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In Praise of E-Bike Throttles and Pedal Assist Systems

Jonno Leonard - Saturday, September 16, 2017

Not much causes more misunderstanding in the operation of ebikes than the presence of a throttle to the uninitiated. Oh the time I have taken patiently explaining to customers that yes, there is a throttle and no, it doesn’t mean you don’t also get assistance with pedalling….!


So what’s the story here, anyway? Well, in a far and distant land (let’s call it ‘Europe’) they wear strange-looking national costumes, and have invented some equally odd rules about ebikes. Their ebikes are not allowed a throttle, (and are also limited to 25km/hr with a 250watt output, but I digress), and they call an ebike a pedalec (pedal-electric, see what they did there?). So euro-market bikes = no throttle. Simple.


In the brave new world of NZ, where silliness is not so tolerated and interpretations are more liberal, we are all very fine with the practice of having a throttle on an ebike. What does it do? Well, it allows you to set off from a standstill without pedalling which is much better for your stability,and to cruise at a speed you set without exertion. It allows you to chug along at a snail’s pace with your feet down for stability without having to push the bike (great in foot-traffic shared areas). It allows you to add a burst of speed without a burst of energy. Ah, the joy!


The SmartMotion twist throttle


Does it affect your pedal-assist system? Not a bit. Your ebike will still supply assistance when you revolve the pedals, using either your cadence (the speed they revolve) or your torque (the pressure you put through them), depending on the type of pedal sensor your bike has, but that’s another topic for another day.


The take-away from this discussion is that throttles are great, they are not illegal (one rumour), they are not about to be banned (another rumour), and they are completely independent of your bikes’ ability to assist with your pedalling (a basic misunderstanding).


The Magnum lever throttle


So whether it’s a lever-push throttle, or a twist-grip style throttle, rest assured that this writer at least will be throttling-up with the best of them, and encouraging you to do likewise!





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