How Does a Pedal Assist Bike Work?

Feb 7, 2021
Man on an ebike cruising down a busy street, pedal assist engaged fully

Ebikes are an increasingly popular mode of green transportation. But as they grow more mainstream, it’s become clear that not many people know exactly what an electric bike is or how it works.

We’re here to help rectify that. In this article, we discuss one of the staple features of ebikes — the pedal assist.

What is pedal assist?

Pedal assist is a setting that supplies your ebike’s stored battery power to your pedals. When pedaling, you will feel a slight push on your bike from this power when it engages.

While pedal assist does not replace pedaling, it does make pedaling much easier. Depending on your ebike’s settings, pedal assist will provide different amounts of power. However, the one constant is that pedal assist always requires you to pedal to start the motor.

Types of sensors for pedal assists

Pedal assist is activated by either a speed sensor or a torque sensor. Before you purchase an ebike, you should familiarize yourself with their differences.

Speed sensors

A speed sensor provides thrust to your electric bike as soon as you start pedaling. Once you begin, it continues to assist you based on your selected setting. This flexibility means you can use your ebike to exercise, or simply cruise around with little physical effort.

However, if you increase the power too much, the bike will feel like it’s driving itself. At this point you may have to shift gears, or reduce the assistance to feel the impact of your pedaling again.

Additionally, once your ebike’s top speed is reached, the speed sensor will disengage.

Torque sensors

If you want to make your ebike experience more physically demanding, opt for a torque sensor. These sensors only supply power to the pedals if they detect active physical input from the user.

Not only do torque sensors provide riders with more overall control, but they also ensure the rider doesn’t slack off and enjoy a free ride.

4 benefits of pedal-assist ebikes

elderly couple biking on a pleasant park pathway, using pedal assist to propel them forward comfortably

Pedal-assist ebikes are helping new demographics get back into cycling.


The ebike pedal-assist feature is one of the main reasons for the popularity of ebikes today (not to mention ebikes are becoming cheaper too). Here are four advantages of going with an ebike over other forms of transportation.

1. Go further

Pedal-assist allows you to exceed your physical limitations by riding longer distances with less effort.

2. Customize your biking experience

Since the pedal assist is optional and customizable to your personal preferences, you can use it to determine the appropriate assistance level that balances physical exertion with time-efficiency and convenience.

For example, if you’re tired after a long day at work, pedal-assist can make going up and down steep hills a breeze.

3. Enables more people to ride bikes

Pedal assist is also incredibly beneficial for riders with physicial limitations, such as the elderly. An ebike’s motor provides ample thrust to deal with challenging terrain, like big hills.

Pedal assist encourages such riders to cover greater distances, and makes it easy to turn down the assist level as they grow stronger.

4. Often faster than other modes of transportation

Pedal-assist makes sure you arrive at your destination faster and without overexerting yourself (like on a traditional bicycle). They’re so fast that both existing and new courier businesses have gotten on board with ebikes to move goods around busy cities.

Are you ready for your own pedal-assist bike?

The pedal assist feature lets you easily turn your ebike experience from a strenous workout into a pleasure cruise (if you desire). Yet pedal assist is just one of the many design components of ebikes that make them so popular today. Are you ready to look into getting your own ebike?

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