It’s time to answer the age-old question that has puzzled generations upon generations of electric bike enthusiasts (okay, maybe that’s a little too much): Is it harder to pedal an e-bike?
If you’re expecting a clear-cut “yes” or a “no,” you’re in for a ride. Because the answer to this question is as nuanced as answers to bicycle-related questions tend to get. Don’t fret, though, because if you read on, we’ll explain it all for you.
Are you ready?
The long answer short is, “it depends.” Very insightful, we know. But trust us when we say we’re telling you this for a reason and hear us out.
Electric bikes are heavier than normal bikes because they have a motor and a battery. If you try to pedal without the help of the motor, it will be harder to move. But if you pedal with the motor’s help — as you should — the e-bike will feel lighter and go faster than a regular bike.
Then again, riding an electric bike without assistance kind of defeats the purpose of buying one in the first place. So unless you run out of battery on the way — a legitimate possibility — you won’t have to pedal very hard at all.
Can You Ride an Electric Bike Without Pedaling?
Now that we’ve gotten the above out of the way, let’s talk about one major misconception that most people have about e-bikes. This is the misconception that electric bike riders don’t have to pedal at all.
This will probably be true when they invent more powerful motors and more capable batteries someday. But, at least for the foreseeable future, the reality is that electric bike cyclists do have to pedal their bikes. It simply takes less effort to do so.
If you’re riding the e-bike on flat terrain, you can let the bike take over and do most of the pedaling for you. But if you’re climbing a hill or going up a long, steep incline, you’ll have to do some of the work, as the motor just won’t be able to deal with it on its own.
The Difference Between Pedaling and Throttle Assistance
An electric bike can provide you with two types of assistance: pedaling assistance and throttle assistance.
In plain English, pedaling assistance is when you do the pedaling and the bike… well, assists you. Throttle assistance is when you sit back and ride, letting the bike do the work for you.
If you want a single battery charge to give you maximum range, use pedaling assistance. Electric bikes let you adjust how much assistance you want, which can also affect the battery’s range. But if you want to put in the least effort into cycling and are okay with draining the battery, use the e-bike’s throttle.
With that being said, if you and/or the e-bike are heavy, and you’re ascending a steep hill, giving the bike throttle probably won’t do the job. You’ll need to do some of the pedaling and have the motor help you out.
So… Are electric bikes harder to pedal? Normally, not. If you ride an e-bike with assistance from the motor, it will take you less effort to move. But if you run out of battery, then the answer is yes. You’ll have a harder time pedaling because the bike itself will be much heavier.