Best Class 3 Electric Bikes of 2020

Here’s our top picks for best Class 3 electric bikes of 2020. These top Class 3 ebikes represent the best combination of features and value right now, but you can see all 187 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:

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.

Best Premium Class 3 Electric Bike for 2020

If money is no object and you’re looking for the absolute best Class 3 electric bike, the Specialized Turbo Vado SL 5.0 EQ is our pick… but we haven’t reviewed that exact model just yet! In the meantime, we covered the Turbo Vado SL 4.0 which is nearly the same, but doesn’t come with a suspension headset, carbon fiber fork, or 12-speed drivetrain. Specialized is great because they have a wide network of dealers that can help you get fitted and then perform tuneups and maintenance support ongoing. The downsides are that their products tend to sell out and they also cost a lot more. In my opinion, the extra price can be worth it if you’re planning to ride at high speeds, because of the safety implications. Specialized is one of the “Big 3” brands in North America, including Trek and Giant. Their products look great, come in a range of sizes, and tend to perform very well. That’s definitely the case with the Vado SL models, which utilize a “Super Light” custom designed motor with smooth multi-sensor activation and beautiful frame-integrated battery. For those who wish to ride further, the company offers “Range Extender” battery packs that look like water bottles! You could get multiple Range Extenders and easily carry them in a side-mounted pannier bag using the included rear rack. I chose the Vado SL as a winner for best commuting electric bikes as well as Class 3, because of the included lights, fenders, and rear rack. If you’re someone who prefers an even lighter, sportier ebike design with drop bars, then consider the Specialized Turbo Creo SL which uses the same drive system as the Vado SL and is equally awesome. The Creo also comes in a gravel grinder “EVO” version with wider tires and handlebars, if you’re looking for road bike performance + off-road capability and comfort. Because of their lightweight design, low-centered weight distribution, and dynamic motor response… the Specialized SL ebikes feel more like regular bicycles but give you a “superhero” ride feel. Compared to most of the other picks below, this is the sportiest and most enjoyable if you’re an active cyclist who wants a product that feels like an extension of your body vs. a separate heavy thing that takes you along for the ride. 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.

Premium

Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0 EQ Review

  • MSRP: $3,500
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

One of the best ebikes I've ever reviewed. Relatively light weight at 36.9lbs including integrated lights, a rear rack, and custom designed tubular fenders with extra long rubberized flaps to keep your feet dry. Reasonably priced for outstanding motor and battery technology. Class 3 speed-pedelec performance offers 28mph (45km/h) assisted speeds for fun, respect from automobiles, and overall faster commutes. Boost hub spacing provides sturdier spoke bracing angle, 12mm thru-axles provide stiffness and control at…...

Best Value Class 3 Electric Bike for 2020

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.

Value

DŌST KOPE Review

  • MSRP: $2,799
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

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…...

Best Affordable Class 3 Electric Bike for 2020

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.

Affordable

Aventon Level Review

  • MSRP: $1,599
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

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…...

Honorable Mention Class 3 Electric Bike for 2020

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.

Honorable

Gazelle Ultimate T10+ HMB Review

  • MSRP: $3,999
  • MODEL YEAR: 2020

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 our reviews (to help cover the costs of travel and production), and getting some money from YouTube ads that play before our videos. We believe in transparency, and appreciate your visit here! Good luck, ride safe, and thanks for visiting :)