Here’s our top picks for best Class 3 electric bikes of 2021. These top Class 3 ebikes represent the best combination of features and value right now, but you can see all 195 of our detailed Class 3 electric bike reviews listed by date here. Reviewing ebikes is our primary focus. We’ve been doing this since 2012, creating the most diverse and objective guides we possibly can, helping millions of people in their search to find the best electric bike for their needs and budget. Let’s go!
Table of Contents:
- Best Premium Class 3 Electric Bike
- Best Value Class 3 Electric Bike
- Best Affordable Class 3 Electric Bike
- Promoted Class 3 Electric Bike
- Honorable Mention Class 3 Electric Bike
Things to Consider:
- Speed Pedelec. Pedelec is a term for electric bikes that provide motor assistance when the rider turns the pedals, it’s an abbreviation for “pedal electric cycle”. All Class 3 ebikes are pedelecs, meaning that you need to pedal to activate the motor, which will provide assistance up to 28mph (45km/h). When you pedal, the assist starts and then continues as long as you are pedaling. The motor cuts-out when you reach the maximum speed, stop pedaling, or in some cases when the brake levers are pulled. Most Class 3 electric bicycles do not have throttles (especially in Europe). Like a traditional bicycle, power is controlled by your legs and feet… you’re just assisted by the motor! A pedal assist sensor (PAS) controls the power level offered by the motor, and then sensors measure a range of signals which can include pedal speed, pedal pressure or torque, and bicycle speed.
- Cadence Sensors. This is the most basic type of PAS, providing a simple but proven way to engage an ebike’s motor by monitoring when the rider turns the pedals. The assist level setting (usually 1-5) controls the level of power provided, which is activated solely by pedal movement, not how fast or hard a rider pedals. Once started, only light peddling is required to maintain assist, which is great for people with bad knees. That said, cadence sensors are not as responsive as torque-sensors or advanced multi-sensors because it’s up to you to power the first half turn of the pedals to trigger the sensor. Cadence sensors are basically a disc with magnets that pass a simple sensor. When the magnets pass the sensor, the motor switches on. Since they are not as responsive as torque and advanced multi-sensors, they usually include motor inhibiting brake levers that cut power when the brakes are applied.
- Torque Sensors. These sensors allow the rider to engage the ebike’s motor and increase output relative to the amount of force being applied to the pedals, up to the maximum speed, based on the chosen level of assist. Torque sensor ebikes can be more responsive and feel more like conventional bikes since they are triggered by pedal pressure, not just rotation. Some bikes combine both sensor types to get the responsiveness of torque sensors and the light pedal benefits of cadence sensors. At EBR, we describe these as advanced sensors or multi-sensors. The best sensors tend to be found on premium mid-drive powered electric bikes with Bosch, Shimano, MAHLE, Yamaha, and Brose motors.
- Ebike Classifications in the USA. Most states in the US have adopted regulations that groups ebikes into 3 classes and limit nominal ebike motor power to one horsepower (750 Watts). By comparison, most European standards limit nominal motor power to 250W, but neither classification limits motor torque. Because of this, motor power alone can be misleading (especially for mid-drive motors that leverage the bicycle drivetrain gearing). Here at EBR, we present both measurements: motor power in watts and motor torque in newton meters (Nm). All three ebike classes are listed below:
- Class 1: The motor-assist starts when you pedal and stops helping at 20mph
- Class 2: Offers pedal-assist just like Class 1, plus a throttle to control speed without pedaling up to 20mph
- Class 3: Is solely pedal-assist (like Class 1), but continues to help until you hit 28mph. Due to their higher speeds, Class 3 ebikes are restricted from certain bike trails and paths in North America. They may require some licensing and special tags in parts of Europe. While rare, some ebikes in the US and Canada will offer throttle power to 20mph but continue pedal assist up to 28mph. This approach blends Class 2 and 3, based on relaxed state-level regulations, and it allows the owner to either remove the throttle or adjust the top speed themselves to optimize performance based on the preferred type of riding
- Extra Rules for Class 3 Ebikes. With higher speeds come additional regulations. Restrictions vary widely at country, state, and local levels, so it is best to check the rules where you live. In the US, a great place to start is PeopleForBikes.org. In general, check for limits on where you can ride, how fast you’re allowed to go, what equipment is required (helmet? lights?), and rules about riding age, licenses, and insurance.
