E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?

In-depth pedal assist and throttle electric bikes comparison with e-bike classification.
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Last updated: December 27, 2022
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For those who have been looking into pedal assist vs throttle bikes, it can be confusing to know which is the right kind of bike to choose. There are various electric bikes on the market these days and they all offer unique benefits that might be right for you. The choice between pedal assist and throttle bikes can offer one of the most fundamental differences between these different bike styles and help you to track down the right bike for your needs.

If you are ready to look into the difference between these two kinds of e-bike in more detail, you need to keep reading!

Classification of Electric Bikes

E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?There are three basic classes of bikes that you need to be aware of:

  • Class 1 bikes which can go up to 20 mph with pedal assistance
  • Class 2 bikes that are capable of 20 mph with pedal assistance or a throttle assist
  • Class 3 bikes that can go up to 28 mph with pedal assistance or up to 20 mph with a throttle

Not all throttles work the same way, and there are various design options that can impact the efficiency of your riding. You will also need to be aware of what local laws allow as far as top riding speed and what local licensure and minimum riding ages are. The classification of e-bikes often depends upon these various factors to some extent.

Classification of e-bikes Trusted Source Benefits | E-Bike Guide An e-bike is a transportation option that can also serve as an exercise. Riding an e-bike to travel has very similar health benefits to riding a bike for exercise, except that the e-bike has the added benefit of being able to give the rider a short break. u.osu.edu can also help you to pair yourself up with the right bike for your needs. The local laws, your age and your fitness, and also the kinds of terrain that you need to cover can impact your choice with regard to the class of bike that you end up with. You might also want to consider the weather conditions and the seasonal use of your bike when you are looking at the various classes of e-bikes.

There are e-bikes that are made for off-road use and are more like mountain bikes, but they will fit within these classes that are used to rank road use and legality of use. No matter what kind of style of e-bike that you are interested in, the classes will apply to them, and these classes will dictate the need for a license and the limitations that are imposed on the places where you can use your bike.

Being educated about the classes of these devices can help you to be sure that you are getting the right bike for your needs. As a general rule of thumb, Class 1 bikes are legal to use almost anywhere, and this can be the biggest argument for choosing this kind of bike over other bike styles that fall into the other classes. This class of bike is often the best option for those who are new to the e-bike world as well.

Now that you know how bikes are classified, you can start looking at articles that tell you about the best class 3 electric bikes or the best electric cargo bikes, based on your personal needs.

Pedal Assist Overview

E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?
Pedal-assist bikes are perfect for daily rides and commuting. They provide power only when you pedal, which makes the ride less fatiguing and much easier.

Pedal-assist bikes provide power only when you pedal. This can be really ideal if you are going to be commuting and want to make your ride easier. This is not necessarily a way to access the “top power” of a bike, and it is not one of the speediest ways to get around, but it is often the most useful for people looking to get an e-bike for daily use.

Pedal assistance can come in various levels as well. Torque-sensing makes a difference when it comes to the potential of a pedal-assist system as well. The entirety of the way that the system is arranged impacts how effective it is in delivering support for your pedaling. Pedal assist bikes are a great option for those who enjoy riding but are not necessarily looking to tackle tough terrain or long commutes each day. You will enjoy an easier ride Trusted Source No. 3061: Electric Bicycles and Energy Efficiency Today, we get a boost. The University of Houston presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them. www.uh.edu that is less fatiguing and which can help you to save time and effort when you are on your bike.

These bikes are often cheaper than a throttle-assisted bikes as well and can be easier to charge and maintain. The more that you invest in an upgraded pedal-assist bike, the more power you will be able to generate as you are pedaling. This factor can be the difference between choosing a throttle-assisted bike and one that offers a more gentle kind of support, like a pedal-assisted system.

Torque and Cadence Sensing

There are two basic kinds of pedal assist that you can select from. Before looking into the best electric bikes under $1000, you will want to be sure that you learn the differences between the two kinds of pedal assist.

  • Torque Sensor Pedal Assist

E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?This system measures the amount of power that you are creating as you pedal the bike. This automatically will increase or decrease the assistance that the bike is generating for you. The lighter the pedal, the less power it can deliver to the motor.

  • Cadence Sensor Pedal Assist

E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?Cadence assist is not linked to the amount of effort that you are producing as you pedal. In this system, you will select the level of assistance that you want to have access to. You can use a lot or a little force as you pedal, but you will get the same amount of assistance during your ride unless you change the setting for the assist.

