Within the Ebike Community I often hear the question Can I Add a Throttle to My ebike? Well, yes you can (in some cases) but there are several things to understand first which we will explain here.
Can I Add a Throttle to My ebike?
Yes, you can retrofit a throttle to most e-bikes IF they have a hub-mounted motor and compatible controller, BUT, you will struggle to fit a throttle to an ebike that has a mid-drive motor as it relies on the rider to pedal before the motor would kick in.
Worth pointing out that in most cases the ‘higher end’ Ebikes tend to have mid-drive motors that rely on pedal-assist only ……so why is this? Well, that’s where other factors come into the mix so read on…
Is it Legal to add a throttle to my e-bike?
Ebike laws can be complicated, especially in the USA but in the UK they are pretty clear as I will explain below:
In the UK or EU, All electric bikes must be classed as EAPC (Electric Assisted Pedal Cycles) meaning they must have pedals to propel them forward, the motor can not exceed 250 watts of power and can only provide assistance from the motor up to 15.5mph before the motor cuts out.
Throttles are allowed, BUT if used on their own will cut out the motor once the rider hits 3.7mph, after this speed, the rider must use pedal assist only.
Pretty pointless in my view to have a throttle fitted, but manufacturers sometimes promote them as ‘Walk assist’ which can be useful if you are pushing a bike uphill.
Any electric bike outside of the above criteria would have to be registered with the DVLA and would be classed as a motorcycle/ moped.
If you have ventured into the world of de- restricting your e-bike then of course you can use this on private land but it will be illegal to use on a public road/ cycle path.
For more information on UK Ebike law click here
The USA puts electric bikes into 3 ‘Classes’ as follows:
Class 1: Electric bikes in this category/ class are always pedal assist only and will provide assistance limited to 20mph if you are based in the USA.
Class 1 e-bikes can have a throttle fitted but these are used mainly as a ‘boost’ because the rider must start pedaling before the throttle will engage the motor, however, you can use the throttle up to 20mph / restricted speed limit.
Class 2: Very similar to Class 1 with the only difference being that the rider can use the throttle on its own without the need to pedal.
In the USA I believe the throttle can take you all the way up to 20mph ( the legal limit over there) Or you can use the pedal-assist to the same speed on a Class 2 ebike.
Class 3: This classification can be a bit confusing as there is a myriad of rules depending on where you live as the rules differ from state to state but all e-bikes in this class require a speedometer and in the US can have a motor output of up to 750W.
For example. If you are based in California, then throttles are allowed on Class 3 e-bikes up to speeds of 20mph, however, you would be able to use pedal-assist on a Class 3 ebike up to 28mph! It appears that most Class 3 e-bikes allow pedal assist up to 28mph and must have a speedometer fitted.
Further information on E-bike laws in the USA can be found here from the NCSL
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Which is better? Throttle or Peddle Assist?
It’s not a case of which is better, throttle or pedal assist as any ebike rider will know It takes little to no effort to get up to this speed regardless of which one you are using.
Besides the mechanical limitations preventing a throttle to be fitted to e-bikes, manufacturers are fiercely competing to design the most natural riding experience possible by focusing their efforts on pedal-assist technology which is the direction I see the industry going toward.
Is it worth putting a throttle on my ebike?
This is down to personal choice and in my opinion, this should not be high up on the list of requirements when looking for a decent machine to get you around town or to work and back, with the exception of those who may have limited mobility or suffer from other health-related issues. In these cases Adding a throttle would make a big difference.
I would say throttles seem to be more common in the states, maybe with the higher speed limit it’s a bit more worthwhile having one, but otherwise, the effort of fitting one retrospectively may have limited benefits in the long – term.
What are the disadvantages of adding a throttle to an ebike?
- Throttles can drain the battery quicker
- Throttles can reduce how far you can ride before having to charge the battery
- Throttles will reduce overall fitness benefits Vs pedal assist
- Limited to a certain speed ( whatever the legal limit is in your country)
- legally in the UK, they are pretty pointless unless using off-Road
- Should you be considering a moped/scooter instead? ????
Conclusion – Can I add a throttle to My ebike?
I love ebikes, any kind of ebike to be honest whether they have a throttle, pedal-assist, or both because they have opened up so many doors for people worldwide as a viable eco-friendly form of transport.
However, I am also a cyclist at heart and want to feel like I am actually riding a bicycle too.
