Discovering your Perfect E-Bike Ride: Throttle vs Pedal Assist

Hand throttle, or pedal assist- which is better? There is no correct answer, as both are efficient ways to control an E-bike. Ultimately, it depends on a rider’s personal preference. Most electric bikes operate in both pedal assist and throttle modes, like our Metro XT, Off-Roader, and Trailblazer iBikes.  However, our Crosstown and Mountaineer iBike’s are pedal assist only.

What is the difference?

Let’s breakdown each mode and its advantages, to help determine the best mode to achieve your perfect ride.

Pedal Assist

When riding in pedal assist most, an onboard computer activates the motor when the pedals are turning, to assist the rider. This makes it easier to pedal up hills and against the wind or to go faster on flat ground. The rider can control the level of assistance received from the motor by adjustments to the display unit mounted on the handlebars. 

Electric bikes with pedal assist sensors, commonly referred to as PAS, were originally designed to imitate the motions of a non-electric bike. As you pedal, the sensor detects the tempo and rhythm of the pedal, and increases the speed output from the motor accordingly. The PAS sensor is mounted on the bottom bracket or pedal crank arm and indicates to the controller when and how much to accelerate.

Advantages of Pedal Assist

  • PAS electric bikes requires the rider to pedal, to keep the bike moving. Riders do not have to rely 100% on the motor and throttle, which gives some healthy exercise.
  • Pedal Assist bikes are legal in major cities, and all trails. In some locations, E-bikes with hand throttles are illegal, as it’s considered a motorized scooter and requires a permit.
  • The rider has full control the level of assistance received from the motor


When using throttle mode on an electric bike, no pedaling is required. There are two types of throttles- twist throttles, and push button throttles.

Twist Throttles:

With a twist throttle, the rider simply twists the throttle to engage the motor and start moving. The throttle is mounted on the bike handlebar, and engaged by a twisting the handlebar. The more the throttle is twisted, the faster the motor system will propel the bicycle.

Button Throttles:

The button throttle is mounted on the bike handlebar. The button throttle becomes engaged when pressing down on the button for power from the motor. When the acceleration reaches a comfortable speed, the rider can easily lift their finger off the button and coast at that speed.

Advantages of Throttle

  • Riders can travel further distances with less force, and can take a break without necessarily having to stop traveling.
  • Hilly areas are a breeze with power from the motor aiding riders to conquer any type of surface.
  • The throttle is located on an easy to reach place on the bike, making for a comfortable grip positioning, while still having speed and power in the palm of your hand. 



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