2013: Year of the Illegal Ebike

April 28, 2013

April 28th, 2013  In the last few weeks, Stromer and Specialized have announced new electric bikes that would be illegally fast by USA federal law. According to the USA government, for a motor bike to be classified as an ebike, it must be  no more than 750 watts, and no faster than 20-MPH with no pedaling on flat ground with a 170 pound rider (read more on USA ebike law). Hats off to these companies for offering some fun bikes that are literally law breakers. Here is a list of  10 tips that will help you if  you choose to ride one these illegally fast ebikes on the street, and want to get away with it without getting your beautiful new machine confiscated by the police.

Here is a list of 10 Illegal fast electric bikes:


Optibike 1100,  and 850 (review)


Optibike has recently learned, that the faster they make their electric bikes, the faster they sell, even with premium price tags. This is one of the finest electric bikes on the market, and it comes with a mid-drive that has proven to be ultra reliable. Optibike made it to #1 on our list of fastest production ebikes with its all-around quality and lightweight performance.

The $12,000 Optibike 850 (watts) is capable of 30-MPH, the $15,000 1100 (watts) will supposedly hit 40-MPH, and Optibike is also now testing a 1500 watt prototype.

Optibike requires all new owners of the 1100R to sign a waiver that says they understand that the bike is for “off road use only

Stealth Bomber (review)


The Stealth Bomber comes from the factory with a jumper-wire on the controller that limits it’s top-speed  to 20-MPH. Remove that jumper, and it puts you in “off road mode” and transforms your bomber into a 50-MPH 5,000-watt  beast.

Stealth Fighter (review)

stealth fighter

The Stealth Figher is a lighter, and less fast version of the Stealth Bomber, but it’s still definitely illegal once you take off the factory jumper which limits it.


Specialized Turbo (review)

specialized turbo--2

This is an interesting one. This bike is pedal assist only, and has a modest 250-watt hub motor. Specialized claims it is not only illegal, but the worlds fastest production electric bike with a claimed speed of 28-MPH. I feel this bike without pedal assist (“throttle only” if it was possible) would not surpass 20-MPH and therefore is not illegal. I think the think tank at Specialized got together in a conference room…and the marketing guys said: “Lets build the worlds fastest production electric bike”,  the engineers said “we can do that!” and the execs said: “Let’s not…and just say we did!”  and the marketing guys said “We can do that too. ”  And the lawyer in the back of the room nodded his head.  High Fives.

Stromer ST1 Platinum (review)

stromer st1 platinum

The Stromer ST1 is capable (with pedal assist) of easily hitting speeds of 28-MPH. The controller does not cut off power  at 20-MPH as it does on other production bikes. Stromer has a “tamper resistant” sticker on the downtube of the bike  that says for “off road use only” and makes it very clear in their owners manual etc that this bike should not be ridden on the street.

Outrider USA (article)


This is the most unusual ebike on this list. Federal law still recognizes this as an ebike, even with 3 wheels (4 wheels? forget about it, even if it has pedals). The Outrider Trike (formerly known as FFR trike) comes with factory limits set on the Cycle Analyst to make it street legal. However, the new owner can easily change these factory settings, and transform their mild manner trike into a 6,000 watt 50-MPH super trike, capable of climbing big mountains on a single charge (read how FFR crushed Pikes Peak Race)


Hanebrink Sand Bike (review)


Dan Hanebrink is man with a need for speed, and has been racing electric bikes and motorcycles for years. Although the base model Hanebrink sand-bike is right at federal power limits, Dan Hanebrink is willing and able to make his customer’s Hanebrink as fast as they want (and are willing to pay for).

Hanebrink Hustler (article)

hanebrink with hustler

Speaking of Dan Hanebrink, here is his most prized creation. An 80-MPH electric bike, definitely NOT street legal. Dan Hanebrink argues that it’s legal…it has tiny operational pedals hidden under those fairings, and when he hand-delivers the $20,000 Hustler to your door, it is limited by the Cycle Analyst to put out only 750-watts max and 20-MPH top speed. Maybe Dan when he drops it off  will show you how to take that limit off ;).

Prodeco Outlaw

prodeco outlaw

This $2000 retail bike has a 750 watt direct drive hub motor, with a  1200 watt peak sending this bike to a claimed 28mph. The company was so brazen to call this bike “The Outlaw.”  But they do say  it is “for off road use only”.  The wild wild west the  ebike business is turning into.

Hi Power Cycles

hi power cycle

Hi Power Cycles has been selling illegally fast electric bikes on Ebay for 5 years. They have a bad reputation for grossly exaggerating performance numbers, but their bikes are fast enough to be illegal. They are basically conversion bikes built around the BMC or Crystalyte hub motors, and KHS mountain bikes. Hi Power Cycles sells these bikes as “off road only” and requires all their customers to sign a waiver.

Pedego City Commuter (read review)

pedego city commuter

This is the most unlikely ebike to make this list. But a simple dashboard tweak will take the limits off of this bike, and transform it into a 900 watt peak, 22-MPH electric bike.  Putting a new meaning to the “Fun” slogan of Pedego, blasting around on an Illegally fast City Commuter, that looks like a girls bike.

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


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