Elephant in the Room, Top Speed of eBikes

biknut

Active Member
I think it's time to talk about the elephant in the room, and that's the pitiful top speed of eBikes. My comments are mainly considering conditions in the u.s. because that's where I live, but I'm pretty sure almost everyone, everywhere has the same problem to some degree.

Yes I know in most places the top speed is mandated by law to be 20 mph or less, but a 20 mph top speed is ridicules, and it's also extremely dangerous on a busy city street. I'm sure most of you have probably come to realize that American drivers do not tolerate bicycles riding in traffic, at bicycle speeds well at all.

I consider 20 mph to be bicycle speed, because I know many riders that are young enough, and strong enough to maintain that speed, and even a little higher on their bicycles. There's not much they can do about that, because there's limits to how fast human power alone can take you, but eBikes have no such limitations. In a city that has extensive bicycle infrastructure you might be able to get away with safely commuting on an electric bicycle, but the problem is, that's not very many city's. In absence of that, there's going to be times when you have to ride with your hinny hanging out, it front of a 2 ton bone crusher suv, with a blond babe talking on her cell phone getting annoyed with your rolling road block.

My suggestion for the time being is for manufacturers to provide a way for owners to easily disable all speed limiters on their bikes, for off road use of course. After that it's not the manufacturers business when an owner decides to utilize the off road ability of his bike.

One thing everyone should understand about eBikes is, any eBike can be sold by a manufacturer with any amount of potential power, as long as it's electronically limited to the legal limits of the locality it's being sold in. Theoretically it could have 100 hp, and be electronically limited to 750w. That's one of the reasons I think manufacturers will have to rethink the whole idea of electric motorcycles in the near future, but that's not really what we're talking about here.

My experience tells me that 30 mph is somewhat tolerable to drivers in traffic, but 35 is better. You might contend that those speeds are unsafe, on an average bicycle, and illegal on an eBike, but I would argue that they're safer than 20 mph in traffic, and being legal won't do you any good if you're dead. There's also no reason a purpose built eBike has to be made to the same standards as an average bicycle.

If you're thinking manufacturers can't legally offer illegal performance for their bikes you need to think again. For proof look no further than a Harley Davidson catalog. You'll find hundreds of pages of high performance, non stock parts, offered for off road use only, for 800 lb Road King's and Ultra Glide's, that the closest they ever get to off road riding is maybe going down a dirt driveway.

For an electric bicycle it's a lot easier, and unlike motorcycles, our need for higher performance is urgent. No high compression pistons, or long duration cams are needed. It's just a simple matter of hitting a few buttons on a computer, and walla, instant high performance, for off road use only.

So to summarize, I contend we'd be safer with higher top speeds, and there's no reason manufacturers can't provide a way for us to be able to do that. Which do you prefer, legal, or dead?
 

Paul E.

Active Member
Of course I, the skilled and responsible rider, would like to have 30, even 40 mph available on the road :) The problem is the irresponsible ones who would use it to mow down people in parks and on bike paths.
 

Rusty

Member
I agree totally with biknut. Let's not try to "solve" a problem that has not even occurred yet. For me at least, the ability to have higher cruising speeds is a HUGE safety factor.

It's also one of the reasons that I am enthused about e-bikes. If we artificially limit them to act like non e-bikes then I would probably pass and just buy a high performance "regular" bicycle.
 
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Shea N Encinitas

Active Member
Most budget friendly e-bikes are pretty scary at 35 mph, my Dash included (downhill required). Stromers, Turbos, Grace, Haibike and a few others seem to be built strong enough for plus 30 speeds, but their European roots and lawyers keep them a few notches below 30, some models even cutting power at 20! I think tapered headsets, large thru axles, hydraulic brakes and quality tires are crucial to higher speed bikes. After several recent test rides I'm starting to think a DIY mid-drive may be in my future, mid-drive with a rohloff hub for example. Stealth street fighters have the juice but the design pretty much screams pull me over. The Optibike somehow looks like it could just be a fancy frame, but price is out of my reasonable range. Regarding traffic there are times when wish I could pump a few 45 rounds into the engine block, those drivers are threatening me with a deadly weapon, and the police don't hesitate to recognize similar threats as attempted murder, returning fire or booking the fool. OK, rant over, enjoy the day! -S
 

biknut

Active Member
Unfortunately there will always be a few irresponsible people on 2 wheels. What else is new? But only focusing on the actions of a few irresponsible individuals, overlooks the reality of riding an eBike on a day to day basis for the majority of riders. The question has to be, how best to limit fatalities overall?

Multi use bike trails make up only a very tiny, tiny percentage of the millions of miles of streets, and roads eBikes ride on. Some areas don't even have a single trail. You have to ask, what represents the most danger? The possibility of a couple of irresponsible riders running someone down on a bike trail, or millions of 2 ton suv running over a bicycle, or eBike going 20 mph on a busy city street? The statics already speak for themselves.

