Throttle vs pedal assist, what is the difference, how do they work and which electric bike mode should you choose?
E-bikes have proven to be a fun and eco-friendly alternative to the daily commute or just a way to get more outdoor physical activity. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced cyclist, there is an e-bike that’s suitable for your needs.
Different types of e-bikes come with different ways to activate the electric assist. Most e-bikes are equipped with pedal assist or thumb throttle, but only a few have both electric bike modes installed. At the end of this article, you should have an idea which may be the best for you.
The throttle mode is similar to how a motorcycle or scooter operates. Once the throttle is turned on, the motor propels the bike forward without the need to pedal. There are a few different types of throttle mode in electric bikes, ranging from thumb throttle to full twist throttle.
Different Types of Throttles on Electric Bikes
Half-grip twist. This functions similarly to a motorcycle or scooter, it is engaged by twisting the throttle. It’s the most common type of e-bike throttle. To accelerate the bike, the rider must simply twist the entire throttle.
Thumb throttle. Designed to be simple to use. You only need to push the buttons with your thumb to move it forward or to stop. Some have multiple buttons to control the speed of the bike, while others only have an on/off switch.
It is important to understand if the type of throttle you choose can be activated while the bike is stationary, or only while pedaling. Some bikes opt to activate only when pedaling because if an operator accidentally hits the throttle while stationary it might cause injury. Some bikes will allow you the use of the throttle even when the bike is stationary. They believe that this offers a much easier way to start from a stop without the typical hard pedaling at startup. With this type of throttle you can lift your feet, hit the throttle and go.
Pedal assist, also referred to as pedelec, only uses power once you start to pedal. If you are more used to riding a regular pedal bike, this mode of power assist has a more intuitive feel compared to the throttle mode.
There are different levels of assistance, depending on how much effort you want to exert during your ride. Pedal assist may vary being from low to high settings or 4 to 5 modes of assistance, depending on the e-bike.
Using the lowest setting will give you a little electric assist, making you feel like you are exercising or riding a regular bike. Meanwhile, the highest setting gives you a bigger boost of power, allowing you to get to your destination much quicker without breaking a sweat.
Pedal Assist Types
Torque sensor. Measures the amount of power you are putting into the pedals, increasing or decreasing the assist based on your pedaling power.
The torque sensor systems give a more intuitive feel because it emulates your pedal power well. This is recommended for those looking for the advanced cycling feel. The greater effort, the greater assist.
Cadence sensor. It provides assistance when the bike cranks are turning. It relies on the level assist you have selected and is not affected by the actual pedal power. This is ideal for those who want to recreationally use ebikes. It is especially useful for those with minor physical limitations because it can be turned up or down without additional rider effort.
There are some e-bikes that are equipped with both throttle and pedal assist modes. You can operate on pedal assist and get an additional boost by activating the throttle. Other e-bikes can only switch between the two modes, not allowing both pedal assist and throttle to be used simultaneously.
If you enjoy the feel of a regular pedal bike and want to pedal with a little boost of power, then consider going for the pedal assist.
If you want to enjoy cruising along with minimal to no pedaling, then go for the throttle electric bike.
If you want to enjoy your ride no matter what, get a bike with pedal assist and a throttle that can be used at any time. Enjoy either system on the fly your way.
We hope this article helped you with choosing the right e-bike for your needs. If you’re still hesitant about owning an e-bike, we have 11 reasons to get stoked about electric bikes.
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