Updated July 2nd, 2023
Electric bikes are fun to ride but deep inside we all wish our bike would go a bit faster. No one ever said going slower is more run while riding just about anything. How to make an ebike faster and more fun? There are a few things you might be able to do to speed up your ebike. Let’s explore how to give our electric bikes a bit more go juice and amp up the fun.
How to make an ebike faster
Our electric bikes are powered by electric motors. There are some basic physics at work with the motor that governs how fast your ebike can go. This also affects what we can do to make an ebike go faster. Some electric bikes have speed limiters programmed into them. Some of these can be turned off to easily make your bike go faster.
A word of caution. Most things you can do to increase the speed of an electric bike are probably going to void the warranty and may make it illegal to ride on the roads where you are. You may also increase the power beyond what the bike was designed for. This may lead to burned out electronics, going to fast for the breaks, etc… Adventure Gear Insider is not responsible for any damage you do to your bike or yourself trying to make your ebike faster.
Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes, e-bike laws, and e-bike top speeds
Why does your ebike have a speed limiter on it to start with? Much of it has to do with ebike regulations and how fast they can go before they are considered mopeds or motorcycles. It helps determine what ebikes can be ridden on trails that are not meant for motorcycles or other motorized vehicles. California has developed a system of 3 classifications for electric bikes. Several other states and federal organizations have adopted it as well. The classifications are as follows:
- Class 1 e-bike – pedal assist only with no throttle and a top powered speed of 20mph
- Class 2 e-bike – Bike can be powered by the motor alone with a maximum powered speed of 20mph
- Class 3 e-bike – pedal assist only with no throttle and a top powered speed of 28mph
To learn more about electric bike classifications go here.
If you remove the speed limiter from your e-bike it may no longer qualify as a Class 1, 2, or 3 e-bike. Once you can exceed 28mph you may need a moped or motorcycle license to legally ride it on the road. Check with your local regulations to find out what is and isn’t legal for your e-bike. Find out what license, registration, and insurance requirements there are if your e-bike can go faster than a Class 1, 2, or 3 ebike.
Simple ways to make your e-bike faster
There are a few easy things you can do to make your ebike faster that don’t involve modifying it or it’s settings.
1 – Always ride with a charged battery
The voltage your battery produces is always the most when it’s 100% charged. As the battery discharges the voltage drops off. A fully charged Lithium cell will produce 4.2 volts. At 50% charge it will produce 3.6 volts and it will get down to close to 3 volts when it’s fully discharged. Your bike will go faster at 4.2 volts per cell then it will at 3.6 volts per cell. Top off your ebike batteries before riding if you want to go faster.
2 – Change the tires
If your electric bike came with off road or mountain bike tires, change it to road tires. Road tires are smooth with much lower rolling resistance. If you have knobby tires, swap them out with slick tires. Your ebike will go faster since it won’t be working against the tires.
3 – Add more air to the tires
Adding more air to your e-bike tires will reduce their rolling resistance. It will increase the diameter of the wheels meaning you go a little bit farther with each wheel rotation. This will make your electric bike a little bit faster. The downside is that the ride quality will get rougher. You will feel cracks in the pavement more. You will have less traction from over inflated tires as well.
4 – Remove any speed limiter
Some electric bikes have a wired in speed limiter that can be disabled. To turn off the speed limiter you disconnect this wire. It is usually one of the wires connected to the speed controller. It can be different for every ebike. Different colors, different locations, etc.. The below video shows and example of how to disable it on one type of ebike. Search for your particular electric bike to see if there is a wired in speed limiter for it.
5 – Make the speed sensor think you are going slower for mid-drives
If you have a mid-drive ebike, they use a wheel speed sensor on the back wheel. They do this instead of measuring the speed through the motor which won’t work. There are a few ways to trick the speed sensor into thinking the bike is going slower than it is.
The best way I have seen is the move the sensor to your crank instead of the wheel. Your crank will almost always be spinning slower than your rear wheel. Your speedometer will no longer work because it will be based on your crank speed instead of the wheel. You won’t have a speed limiter anymore either. The video below shows how to do this.
6 – Change software settings or up update the firmware
Some electric bikes have a speed limiter programmed into the software or settings. This can be turned off by a setting in the software. In other cases it can gets turned off by uploading different software into the bike.
The below video shows how to change the speed limit by adjusting settings in the ebike.
More complicated hacks to make your e-bike faster
Removing the hardwired or software speed limiters was the easy way to get a faster electric bike. If your ebike doesn’t have a limiter or you still want more speed after removing it there are a few more things we can look at. First let’s take a look at the electric motor powering your ebike and discuss a few things about it. This will help you understand what is necessary to get a faster electric bike.
Electric motor basics
All electric motors have something called a “Kv value” or motor velocity constant. It is labeled in the units RPM/volts. A motor with a Kv of 100 RPM/volt will spin at 1200 RPM when given a 12 volt input. This motor will burn itself up trying to reach 1200 RPM if it has too much load on it to get there. This motor will not spin faster than 1200 RPM with a 12 volt input. The only way it will spin faster is to input more volts. At 14 volts it will spin at 1400 RPM. You can learn more about motor constants here.