There's not much the bicyclers can really do, other than choose to stay off the street, or accept the risk, but for eBikers there's an easy fix. Ride closer to the posted speed limits, and the speed of traffic flow. That's going to be a lot safer for the majority imho.
 

Paul E.

Active Member
Unfortunately the people who don't ride ebikes or even any bikes don't care about the danger to ebike riders but they would be up in arms if fast ebike riders started running people over, demanding banning all ebikes or at least licensing, registration and rules and regulations like on any motor vehicles.
 

Brambor

Well-Known Member
I don't want my Specialized Turbo to go any faster. I think for speeds above 28mph you'd want a fat bike - or a bike with much fatter tires and a 'bike' frame capable handling vibrations and stress compromises at high speeds. ... and you'd need front and rear suspensions. ... sounds to me like an electric motorcycle... You don't want to be pedaling at 35mph while introducing side to side weaving from the movement of your pedaling motion. It's just me but I don't think this is a good idea. I'd much rather want to see the improvements in power and battery to be directed towards torque..i.e. doing extreme uphills or helping folks who need to pedal into 20+mph wind at for hours at a time.
 

opimax

Well-Known Member
should have bought a Stromer...j/k but it does have the larger tires w/real tread :) and front suspension I am pretty comfy going down hill at 32 and pedaling . And for the record i consider myself a wimp. I would also say that I would rather have much more torque to keep at the 28 then getting up to 4mph faster if that were the trade off, although both would be perfect for me. On my rides I avg 18 or so. if i had the torque to keep at 28 my avg speed would be closer to 25 but if i went 4 mph faster on occasion the avg may go up to 20

for some drivers i would bet if you are in their way doesn't matter whether you are at 30, 35 , 40, or 45 you on a small vehicle and no protection they will still have the attitude you are in my way and offer no resistance to their SUV. The same person will complain wehn you are going 30 and they going 29 , what is the bike going so fast not right crazy bike rider! so Ebikes have a lose/lose on speed either way
 

Rusty

Member
On my commutes on 2 lane roads, it really helps to go 30 or even faster if possible. It dramatically diminishes the amount of bike/auto interaction. Those same cars that would weave over and pass me now just stay behind in my rear view mirror or verrrry slowly gain on me and pass. It's like woooo-ooooo-ooooosshhhh.... when they pass and not like whoosh! whoosh! whoosh! whoosh! in rapid succession which is both un-nerving to me and probably annoying to the car drivers as well.

30 mph or more is not a big deal at all if your bike is designed for it. Take my IZIP Peak for example, it has a fat tapered head tube and fairly wide 27 .5 inch rims (and a rather low and balanced center of gravity-mid drive) and I find it comfortable and balanced at higher speeds. Besides, you don't have to always go fast - but it sure is nice to have the ability to do so.
Rusty
 

Vern

Active Member
To me, 20 is way too slow, but at the same time anything above 30 is a stretch. I think there should be a tiered system, 20 mph for most bikes. Speed pedalecs should hit 30 and be designed to do so. Above 35, I think speed and road vibrations warrant a full suspension and perhaps some sort of licencing. IMO. I can usually maintain about 25 on my Neo Carbon and I am always wishing that I could go a bit faster. I know that I would commute with it more often if I could!
 

PowerMe

Well-Known Member
I think 25mph is a nice compromise. If one can pedal faster then they should be able to do that, but throttle limit is okay by me. Of course I'm not someone who would feel comfortable going faster than 20 - 25mph on a bike and would probably be most comfortable slightly under 20mph. I say that now, having no eBike. Perhaps I'll feel differently when I finally purchase one. And, for the record, I'm terribly slow on my regular hybrid bike, but that's due to being very out of shape.
 

biknut

Active Member
I'm writing this to respond ahead of time, to anyone that wants to claim that a bicycle is unsafe at speeds above 30 mph. Maybe they in fact are but,

Here's a different kind of motor bicycle. Obviously a gas bike. I made this one from an ordinary beach cruiser, made by Kent Bicycles. It was my first. The donor bicycle was purchased new online for about $150 shipped. A lot of Walmart bikes are also made by Kent, so you can assume the kind of quality we're talking about here. Total cost of what you see was about $550, but after that first learning experience, I could have duplicated it for $450.

I rode this bike for over 2500 miles in the course of the next 2 1/2 years, but by the end of that time I had well over $1200 in it, from all the repairs I had to make to keep it running. It tops out at 40 mph, but vibration is so bad at that speed, a more realistic top speed is 35, and a comfortable cruising speed is only 28-30 mph. It only has a coaster brake for crying out loud. Did I mention it goes 40 mph. Obviously no suspension other than the tires. I've never gone down on it.