Legal Point of View

E-bikes Trusted Source Is an Electric Bicycle Right for You? | UCLA Transportation How do you know if an e-bike is right for you? Here are some factors to take into consideration. transportation.ucla.edu occupy an undefined space legally at this time. The classes of these bikes have helped to define which kinds of bikes require a license and which bikes cannot be ridden by those who are underage. The common dividing line or licensure is whether or not the bike can go more than 20 mph.

The other set of considerations that you need to have in mind are the legalities about where you can and cannot ride your e-bike. While you can use e-bikes in all 50 states, you might be limited as to where you can ride. You will usually be able to ride on all city streets, and you can also usually use your e-bike on bike lanes. You will have to obey signs that limit the use of this kind of device in areas like parks, bike lanes, or walking paths. Throttle-assist bikes are not legal in every state at this time, but pedal-assist bikes still are.

Pros and Cons

Pedal-assist bikes are full of pros that you might want to consider. They are fairly affordable and can replace your car for simple commutes. You can get a small amount of support for your pedaling without going so fast that you are not legal to ride the bike in most areas. Pedal assist bikes are also easy to charge, easy to care for, and comfortable to ride.

The downsides of this kind of bike are the lack of control over the amount of power that you are generating as you ride. You will also have to remember that you will need to charge your bike after every ride, and you will likely not be able to ride long distances with a pedal-assist bike. E-bikes Trusted Source A comparative health and safety analysis of electric-assist and regula E-bikes have emerged in recent years as a valid mode of transportation. Comparable to regular bicycles in many ways, e-bikes offer some added advantages due to the additional electric motor on the bicycle. This dissertation combines three different research efforts centered on the study of e-bikes and their inclusion in e-bike sharing systems. trace.tennessee.edu are also not that much fun if you cannot maximize the potential of their use. If you only have areas to ride that are crowded with people and too busy to access the pedaling power of your assisted bike, you will quickly get bored with riding this kind of bicycle. Adding some joggers, people walking, or kids playing to the paths that you have access to can completely defeat the use of your e-bike immediately.

On top of the problems that you might run into if there are not good places to ride your e-bike, you might also find that it is not that fun to ride only in the limited areas that are allowed by law. For people living in places where e-bikes are quite limited and restricted legally, you might not be able to make the most of owning your bike. You can sometimes get away with riding an e-bike for a while without being caught, but paying fines and penalties for the use of this kind of device where it is not permitted is usually not worth the risk.

Throttle Overview

E-Bike Pedal Assist Vs Throttle: Which Is Better?
Throttle-assisted bikes are more versatile than the pedal-assist ones, as they allow you to both throttle and pedal. However, the throttle part impacts the legality of their usage.

Throttle-assisted bikes engage the motor through the use of a throttle that is thumb activated or twisted. Twist throttles usually work by having the handle twisted back toward the rider. This propels the bike forward, and when the throttle is released, the bike slows. If you pedal, you will not be changing the speed at which the bike is propelled forward.

The throttle-style bike can be ridden without pedaling, which is part of what impacts the legality of the use of this kind of bike in many places. However, you can also elect to ride this bike like a normal bike and not use the throttle assist at all. This makes the throttle-assist bike a more versatile riding bike in some ways than the pedal-assist bike.

Throttle-assist bikes can have different throttle types. Push-throttles are the most common, and they come in push levers or push button styles. There are also twist-throttle style bikes that work more like a traditional moped or dirt bike in design. Lever throttles allow you to dial up the amount of throttle that you are getting and hold it at this level. The push-button style is usually a push to activate, and you have to hold to keep accelerating.

Throttle-assisted bikes are excellent for those who have limitations that impact the ability to pedal and for those who are aging and do not have as much endurance as they used to. Throttle-assisted systems can allow you to ride your bike if you have injured yourself and are recovering as well. This is a very simple means of getting around, and over short distances, you can enjoy complete freedom from pedaling if you need a break or cannot do so at all.

If you have been told to ride a bike in the gym to maintain fitness or to recover from an injury, but riding staring at a wall is boring to you, you will need to consider a throttle-assisted e-bike for your needs. You will find that this is a great way to recuperate from an injury without having to be really bored in the gym during the recovery process.

From the Law Perspective

Throttle-assisted bikes are in Class 2. This means that they can go faster than the allowable 20 mph and they are also not allowed on some roads or in some states. The laws regarding this kind of e-bike can vary from state to state, and there are still unresolved issues related to this kind of bike’s use when the throttle assist is being accessed. Since you can also use this kind of bike without accessing the motor and its help, this leaves a grey area for legality surrounding this kind of bike’s use.

