you have a team of outdoor enthusiasts designing an electric bike, as is the case with BAKCOU, one thing's certain:
It's going to look – and behave – like a hunting tool engineered and fine-tuned to go faster and further than your average e-bike ever could.
BAKCOU's Flatlander is an easy-on-the-wallet blend of everything you loved about the Mule and Storm – from high-end components to off-road toughness and insane power – designed to tackle flatter grounds.
Read our Flatlander review and see what makes this BAKCOU e-bike our top pick – besides the fact that it's easily the fastest electric bike on our list!
Frame & Design
It might be designated to flat land – hence the name – but that doesn't make the Flatlander any less rugged and capable of venturing into the wild. It has a lot of the same trustworthy components as its legendary brother, the Mule.
The high-grade aluminum alloy 6061 frame, with a stand-over height of 29.5 inches, weighs a not-so-light 63 pounds. However, the extra weight contributes to Flatlander's overall sturdiness and more-than-welcome 300-pound load capacity.
Plus, it's fitted with aggressive-looking, skid-proof pedals, a shock-absorbing seat post, and 740-millimeter handlebars with locking handle grips.
It has "hunting e-bike" written all over it – and we're not complaining.
Motor & Battery
BAKCOU opted for a Bafang 750W rear hub motor, which probably doesn't sound as mind-blowingly powerful as you expected.
Flatlander doesn't seem to lack anything in the power and torque department. Otherwise, it wouldn't be able to hit top speeds of over 35 mph that easily.
That's right; more than 35 miles per hour!
We're not sure whether to be terrified or impressed by it.
It's powered by an extended-distance 48V 14.5 Ah Lithium-ion battery, which promises an equally impressive range of over 40 miles. If that's not enough, upgrading your battery to the 17.4 or 21 Ah versions are also an option.
Wheels & Brakes
Some things about the construction of this e-bike are pretty hard to miss, like the 26-by-4-inch Maxxis Minion fat tires. Others require you to hop on the Flatlander and experience them for yourself – like the air-suspension forks.
Oh, and rest assured that, with a top speed of 35 mph, BAKCOU made equipping the Flatlander with sufficient stopping power a priority.
The Tektro dual-piston hydraulic brakes, with front 203-millimeter rotors and 180-millimeter ones in the back, can put this beast of an e-bike to a full stop.
BAKCOU Flatlander - The Fastest Hunting E-Bike of 2020
2. Rad Power RadRover 5 - Best Value-for-Money Fast E-Bike
Rad Power Bikes' fifth-generation RadRover is one hefty, big-wheeled, rugged-but-charming, go-anywhere, do-anything type of electric bike.
It might not boast the insane speed levels of our previous pick – but it's a blast to ride, nonetheless. So, make no mistake about it:
The RadRover 5 certainly holds its own among the best fat-tire electric bikes – all without costing an arm and a leg.
Be sure to read the full Rad Power RadRover review, and see why they call it the Hummer of e-bikes!
Frame & Design
Bike electrics aside, the RadRover 5's "conventional" components are comparable to your average mid-range bicycle. It's the frame's construction – coupled with the e-bike electrical drive – that makes a difference and gives it that large-and-in-charge vibe.
The 18-inch 6061 aluminum frame is built for off-roading conditions, but surprisingly enough, it doesn't weigh as much as you'd expect from such a robust-looking bike.
One might argue that 69-pound weight is hefty enough, but we're talking about a fat-tire bike here. It was never meant to be as lightweight as a folding city cruiser. Plus, all that weight comes with a 275-pound load capacity.
Motor & Battery
RadRover 5 comes fitted with a Bafang 750-watt geared rear hub motor and features five pedal assist levels, all powered by a 48V 14 Ah Lithium battery.
Now, let's talk performance:
It comes with a factory-set speed limit of 20 mph, but here's the cool part – you can max out the speed to 25 mph through the control panel.
While it can't compete with the Flatlander in the speed department, a top speed of 25 miles per hour is anything but slow.
