Electric BikesFAQs

Do You Have to Pedal an Electric Bike?

5 Mins read

The electric bike is becoming a more popular means of transportation everywhere in the world. While electric bikes, or e-bikes, may look like a normal bike, they are quite unlike regular bicycles.

Electric bikes function in several ways that all aim at providing the rider with assistance. They achieve this with the use of an electric motor that’s powered by a rechargeable battery.

Although the technology behind e-bikes trails back to the 1890s, there’s still a lot of confusion about what exactly they do and how they do it.

One question that’s commonly asked is, do you have to pedal an electric bike?

Yes, you still have to pedal an electric bike. The e-bike is simply a bicycle with a motor that you can regulate in assisting the pedaling effort. This means pedaling is required, but easier to do thanks to the e-bike’s motor support.

I’ve found that you don’t always have to pedal every type of electric bike. Some electric bikes only assist the pedal at a controlled rate while some rely on the throttle to attain a sustainable speed.

Some e-bikes combine the two mechanisms – pedal-assist and throttle.

The basic understanding of these different kinds of systems in e-bikes is necessary to proceed.

Let’s quickly get through them.

Different kinds of electric bikes

Electric bikes are commonly classified based on the mechanism(s) they employ to assist your riding – by pedal-assist, power-on-demand (throttle), or a combination of both devices. Let’s dive deeper into these classes of e-bikes;


These are bikes that use an electric motor for the added effort, which is regulated by pedaling. Pedal-assist e-bikes are commonly called pedelecs (from the pedal electric cycle), and they function with a sensor that monitors your pedaling force. 

You’ll also find e-bikes in this category that detect pedaling speed instead to control the dispelled force from its electric motor. A regular pedelec is a bicycle with relatively low motorized assistance that withdraws once the bike gets to 25km/hr. 

A variation of the pedelec is the S-Pedelec, an abbreviated form of Schnell-Pedelec, which is German for “Speedy-Pedelec.”

They are commonly classified as motorcycles or mopeds as they provide relatively high motorized assistance, even at speed above 25km/hr.

S-Pedelecs have motors that produce high electric power – up to 750 watts – as compared to regular pedelecs with a maximum continuous rated power of 250 watts. 

You may be familiar with the famous saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Well, it applies here too.

S-Pedelecs riders in most states in the U.S are required to use helmets while carrying some form of identification or driver’s license. 

Throttle Type

On the other hand, the throttle type is the kind that employs the use of a power-on-demand variety of electric motors, which is controlled by a throttle. For most e-bikes, you’ll find the throttle around the handle, just like in motorcycles.

Typically, the e-bike moves faster when you hold the throttle longer.

It’s common for the electric motors in throttle-type e-bikes to produce more power than that of S-Pedelecs. These kinds of e-bikes come in different designs, which can either include a pedal or not. 

Hybrid Type

Yes, you guessed it correctly. These are the electric bikes that combine both mechanisms -Pedal-assist and throttle. This design helps batteries last longer for greater distances. Some hybrid e-bikes are designed to require pedaling even when you’re operating the throttle. 

So, when is pedaling compulsory?

I’ve found through extensive research on e-bikes, that even the various kinds of electric bikes come in separately unique designs. You’ll discover some pedal-assist types of electric bikes with regulators for the level of assistance offered by the motor.

What that means is that you can control how much pedaling you want to do with or without support. 

There are also hybrid type e-bikes that are made to put pedaling at priority. With this kind of e-bikes, you’ll have to pedal before getting any motorized assistance.

As regards when you need to pedal, the answer is “whenever you like,” for most e-bikes as you’ll always have the option to ride without an assist from the electric motor. 

An exception, however, would be some types of electric bikes without pedals on any kind. These are commonly grouped as mopeds or motorbikes. 

Some things to note

By now, you’re probably trying to piece the information together to help you decide what works best for you. For your reading pleasure, here are some things to note to get you what you need.

Specific Usefulness: 

It’s a common mistake to view electric bikes as an “easy way out” of traditional cycling. This notion neglects the health and safety of many people who are in conditions that would make pedaling impossible without motorized assistance. It is especially true for old folks and people who aren’t super fit, as they wouldn’t be able to ride a bicycle otherwise.

Another primary usefulness that electric bikes provide is that they are great for people who ride roads with hills. Riding an e-bike uphill is lesser of a hassle than if done on a regular bicycle. The way a particular kind of electric bike provides the extra push depends on the mechanism it uses. 

The Key Parts of the Electric Bike

The batteries are one of the significant parts of the e-bike to look out for. They’re the powerhouse of the whole operation and are usually rechargeable. They’re constituent of materials like nickel-cadmium (NiCad), lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion), and so many others.

The length of its battery life is affected by several factors. These factors include the efficiency of the electric motor, the frequency of hills driven over, and the driving electronics.

The battery capacity and weight of the rider also play a role in determining just how long the battery lasts. In case you might be asking yourself whether a more massive battery means more power, the answer is “not necessarily.”

Some e-bikes have a regenerative braking system, which is proven to elongate battery life. In such a situation, the motor would act as a generator and reduce the speed of the electric bicycle before the brake pads are activated.

However, the force produced from the reverse motion of the motor in the wheel is not near enough to fully recharge its battery. 

Most electric bikes have their electric motor installed into the hub of a (back or front). The hub motor, also referred to as brushless motors, contains an arrangement of coil that uses the electricity from the battery to power a spin into the wheel.

Some e-bikes make use of a mid-driver engine instead, which accommodates more shifts to shift through than hub motors.

It’s also important to look out for the frame of the e-bike. This part is typically made from materials such as aluminum alloy. As we’ve seen, the lighter the framework of the e-bike, the longer the battery would last. 

Overview of: Do You Have to Pedal an Electric Bike?

Electric bikes are bicycles with a unique feature – motorized assistance, and it’s become a worldwide sensation. It’s an energy-saving means of transportation that’s also environment-friendly.

By now, you should understand that it’s a simple misjudgment to think that e-bikes are for” lazy people who aren’t serious about cycling.”

To hold this belief is to completely disregard the people who wouldn’t be able to ride a regular bicycle without suffering any complications.

We’ve seen that it provides specific gains, such as for easy-riding uphill and helping older people and those with health conditions to enjoy cycling safely.

One more remarkable benefit of e-bikes is that they reduce the chances of sweating, especially when cycling in regular or even work clothes.

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About author
Chris is a tech and travel writer from Springfield, Illinois. When he's not going on hikes or camping, Chris likes to get his exercise by riding his electric bike out around town.
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