Believe it or not, there's thousands, and thousands of bikes similar to this bike on the streets of America. Almost every electric bicycle on the market is of superior quality, and safety, to any (all) of these china girls.They out number electric bicycles probably 10 to 1, and yet there's no epidemic of fatalities caused by irresponsible riders, neither on bike trails, nor city streets. Why? Is it because gas bike riders are more responsible, or is it just assumed that eBike riders are just a wild, and dangerous breed?

I'm not talking about manufacturers here, they have to play by a different set of rules. I'm talking about the riders. My question is this, why are so many eBikers such speed wieenie scaredy cats ?



I forgot to mention, this bike weighs 57 lb with full tanks.
 

Shea N Encinitas

Active Member
My question is this, why are so many eBikers such speed wieenie scaredy cats ?
I sometimes remind myself that a good portion of the e-biking community is 50, 60 or beyond in years (I'm 50 btw). We sure don't heal like 24 year olds, and many of us have had serious road biking accidents, myself included. Also traffic, road conditions, and the attitude of drivers varies greatly across the land. Texas VS San Fran for example. I've been bullied right out of the share lane by 6,000 lb vehicles, literally run up on, engine revving terror. I'm glad you've been lucky on chinese crap, but did you ever stop to think it was just that, dumb luck? -S
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Well EBike top speed isn't really limited to 20 mph if the bike has pedal assist.. The top speed of PAS bikes 28 mph.. If riders want faster eibkes then make it a licensed motorbike and go as fast as you wish...Bicycles have no business going 40 mph on a normal basis.
 

biknut

Active Member
Bicycles have no business going 40 mph on a normal basis.
Maybe so, but like I indicated, thousands of them can, that doesn't mean they normally do. I think on average most of the china girls are ridden under 30 mph most of the time.

It's not just china girls though. Here's typical eBike. I say typical, because in the last year since buying my my eBike, I've met 5 other people with eBikes here in Dallas, and that makes 6 counting me. Of the 6 bikes, only 2 are factory bikes, and the other 4 are all conversions. This one has a 3500w Crystalyte front hub motor, with 40ah of 72v battery's in the saddle bags. The owner claims 50 mph, but personally I'm thinking more like 40 or 45 on a flat. I've never actually seen him go over 30 mph on it, but I know that if he nails the thumb throttle, the front tire starts spinning out of control at almost any speed. I've ridden his bike once, and it scares the heck out of me. He's never gone down on it.

 

Nebula722

Member
I think it's time to talk about the elephant in the room, and that's the pitiful top speed of eBikes. My comments are mainly considering conditions in the u.s. because that's where I live, but I'm pretty sure almost everyone, everywhere has the same problem to some degree.

Yes I know in most places the top speed is mandated by law to be 20 mph or less, but a 20 mph top speed is ridicules, and it's also extremely dangerous on a busy city street. I'm sure most of you have probably come to realize that American drivers do not tolerate bicycles riding in traffic, at bicycle speeds well at all.

I consider 20 mph to be bicycle speed, because I know many riders that are young enough, and strong enough to maintain that speed, and even a little higher on their bicycles. There's not much they can do about that, because there's limits to how fast human power alone can take you, but eBikes have no such limitations. In a city that has extensive bicycle infrastructure you might be able to get away with safely commuting on an electric bicycle, but the problem is, that's not very many city's. In absence of that, there's going to be times when you have to ride with your hinny hanging out, it front of a 2 ton bone crusher suv, with a blond babe talking on her cell phone getting annoyed with your rolling road block.

My suggestion for the time being is for manufacturers to provide a way for owners to easily disable all speed limiters on their bikes, for off road use of course. After that it's not the manufacturers business when an owner decides to utilize the off road ability of his bike.

One thing everyone should understand about eBikes is, any eBike can be sold by a manufacturer with any amount of potential power, as long as it's electronically limited to the legal limits of the locality it's being sold in. Theoretically it could have 100 hp, and be electronically limited to 750w. That's one of the reasons I think manufacturers will have to rethink the whole idea of electric motorcycles in the near future, but that's not really what we're talking about here.

My experience tells me that 30 mph is somewhat tolerable to drivers in traffic, but 35 is better. You might contend that those speeds are unsafe, on an average bicycle, and illegal on an eBike, but I would argue that they're safer than 20 mph in traffic, and being legal won't do you any good if you're dead. There's also no reason a purpose built eBike has to be made to the same standards as an average bicycle.

If you're thinking manufacturers can't legally offer illegal performance for their bikes you need to think again. For proof look no further than a Harley Davidson catalog. You'll find hundreds of pages of high performance, non stock parts, offered for off road use only, for 800 lb Road King's and Ultra Glide's, that the closest they ever get to off road riding is maybe going down a dirt driveway.

