Electric Bikes Without Pedals: A Complete Guide

When it comes to e-bikes, pedal-assist electric bikes are the most popular. However, did you know that there is another type, called a throttle e-bike, that doesn’t have pedals? These bikes rely only on an electric motor for power.

If you want to learn more about this type of electric bike, you have come to the right place. This guide will explain everything you need to know, including key differences, pros and cons, and buying advice. 

Key Takeaways

  • An electric bike without pedals is called a throttle-assist e-bike and only relies on the electric motor for power. 
  • The main differences between throttle-assist and pedal-assist bikes are that you must manually turn on the motor when using pedal-free bikes, the top speed will be lower, and the motor is located near the front or back wheel. 
  • Throttle e-bikes are easy to use and maintain, good for commuting, have a lower carbon footprint, and have an LCD display screen; however, they are more expensive and won’t last as long on a single charge. 

What Is a Pedal-free Electric Bike? 

Pedal-free electric bikes are exactly what they sound like; they are e-bikes without pedals and, thus, do not have pedal assist. 

A pedal-assist electric bike requires you to pedal for the motor to turn on. Unlike these models, the throttle is what turns on the motor on pedal-free bikes. These e-bikes have three types of throttles: thumb throttles, half-twist, and full-twist throttles. 

Main Differences Between Pedal-free and Pedal-assist Electric Bikes

Apart from the most obvious difference between these bike models, there are a few other key differences that you should know. In this section, I will review the three main differences between throttle and pedal-assist e-bikes. 

Engaging the Motor

One difference between these two types of bikes is how you engage the motor. On a regular electric bicycle, the pedaling motion automatically turns on the motor. However, you must manually turn on the motor when riding a pedal-free electric bike. 

Riders can typically turn on the motor with a button or a throttle. For this reason, these types of bikes are also called throttle-assist electric bikes. 

Top Speed 

Regarding throttle e-bikes, the only form of power comes from the motor. What this means is that the maximum speed will be lower compared to a pedal-assist electric bike, as you don’t have two sources of power. 

Typically, regular e-bikes can reach speeds of around 28 mph. The top speed of throttle electric bikes will be around 20 mph. When it comes to the amount of power each model has, pedal-assist bikes are the winner. 

Motor Placement 

Another difference between these two models is motor placement. Regarding throttle electric bikes, the motor directly turns the wheels, meaning the motor must be placed near the front or rear wheels. This can create a weight imbalance, making it harder to maneuver and travel with. 

Pedal-free E-bike Pros 

If you’re considering buying an electric bike with throttle assist, you may be interested in the many benefits of these e-bikes. This section will review a few pros, including how these models are easy to use and maintain. Let’s get into it. 

LCD Display Screen

All throttle electric bikes will have an LCD display screen, as you’ll need some way to tell how fast you’re going. Most of these screens will display several types of information, such as your speed and battery level. Some models will even track your distance and display the current temperature. 

Good for Commuting 

Since electric bikes are cheaper than vehicles and have a lower carbon footprint, many people will use them to commute to work or school. Unlike regular bicycles that require lots of pedaling and energy, a bike without pedals will not require any effort on your part. 

This means you can arrive at any location without experiencing the effects of exercise, like sweating or feeling tired, making it perfect for commuting. 

Easy to Use 

Bikes with throttles are the easiest to use than other vehicles with motors. Unlike motorcycles, you don’t need any special training or knowledge to ride. Even compared to mopeds, it’s much easier to balance on throttle e-bikes. 

Mostly everyone can transition well to e-bikes if they have ridden bikes previously, such as in their childhood. Previous bike experience won’t help as much when learning how to ride a motorcycle or moped. 

Easy to Maintain 

One of the many benefits of throttle-assist bikes is that they are easy to maintain. First, since there are no pedals, you won’t have to worry about maintaining and fixing parts related to pedaling, like the chains. Fewer parts mean less maintenance. 

Furthermore, most pedal-free e-bikes will have a warranty due to the electric parts like the screen and motor. If you experience any trouble, you can most likely trade it in instead of worrying about how to fix it. 

Pedal-free E-bike Cons

While there are several benefits to using pedal-free e-bikes, there are also some disadvantages to keep in mind. Reviewing some cons may help you decide whether this type of bike is right for you. 

Lower Range

You may notice that a throttle e-bike has a lower range on a single charge compared to other models. It’s not that they have a weak battery, but since there is no pedal assistance, there is less power overall. 

For instance, the pedaling motion on regular e-bikes contributes to more power. Instead of relying fully on the motor, other models will use the pedals and motor together, resulting in higher speeds and range. 

There Are More Legal Restrictions 

While most types of electric bikes are heavily regulated, some throttle e-bikes may have stricter laws. 

