An electric bike is way faster than a regular bike (even with the maximum speed pedal assistance limit of 20-28mph); hence, e-bike owners can get around with almost twice the top speed of an average cyclist (who with regular bikes can only reach a top speed of 15mph).
Even though this is enough for most casuals, you might have heard about professional riders and E-bike enthusiasts who have all the fun they can get by removing the E-bike speed limiter on their electric bicycles and whizzing through outdoor trails or country roads; and you might be wondering: is it possible to remove the speed limiter on your own eBike?
Yes, you can remove the speed limiter or “derestrict” your E-bike to run at much higher speeds, but you need a special tuning kit or an easy-to-manipulate speed sensor on your eBike.
Also, the speed limiter of some eBikes can be removed by insulating or cutting up a single wire. Therefore, to help you understand more about removing the speed limiter or de-restricting an electric bike, bear with me as I will cover several topics such as:
How To Remove Speed Limiter On An eBike using a Special Tool Kit.
How To Remove Speed Limiter On An eBike using the “Handy Method.”
Things you Should Know Before Derestricting an Electric Bike.
With that out of the way, let’s get into it.
How To Remove Speed Limiter On An eBike using a Tuning Tool Kit
For most well-known electric bike motors such as Bosch, Shimano, and Brose, you can use a special E-bike tuning kit that you can purchase and set up to disconnect the speed limiter on your E-bike. These tool kits either hijack the signal from the sensors and tone it down or hack the central controller to lift the speed limit entirely.
One of the most well-known brands that manufacture tuning kits is SpeedBox; their catalog of SpeedBoxes includes a compact electronic device that you can install inside the motor housing and connect easily using the provided cable connections. It is a very easy-to-use electric bike tool kit that, apart from removing the speed limiter, affords you tons of other features such as:
Customizing the speed limit
Setting up a motor lock
Show detailed speed data from your rides
Quick disable for tuning settings (Tuning Invisible Mode)
Showing actual values on the speedometer instead of a slower rate. (Available in more recent SpeedBoxes)
Bluetooth Interfacing via An App
Currently, this computer unit is compatible with multiple eBike motor manufacturers such as Bafang, Panasonic, OLI, and Giant. (Including the ones mentioned above.)
If you’re hoping to purchase a Speed Box for your E-Bike, I recommend purchasing the latest version (SpeedBox 3. x B.Tuning). However, make sure to check for compatibility with your E-bike and motor proper to purchase.
Other brands include names such as ASA, SpeedChip, and VOLspeed.
Benefits of Taking out the Speed Limiter an eBike using a Dedicated Tool Kit
Here are some of the benefits you can get by disabling the speed limiter on your E-Bike using a tuner kit circuit.
No messing around with the sensors: Compared to the handy method, setting up a computer unit is cleaner and more efficient. You don’t have to drag the sensors, mess with electrical tape and make it look very obvious that you’ve done something to the bike.
Stealth Design: Speaking of making it look obvious, with E-bike kits, you can safely install the speed limiter on your electric bike stealthily, where on the surface, it would look like an average “law-abiding” E-bike. (Most often, the kit would hide inside the bottom bracket, along with the motor housing)
Easy to Customize: Most tuning kits would offer several features, such as the ability to switch back to the default speed limiter setting or set up a custom speed limit. On top of that, they could also collect data such as the power draw, motor speed, actual speed, etc., and relay that information to the rider via a mobile app.
Shows the Actual Speed: More advanced tuning kits (such as the 3. x version of SpeedBoxes) can directly hack into the E-bike’s internal computer and make it display the real speed at which you are riding, a feature that is sorely missed when you use the handy method or cut off the speedometer cable.
Drawbacks of using Special Tool Kits
Need special tool kits: Unfortunately, the installation process is not so simple. You have to remove the crank, take out the motor cover, unplug the required connections and plug them back into the speed limiter circuit. The process requires special bicycle tools including a crank puller. (Check out this guide by SpeedBox.)
Somewhat Expensive: Unfortunately, these computerized speed limiters are not free. Although you won’t need to spend thousands of dollars, a third-gen SpeedBox will cost you somewhere around $200.
How To Remove Speed Limiter On An eBike using the “Handy method”
Apart from setting up a tuner circuit, you can also “hack” the speed sensor on your E-bike to output values lower than the speed limit, even while you are riding at higher speeds.
This method is widely known as the “Handy” or “By-hand method.” It involves setting up the speed sensor and the spoke magnet such that the revolutions are measured at a lower frequency than the actual speed at which the electric bike is rolling. This way, the onboard computer thinks that the E-bike has a smaller wheelbase and won’t try to limit the speed.
However, this method heavily relies on the location of the speed sensor and how easy it is to manipulate the sensor and the magnetic device/sensor magnet that measures revolutions.