Range-wise, you can expect to get anywhere from 25 to 45 miles on a single charge, depending on whether you're using pedal-assist or throttle-only.
Wheels & Brakes
A good portion of RadRover's stability and traction in off-road conditions stems from the extra-wide, 26-by-4-inch Kenda Juggernaut tires. As chunky and comically large as they are, the tires make transitioning between various terrains a surprisingly smooth experience.
We would've liked to see it equipped with a set of hydraulic disc brakes – but that's far from a complaint:
The Tektro Aries mechanical brakes, with 180-millimeter front and rear rotors, do a satisfactory job of providing enough stopping power.
Rad Power RadRover 5 - The Fastest Budget Electric Bike of 2020
3. Trek Domane+ - Fastest Road E-Bike
If you want the smoothest possible transition from a "traditional" bicycle to a motor-powered el bike, Trek Domane+ is perfect for the job:
It's a versatile, lightweight, and efficient road bike, capable of providing you that conventional biking experience – but has a motor and speed that leaves most e-bike models in the dust!
You're looking at the ideal combo of fun and function in one no-compromises, do-it-all e-bike that handles anything from all-day biking tours to daily commutes and quick rides around town.
Check out our full Trek Domane+ review for a more detailed take on its features and performance!
Frame & Design
When you look at the Domane+, one thing that's evident – even at a glance – is that a good portion of its design stems from the last-generation Domane:
IsoSpeed decoupler technology, 500 Series OCLV carbon frame, endurance geometry with a taller head tube, and a longer wheelbase; it's all present in the Domane+, too.
It's almost as if Trek used the "regular" Domane as a foundation and then incorporated a motor and battery into the frame's lines.
And although the electric components added some visual bulk to it, Trek kept the weight down at an ultra-light 37.9 pounds. No worries, though – you still get a 275-pound capacity.
Motor & Battery
Trek did an excellent job of tidying up the wires and squeezing the removable Bosch PowerTube 500-Wh battery in there. Unless you know exactly where to look, the chances are that you would've missed it entirely.
The battery packs enough juice to power the Bosch Performance Speed 350-watt motor for up to 60 miles in Eco mode. The remaining three – Tour, Sport, and Turbo mode – will cut the ride shorter, though.
As for top speed, you can get the Domane+ to go as fast as 28 mph, which is in line with the rest of its impressive – and oh-so-exciting – performance specs.
Wheels & Brakes
The burly Schwalbe G-One Speed 35-millimeter tires work hand in hand with the IsoSpeed technology to gobble up any road bumps and provide exceptional stability and traction.
Bontrager Paradigm Disc tubeless-ready wheels also allow you to fit the Domane+ with wider tires – as long as you maintain 4-millimeter clearance – if you ever decide to ditch the pavement.
Efficient brakes are paramount to the safety of any fast e-bike model. On that note, we're glad to report that Trek's Domane+ offers tremendous stopping power, as provided by the SRAM Force flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes.
Trek Domane+ - The Fastest Road Electric Bike of 2020
Another one of Trek's models that made it to our list is the award-winning Allant+ – a fast electric bike designed with the urban commuter's needs in mind.
Granted, on the surface, Trek's Allant+ looks relatively mild-mannered and tame, as you would expect from an average cruiser built for getting around town. It's what the automotive world would call a "sleeper" – an ordinary-looking vehicle that packs a punch under the hood.
But once you start paddling and wake up this speed pedelec's motor, you'll find that it can put many more aggressive-looking e-bikes to shame.
Read our full Trek Allant+ review and see for yourself!
Frame & Design
The design and shape of the Allant+' frame was an instant attraction for us:
Every inch of the bike's frame looks well-thought-out, aesthetically pleasing, and seamless – especially with the removable integrated battery (RIB) system.
The slightly downward-slanted top tube and a stand-over height of 32.9 inches further enhance the inviting vibe, with comfortable frame geometry and ergonomics to boot.
