Considering the advantages: electric bikes are way more eco-friendly than cars and twice as efficient as regular bicycles. Therefore, when deciding between a regular bicycle and an automobile, an electric bike is the best option for many people for commuting and running simple errands.
One of the factors that determine an E-bike’s effectiveness is the speed. If an E-bike cannot reach speeds higher than a regular bicycle’s maximum speed of 15mph, it’s not worth investing in. E-bikes need to be faster and more efficient without making the rider put too much effort.
Simply put, a 250W E-bike, which is the average wattage of most casual street-legal electric bikes, can reach a maximum speed of 20mph on perfectly flat terrain.
However, the maximum speed depends on a lot of factors such as the environment, rider, and the power transfer of the E-bike motor. So to discuss more on how you can utilize a 250W E-bike more efficiently, I’ve put together this guide on several related topics such as:
The Maximum Speed Limit of a 250W Electric Bike
Class System of E-bikes
Tips on How to Improve the Speed of your E-bike
Choosing Between Hub Motors and Mid-Drives
The Aspects of Maintaining a 250W E-bike
Several Options for a Fast 250W E-bike
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s rollout.
How Fast Can A 250W Electric Bike Go
As I mentioned, E-bikes have maximum speeds that are much higher than regular bicycles, and in most cases, the higher the power draw of the electric bike motor, the higher the wattage and higher the maximum speed.
Although electric bikes come in several power levels, the most common (and street-legal) one is 250W. Even the best electric bikes with 250W of power can only reach a maximum speed of 20mph (even under the best circumstances). E-bikes with high-power motors (such as 500W, 750W, etc.) can reach high speeds of around 28-40mph, but these are illegal to ride in cities and depletes the battery much faster.
Sometimes, a 250W motor can feel more powerful and responsive than a 500W. It all depends on various factors, so in the following sections, let’s discuss how you can prioritize these to gain the maximum power from your 250W electric bike.
Factors that Affect the Maximum Speed
Here are some factors that can affect the maximum speed at which you can ride your E-bike.
Terrain and Weather: Where you ride your bike and under what weather conditions can seriously affect the overall performance of your electric bike. When you are riding on a flat smooth surface, such as well-packed gravel or asphalt, you will be able to ride much faster than when you would ride around in loose soil and rocky terrain. On top of that, if there’s heavy rain or snow, your tires will not have enough traction, so you might be slower than expected.
Tires: The type of tires you use on your E-bike can drastically affect the top speed. You have to match the tires with the terrain. Otherwise, you will be slower or much more susceptible to collisions or punctures. For riding at higher speeds on smooth roads, you need to use dedicated road tires, off-road tires, or all-terrain ones that will slow you down. Although, be careful when it’s wet as road tires, especially those with a slick tread, can lose traction and slip.
Weight: The weight of the rider and the gear they are carrying can also impact an E-bike’s speed. If you are a relatively heavy rider, the motor has to put more power to roll the bike along. Although this wouldn’t be too much of an impact on flat ground, it is very apparent when trying to climb steep hills. In extreme cases, a 250W motor will not be able to support the rider; hence, you need high-power motors such as a 500W electric bike).
Legal Limits: For legal reasons and safety, most E-bikes come with a powerful motor handicapped via software to run at 20-28mph (depending on the class). Although you can remove the speed ban using tuner chips and DIY methods, it is considered illegal and unsafe. In most cases, it is the primary reason why E-bikes cannot go any faster.
Where Could I use a 250W Electric Bike Efficiently?
A 250W electric bike is the most commonly-used power rating for most electric bikes, and depending on the other components, you can use a 250W E-bike in countless situations such as the ones mentioned below.
Commuting/City Cruising: 250W E-bikes are the most efficient for commuting. A commuting E-bike doesn’t need to be too taxing since you need to get to your workplace clean and fresh without even breaking a sweat. Also, since you will be riding around flat ground most of the time, you won’t have to pedal too hard or use up all the battery. I recommend going for a 250W hub drive with throttle (usually class 2) since you will be able to accelerate faster when the traffic lights turn green.
For Seniors and Physical Rehabilitation: For riders who need some help getting their pedals on, a front hub or rear hub with throttle and 250W of power will be more than enough. They will be able to ride safely and allow the motor to take over whenever they feel tired.
Delivery Drivers: For many delivery riders around the city, delivering food, small packages, and letters, a 250W E-bike will be fast enough. Sure, they won’t be able to pedal faster than 20mph, but it beats a regular bicycle and definitely beats cars since you can swerve around traffic and complete your deliveries on time.
That said, here’s who won’t be benefitting from 250W motor sizes:
Basically, in any heavy-duty situation where you have to haul extra weight, cycle through rough trails hit hills head-on, and breeze through at higher speeds.
If not 250W, Which Power Level Should I go for?
So, if you are hoping to tame a steep hill or carry hundreds of pounds of gear from one state to the other, you need an E-bike with a little more “oomph;” hence, 250W Electric bikes will not quite cut it.
Here’s a quick comparison of the de-restricted maximum speeds of different wattage motors:
250W: As mentioned previously, 20mph.
500W: With a 500W electric bike, you can reach speeds of around 25mph.
750W: Peaks at 28mph, the final legal limit for class 3 electric bikes.
