Can you pedal an electric bike?

Yes, you can. Most ebikes in today’s market include pedals that you can use in tandem with — or separate from — the throttle.

It’s the power assistance that gives eBikes an advantage over a traditional bike for some riders. An eBike is one way that people who otherwise wouldn’t ride a bicycle are more likely to get active and stay active. Older riders and cyclists recovering from injuries will appreciate the pedal assistance they get in an eBike. Some e-bikes have a recharge mode that that allows you to charge the battery as you pedal.

In this FAQ, we explore how your choice of eBike pedals and shoes impacts your overall pedaling experience.

Pedal assist eBikes

A pedal assist e-bike, also known as a pedelec, is powered when you crank the pedals. You can use a pedelec as a traditional bicycle without power, or have the bike provide power to the pedals. The torque of your pedal stroke is detected by a sensor that then communicates with the controller to accelerate the eBike accordingly.

You can control the amount of assistance the bike provides to you. Most pedal assist eBikes have at least low, medium and high assist settings.

Throttle assist eBikes

In addition to pedals, a throttle assist eBike propels forward when the rider activates the throttle in some way—by pressing a button, pushing a lever or twisting the handlebar grip.

These types of throttles are typically mounted on the handlebar of the eBike. And they connect to the eBike’s system that controls the speed of the eBike. The harder or longer the rider presses the throttle, the faster the eBike goes. The biker can also disengage the throttle leaving only the pedals to move the bike forward.

eBike pedals

While your eBike will come with a pair of pedals, now is also a good time to ensure that your pedals are comfortable and work well for you. First, identify the type of riding you’re interested in. Pedals for trail biking and city biking will be different.

After you’ve decided on your riding style, look at what’s available on the market.

  • Platform bike pedals: These are the traditional pedals that we are familiar with. As they name implies, they are flat pedals and likely come with your eBike. You can pedal a platform pedal with any shoe. Because they have a wide and stable base, these pedals are ideal for beginners.
  • Pedal toe clips and straps: A pedal toe clip is a small metal frame that surrounds the ball of your foot and extends to your toes and around to the top of your foot. The toe clip holds your foot, so you can pull up on the pedal in addition to pushing down. Pedal toe clips come with a strap that provides extra support.
  • Clipless bike pedals: With clipless bike pedals, you affix a metal cleat on the sole of your shoe and insert that cleat into a ‘clip’ mounted to the pedal. Clipless bike pedals directly attach your foot to the pedal so that you can pedal by pushing down and pulling up. Another advantage of clipless pedals is that it offers you greater control over the bike at higher speeds.

You’ll need to make a choice about the type of clipless bike pedal that meets your needs. Mountain bike pedals feature a 2-hole design, where you place screws through the 2 holes to secure the cleat to two slots on the bottom of the shoe. Mountain bike shoes are easier to walk around in because the cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe.

You can also consider purchasing road bike pedals, which use plastic cleats that spread the pedal force over a large surface area, which increases pedal efficiency. One disadvantage to road bike pedals is that they are not recessed into the sole of the shoe.

This is all assuming you can replace the pedals of your electric bike. Not all eBike designs make it easy to replace e-bike pedals. Knowing which pedals are better under which circumstances will help you find the perfect eBike for your needs.

Electric Bike Shoes

And naturally, your choice of an eBike pedal impacts your choice of biking shoe. Mountain bike shoes work with 2-hole design pedals. They offer features that make them more durable given the potentially rugged terrain you’ll be riding in. For example, mountain bike shoes may include a lacing system and Velcro straps for improved stability. Road bike shoes are compatible with 3-hole design pedals.

Whatever type of shoe you purchase, it is important for you to research and, if possible, try on the shoes. A bike shoe that does not fit properly can lead to an uncomfortable ride. So, it’s worth taking the time to explore your options.

Need additional help finding the right electric bike? Check out our totally unbiased eRideable Buyer’s Guide.

 EBIKES, FAQ  
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