There are some adjustments that will likely need to be made to the law related to throttle-assisted bikes, but until these laws are adjusted or addressed, this kind of bike will offer more limitations to its use. These are the factors that often steer people away from the use of a throttle-assisted bike, but you should be certain that your area limits their use before you assume that these laws apply to you.

Pros and Cons

The major pro to throttle-assisted bike use is that you can ride without having to pedal at all. This can make your commute or hill climbs very easy, and you will have immediate support for your ride whenever you need it. Throttle-assisted bikes are very fast and very reliable, and they can make commuting really straightforward. This is one of the preferred methods of replacing a car for commuting purposes.

The benefit of being able to ride as much or as little without assistance as you wish can be hard to overstate. For people who are not able to ride without help, or for those with injuries who still want to get out of the house and enjoy some time on a bike, the throttle-assisted style of bike is a great choice.

The downsides to the throttle-assisted bike are that there are legal limitations to its use and that this kind of bike is more expensive and harder to get used to using. As with all other throttle-assisted vehicles, there is a learning curve to getting comfortable with accelerating and decelerating on this bike. You will need to check the laws in your area to make sure that you can legally use a throttle-assist bike before you buy one.

FAQ

Can I use throttle and pedal-assist at the same time?

Yes, in most cases, you can use both throttle and pedal assist at the same time. You will need to be sure that you are thinking about your battery when you choose to use both of these benefits at the same time. This can greatly impact the ride time that you will get from your e-bike.

Can I disable throttle on an e-bike?

The throttle on an e-bike can usually be disabled. This can make your bike legal in some areas so that you can use it without penalty. This would defeat most of the benefits of owning this kind of bike, but there are usually options that can be pursued to disable this feature on an e-bike if that is your desire.

Why might you want a throttle on your e-bike?

Throttle assist can be highly useful in city traffic which is stop-and-go heavy. This can get quite tiring for those who are pedaling without assistance, and big hills can be really fatiguing as well. If you live in a place like San Francisco, a throttle-assisted bike can make all the difference when compared to a bike that has pedal assist only. Additionally, pedal assist bikes can struggle to maintain their charge when the terrain is really challenging.

Can I turn off the motor on my e-bike?

If you want to turn off the motor on your e-bike, you can in some cases. You will need to look into the specifications of the e-bike that you are looking into buying if this is of critical importance to you. This is one of the things that is often mentioned near the top of the features list for bikes that can be used for commuting as well as regular riding.

Why are e-bikes not allowed to be ridden in some places?

The limitations of e-bikes are usually related to the passing speed of these bikes as compared to other traffic in an area like a park or bike path. When there are mixed-use paths for you to ride on, your e-bike will be much faster than more of the other traffic in the area. This can lead to accidents and injuries, and that is often the key reason that e-bikes are so limited in some states or in some areas of a city.

Do e-bikes work without pedaling?

In the case of all of these bikes, pedaling is still going to be a big part of how you get around. You will not be able to go very far on a throttle-assisted bike if you do not pedal for at least part of your riding time, and you cannot get the benefit of your pedal-assisted e-bike without pedaling it. The idea behind these bikes is to make the process of riding far more enjoyable and easier than before.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a bike that will make your commute easier, you will want to look into an e-bike. These bikes are an affordable solution to replace your vehicle or to make getting around a big city easier. You might also want to make riding a bike much more fun and enjoyable, and these kinds of bikes can do that for you. This guide to the difference between pedal assist vs throttle assist bikes can help you to make an educated decision about which is the right kind of bike for your needs.

If you have been shopping around for a commuter bike, an e-bike can be the best solution for your needs for a whole variety of reasons. Using this guide will help you to make the most of your research and help you to find the right type of e-bike for you.

References

1.
Benefits | E-Bike Guide
An e-bike is a transportation option that can also serve as an exercise. Riding an e-bike to travel has very similar health benefits to riding a bike for exercise, except that the e-bike has the added benefit of being able to give the rider a short break.
2.
No. 3061: Electric Bicycles and Energy Efficiency
Today, we get a boost. The University of Houston presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.
3.
Is an Electric Bicycle Right for You? | UCLA Transportation
How do you know if an e-bike is right for you? Here are some factors to take into consideration.
4.
A comparative health and safety analysis of electric-assist and regula
E-bikes have emerged in recent years as a valid mode of transportation. Comparable to regular bicycles in many ways, e-bikes offer some added advantages due to the additional electric motor on the bicycle. This dissertation combines three different research efforts centered on the study of e-bikes and their inclusion in e-bike sharing systems.
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