For an electric bicycle it's a lot easier, and unlike motorcycles, our need for higher performance is urgent. No high compression pistons, or long duration cams are needed. It's just a simple matter of hitting a few buttons on a computer, and walla, instant high performance, for off road use only.

So to summarize, I contend we'd be safer with higher top speeds, and there's no reason manufacturers can't provide a way for us to be able to do that. Which do you prefer, legal, or dead?

Good Morning.

If ebikes become so fast that riders are in traffic lanes I assure you the government would step in and make you license the bike, license you and make you pay insurance. I agree with what you stated and believe their is no legal reason to keep the low speeds in ebikes. If the bikes are sold with a safety to go no faster than 20 mph and the owner disables the safety it is not the companies liability.

Why not buy an electric motorcycle? These bikes can keep up with the traffic.

Personally I don't ride in traffic. If there is not a bike lane or enough room for a bike I take the long way around as I agree with you it is very dangerous in traffic. People are jerks when it comes to bikes and traffic.

I believe riders are at risk even in a bike lane. It appears to me there are a lot of driver that don't care and a lot that do. I have had drivers slow down and let me ride with them "blocking" keeping me safe.
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
I've been watching this since conception. If I want the kind of speed being discussed here I will want the real deal. But I'll keep my ebike and add the Live-Wire to the mix. I think it's apples and oranges.
I will be considering the HD when it hits the showroom. I don't think any government entity will ever consider a 35 to 50 mph ebike a bicycle. Therefore bike lanes and paths are out. Not U.S., or E.U. and the pacific rim nations will never consider it. Even if the U.S. allowed it there wouldn't be enough market to get the price under 10 grand. And for the non cyclist the question would be: 10 grand for 30 mile range or 20 grand for 200 mile range? Most would not consider the 30 miler worth it.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
Maybe so, but like I indicated, thousands of them can, that doesn't mean they normally do. I think on average most of the china girls are ridden under 30 mph most of the time.

It's not just china girls though. Here's typical eBike. I say typical, because in the last year since buying my my eBike, I've met 5 other people with eBikes here in Dallas, and that makes 6 counting me. Of the 6 bikes, only 2 are factory bikes, and the other 4 are all conversions. This one has a 3500w Crystalyte front hub motor, with 40ah of 72v battery's in the saddle bags. The owner claims 50 mph, but personally I'm thinking more like 40 or 45 on a flat. I've never actually seen him go over 30 mph on it, but I know that if he nails the thumb throttle, the front tire starts spinning out of control at almost any speed. I've ridden his bike once, and it scares the heck out of me. He's never gone down on it.

Well this is what i'm talking about... An inexpensive chinese bike, with rim brakes, cheap rims, and hose clamps holding the torque arm, mismatched tires, no suspension..

I can guarantee you that whoever owns Schwinn did not intend this bike to take on 40 lbs of ebike components and run 40- 50 mph...

Even if this was a quality bike, it would have no place on bike paths or bike lanes; it should be licensed like a moped and run on the streets with all the other motor vehicles, or off road..
 

biknut

Active Member
Well this is what i'm talking about... An inexpensive chinese bike, with rim brakes, cheap rims, and hose clamps holding the torque arm, mismatched tires, no suspension..

I can guarantee you that whoever owns Schwinn did not intend this bike to take on 40 lbs of ebike components and run 40- 50 mph...

Even if this was a quality bike, it would have no place on bike paths or bike lanes; it should be licensed like a moped and run on the streets with all the other motor vehicles, or off road..
I would contend that a bike such as this, even with all it's faults, is safer in traffic than your 20 mph eBike.
 

opimax

Well-Known Member
I think I see at least 2different camps here, those who ride on traffic and those that don't. I ride my bike for exercise and fun and almost never go in traffic , maybe to get to a shared use trail. I take side streets and go a little further rather than be on a larger road. On a road above 35 speed limit it just isn't "fun". I could and do on occaision go the roads , not overly concerned but just don't enjoy it.

Bike lanes are an improvement to none but if there isn't a physical barrier , even a small one between me and traffic I consider it to be the same as on the road.

I don't commute or run many errands on my bike so I cant/wont speak to the people who do. At what point it becomes more than bike and a motorized commuter is what we seem to be dancing around. My understanding is somewhere around 35 on regular ebike your input is doing nothing because of aerodynamics. You are pedaling hard but it really is all motor. To me this is no longer a bike and where I believe the European rules an S pedalistic bike w/plates and all should start. Not the speed but where pedaling is useless.

All bikes should have brake lights and turn signals especially ebikes since they electricity anyway :).

Anybody out at night , walking , riding should be required to have lights enough "to be seen". I can't see people on the trails at night even doing the 15 mph posted on the trails wearing dark clothes and nothing reflective, bigger issue than speed to me (as I have said before, I know)

Mark
 
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