If you are reading this article, I guess you either have an Electric bike or are planning on buying one. You might have been surfing and searching for a while, and a lot of terminology gets thrown around e-bikes.
You’ve almost got your eyes on an e-bike model. It’s cool, sleek and powerful. And then, as you’re skimming down to the recommended products, you see it—a throttle.
So you dive into some more research as you wonder if you should get one or maybe get an electric bike with a built-in throttle instead.
But hold up, what exactly is a throttle? What does it do, and do you need one?
Also, are they legal?
So many questions, I know! Let’s take one at a time and ensure you have all the info you need before you buy your e-bike or purchase your first throttle.
What Is A Throttle?
A throttle is a relatively small tool commonly found on the grip or the handlebar of your e-bike. Here’s an example of what a throttle looks like.
This picture is from Eskute, a UK-based company that manufactures high-end electric bicycles. This helpful device is sold separately on their website.
As you can see, it’s a tiny object, but don’t let the size fool you. Its function is quite powerful.
Its purpose is simple, providing direct power to the motor up to its top speed without the need for you to pedal. Yes! No need for you to move a muscle.
It’s the perfect little aid for when you’re exhausted from pedalling in traffic and want to get home as quickly as (safely) possible.
With a twist or a push of the Throttle, it’s gone time! You can enjoy the ride, and rest assured it will get the job done.
There is a downside, though.
Riders who use the Throttle on their electric bikes frequently have noticed decreased battery life per charge over time. So it may be best to use this tool sparingly to preserve your e-bike power’s health.
It’s not just a separate tool, though. As I mentioned, you might already be looking at a bike with one. So yes, some eBikes are now including a throttle system as well.
Eskute is indeed one of those companies, and they currently offer an electric bike with a built-in throttle:
Their Wayfarer city bike.
So if you decide to purchase this little jewel that is perfect for commuters, there is no need to buy or install the Throttle separately. (That also will probably be very difficult to do - if not dangerous!).
Talking about danger, here’s another pressing question.
Are Accelerators (Throttles) Legal?
The answer is yes, and no. In some places, the laws are still unclear. But the main concern for the legality is mostly speeding.
European bikes and those with a centre-mounted motor do not have throttles, and because accelerators are not strictly necessary for e-bikes, they are prohibited in some places.
Because the Throttle can accelerate the e-bikes to their maximum speed in a short time and for a sustained length, people are concerned that this will present a safety risk. And rightly so.
But common sense says that 20mph will be fast, whether you’re pedalling. Ebikes are a developing market, and the rules change from state to state and often change.
For example, full-speed throttles are legal on electric bikes if you live in Norway. In the UK, the use of Throttle must be limited.
For the time being, this is how it is. In the future, these rules may change again, so check what the situation is like where you live before you make a purchase you cannot even use.
What is the Difference Between a Pedal Assist and Throttle System?
Now to the technical bit. What is the main difference between a throttle system and a pedal assist?
We’ve covered above what the throttle-activated motor assistance system has to offer and how it works (you switch it on to start the motor, it brings you up to full speed, and you don’t need to pedal).
A pedal-activated motor system is the standard way to control your electric bike motor.
The dynamic is as simple as it sounds. When you pedal, a sensor that measures either cadence or torque (the twisting force that rotates the pedals) will activate the motor power.
Different e-bikes have various pedal-assists levels. On the other hand, throttle systems don’t tend to have multiple levels you can set your motor too. Instead, they will provide max motor power the moment you activate it.
Another key difference is in the price. Throttle-activated systems tend to be a little bit on the more expensive side than pedal-activated systems. You’ll not find a budget electric bike with an incorporated throttle quickly.
Even though the Eskute Wayfarer Electric City Bike (the one we mentioned above with the built-in Throttle) comes at £999 - so it’s on the affordable side of the throttle-activated systems.
Throttle Or No Throttle?
I am far from giving you a simple answer. As you can see, the Throttle System has pros and cons.
Some things you should consider before you make your final decision:
- Throttle systems are highly recommended for city commuter e-Bikes as a throttle makes it easier to navigate traffic.
- These systems wear down the drivetrain quicker than a pedal-only system, which may make it more expensive in the long term.
- The boost of power you get when you start the system is powerful, but it might reduce the battery life of your e-bike and, in the long run, deteriorate battery capacity.
- If trails are your bread and butter, a throttle system isn’t recommended for mountain bikes, as they can be jerky, and if you’re riding on a tricky pathway, accidental throttle usage can cause a crash.
The choice is at your discretion. If you decide to proceed with a throttle system e-bike, remember the Eskute Wayfarer Electric City Bike.
And if you already own a bike and decided you want to get the Throttle, here is the one from the same company.
Don’t want any but still want to get an electric bike? Perfect, you can take the test to see which one is best for you.
Have fun and ride safely!