First of all, in most countries, there are age restrictions to riding throttle bikes. Age limits can vary anywhere from 14-18. Furthermore, you may need to register your bike and carry an operator’s license to ride. 

Offers No Health Benefits 

One of the main reasons why people start cycling is that it offers great health benefits. Using a bicycle to commute can increase cardiovascular health and help build leg muscle. However, electric bikes without pedals offer none of these benefits.

More Expensive 

Since bikes with throttles rely solely on the motor for power, the motors have to be more durable. Manufacturers also have to install the motors differently than on pedal-assist bikes, making the process even more challenging and costly. 

For this reason, these types of e-bikes are typically more expensive. While you can find regular electric bikes for under $1000, most pedal-free bikes cost anywhere from $1000 to $4000. 

Not As Safe

For safety, throttle e-bikes have a few disadvantages. Since the motor must be placed on the front or back wheel, the weight is not evenly distributed. For this reason, new riders may have a harder time balancing. This could lead to safety issues if you don’t take time to practice in areas that aren’t busy. 

Since an electric bike without pedal assist has a throttle, you may experience some safety issues related to that. For instance, new riders often hit the throttle too hard, resulting in the bike jumping quickly forward. This will be something to watch for when first starting out. 

Pedal-free Bike Rules and Regulations

As mentioned above, pedal-free electric bikes have strict rules and regulations. While e-bike laws will differ depending on the area you’re riding, I will try to cover the most common rules and regulations. 

However, you should always check your state and local regulations before you hop on your electric bike. Furthermore, since e-bikes are still relatively new, some states don’t even have ways to regulate these vehicles, while others have rules that are subjective or constantly changing. 

Is There an Age Limit?

It is always safe to assume that there are age limits surrounding pedal-free e-bikes. While age limits will depend on your state and area, most limits will range from 14-18. 

Since e-bikes with throttles are typically considered a class two or three, the most common age limit will be around 16 years of age.  

Where Can I Ride?

Where you can ride will depend on your e-bike’s top speed. However, since throttle e-bikes more closely resemble motorbikes and mopeds as they don’t have pedals, most states will allow you to ride them on the road. 

You can also look up local regulations, as you may be able to ride your electric bike on bike paths and sidewalks. Again, this depends on your bike’s top speed and where you are. 

Do I Have to Wear a Helmet? 

Even if local regulations do not require a helmet, you should always wear one while riding an electric bike. Not only is wearing a helmet important while riding all types of bikes, but e-bikes with throttles can be more dangerous in certain situations. 

When it comes to rules and regulations regarding helmets, it will depend on the class and top speed of your bike, and sometimes even your age. 

Many states require riders to wear helmets when riding a class three bike. While most throttle-assisted e-bikes are class two, which wouldn’t require helmets, your bike may be considered a class three if it can ride above 20 mph. 

Do I Need a License and Registration? 

Currently, about ten states require some sort of licensing and registration for you to ride an electric bike. Typically, you must register your bike and hold an operator’s license to ride. 

However, much like the other rules listed above, it depends on where you live. Based on the current data, you likely live in a state that doesn’t require a license or registration. Even so, remember that your local laws may be different than state laws; always check before you ride. 

Are Pedal-free E-bikes Worth It? 

A pedal-free bike is worth it for commuters who don’t want to sweat on their way to work, school, or errands. Other than that, an e-bike with pedals will be the better deal as they will cost the same but will last longer and reach higher speeds.

If you’re leaning towards a pedal-free e-bike, getting a throttle-assist e-bike with pedals is the best option. First, you won’t need to use the pedals if you don’t want to. You can still control the motor from the throttle and won’t need to activate it by pedaling. 

However, if you want to increase the range on your bike, you’ll be able to pedal a bit and ride for even longer. Furthermore, if the bike battery dies, you can still ride home. 

If you’re still focused on getting a bike without pedals, you may want to consider getting a moped or even looking into motorcycles. Both options will have a higher top speed and be easy to commute with.

E-bikes without pedals are also in a bit of a gray area regarding laws, as some models can go faster than others. For this reason, it may be difficult to ride them without encountering problems with local laws. If your sole purpose is commuting, a moped would be more worth it. 

Final Thoughts

An e-bike without pedals is typically called a throttle-assist electric bike. While some throttle-assist bikes have pedals, others don’t. 

Ultimately, an electric bike without pedals is best for those who want a way to commute without pedaling that is better for the environment. 

If you’re considering buying a throttle-assist bike, consider buying one with pedals, as this will give you the best of both worlds. 

If you liked this article and found it helpful, make sure to share it. Leave a comment on what type of e-bike you would prefer! 

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