E-bike 500w vs. 1000w: The Battle of the Motors

By Chris Wilson

E-bikes are just one of the many aspects of technology that has improved our lives, no doubt about that. Well, the difference between e-bikes may only be on the motor's rating, and this can sometimes be confusing, especially if you are buying for the first time. So what are the differences between an E-bike 500w vs. 1000w rated motor, and which one should you choose?

Read on to find out.

E-bike 500w vs. 1000w: Which is Faster?

The difference between the 500 watts and the 1000 Watts motor is the power. The 1000-watt engine will give you more energy to easily reach top speed and effortlessly uphill than the 500 watts motor. If you will be doing a lot of uphill riding, then the more powerful motor would be sufficient.

The weight of the rider is another crucial factor to consider. A 250 watts e-bike will be enough for you if you weigh 100 pounds, and a 500-watt motor is ideal for a 220lbs individual. Heavier riders can pick the 1000 watts motor. 

The 1000 watt motor has more torque than the 500 watts motor, which will reach top speed much faster. However, other factors, such as the rider's weight, come into play, and can easily bridge the gap.

For example, if you weigh 220 lbs and ride a 500-watt motor e-bike, and another person weighs about 400lbs and rides a 1000 watts motor, the speeds attained may be similar. So, the big difference between a 500w e-bike and a 1000 watt e-bike is power. 

But sometimes it is not always as easy to determine.  

In most cases, a 500-watt motor e-bike is enough for heavier set people. The 1000 Watts rated motor is a bit of overkill. You may not need so much power unless you are around 500 pounds in weight, or you intend to ride in hilly terrains. 

E-bike 500w vs. 1000w: The Battle of the Motors 1

Does it Mean a 1000 Watt E-bike is More Efficient than a 500 Watt E-bike?

Electric motors are designed to operate at a particular RPM range to achieve optimal performance. So, if you compare a 500-watt motor and a 1000 watt motor, you have to ask yourself which between the two will help you travel at the speed you want. 

But the question of efficiency is different from that of speed. Just because a 1000 watt motor can attain a superior-top speed within a particular time does not mean it is more efficient than the 500-watt e-bike. But how is this even possible?

Typically, a motor designed for high speeds will be very inefficient when traveling at low speeds. There is no link between wattage and efficiency, no matter how strange that sounds. 

So the main factors that determine the efficiency of the motor include the motor KV and the power.

  • Motor Kv determines the RPM per volt of input or the spins' intensity at a given voltage. For example, if your motor has a Kv of 10, then supplying it with 5 volts will provide it with a spin of 50 RPM. Multiply the input voltage with the motor KV to get the rpm. 

However, the RPM alone is not sufficient to determine the efficiency of the motor. It also depends on the next factor, which is power.

  • The e-bike will also need sufficient power to overcome mechanical resistance, aerodynamic, incline, and rolling to achieve efficiency. 

If you have a motor rated at 500 watts and another 1000 watts, with a similar Kv rating, their efficiency difference will be minimal. 

  • Lastly, the brand of the e-bike or motor most often comes into play. For example, if you have an excellent quality 500 watts motor on the one hand and a 1000 Watts motor, the 500 watts will be much more efficient. 
Does it Mean a 1000 Watt E-bike is More Efficient than a 500 Watt E-bike?

The Truth about e-Bike Power Rating

The problem with e-bike power rating is that manufacturers do not always use the same standard for one reason or another, such as to go around the importation laws. For example, many countries in Europe limit the wattage of the e-bikes to 250 watts, which is relatively small.

If the 250-watts rated e-bike comes with a 20-watt controller and a 36-volt battery, then the peak power is 720 watts. That means the 250 watts is a significant understatement. But is it ok to do this?

Typically, the manufacturer can do this without any legal implications. They are allowed to state the continuous power wattage the e-bike can comfortably handle without overheating. For example, if the e-bike motor is rated at 250 watts' continuous power, it can operate at 250 watts comfortably forever without overheating and malfunction.

Anything above 250 watts would cause the motor to overheat. But in the majority of the time, this naming convention is inaccurate. As in the example above, this e-bike can manage an output of 720 watts. 

If the recommendation for a 200-pounder is an e-bike with approximately 700 watts motor, then the 250 watts motor e-bike would suffice. The mentioned 700 watts is peak power and not continuous power. 

It is always wise to calculate the wattage by multiplying the battery voltage with the amp controller (volts x amps) in such a scenario. 

Are 1000w Rated e-bikes Allowed?

In the United States, federal law does not make it illegal to own a 1000w rated e-bike and other motor vehicle labels. The individual States usually describe e-mopeds at speeds achievable 30 miles per hour and in the 1000W range. They may include a few other requirements, such as a driver's license, a helmet, and other safety clothing. 

Check your local laws for confirmation. 

What is the Top speed of a 500 Watt e-bike? 

For most brands, a 500-watt e-bike can attain speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. The motor belongs to the class three category, meaning that they can reach 28 miles per hour at the maximum. But this estimate significantly goes down in the face of other factors, such as riding uphill, your weight, and the battery condition. 

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About the author 

Chris Wilson

Chris Wilson, long time fan of personal electric transportation. Chris is not easily impressed when it comes to the latest technologies, however, when he is, nothing can stop him from wanting to share his knowledge with our readers here at ElectricRideLab.com