Electric Bicycles (E-Bikes)

What is an e-bike?

E-bikes are electric bicycles with a motor that gives riders a boost. E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and travel up to 28 m.p.h. When you use an e-bike to get around, you can: 

  • Save money on fuel and maintenance by replacing daily car trips with e-bike rides 
  • Bike greater distances and across harder terrain 
  • Set aside worries about arriving sweaty at your destination 
  • Reduce your carbon footprint while running errands or commuting to work 
  • Enjoy fresh air and exercise. It’s fun!

E-Bikes Class

  • Class 1: an electrical assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 m.p.h. 
  • Class 2: an electrical assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance regardless of whether the rider is pedaling but ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 m.p.h. 
  • Class 3: an electrical assisted bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 28 m.p.h. 
  • E-Cargo Bikes: built to carry heavy loads and often two or more people. The bikes vary in size and shape, may have two or three wheels, and commonly have a longer wheelbase than a standard bicycle, with space for hauling cargo either in the front or back (great for carrying kids, groceries, etc.,).

Advantages of Owning an Electric Bicycle

Environmentally Friendly

Compared to traditional vehicles, electric bicycles are more environmentally friendly. Traditional vehicles produce greenhouse gasses such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and hydrocarbons, whereas electric bicycles use minimal amounts of electricity per mile.

Flexibility of Use

Having an electric bicycle can be more flexible than a traditional bicycle. One can use an electric bicycle for exercise by lowering the level of pedal assistance the motor gives, just like a regular bicycle. However, with the electric motor aiding/replacing your pedaling, these bicycles allow for transportation without the worry of being late or sweaty.


Electric bicycles give you the best of both worlds in terms of recreation. They allow for the freeing feeling of riding a bicycle downhill and on flat land without the dread of slowly climbing up the next hill. For avid bicyclists, you can lower the level of pedal assistance to keep the same amount of exercise while allowing you to go farther with the extra boost from the motor.

Decrease in Fuel Cost

When substituting traditional transportation for an electric bicycle, fuel costs decrease substantially. Charging an electric bicycle often costs less than a cent per mile, outcompeting traditional vehicles.

Video Profiles

E-Bikes Across Rhode Island: Meet Elizabeth

E-Bikes Across Rhode Island: Larry Davis


Electric Bicycle FAQs

Electric bike range is dependent on several factors and can be very complicated to calculate. Some factors you can control, and some you can’t. Controllable factors include the size of your battery, the efficiency of your motor, the level of motor assistance you select, and how much weight you’re carrying. Uncontrollable factors include wind, weather, temperature, and terrain.

The bigger your battery, the more capacity you have to go farther or go faster. Battery power is measured in watt hours (Wh), the higher the Wh the bigger the battery capacity.

The efficiency of your e-bike’s electric motor impacts how much of your battery’s energy it uses. A high-quality, efficient motor will draw less energy from your battery, while an inefficient motor will draw more energy and reduce your overall range.

What assist mode you select directly affects your range. For example, eco mode provides the least amount of assistance and draws the least amount of power from the battery. Turbo mode provides the most assistance and draws the most power from your battery. Therefore, your range in eco mode is longer than in turbo mode since turbo will drain the battery more quickly.

Long range e-bikes are e-bikes designed for long-distance rides and trips. They typically have large capacity batteries, such as 500Wh or 625Wh, and efficient motors that help you maximize your range. Some electric bike companies offer the ability to add on a second battery so you can double your range.

The general range estimate for an e-bike varies from 20-100 miles on a single charge. Yes, it’s really wide! That’s because there are so many factors that can determine your range. We recommend using Bosch’s range finder tool to help you figure out a more accurate range estimate for your e-bike.

Typical e-Bicycles range from 300 Watt-hours to 1,000 Watt-hours

A watt-hour is a measurement of battery capacity. Just as a car may have a 13-gallon tank, an electric bicycle may have a 600 Watt-hour battery. To learn more about Watt-hours, and other measures of electric bicycle capability, click here.

While gradient capability is determined by an e-bicycles voltage, most e-bicycles that reach speeds of 20 mph can climb up steeper hills.

In most areas, electric bicycles have the same road restrictions as regular bicycles. Because of this, around-town riding is almost always allowed, with restrictions only on highways and other major roadways.

Yes, e-Bicycles are legal and encouraged by many state governments due to the benefit they provide to minimizing congestion and pollution caused by traditional vehicles. There are state regulations on power output and speed, however, most manufactured e-bicycles are designed to comply with these regulations.

Although some e-bicycles are capable of higher speeds, government regulation caps the speed of Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles at 20 mph and Class 3 electric bicycles at 28 mph.

Pedal-Assisted electric bicycles only provide power from the motors when the rider is pedaling. Class 1 and 3 electric bicycles have pedal assist, whereas Class 2 e-bicycles use a throttle-actuated electric motor to provide power to the wheels.

Many electric bicycles provide different levels of pedal assistance ranging from 20%-100% of the energy required. Because of this, electric bicycles allow for flexibility in your schedule; if you’re traveling to work, engaging a higher level of pedal assistance may be the way to go.

While there is still some noise from the motor, chains, and tires, electric motors are significantly quieter than motorcycle engines. What noise it does create is not disruptive or loud.

Most electric bicycles allow the battery to be removed from the bike when charging. Although the bicycle itself can be left outside, the battery should be brought inside, as many batteries are sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Pedal-Assisted electric bicycles are intuitive to ride if you have ridden a bicycle before. Throttle-actuated bicycles are slightly more difficult to get the hang of, however, they do not require you to shift gears like a motorcycle would.