Can You Ride an Electric Bike Without Pedaling?

james heath on an electric bike

Although electric bikes are getting more popular every day, the vast majority don’t know how an e-bike really works.

One common question about e-bikes is whether or not it is possible to ride them without pedaling. In short, it depends on what type of e-bike you have.

If you have an e-bike that is equipped with a throttle (class 2 e-bike) then yes you can ride it without using the pedals.

However, if your e-bike doesn’t have a throttle (class 1 e-bike) then the only way to keep the bike moving is by pedaling.

I have had both types of e-bikes and in this blog post, I will look into this topic more thoroughly and discuss the benefits of riding an e-bike without pedaling.

How to Ride an E-Bike Without Pedaling?

To answer it a little more thoroughly, we need to understand how electric bikes work.

Electric bikes have all the components that conventional bicycles have. Additionally, e-bikes are equipped with electric motors that provide assistance to the rider.

There are two types of e-bikes:

  1. E-bikes with throttle
  2. E-bikes without throttle

You may have heard about the e-bike classification system.

  • Class 1 e-bikes work only when you pedal. When you start pedaling, the motor starts assisting you. The maximum assisting speed is 20 mph.
  • Class 2 e-bikes have a throttle in addition to pedal assistance. These bikes can be ridden by just engaging the throttle without the need to pedal. The maximum assisting speed is also 20 mph.
  • Class 3 ebikes originally didn’t have a throttle. They were like class 1 ebikes but with higher maximum speed (28 mph). However, nowadays e-bike manufacturers often include a throttle to class 3 e-bikes as well. But the throttle speed can not exceed 20 mph.
Twist-grip throttle at the right of the handlebar. Photo: Electric Wheelers

Pros of Riding an E-Bike Without Pedaling

There are several advantages to riding an electric bike without pedaling:

  • Hill climbing: If you live in a hilly area, an e-bike with a powerful motor can help you climb hills more easily by using the throttle only.
  • Less fatigue: Pedaling can be quite tiring. By engaging a throttle, you can just sit and relax and still move forward.
  • Fun: For some people, riding an e-bike without pedaling is more fun because it feels like riding a motorcycle.
  • Ease of use: Riding an electric bike without pedaling requires less effort than pedaling. Therefore, it’s a good option for people who are not in good physical shape or who have mobility issues. Also, e-bikes with a throttle are a good choice for seniors.
older man riding electric bike using a throttle only
It may be very relaxing to ride the bike using a throttle only. Photo: Electric Wheelers

Cons of Riding an E-Bike Without Pedaling

While there are many benefits of riding an e-bike without pedaling, there are also several disadvantages:

  • Shorter range: While using only the throttle, the battery drains much faster, which reduces the range a lot.
  • No exercise: Riding a bike has always been a good way to keep our body fit. While riding an e-bike without pedaling, you don’t get the same level of physical activity as you would get by pedaling.
  • Legality: Electric bikes with throttle control are not allowed in some areas. In there, you must register your bike as a motor vehicle and you are not allowed to ride on bike lanes.

Related: Does Riding an Electric Bike Help You Lose Weight?

Final Words

To conclude this topic, I can say that indeed, it is possible to ride electric bikes without pedaling if you have a class 2 e-bike. However, class 1 e-bikes (and some class 3 ebikes) don’t have such capability.

Which one to prefer? It all comes down to a personal preference. In my opinion, both are fun.

On days when I seek relaxation over exertion, the throttle feature becomes more than just a convenience. The ability to glide through streets, especially on uphill paths, without the need to pedal, offers a liberating experience that often feels akin to flying.

However, this ease of movement comes with its own considerations. As someone who values fitness, I often remind myself of the importance of balancing the ease of throttle use with the health benefits of pedaling.

As e-bikes continue to evolve and gain popularity, I encourage riders to explore both worlds—pedaling and non-pedaling. There’s a unique joy and discovery in each mode, and it’s this flexibility that truly makes e-biking an exceptional addition to our modern lifestyle.

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