1000W: If you tune it, you can get around 35mph with minimum weight and the proper tires on perfectly flat ground
1500W: With these bad boys, you might be able to trail through at 40mph, although strictly on private property or country trails.
How to Size Up the Battery Capacity for a 250W Electric Bike
A 250W electric bike doesn’t consume much energy and won’t provide you with higher amounts of torque. They are supposed to be lightweight E-bikes with relatively smaller batteries than their high-power counterparts.
As a result, the range of most 250W electric bikes is limited to 50-60 miles with the pedal assist on flat ground. So if you manage to pedal more and not always rush through at max speed, you will have enough battery to last the entire day.
In most cases, 250W electric bikes will only have 300-600Wh batteries. Anything more than that will add to the weight and provide diminishing returns. So if we are talking about a battery with a voltage of 48V, the battery capacity would amount to 12.5Ah (for 600Wh).
How to Size Up the Range for a 250W Electric Bike
Calculating the range of such a battery pack, assuming that we would be running the motor at 100% of the rated continuous capacity during the entire ride (250W), we would get able to ride around 2.4 hours on a single charge.
Also, assuming that we ride at the maximum speed of 20mph during this entire length, we would get a range of around 48 miles. (Which is not too bad for a commuter or city cruiser.) Therefore, when you are sizing up a battery on a 250W E-bike, make sure to use this system to calculate the expected range.
It’s not the most reliable method, but it will give you a ballpark figure of the range. Once again, here’s how you can do it step-by-step for any E-bike:
First, get the Voltage and the Amp-hour capacity of the battery pack
Calculate the Watt-hours of the battery pack by multiplying the Voltage and Amp-hours
Divide the Watt-hour rating by the continuous/nominal power value of the motor
Multiply the resulting hours by the maximum speed
The result is the minimum range you can expect from your electric bike when the motor is continuously running.
Nominal (Continuous) Power VS Peak Power
Apart from sizing up the battery and range, you also need to ensure the electric bike you are considering has 250W as the nominal continuous power instead of the peak power.
Although most E-bikes rate their motors at the nominal (continuous) wattage rating, it doesn’t hurt to dig through the spec sheet and confirm the nominal and peak ratings of an electric bike.
The continuous rating implies that the motor can run at this wattage perpetually without overheating. Meanwhile, the peak power rating is used for only a couple of seconds when the motor needs to initialize or help push up a hill. It’s not recommended to use motors at peak power since they will overheat and wear down faster. (Thankfully, most electric bicycles from reputable manufacturers include protection circuits and a responsive speed limiter to prevent this from happening.)
Hub Motors VS Mid-Drive Motors: Which is the Best for a 250W Electric Bike
Primarily, there are two types of motor options for electric bikes: mid-drive motors and hub motors. Simply put, mid-drive motors attach directly to the drivetrain of your bicycle and transfer power to the ebike chain or belt. Meanwhile, hub drives sit inside the hub of either the front or rear wheel and transfer power to the wheels via the spokes.
In the case of torque, and pedaling efficiency, mid-drive motors are considered the better option. A 250W mid-drive can transfer power more effectively and help overcome steep hills and rocky terrain without burning out, whereas you need more power from a hub motor to achieve the same result.
So if you understand the differences between hub drives and mid-drives but still want a 250W electric bike instead of going for high-power options, a mid-drive motor is what you need. If you need more information on how to choose between a hub drive and a mid drive ebike, you can check our article here.
The Aspects of Maintaining a Fast 250W Electric Bike
Luckily, with a 250W electric bike, you don’t have to do a lot of maintenance, especially if you use it inside the city and go slower than the allowed speed limit.
In terms of maintaining the battery pack, you would need to top it up regularly in order to keep it ready. Don’t keep the battery charging overnight since this can result in overcharging, and make sure to maintain a charge level of 30%-80% if you are not using the electric bike for extended periods. (Don’t let it self-discharge as that could impact the lifecycle of the battery.)
Also, if you are using a throttle-based hub-drive motor, try not to rely on it too much when climbing steep hills as it can burn out. So, if you want a bike for climbing steep hills, you may check out this article about the best ebikes for climbing steep hills.
Class System of E-bikes
Unlike high-powered motors, a 250W motor can span all three classes since the motors are under the minimum wattage level of 750W. However, due to their maximum speed limit, they can only be found in class 1 and class 2 E-bikes.
Here’s how the class system comes into play:
Class 1: E-bikes with a maximum speed of 20mph and full assistance during pedaling. Unfortunately, with no throttle functions.
Class 2: E-bikes with the same top speed of 20mph and with both types of assistance, throttle, and pedal.
Class 3: Pedal-assist only, with a 28mph top speed. (Most often 500W or 750W motors.)
Class 4: De-restricted E-bikes that are not permitted to run on public roads.
A 250W electric bike won’t be as fast as a 750W counterpart, but it can definitely beat a regular bicycle. So if you are looking for a commuter bike or casual cruiser, where a top speed of 20mph is enough to get you from point A to point B without sweating like a pig, 250W will provide enough power. However, make sure you understand the different types of motors and use-cases as it won’t be very convenient to go racing or mountain biking with a 250W motor.
Andrew Strider is an electric bike enthusiast. He currently owns 5 electric bikes and is an active member of his local electric bike club where he is able to test many other models/brands a few times a month.
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