In my opinion, the joy of cycling gets eroded once you add a throttle to an electric bicycle and the lines start getting blurred around what an ebike should be.
You have probably seen some e-bikes out there that at a glance are hard to tell the difference from a conventional bike, and this is a good design, however, the challenge for manufacturers is providing customers with long-range riding on a single charge (which requires a big battery pack) yet reducing the overall weight of the bike.
The current average weight of an electric bike is around 20kg so as e-bike technology advances, I can see models will look much more ‘integrated’ in their appearance, with a focus on the range and how to maximize this as opposed to including throttles as standard.
With DIY e-bike Kits, 99.9% of the time these won’t work without a throttle and this is a great way of converting any bike to electric, especially from a cost perspective but laws restrict how these can be used as mentioned earlier in this post.
I hope this answers the question of ‘can I add a throttle to My ebike?’ And has provided some food for thought at the very least.
What are your thoughts on this? Please drop me a message below if you have added a throttle to your ebike and what your experience has been so far.
In the meantime ride safe!
12 thoughts on “Can I Add a Throttle to My ebike?”
Thank you for explaining the pros and cons of putting a throttle on my ebike. A neighbor did it and was encouraging me to do the same. However, after researching, I feel that I should continue relying solely on the motor. Your article has helped me a lot so I will bookmark your site for more helpful posts like this one.
Thanks Paolo, it’s a personal preference I guess – Thanks for your comment.
Dan….I purchased RBSM Sports Anaconda pestle assist ebike and wondering ifI can retrofit it to throttle assist.
Should be possible but I would check with the Manufacturer first as I am not familiar with this model. Let me know how you get on.
Did you get any answers on putting a throttle on because I just bought the same bike and I’d like to know also,thanks please let me know thank you.
Don’t know why this debate keeps coming up – it’s a complete non-argument, primarily driven by legislation and perpetuated by dealers who only stock expensive brands with mid-drive motors.
Throttles are good. Very good indeed. Period.
A throttle makes launching way easier and much safer, not to mention a lot more elegant. Throttles are extremely helpful for low-speed maneuvering and can be used like a kind-of ‘manual torque sensor’ to save gear changing when getting up to speed.
It is possible to have a throttle and stay 100% legal within EU regs, so long it is limited to 6kph (3.7mph). At higher speeds the throttle can be fully active so long as the pedals are turning. My EU spec Rad Runner-Plus works like this and while not perfect it is massively better than pedal-assist only.
When our daft legislation eventually sorts itself out, all ebikes will have a throttle. It adds virtually nothing to the cost and if you don’t like it, then don’t use it. Even disconnect it if you must – but you won’t 😉
As a rider who values dependability above all else, I demand a throttle for no other reason than if the manual pedal propulsion fails for some reason (like a broken chain, for instance, although I carry repair parts and tools, but for the sake of my point) the bike can be ridden under battery power alone for as long as the charge allows. But I am speaking as an American so I can ride my ebike legally at 20mph under throttle only. And I’m also only into hub motors for the same reason as this comment. But if I was using a hub motor somewhere where throttle only speed was restricted, I would install one anyway (capable of full speed) but only use it in an emergency, arguing my case if I got pinched by the law.
Thanks for your view on this Mark, must impact range quite considerably using throttle only up to 20mph!
I’ve got a throttle on mine but I’m trying to avoid the legal ramifications of having it.
I’m hoping to jam its movement internally so that it can only twist to 6kph, or cover the metal strip a portion of the way down, where the sensor is blocked from making it go any higher than 6kph
Where can I find a throttle that is compatible with my current e-bike? At nearly seventy-six years old all I seem to be able to find are poorly defined maybes from hundreds of vendors. I purchased a relatively inexpensive pedal-assisted step-thru in deference to my often crotchety knees and have found I need a simple plug-and-play Thumb throttle to help get me rolling. My goal in purchasing an E-bike was to regain some degree of individual mobility I had enjoyed throughout most of my younger existence. Having ridden two-wheeled conveyances for over 50 years ranging from people powered to Hondas, Suzukis, and Harleys I find the current E-bike world annoying, insular, and perplexing.
Hi Jeff, what make and model is the bike in question?
I, too, use a throttle-only, front wheel road bike conversion configuration. It works wonderfully, getting me around 50km distance – well beyond my system’s advertised 30km range – with a good combination of my contributed effort and using the throttle only when necessary.