How to Ride an Electric Bike

One of the first things that I wanted to know when I was looking to buy an electric bike was exactly how I would actually ride it. So, I did some research on to find out exactly how the different types of electric bikes can be used.

So how do I ride an electric bike? Electric bikes work in a similar way to ordinary bicycles where you hold on to the handlebars and push down on the pedals but they also have an electric motor designed to help you push the bike along without as needing you to put in as much effort. 

There are actually a number of different types of electric bikes that are meant to be used in different ways. Some of them require you to pedal while others don’t and the riding experience will be largely determined by the placement of the electric motor.

How to Ride the Different Types of Electric Bike

There are a number of different types of electric bikes that have different riding styles and some of them are meant to be ridden in a slightly different way to ordinary bikes. This section will show you the different types of electric bikes and how they’re meant to be ridden.

Pedal Assist

These types of electric bikes are the most common and are designed to be used in a very similar way to an ordinary bike. They will have an electric motor in the middle or rear of the e-bike where you peddle that will give you a power assist as you turn the pedals.

The degree to which the motor will assist you will depend on a few factors.

First, the electric bike will come with an LCD display where you will be able to control how much the motor will assist you. The settings can range from a large assistance setting, where you will barely have to peddle at all, to a low assistance setting where the motor will only provide a slight amount to assistance. This means that it will still be possible for you to get a workout when using your electric bike if you want to.

Second, the amount of assistance that it will provide you will also depend on how hard you are pedaling. Pedal Assist electric bikes will come with a torque sensor which will be able to monitor how hard you are pedaling if you are not pedaling hard then the motor will not provide a lot of assistance, while, if you’re putting in a lot of effort then the motor will provide more assistance.

Third, the amount of assistance will also depend on how much battery there is left. If the battery has run out then you will still be able to ride the e-bike like you would an ordinary bike without any pedal assistance.

Throttle Electric Bikes

These types of e-bikes operate in a similar way to a motorcycle or a scooter. They will come with a throttle, on the handles, that you will either flip, switch or twist to make the bike move faster. The amount of power can be adjusted by a light or heavy twist of the throttle a slight twist will provide a small amount of power to the wheels while a heavy twist will provide them with a lot of power. If you let go of the throttle then the power will normally be stopped allowing you to coast along.

These types of e-bikes are different to pedal assist e-bikes in that they do not require you to be pedaling. If you turn the throttle without pedaling on a throttle electric bike then you will still move whereas with a pedal assist electric bike you must pedal in order to make the electric motor provide power. There is also nothing stopping you from pedaling a throttle electric bike just like you would with an ordinary bike and you can even pedal while you have the throttle turned on.

These days there are actually a number of electric bikes that come with both pedal assistance and throttle assistance meaning that you can pedal the bike and get a moderate or large power assistance while also getting a workout then, when you start to get tired, you can simply turn the throttle.

Motor Placement

All electric bikes will come with a motor that is designed to provide power to the wheels in order to make them turn. Pedal assist electric bikes do this by sending power to the drivetrain or to the rear of the bike while throttle assist e-bikes will either have the motor at the front or the rear of the e-bike.

Front Hub

Front hub e-bikes have their electric motor placed on the front wheel they provide propulsion by turning the front wheels. These types of e-bikes are the least popular since they are hard to implement on pedal assist e-bikes and they can often cause an awkward feeling riding experience since there will be more weight than usual of the front wheel this can make cornering a bit more challenging.

You will, however, occasionally find them on throttle electric bikes and conversion kits, that you can use to convert an ordinary bike to electric, will often be designed to be used on the front wheels since it will be easier to do on most bikes.


On mid-drive electric bikes, there will be a motor placed where you pedal that will work by providing power to the bike’s drivetrain because of this you will only find mid-drive motors on pedal assist electric bikes.

Many people prefer the motor being placed in the middle since it allows for the rider to have the most natural feeling riding experience. Since the motor is placed in the middle it means that the weight will be distributed more evenly in a similar way to how your own weight is when you get onto a bike yourself.

Rear Hub

Rear hub electric bikes work by having the electric motor be attached to the rear wheel. The motor will propel you along by spinning the rear tire. Rear-hub electric bikes can be either pedal assist or throttle based or even both.

Rear hub electric bikes will usually give a more natural feeling riding experience compared to front-hub electric bikes since the motor will feel like it is pushing you forward instead of pulling you forward. Having the extra weight being placed at the back is also preferable to having it placed at the front since it means that you will be able to turn the bike in a more natural way although you will have the feeling of the back of the bike being slightly heavier than usual.

Generally, if you’re going to buy a throttle assisted electric bike then you will probably feel more at home with the motor being placed at the back rather than the front. With that being said, if you’re looking to buy a pedal assist electric bike then you will probably find that the mid-drive electric bikes will feel the best but rear hub pedal assist electric bikes are also quite common.

If you are unsure of which electric bike will give you the most comfortable riding experience then a good idea would be to go to a local electric bike shop so that you can see for yourself.

Related Questions

What is it like to ride an electric bike? If you buy a pedal assist electric bike then cycling it will feel like cycling an ordinary bike but it will feel like you have super strong legs since the electric motor will be providing assistance as you pedal. If you buy a throttle assist electric bike then it will feel more like you’re riding a scooter than an ordinary bike since it will not be necessary for you to pedal.

Do electric bikes provide a workout? Since you can still pedal electric bikes you can still get a workout. If you buy a pedal assist electric bike then in order for the electric motor to work then you will have to be pedaling so you will definitely get at least a small workout. However, if you get a throttle electric bike and you only intend to use the throttle to make the bike go without pedaling then you won’t get much of a workout.

How fast are electric bikes? You will be able to cycle a pedal assist electric bike as fast as you can pedal. Most pedal assist electric bikes provide pedal assistance up to 20 mph while some will provide assistance up to 28 mph. Throttle electric bikes will normally be limited to 20 mph as well.

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