Here’s how it’s most often done in well-known eBikes using the pedal bracket as the base for the magnet. Please take note that for this method, you don’t need special E-bike tools, only some extra zip ties, electrical tape, and a magnet that fits:
First, look for the spoke magnet and the speed sensor in the rear wheel of your E-bike.
After you spot the sensor, cut off any zip ties, unscrew the speed sensor and roll it backward such that instead of waiting for the spoke magnet to pass through, it now waits for the pedal.
Secure the speed sensor in this new configuration using either zip ties or insulation tape. (Electrical tape is better since you can easily remove it while also giving it a steadier grip.)
Finally, use a new slimmer magnet or tape the old one (As long as there’s enough clearance between the pedal and the chainstay) into the side of the pedal such that it meets the speed sensor whenever the pedal rotates a complete cycle.
With this “hands-on” method, you can easily lift the speed ban and ride your E-bike at high speed as long as you don’t pedal at a faster pace. (Which is almost impossible now since you’ll need to pedal like crazy to make the new “pedal sensor” read 20-28mph.)
Pros of Derestricting an eBike using the Handy Method
Affordable: Using this method, you don’t have to worry about spending hundreds of dollars on an extra circuit or tool kit; everything you need for this method can be easily obtained without jumping the $50 mark.
Less Invasive: Despite looking like you just performed surgery on the E-bike’s chainstay, this “handy” method is less invasive digitally (than special tuner kits.) The onboard computer won’t detect any unusual speed changes and won’t identify any special circuits in between. Therefore, the chance of your manufacturer finding out that you’ve been tampering with the default mode is minimal. (Unless they implement a method to measure current draw from the motor and compare it with the speedometer data, which is sort of a long shot.)
Easy to Revert: When you’ve set up the magnetic device and speed method on the pedal crank, it is very easy to restore it to its original condition. Remove all the electrical tape, attach the old magnet, and fasten the speed sensor with a couple of zip ties. Unlike the tuner method, you don’t have to mess with the electrical connections, pull up the crank, or dig into the motor housing to remove the circuit.
Easy to Set Up: Also, piggybacking off the point I mentioned above, the whole thing is easy to set up. You only need a handful of common tools and less than ten minutes of your time.
Cons of Removing the Speed Limit of an eBike using the Handy Method
Easy to Spot: Other E-bikers or law enforcement personnel will spot an E-bike set up in this configuration easily. They just need to take a gander at the frame bases or chainstay, and voila, a derestricted E-bike with a tampered speed sensor and magnet on the pedal bracket.
Inaccurate Speedometer: Unfortunately, with this makeshift method, there’s no way you’re going to get an accurate reading on your speedometer. (Regardless of whatever wheel size you’re on.) So if you set it up on the crank pedal or closer to the rim’s sidewall, it will always show you riding at a slower speed; hence, you won’t be able to get a proper estimate of your full speed when riding.
Less Customization: With this method, you won’t be able to switch back and forth between the default and unrestricted E-bike speed. On top of that, there are no smart features such as custom speed limiters, speed data collection, and motor locks.
What you Should Know About Before You Remove the Speed Limiter
Removing the electric bike’s speed limiter may seem trivial, but there are a host of other issues you have to contend with.
In Europe and several states in the US, there are laws regarding the speed limit of an electric bike. Most street-legal E-bikes are limited to a top speed of 20-28mph. Therefore, if you remove the speed limiter of your E-bike, it is considered illegal to ride it around government property; hence, you will have to stick to country roads and off-road trails, away from the public.
Also, if you modify your E-bikes speed limiter in any way, it will void your warranty. It is why many professional bikers and enthusiasts prefer to modify older bikes that have outlived their warranty periods.
Although you might get away with tuning an eBike by taking out the tuner circuit or repositioning the speed sensor before you put it into the shop, it’s very unlikely since most manufacturers will run diagnostics on the motor to identify any abnormalities. (Easy to diagnose if you run the motor at a faster pace for extended periods.)
Although you can have lots of fun riding around at a higher speed, it is illegal and unsafe for you and other parties. In the event of an accident, you will be completely liable since you were riding around with an illegally-modified electric bike.
Impact on your Electric Bike
Although the motor is designed to run at a higher speed rate (and limited electronically because of legal ramifications), the other components on most electric bikes (such as the tires, battery, brakes, and gears) aren’t designed to endure faster speeds of 40-60mph.
Therefore, your tires will wear out faster, your batteries will have reduced range, and you might need to service or replace your bicycle chain and gear system more frequently.
Derestricting an electric bike is not for everyone; it’s illegal and unsafe. However, if you are willing to brave the risks, additional costs, the warranty, and legal implications, you can unleash your electric bike’s maximum performance.
There are two well-known methods to derestrict an electric bike, and that is with the help of a tuner kit designed specifically to lift the electric bike’s speed limiter or by fooling the central controller. (Repositioning the speed sensor to read the revolutions of your pedal crank instead of the rear wheel spokes.)
Both methods have their pros and cons, so be sure to consider the downsides and prepare accordingly.
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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