If you’re wondering how to speed-unlock an electric bike to get the most out of it, this ultimate guide on e-bike unlocking is meant for you!
Most electric bikes are equipped with a speed limiter that caps how fast you can go. The maximum permissible speeds vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the general consensus is at around 32km/h (20mph).
This speed limit can be quite frustrating to some riders as the engine cuts off the pedal-assist you get from the motor as soon as you hit the maximum speed. If you’re one of such e-bike users, this guide to speed-unlocking electric bikes is all you need – read on!
Here’s what we’ll be covering today:
Speed Limit Regulations in the US and Europe
In all parts of the world, there are laws and regulations governing the use of electric bikes – just as is the case with other methods of transportation. Whether you’re based in Europe or the US, you will come across some laws that you are to abide by as an e-bike rider.
In the US, federal regulations restrict the maximum speed of electric bikes to 20mph (32km/h) when they’re powered solely by the motor. Furthermore, in order to differentiate and categorize electric bikes from other vehicles, the motor of the e-bikes must not exceed 750W.
The US has a three-class system to limit the speed of an electric bike:
- Class 1 e-bikes include those electric bikes whose motor provides assistance during pedaling and stops to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches the speed of 20mph (32km/h).
- Class 2 e-bikes include electric bikes equipped with a motor that can exclusively propel them. Also, the motor must stop providing assistance when the e-bike reaches the speed of 20mph (32km/h).
- Class 3 e-bikes include those electric bikes whose motor provides assistance during pedaling and stops to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches the speed of 28mph (45km/h).
The Class 1 and 2 e-bikes cannot have a top assisted speed beyond 20 mph (32km/h), while the Class 3 e-bikes must not exceed an assisted speed of 28 mph (45km/h).
If your e-bike follows the aforementioned criteria, you are legally free to ride it as you would ride a traditional bike. This obviously isn’t the case with higher-speed and more powerful e-bikes which are meant for offroading.
In Europe, most states require an EPAC (Electrically Pedal Assisted Cycle) to have an auxiliary motor with a continuous power of no more than 250 watts. As for the maximum allowed speed, the EPAC must progressively cut off assistance from the motor as the rider reaches a speed of 25 km/h or stops pedaling.
To put it simply, almost all countries legally demand electric bikes to have a certain maximum speed, though local laws may vary from place to place. This is why e-bikes are equipped with a speed limiter.
How Does E-Bike Speed-Unlocking Work?
E-bikes are an environment-friendly and high-performance alternative to traditional methods of commuting. However, they are also very thrilling to ride. Whether you’re someone who’s interested in e-bike racing or just a casual user who rides e-bikes for fun, you’ll agree that the experience of an e-bike may be hampered by the speed limit.
Once you’ve reached the top speed prescribed by the manufacturer, which is usually about 32km/h, your e-bike won’t accelerate any further. Such a speed restriction brings all joy of an exciting e-bike ride to a disappointing halt.
Luckily enough, there are ways you can work around this speed restriction by speed-unlocking your e-bike, commonly referred to as tuning or de-restricting. Normal e-bikes have a system that keeps a check on how fast you’re going and how fast you’re pedaling. This information is then used to control the amount of pedal assist you get from the motor.
However, as you reach the top speed, a signal is transmitted in the system that deactivates any further drive released by the e-bike. As this system is working with how fast you’re pedaling, you can trick it into thinking that you’re going much slower than the maximum speed. In some cases, you can make it stop “thinking” at all!
That’s the basic principle behind speed-unlocking an electric bike. However, before getting into the intricate details behind how you can achieve speed-unlocking, it’s crucial that you take the following factors into consideration.
Things to Keep in Mind Before You Unlock an E-Bike
Before you go around messing about the expensive circuitry of your e-bike, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Speed-unlocking an e-bike to go faster than the speed limit dictated by the law is not legal in most areas.
- Having meddled with the components of your e-bike, any repair warranty that you got from the manufacturers will be nullified. Therefore, they won’t be repairing any damage your e-bike faces in the future.
- More speed means more power and battery consumption. In a nutshell, you’ll find yourself needing to charge your e-bike’s battery much more often than usual.
- The overall range or the maximum distance you can cover on a single charge may decrease.
- A higher load may strain or damage the circuitry inside the e-bike.
- Government property or areas with specific speed limits will become inaccessible to you.
- The braking distance of your e-bike may be affected at higher speeds.
- A common misconception among e-bike riders is that de-restricting your e-bike will make the motor more powerful. This is entirely false as the motor and the rest of the machinery will stay exactly the same.
- Riding at fast speeds can be dangerous and unsafe.
That covers only a handful of things you should be mindful of before speed-unlocking your e-bike. The first thing you should check is the speed limit for e-bikes in your area, and see how the rest of these factors will impact your ride.
How to Speed-Unlock an Electric Bike?
There are two common ways to speed-unlock an electric bike.
- Removing the rear wheel magnet
- Using a tuning toolkit
Let’s go into depth about each of these methods one by one and see how you can speed-unlock your e-bike.
1. Removing the Rear Wheel Magnet
The focus of this method of speed unlocking an electric bike is the base sensor. However, this mechanical method only works if your e-bike allows it, meaning that it may not be an option for all e-bike models out there.
The job of the sensor is to read the instantaneous state of the bike and feed that information to the governing software. In return, the computing unit then deciphers the information and controls how much electrical assistance you get from the motor. So, to change the speed limit, all you have to modify is the interaction between the sensor and the e-bike controller.
