Electric Bike Basics

How Do Throttle and Pedal Assist Work?

December 17, 2020

The great thing about an electric bike is that you can choose to get in a workout if you desire, or you can sit back and relax to enjoy the ride. This freedom an electric bike gives you is what a regular bicycle lacks– options. An electric bike allows you to ride further and longer, and with the help of pedal assist and the throttle, you can even go faster than you would on a regular bike. What exactly do these settings do on your electric bike, and which one is best suited for your needs? The answer may be subjective, depending on the type of cyclist you are and your desired ride, but Pedego is here to help guide you in the direction that is best for you!

What is Pedal Assist?

Pedal assist is an operating mode on an electric bike where once it is activated, the motor kicks in while you are pedaling. Designed to help you pedal easier, pedal assist has varied settings that will allow you to effortlessly ride along at your desired speed. Once pedal assist is turned on, you will feel a little extra ‘oomph’ propelling you forward, making it easy to ride long distances without getting tired or sore the next day.

Pedego pedal assist screen display on electric bike.

Torque vs. Cadence Pedal Assist

On Pedego bikes, pedal assist is called PedalSense, which is a trademarked proprietary software engineered by Pedego to create a unique riding experience tailored to each individual model. For pedal assist to work, there is a sensor that ‘talks’ to the bike’s motor so you can go your desired speed based on your pedal assist settings. There are two types of sensors, cadence, and torque, and both of them tell the bike’s PAS (pedal assist system) when to engage the motor and propel the bike forward.


Most Pedego models have a cadence sensor: Boomerang, City Commuter, Interceptor, Latch, Stretch, Trail Tracker, Element. A cadence sensor turns the motor on when you are pedaling and off when you stop. On Pedego bikes, the cadence sensor has a set expectation of plateauing at a set speed depending on which pedal assist setting you are on.

PAS 1 = 8 mph
PAS 2 = 11 mph
PAS 3 = 14 mph
PAS 4 = 17 mph
PAS 5 = 20 mph
PAS 6 = throttle only

For instance, if you are on pedal assist setting 3, you will go no more than 14 mph. If you are on PAS 3 and want to go faster, however, you can either engage the throttle to zip by people or bump up to PAS 4.


Torque sensors are slightly more advanced in their function, but rather than plateauing based on your pedal assist setting like the cadence sensor, the torque sensor gives you proportional assistance based on how hard you are pedaling. In short, the harder you pedal the more power it gives to the motor. Torque sensors are incorporated into a few Pedego bikes, such as the Ridge Rider and Platinum models. 

Regardless of which type of pedal assist sensor you have in your bike, pedal assist allows you to ride longer and further. Pedal assist flattens hills and makes riding your bike nearly effortless despite what the road may bring ahead.

What is a Throttle?

The throttle mode on an electric bike is similar to a motorcycle or electric scooter, as when it is engaged the motor provides power and propels the bike forward. It gives you full power on-demand with no automatic pedal assistance involved. The throttle is what allows you to sit back and enjoy a relaxing ride if you are looking to just cruise, as the bike can operate without having to pedal.

On Pedego bikes, the throttle style is a half grip twist, so when the throttle is twisted towards you the bike is ready to get up and go! Other ways you can use the throttle is by safely passing others when on a bike path, accelerating yourself up a large hill, or using it to stabilize yourself as you get ready to take off on your bike.

Pedego Throttle

Which is Better?

Both the throttle and PAS have the same purpose on an electric bike– to propel it forward by using electric power. The difference lies in how the user interacts with the system. The real question is– which is better, throttle or pedal assist?

To answer this question, you must ask yourself what your intentions are when riding. If you are looking to sit back and enjoy the scenery, using the throttle is the best way to do that. On the other hand, if you are interested in getting a little workout in and actively pedaling, then pedal assist mode is the way to go. Some electric bikes only have one or the other, depending on the brand, but luckily for you, Pedego offers both a PAS and throttle control on most of their electric bike models. This allows you to ride with a mixture of both the throttle and pedal assist, giving you the best of both worlds and options on how to approach your desired ride.

Interested in trying out a Pedego for yourself? Book a test ride at your local dealer to see the difference between the throttle and pedal assist settings on a Pedego.