Trek managed to shave a few pounds off by opting for a high-performance hydroformed frame. However, at 54 pounds, Allant+ is still relatively heavy, most likely due to its in-tube battery and motor size.
Motor & Battery
Beneath the frame's polished surface lurks a real punch of power – Trek's Bosch Performance Line CX 250-watt mid-drive motor. Top speed-wise, it sticks to the same 28mph limit as Trek Domane+ – not that it's a bad thing:
Venturing into the over-30-miles-per-hour speed range is thrilling and all. However, most of us feel more comfortable – not to mention safe – sticking to Class 3 speed pedelec models, like the Trek Allant+.
The mid-drive motor is backed by an equally impressive long-range 500-Wh Bosch battery.
And by "long-range" we mean – you'll be able to squeeze over 100 miles out of it in Eco mode.
No matter how you cut it, that range is mind-blowing!
Wheels & Brakes
Allant+ features 27.5-inch wheels fitted with Schwalbe G-One tires, perfectly suited for urban commuting. They can handle the bike's weight and drive power and provide enough traction on city roads, without affecting cruising speed.
Also, it gets bonus points for the SR Suntour front suspension fork's nifty lockout feature that can engage or disengage depending on how rough or smooth the roads get.
The responsive Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakes with 180-millimeter rotors mean that efficient braking performance won't be a concern. Feel free to push the Trek's Allant+ speed pedelec to its limits; it will still stop it in its tracks when needed.
Trek Allant+ - The Fastest Commute Ebike of 2020
Last but not least, we want to talk about Kasen K-6.0. If the idea of getting a high-power, fat-tire, Class 3 electric cruiser sounds tempting, you're in for quite a treat.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, there are two things you should know:
First, Kasen has the most powerful motor of all the e-bike models on our list; we're talking 1000 watts here. And second, it's relatively easy on the budget – well, as much as an e-bike of its caliber can be, anyway.
With that said, let's see what else the Kasen K-6.0 has to offer!
Frame & Design
When we had our first look at the Kasen's K-6.0, our initial thoughts went somewhere along the lines of:
"Oh, wow, that's one striking-looking e-bike!"
We're still not entirely sure if we meant that in a good way or not – but personal preferences aside, there's nothing wrong with its construction:
The 6061 aluminum alloy frame has a tough and robust feel you'd want – and expect – in fat-tire models. Plus, it has a 275-pound capacity, which is in line with what most other e-bikes can handle.
However, the beefy-looking top tube and the e-bike's hefty 80-pound weight are a bit too much.
Motor & Battery
As far as sheer motor size and power go, Kasen blows the competition out of the water – or, you know, leaves it in the dust. Its 1000-watt Bafang rear-drive motor is the most powerful on the list.
But, as we'll explain later, higher wattage doesn't always guarantee higher speed. Kasen's 1000-watt motor is living proof of that, as its top speed still clocks in at 28 mph.
However, the 48V 14.5Ah Lithium battery can't quite keep up with the power-hungry motor, as Kasen has a modest – and rather limited – maximum range of 28 miles.
Wheels & Brakes
The large wheels with double-wall alloy rims promise some durability, while the 26-by-4-inch Kenda tires ensure a comfortable and stable ride on most terrains. What's more, the MOZO hydraulic suspension featured on the e-bike's front fork makes the ride even smoother.
If you're going to use an e-bike as powerful and speedy as the Kasen K-6.0 as your daily means of transportation, safety should be a priority. Luckily enough, the Tektro disc brakes do an excellent job of putting the K-6.0 to a halt.
Kasen K-6.0 The Strongest Electric Bike of 2020
Fastest Electric Bikes – Frequently Asked Questions
How fast can you go on an electric bike?
If you're pedaling, your physical abilities and pedaling power will be the only real limitations speed-wise. In other words, you can go as fast as you can pedal – but that's not what you're asking, is it?
