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Knowing the difference : Pedal assist vs. throttle control

Posted by Sean Newman on


So you're in the market to buy an electric bike and want to know the different propulsion mechanisms used to assist riders in powering their bikes? Look no further. Here is a simple outline of the main types of electric bikes you will come across on your shopping journey.

Throttle control:

Throttle control is most similar to a motorcycle. When you engage the throttle, power is sent to the wheels to propel you forward. There are many different types of throttles that are used on electric bikes. There are classic grip twisting throttles (like a motorcycle), thumb throttles, and push button throttles. The rider can metaphorically "turn up the power". While using these controls, the rider is still able to pedal the bicycle to create additional momentum.

Pedal Assist:

Commonly referred to as Pedelec, pedal assist bikes provide power to the rider only when he or she is pedaling. Riding an electric bike equipped with a pedal assist motor is often said to feel more natural. You can only gain extra power when you are pedaling, and the bike has no on demand power, like that of throttle control bikes. There are two main types of these bikes, torque sensor pedal assist, and cadence sensor pedal assist.

-Torque sensor is when the bike intuitively tells how hard you are pedaling and increases or decreases power output based on that reading. This type of electric bike is the most expensive and gives the rider the most intuitive and natural feel.

-Cadence sensor is a more fixed rate of power output. You simply pick your level of assistance and you will have that extra power no matter how light or hard you are pedaling.

Finally, there are electric bikes which combine both throttle control and pedal assist. Some bikes allow riders to use both simultaneously, while other bikes only allow you to use one at a time. There are a plethora of different electric bikes on the market and you are guaranteed to find one to match your specific riding needs.

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