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Do You Have to Pedal an Electric Bike

Close Up of Electric Bike Pedal

If you are new to electric bikes, you may wonder how they work and whether you need to pedal them like a regular bike. Electric bikes offer the perfect blend of fun, cardio exercise and convenient transport by allowing you to pedal or get a little boost from an electric motor. 

The extent of pedaling required on an electric bike depends on your personal preference and the specific e-bike model you choose. Some e-bikes can be fully operated without pedaling, relying solely on the electric motor, while others require pedal input to activate the motor. Ultimately, the need to pedal an electric bike varies, making them a versatile mode of transportation suitable for a wide range of riders and purposes.

Discover how an e-bike functions to understand the extent of pedaling required and why they are an excellent mode of transportation. 

How Does an Electric Bike Work?

An e-bike is equipped with an electric motor to assist the rider. The basic components of an electric bike include the pedal-assist system (PAS), throttle (in some models), motor and battery.


The battery is the power source for the electric motor, providing the energy needed to propel the bike forward, depending on the e-bike’s mode. Different types of electric bike batteries can vary significantly in terms of their overall riding experience and range, with some models delivering 250 Wh while others can offer a powerful 750 Wh or more.


The e-bike motors are responsible for amplifying your pedaling force. Positioned at the center of the bike (mid-drive motor) or near the front or rear wheel hub, these motors ensure maximum power output, efficiently syncing with the battery for a seamless riding experience.

Pedal Assist System (PAS):

This system detects your pedaling motion using a cadence or torque sensor and provides assistance based on your effort. The more you pedal, the more level of assistance you receive. The PAS usually cuts out once you reach a certain speed. Depending on the e-bike class, this is capped at 20 mph or 28 mph. 


Some e-bikes are equipped with a throttle similar to a motorbike or scooter. This feature allows you to control the bike’s speed with a twist or push of the handle without the need to pedal continuously.

Types of Electric Bikes

Electric bikes come in various models, offering riders flexibility in how they use the bike. The primary types of e-bikes include:

Pedal Assist (PAS)

Pedal-assist e-bikes detect your pedaling motion and provide assistance based on your input. When you start pedaling, the motor kicks in to provide additional power. This assistance makes pedaling easier, more efficient and less strenuous, allowing you to conquer hills or cover longer distances. 

PAS e-bikes typically offer adjustable assistance levels, allowing you to choose from eco, low, medium, or high assistance, depending on your desired intensity. You also have the flexibility to put in more pedaling effort for exercise or dial up the assistance for leisurely cruises.


Throttle-controlled e-bikes operate similarly to a motorcycle or scooter. They feature a throttle that activates the motor without continuous pedaling. Throttle-controlled e-bikes can be convenient for riders who prefer not to pedal continually. 

However, knowing the legal regulations surrounding throttle-controlled e-bikes is essential, which can vary between jurisdictions. In many regions, e-bike laws classify throttle-controlled e-bikes separately and may have specific rules concerning their usage. They may be subject to maximum speed limits, age restrictions, or other requirements for safety and compliance with local laws.

Some jurisdictions limit the maximum speed of throttle-controlled e-bikes, often capping them at 20 mph to classify them as electric bicycles. Additionally, some regions may restrict throttle-controlled e-bikes in certain areas, such as multi-use lanes, pedestrian paths, or low-speed zones.

Hybrid E-bikes

Hybrid e-bikes combine pedal assist and a throttle for maximum flexibility. These e-bikes are ideal for riders who want options when it comes to their cycling experience. The hybrid design allows riders to choose how to use the bike. You can pedal for exercise or leisure, activate the throttle for a burst of speed, or combine both methods for a versatile riding experience that adapts to your needs.


Benefits of Pedaling an E-bike 

While it’s possible not to pedal continuously on some e-bikes, there are advantages to pedaling, even when you have motor assistance, including:

Exercise and Health

Pedaling an e-bike still engages your muscles and cardiovascular system, providing health benefits such as improved heart health, increased endurance and mental well-being. You can control the intensity of your workout by adjusting the level of pedal assistance.

Battery Conservation

Pedaling your e-bike actively contributes to extending its range. The more you pedal, the less energy the battery consumes, resulting in less frequent recharging. This is especially advantageous for used e-bikes as it helps maintain and prolong the battery capacity and lifespan.

Environmental Impact

Opting to pedal more and rely less on the motor reduces energy consumption. This is eco-friendly and promotes sustainable transportation habits, contributing to reduced emissions and a greener planet.

Situations Where You Might Not Want to Pedal

How long do electric bikes last when fully charged? The answer depends on the model. When riding a typical city e-bike with a 350 Wh battery, such as the Aventon Soltera 7, you can expect a maximum range of 20 to 63 miles. While battery ranges vary depending on how often you use the bike’s electric assistance systems, they usually offer more than enough for commuting to work.

E-bike batteries lose efficiency after around 500 full charge cycles and typically require replacement after 1,200 cycles. These numbers show that you can expect, at minimum, 10,000 miles at standard performance from a new e-bike and slightly less from a used e-bike

Proper battery maintenance and management can make your e-bike battery last for more than 75,000 miles before a replacement is needed.

Explore the World on Two Wheels with Upway

At Upway, we can help you new electric bikes from a huge selection of models, whether you prefer pedal-assist or throttle-controlled. Explore our complete range of new and used electric bikes for sale from trusted, industry-leading brands like Giant, Specialized, Aventon and Trek. When you buy from Upway, you also benefit from our comprehensive 20-point mechanical and electrical inspection process to ensure your bike is safe and provides optimal performance.

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