If you’re looking to spend a bit less, but not sacrifice too much in terms of quality and performance, we think the DŌST KOPE is an excellent choice. This is one of those ebikes that bends the rules a bit by including a removable throttle and offering adjustable top speed. In this way, you can actually set it up as Class 1, 2, 3, or a Class 2+3. I’ve chosen the sturdier high-step KOPE here because we’re talking about high speed riding, but the same build is also available as an approachable step-thru called the DROP. The DŌST DROP is ranked as a top commuting ebike here because it comes with fenders, a rear rack, and integrated lights. When people commute via ebike, they tend to load up the rear rack with panniers, a trunk bag, or both, and this can make it difficult to swing your leg over the back. In short, the high-step diamond frame for the KOPE is going to be stiffer, sturdier, and larger… pick the frame that suits your needs, but know that in either case, the bike is using high quality parts and offers a special blend of performance. The fenders are mounted with hidden hardware and matching black struts that won’t bump out of place or rattle as much at high speeds. The integrated rear rack (that’s welded to the frame) provides lots of strength and reduced noise and maintenance (compared to a bolt-on rack). The bright integrated lights and reflective tires will help keep you visible in traffic (since Class 3 products are usually designated to roadside paths. The proven Bafang BBS02 mid-drive motor comes with a shift-detection sensor to protect the drivetrain. Finally, you can purchase a secondary battery pack that mounts on top of the main tube (which contains the default battery) to double range. This ebike is heavier than the Specialized Turbo Vado SL, but offers much more power and battery capacity… Since it relies on a cadence sensor vs. advanced multi-sensor, it’s more of a vehicle feel than an extension of your body. Click the image or title below to visit the full review with more details, or add it to your compare list by clicking the box below.
A sturdy, highly-functional, high-step hybrid electric bike with upgraded components and optional second battery pack. Adjustable angle stem improves fit, 100mm spring suspension fork offers compression lockout and preload, high quality 2.4" wide Schwalbe Super Moto-X tires offer stability, visible reflective sidewalls, and puncture protection lining built-in. Lots of great accessory options including bags, cup holders, suspension seat post, mirrors, and child seat. Powerful 750 watt Bafang BBS02 mid-drive motor blends into the purpose-built frame, alloy housing keeps…...
If price point is your primary driver, but you still want a product that offers quality and reliability, the Aventon Level is an excellent choice. Aventon has been able to keep the prices on their electric bikes low while still selling through a vast network of independent electric bike dealers in North America. That means, you won’t have to screw around with assembly and packaging if you don’t have the skills, tools, or desire to do so. I’ve been covering Aventon for a while, and the Level is my favorite product from them right now, because it comes with safe reflective tires, durable fenders, a rear rack, and a suspension fork! That last point is a big one, comfort level on a bicycle tends to decrease as speed increases. This is why I frequently recommend purchasing a seatpost suspension if you’re getting a Class 3 ebike. This is a popular one from the same company that makes the suspension fork for the Aventon Level, sized to match the 27.2mm stock rigid seat post that comes with the bike. While you are saving money here, you’re not getting integrated lights or the dual-battery options from Specialized and DOST above. Still, the stock battery is frame-integrated and looks great! Hydraulic disc brakes help you manage the higher speeds of the bike, and a solid 1-year comprehensive warranty brings some peace of mind. Click the image or title below to visit the full review with more details, or add it to your compare list by clicking the box below.
The Aventon Level is a powerful and feature-rich Class 3 commuting electric bike, a new model from Aventon that is competitively priced with impressive quality components throughout. The Shimano Acera drivetrain feels smooth with a good gear range across eight speeds, Quik…...