Electric bikes with large wheels are usually faster, and the speed, in general, is measured using the circumference of the wheels. You’ll find a magnet at the base of the frame at the rear wheel. By relocating this magnet, you can modify how many times it goes around the wheel as you propel forward.
So, by moving the magnet, you can trick the computer into calculating a speed that’s lower than how fast you’re actually going. This way, you can de-restrict your e-bike without having to disassemble any of the machinery.
Here are the steps you need to follow:
- Take the magnet and base sensor out of their predefined locations.
- Place the magnet on the pedal bracket of your e-bike.
- Relocate the sensor such that it faces the magnet.
2. Using a Tuning Toolkit
Another way of tuning your electric bike’s speed limit is by using a tuning toolkit. This method is more technical and costlier than the previous one, but an option to consider nonetheless.
Having heard numerous complaints from users about the speed limits, e-bike manufacturers have solved the problem by developing tuning kits. One of the advantages of this method is that you can return to normal e-bike operation whenever you want by deactivating the effects of these kits.
There are usually two types of speed-unlocking toolkits, one of which requires circuit disassembly and the other doesn’t. Using these kits is fairly easy and you shouldn’t face too much difficulty once you get your hands on them. Furthermore, you’ll be provided with a user manual containing all the details, so you’ll be covered in all cases.
DIY Hacks to Increase the Speed of an E-Bike
In addition to the traditional methods of speed unlocking (using a tuning kit and removing the sensor magnet), there are other ways to achieve the same effect as well. Let’s look at what they are!
1. Getting a More Powerful Motor
E-bikers have reported that getting a new and more powerful motor installed in their bikes allows them to go about 10km/h faster than the speed limit, if not more. This is also a viable option if you’re considering de-restricting your e-bike.
2. Changing the Tires
Professional e-bikers and racers are commonly found to be using thin tires instead of fat bulky ones. This is because if your goal is a higher top speed, any extra weight is going to hold you back. Additionally, thin tires help you get to the top speed much quicker.
However, it is important to keep in mind that if you own a mountain e-bike or an offroader, it’s best to keep thick tires. This will ensure that the tires don’t rupture as you make your way through rough terrain.
3. Improving the Aerodynamics
It’s common knowledge that vehicles are given streamlined shapes to improve their aerodynamics. The same goes for electric bikes as well. For instance, installing a windshield is reported to have increased the speed of e-bikes by 5km/h!
The main reason behind this significant improvement is that your e-bike faces less drag and resistance as you trudge through the wind. Also, the overall efficiency of the e-bike gets enhanced too.
4. Adjusting the Settings
Most e-bikes feature an LCD display interface on the handlebars that contains all the settings and details of the e-bike. Some models also have a setting that counts the number of revolutions your e-bikes wheels make in a certain period of time. This setting is used to calculate the speed.
Moreover, there’s also an option that lets you adjust the size of your wheels. So, for instance, if you have an electric bike with 26-inch wheels, you can use the LCD display to change it to, let’s say, 18 inches.
As a result, the computing unit will calculate a slower speed than your real speed, thereby allowing you to go faster than the prescribed speed limit.
5. Installing a More Powerful Battery
Another way of working around the speed limit is changing your e-bike’s battery. Usually, e-bikes have batteries ranging from 24 to 72 volts. By replacing your battery with a more powerful, high-voltage one, you can go faster than the normal speed limit of 32km/h.
If you’re considering implementing this method, make sure to check if your motor is capable of providing enough power with the new battery. If it isn’t, you may end up frying the control panel and damaging the internal circuitry.
A safe approach would be to get an electrician to help you through the process of determining the power ratings and only then proceed with this method.
6. Ride Like a Professional
Posture is crucial when it comes to riding bikes. It’s not only important for your health but also improves your riding speed. If you’ve watched professional bikers before, you’ll know that they have a certain hunched-up posture as they glide through the wind.
Improving your posture is like a cheap alternative to installing a windshield. It improves aerodynamics and offers less resistance when riding.
FAQs About Speed Unlocking of Electric Bikes
How can I unlock the speed of my electric bike?
You can unlock the speed of your electric bike by either removing the rear wheel magnet or using a tuning toolkit.
How can I increase the speed of my e-bike without unlocking it?
You can increase the speed of your electric bike without unlocking it by installing a more powerful motor, changing its tires, improving its aerodynamics, and optimizing its settings.
Can I hack my electric bike to go faster?
Yes, you can hack your e-bike to go faster by manipulating its system settings through your LCD panel. For instance, if your bike has 26-inch wheels and you change it to, say, 18 inches, the computing unit will calculate a slower speed, allowing you to go faster than the speed limit.
What are the drawbacks of unlocking the speed of an e-bike?
Speed-unlocking an e-bike to go faster than the speed limit is illegal in most areas. In addition to that, most manufacturers also nullify your repair warranty as a consequence of your meddling with the components of your electric bike.
Speed limits can ruin the fun of an exciting e-bike ride. However, the option of speed-unlocking provides the possibility of going beyond the default speed limits set on most e-bikes. There are multiple ways to accomplish speed-unlocking, two of which we discussed here.
If you’re planning to speed-unlock your e-bike, please take into consideration all the consequences of it beforehand. It may be illegal in your area, as it is in most places, to ride faster than 32km/h. Also, make sure to wear protective gear and take all the safety precautions when you’re on the road.