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The Difference between Pedelecs and Power-On-Demand E-Bikes

Author: Charlie Brown
by Charlie Brown
Posted: Apr 15, 2017

There are two styles of adding additional propulsion to a bike using a motor;pedelec (or pedal assist) systems and power-on-demand (or throttle) systems. Let us examine the difference.


Pedelecs (short for pedal electric cycle) are electric bicycles that require pedaling. With pedelecs, the motor is automatically engaged when you start pedaling and will continue to provide assistance only as you pedal. It makes for easy pedaling, giving you the sense of riding with a constant tailwind. The motor is automatically switched off as soon as you stop pedaling or engage the brake.

There is no throttle and you need not power-on anything. In theory, pedelecs are more battery-efficient and have a longer riding range than throttle-based e-bikes.

Regulations in some European countries greatly influenced the development ofpedelecs. Compared to the control mechanism of the power-on-demand e-bikes, the pedelec is more complicated. The circuitry of the pedelec includes a torque sensor that measures your pedaling power. An advanced computer chip relays this information to the motor, which provides electric assist accordingly.

Generally, the riding experience of the pedelec is similar to that of the traditional bike with pedals, with the exception of having a motor augment your pedaling power. Since there is no need to operate a throttle, riding a pedelec feels intuitive. It does, however, take a bit of getting used to for some inexperienced cyclists.

Pedelecs come with an adjustable level of assistance, from low to high. A pedelec or e-bike with pedal assist has varying settings for adjusting the level of assist; they usually have three to five settings. The maximum level of assistance depends on regulations, but most motors are set to automatically switch off at a speed of 25 km/h.

Power-on-demand or throttle e-bikes

Pedaling is not necessary with throttle e-bikes. They are also designed to augment your pedal power but they also provide the option of relying solely on the motor’s power. In other words, you have two options:

    • Pedaling while using the throttle – a hybrid of motor and pedaling power, like the pedelec
    • Cruising along on only motor power – this may be useful when heading back home after a long ride

Throttle-based e-bikes do not require any sensors. The amount of power sent to the motor depends solely on how you operate the throttle. Twist-grip throttle regulates the motor’s power depending on how you move the throttle, whereas thumb-press throttle is a simple on/off switch that does not allow you to adjust the power of the motor.

Some high-end throttle-based electric bikes might have a cruise control feature in which the controller sends a constant amount of power to the motor, allowing you to cruise along at a fairly constant speed.

As an e-bike cyclist, it is important that you adhere to the e-bike regulations at your place of residence as these vary with areas. In some countries, throttle-based e-bikes are not allowed. While there are a number of electric bikes that resemble mopeds in the mode of operation, they are generally considered not to be mopeds in a number of countries.

About the Author

Charlie Brown is a freelance content writer. He has written many articles on different categories like Technology, fashion, finance, travel, health, etc. To know more about him, please his blog.

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Author: Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown

Flag of India

Member since: Mar 03, 2016
Published articles: 102

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