You came here to talk top speeds – what your electric bike can reach with a little bit of "juice" thrown into the mix.
Unlike Europe, where electric bikes are limited to 250-watt motors, in the United States, the maximum motor power is 750 watts, with the top speed of 20 mph. That's how the Consumer Product Safety Commission defines a low-speed electric bike, anyway.
Here's where things get interesting – and a tad bit complex:
E-bikes are split up into three classes – Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3, respectively – adopted by many countries and states to regulate electric bikes.
If we're going to talk about motors and power levels, you must understand how this classification works and what it means for electric bikes speed-wise first.
So, let's have a look at each class and the speed limit that comes with it:
•Class 1 – Electric bikes in this class are considered the "most passive" of the bunch, offering pedal-assistance without throttle. That means that the motor only provides assistance when you're pedaling and limits the maximum assisted speed to 20 mph.
•Class 2 – Class 2 electric bikes are typically defined as "low-speed throttle-assisted e-bikes." The throttle-assisted mode allows you to ride the Class 2 bike without pedaling, with the speed limit of 20 mph being the same as for Class 1 electric bikes. You could go higher than that, but only by pedaling yourself.
•Class 3 – Lastly, Class 3 electric bikes – or the "speed pedal-assisted electric bicycles," as they're commonly known – pack a bit more speed and aerodynamics. The motor of a Class 3 e-bike will only provide assistance when the rider is pedaling and can reach a top speed of 28 mph before disengaging. They're usually fitted with a speedometer, too.
High-speed electric bikes – like the ones in our fastest e-bikes round-up – can go well beyond the specified speed limits. One of the fastest electric bikes to date, the Stealth B-52, has a top speed of 50 mph!
How fast can a 1000-watt electric bike go?
Here's the thing:
A "street-legal" electric bike will typically have a top speed of 20 mph – unless we're talking about a Class 3 speed pedelec, that is.
So, while an electric bike with a 1000-watt motor will pack a lot more power than a 750-watt option, the benefits of high wattage are often overstated. As you can see in our round-up of best electric bikes, even a seemingly "underpowered," 250-watt motor could reach that speed.
That's because the motor's design, gearing, and capability to deliver higher torque levels are often far more critical than the wattage itself.
With that said, a 1000-watt electric bike – that's four times the wattage, mind you – will undoubtedly feel like a beast, clocking in at a speed of 32 mph. However, once you hit the 1000-watt mark, you're going from "street-legal" city cruisers to off-road-only, high-powered electric bikes.
How fast will a 1500-watt e-bike go?
If a 1000-watt motor is enough to make your e-bike's speed not-so-road-legal, a 1500-watt one – that's a two horsepower motor, by the way – will feel flat-out insane.
We've already ventured into the Speed Pedelec category by now, with 1500-watt electric bikes raising the top speed levels to around 35 mph. Some may even be able to hit 40 mph, although only for shorter periods, as they'll eventually overheat.
Note that, at speeds of 30 mph – and higher – wind resistance will likely become a pretty big factor in your e-bike's performance and speed.
How fast can a 3000-watt e-bike go?
If you dive even deeper into the Speed Pedelec territory, you'll come across electric bikes fitted with 3000-watt motors. That's where all the record-breaking, boundary-pushing, headline-hitting – and, more often than not, budget-draining – starts.
Simply put, these e-bikes are built to impress.
No, scratch that.
They're made to blow every adrenaline junkie's mind.
Now, based on everything you've read this far, you know that it's going to be crazy fast – but how fast are we talking?
Well, that's a four horsepower motor we're talking about here. So, the fact that these electric bikes can easily hit speeds of 50 mph – even higher, depending on the motor's efficiency – shouldn't come as a shock.
What may shock you, though, is the high power consumption that usually comes with it.
At this point, it doesn't even matter how much effort you're putting into pedaling. Even trained cyclists can generate "only" about 400 watts, so you won't be contributing much to the overall range if you're sitting on an electricity-guzzling, 3000-watt motor.