Your electric bike gets you from point A to point B, but you feel like something is missing. Bike rides and trail excursions might be a little more fun if you could go faster. Nothing beats a sunny day with the wind in your hair and the ground beneath your bike.
If you want to feel the wind in your hair just a bit more, you have come to the right place. There are several different ways to improve your bike speed, which come with pros and cons. Before diving in, let’s discuss why and how the speed of an electric bike is limited.
Federal law declares that electric bikes cannot exceed 20 mph if the only acceleration source is a motor. If pedaling your bike increases the speed, this will not count as the law makes accommodations for these circumstances.
In the United States, 26 states enforce a tiered classification system that classifies electric bikes by the maximum speed they can reach.
- Class 1 electric bikes can reach up to 20 mph, with a motor that assists with pedaling.
- Class 2 electric bikes have a speed cap of 20 mph, but the motor provides direct acceleration.
- Class 3 electric bikes cannot exceed 28 mph, and the motor is only allowed to kick in as the rider is pedaling. They are also known as pedelec bikes and carry the most restrictions.
Some people might change their E-bike speed by tampering with the bike electronics. Tampering can alter the E-bike classification and which laws apply to the E-bike entirely, resulting in the need for a riding license. An example would be to classify them as a type of moped or motorcycle.
Increasing the Speed
Now we will get into the ways you can increase your riding speed. We will start with the simple methods and work toward more complex ones.
Your Body and Your Belongings
These options are straightforward and do not require any special knowledge about e-Bikes. These are tips that you can employ immediately, at little to no cost.
Instead of bringing a backpack full of items with you on every trip, consider downsizing to a fanny pack or bike pouch. You will have to plan ahead of your ride and determine your needs.
Water is essential during physical exercise and goes hand-in-hand with your house keys and cell phone. You can leave books, shoes, clothes, electronics, and other items at home. Extra weight adds up quickly, and you want to reduce the load on your E-bike.
As you gain speed while riding, you will encounter wind resistance against your body and E-bike, slowing you down. The less surface area you have for air to hit, the less wind resistance you have. You can create a more aerodynamic form by leaning closer to the handlebars. You could even lower the height of your handlebars to allow easier crouching. Keeping your arms closer to your body and the bike can also help.
What you wear impacts wind resistance and load weight. A marshmallow coat may keep you warm in winter, but it is not the most speed-friendly choice. Instead, opt for clothing with a sleek or athletic fit. Loose fabric will increase the effects of wind resistance, while large clothes will add weight.
When it is cold, you can wear clothes that retain more warmth with thinner fabric and rely on your body heat to stay comfortable. In hotter months, you can consider clothing designed specifically for bikers.
Parts of the Bike
Now for some more technical methods for increasing your speed. Inspecting and understanding the body of your E-bike will help you get the most out of it.
An essential function of riding a bike is understanding how the gears work. Most bikes come with several different gear modes. They range in diameter and sit in the back of the bike. When you pedal, you rotate a smaller gear directly between the pedals. A drive chain connects this to the back gears, and the movement rotates the wheel.
When going uphill or downhill, the gear you use matters. Small cogs will make it easier to go uphill. You will get more tire rotations per cycle, conserving energy. When going downhill, sizable gears can prevent you from pedaling too quickly. Because gravity is helping you, the wheels do not need to turn as fast. Using the optimal cog will prevent you from wasting energy, allowing you to pedal more consistently and keep up your speed.
Another factor in your E-bike’s speed is the type of tires you put on it.
The proper tread and tire style boosts the longevity of your E-bike, while the wrong tires can make your ride more difficult or unsafe. Tires not suited to the terrain might not have enough grip, or their clunkiness could slow you down.
Tires with smaller shallow treads are best for cities, pavement, or sidewalks. The ground is consistent and has relatively no bumps, so you can go with a smoother wheel that will glide well. Riding on gravel or trails calls for tires with large treads. The treads can vary in size, shape, and spacing and are more varied for diverse terrain.
Keeping your bike in tip-top condition is vital to ensuring good performance. You want to ensure that your brakes, drive chain, and battery works smoothly. The drive chain might need lubrication from time to time to rotate without kinks. Brakes require tuning after long-term usage, as they can create friction if they get misaligned. Always give your E-bike a full charge before operating it.
The battery level is essential for your bike speed because more power means the motor can run at capacity. You can even install a higher voltage battery, but consult the manufacturing guide for what the E-bike can handle.
This method is the most direct way to make your electric bike faster. As a safety precaution, manufacturers place speed limiters on E-bikes during production. Even if you are physically capable of riding faster with pedaling, the limiter does not allow you to.
Removing the speed limiter in an E-bike is called derestricting the bike. While this may seem like a quick solution for increased speed, derestricting an E-bike is illegal. Even once the speed limiter is removed, riding one over the federal speed limit of 20 mph can result in a ticket.
Riding at increased speeds also puts wear and tear on the E-bike that its design cannot handle. The motor will also drain the battery at a faster rate. A derestricted E-bike will no longer be under the manufacturing warranty. If it gets damaged in the process, you will have to pay for all repairs yourself.
If you derestrict your E-bike, brush up on the motor laws in your state. In some cases, a Class 2 E-bike becomes a Class 3.
Electric Bike Classification
In some cases, a derestricted E-bike would no longer legally qualify as an E-bike. Based on motor laws in your state, it might classify as a moped or motorcycle. To ride an altered electric bike legally, you need a moped or motorcycle operating license.