The controller for your motor is nothing more than a fancy on/off switch. It controls speed by quickly switching the motor on and off. It runs the motor at lower speeds by switching with more off time. You get 100% throttle by switching with 0% off time. 50% throttle is switching with off occurring 50% of the cycles or pulses. A motor controller can’t make a motor go faster than it’s kV value dictates. Switching controllers alone will never get you more speed.
7 – Increase motor K-value
To make our electric bike go faster with the same battery or input voltage we need a motor with a higher kv value. For the same input voltage, we need more RPM. There are 2 ways to go about doing this. A new motor or rewind the existing motor.
Most e-bikes use an integrated hub motor or a mid-drive motor. They are not simple to just replace with a larger hobby-grade motor you can find online. Rear hub motors usually mean buying a new motor and rear wheel. For mid-drives it means buying a new mid-drive unit. If you have a 24volt e-bike, you will get more speed out of higher voltage system such as a 48 volt motor and battery.
The second way to get a higher Kv motor is to rewind the motor you have. All motors have coils of wire wound around their armatures. To get a motor to spin faster, you need fewer winds around the armature. Fewer winds will give the motor a higher Kv value and your ebike will go faster. The downside is that it will also use more current, generate more heat and it will have reduced range. It will have less torque on startup so you will accelerate slower.
The below video shows how to rewind a small brushless motor. This is not an easy or quick task and it’s easy to mess up. This is not something for the mechanically uninclined to try. You very well may destroy the motor in the process.
8 – Increase voltage – upgrade the battery
The next thing you can do to make your ebike go faster is to increase the battery voltage. There are 2 ways to do this. Add more battery cells, or find higher quality batteries with lower internal resistance and higher voltage under load. Some e-bike power systems are compatible with a range of voltages so you can add more cells or replace it with a higher voltage battery.
Replace the battery with a higher voltage battery
If you have a 36 volt e-bike battery now, there may be a 48 volt battery pack that fits the bike. Just by swapping the battery pack you will get more speed (after disabling any speed limiter)
Hack the battery and add more cells
Take your electric bike battery out and look at it and see if there is room to add more cells to the battery. Is there space inside the electric bike for them to fit? How are the current batteries wired? Are they all in series? Is there balancing circuits for charging?
To get more output voltage you need to add more cells. Each cell will output a given voltage. For lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries that is 3.6 volts per cell. You will get 3.6 volts more total voltage for each cell you can add.
You need to add the same cell type and capacity that is already in the battery pack. You should not mix cell types and capacities inside a pack. This can make charging hazardous do to overcharging potential.
The charger that your ebike came with may be designed for a specific battery voltage. It may not work with a higher voltage battery. You may need to find another way to charge your electric bike batteries after doing this.
The motor controller in your ebike may also have a voltage limit it can operate under. Adding more cells may exceed this limit which can cause it to burn out or go into an over voltage or over current shutdown.
The video below shows how to add battery cells to an e-bike battery.
Use batteries with lower internal resistance
Higher quality batteries designed for higher current outputs have lower internal resistance. Lower internal resistance means that they will have a higher voltage output under load. All batteries have voltage sag when under high current output. Some have much more sag than others. Using better batteries will give you higher voltage under load due to less sag.
Higher capacity batteries are more tolerant of higher currents with less sag. Switching to higher capacity cells of similar quality will also give you higher output voltage under load and more range as a side benefit.
Take a look at your ebike battery pack. You probably need to open up the housing it’s in. Try to find out what type of cells are in the battery pack. Look for any labels with serial numbers or other product identifying number. Then go to your friend Google to try and find that cell and what it’s internal resistance and capacity are. Then try to see if anything better is out there.
9 – Adjust bike gearing on mid-drive motors
If your e-bike doesn’t have motors built into the hubs and uses a mid-drive powering the crank you can adjust the gearing to go faster. Changing the chainring to a larger chainring will give you more speed. It will give you less torque so your low end power will not be as good. If you are somewhere flat without many hills to climb and want to go faster this could be a good option for you.
In most cases the cogs on the rear wheel will not help you here. Most cassettes and freewheels have an 11 tooth as the smallest rear cog gear and smaller will not fit. The only exceptions are the 12 speed Shimano and SRAM systems using Microspline or XD Driver freehub body that can accommodate a 10 or 9 tooth rear cog. If you have a rear wheel with one of those then you can get more top speed by switching to 9 or 10 tooth rear cog from an 11 tooth.
The below video shows how to change the chainring on a Bafang mid-drive unit.
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Co-Founder & Chief Editor
I grew up back east in Pennsylvania and learned to ski on a family trip to Killington, Vermont when I was 6. I immediately fell in love with the mountains and outdoors and have been skiing across the US and Canada ever since. I went to school for Mechanical Engineering, and have a Master’s Degree in Material Science and Reliability.
I am a total gear nerd and love learning how things work and thinking about how they could be improved. Nothing excites me more than trying out new gear. I’d rather spend 3 hours taking my bike apart and learning how to change something than go to a bike shop. These days I reside in Michigan by the Great Lakes and go skiing, biking, and boating as much as possible.