The Electric Bike Company pays us to promote their Model C electric bike here on EBR, but it’s worth noting that this is an invitation-only service. That means, we only invite companies that have a great value proposition and with whom we’ve worked for many years. We reviewed the entire range of models from the Electric Bike Company, visiting their Newport Beach offices on multiple occasions. This is a company that has gone above and beyond to build high quality battery packs with redundant fuses and heat sensors. They offer custom frame colors and build all of their wheels in-house (in the USA), which ensures quality. While the Model C is less of a city style ebike, like all of the others on this list, the performance is top notch! Look at the frame, notice the swept-back handlebar and large comfort saddle. This is a cruiser style electric bike that would be a great option for less active riders, people who don’t want to spin the cranks fast and take tight turns. Notice that it uses a cadence sensor, meaning that performance is not based so much on how fast or hard you pedal, but whether you’re turning the cranks yes or no… and whether you’re using the throttle. Just like the DOST KOPE, the Model C has an optional throttle, making this a Class 2+3 offering. And, just like the KOPE, it has welded-on racks that won’t rattle around as much at high speed. No suspension fork here, but the balloon tires and longer bars absorb a lot of vibration… as with the comfort saddle. And again, the company offers the Suntour NCX suspension seat post as an optional upgrade. Paint matched fenders and chain cover, hydraulic disc brakes, integrated lights, and puncture protected tires round out this offering. The biggest drawback is that it’s a single-speed. That means you won’t be able to shift gears to make climbing easier or slow pedal rotation at higher speeds… but it also means that there’s less to think about and your chain won’t break or fall off as easily (it’s also quieter this way). The frame is designed to allow for a 7-speed to be added, but that’s not the default. It’s nice to have options, and this product gives you a lot of truly thoughtful custom options that are now time-tested. I trust them, they have been in the space a long time and offer great customer support… especially at this price point! Most of their products are sold online, unless you live in Southern California near their headquarters and can visit in person. Click the image or title below to visit the full review with more details, or add it to your compare list by clicking the box below.
One of the most powerful cruiser style electric bikes on the market today, available in 24 custom colors, two frame styles (high-step and step-thru), but only one frame size with an adjustable stem, bike can be made to order with several options for color and accessories. Single-speed drivetrain is simple, quiet, and durable, but makes starting from standstill difficult without using…...
They don’t call it the “Ultimate T10+” for nothing! This last ebike costs a bit more, but delivers best-in-class motor and battery performance. The Bosch Performance Line Speed 4th Generation is an incredible motor with advanced multi-sensor reading and shift detection. That means the 10-speed drivetrain will last longer, the motor won’t be chewing up your gears or stressing the chain as much, and you’ll be able to keep pace comfortably at a wide range of speeds. This is an important factor for active riders who want to pedal consistently and enjoy shifting gears. Compared to the Model C above, with just one gear and a throttle, the Gazelle Ultimate is going to feel like you’re riding as a part of the bicycle vs. on top of it. This is a true Class 3 product, meaning it does not have a throttle and the motor is rated at 250 watts nominal… but with a whopping 75 newton meters of torque on offer, it’s still VERY capable. It’s not as lightweight as the Specialized Turbo Vado SL, but the motor is much more powerful, and the stock battery offers twice the capacity. For me, this ebike brings the most peace of mind and security, because Gazelle is part of an even larger company called the Pon Group and has been around since 1892! Gazelle has been recognized as a leader in the Netherlands with the “Royal Dutch” seal, that only goes to one company per industry and is based on a wide range of factors, including sustainable business practices. They perform extensive testing on the paint and hardware against UV rays, salt water, and repeated use, so you know it will hold up. Just like the other leaders on this list, the battery pack is frame integrated, keeping weight low and centered. With a two-year comprehensive warranty and a vast network of dealers, Gazelle is a company that leads in Europe and North America, and it’s a real contender for the Premium spot on this list… which is why I included it here as the honorable mention Class 3 ebike. In summary, it offers a quality adjustable suspension fork, great fenders, lights, rear rack, reflective puncture resistant tires, and a sturdy adjustable-angle stem. You get comfort and performance here, and I LOVE where they positioned the light… up high for added visibility, including side-windows! Click the image or title below to visit the full review with more details, or add it to your compare list by clicking the box below.
An upgraded version of the original T10 with more speed and a dual-battery option, feature-complete with high-quality accessories, backed by a great warranty from a company that has been operating for over 125 years. Three sizes and two frame types (high-step and mid-step) with multiple colors to choose from,…...
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If you’re completely new to electric bicycles, check out my introduction video, which explains why I started EBR back in 2012. I’ve also posted an informal interview with my uncle Greg, who has been riding a full suspension electric mountain bike to work in Colorado, rain or shine, for several years! EBR makes money by listing shops on our directory map, charging for a limited number of promoted bike slots that will get more visibility, charging a nominal fee for some of our reviews (to help cover the costs of travel and production), and getting paid by YouTube for ads that play before our videos. We believe in transparency, and appreciate your visit here! Good luck, ride safe, and thanks for visiting :)