Re-thinking whether you should’ve purchased an electric bike with a throttle? Or hearing others talk about how helpful it is… and now you’re feeling like you missed out? Then you’re probably wondering if you can add a throttle to your electric bike (since you’re not about to go out and buy another expensive electric bike!).
Although it partially depends on your type of electric bike, you can probably add a throttle to to it. First, your electric bike’s controller will need to have a wire available to plug into the throttle.
Further, there are other things I’ve learned about throttles that you should consider before adding one to a pedal assist bike. For instance, did you know that adding a throttle to your electric bike could even get you in trouble?!
Keep reading and I’ll help you decide whether you should add a throttle to your electric bike (and what kind of throttle may work for you).
Table of Contents
What Does the Throttle Do On an E-Bike?
A throttle is a lever on an electric bike that controls the speed of the bike by adjusting the intensity of the motor. You can find the throttle on the handlebar.
A throttle lets you control speed and acceleration. If you want to go up a hill in one go, you just twist the throttle. If you want to go faster, twist it up to its highest level and then release it as soon as your desired speed has been reached.
Difference between throttle and pedal assist
Pedal assist allows e-bike riders to activate a motor that propels them forward just by pedaling lightly. Whereas throttle gives riders a boost of energy and speed when they need it most, such as on steep hills.
To use pedal assist, you can pedal fast or slow, hard or easy, and change the level of assistance available as needed.
A throttle, on the other hand, simply requires a hand movement… either a twist of the hand (for a twist throttle) or a push with your thumb (thumb throttle).
The throttle controls how much power is going to the motor. The greater you twist the throttle, the more power goes to the motor. This, in turn, makes your electric bike go faster than it would without a throttle.
Using throttle and pedal assist together
Both throttle and pedal assist provide an extra boost of energy when the going gets tough. They work smoothly together along with other gear shifts.
And, you can use pedal assist and activate the throttle in addition, which is particularly useful when making long and/or steep climbs on your e-bike.
Therefore, it can be beneficial to have both features on your e-bike. However, not all e-bikes come with a throttle and some riders don’t use one for a variety of reasons.
Here’s what a thumb throttle looks like:
Pros of Adding a Throttle to Your Electric Bike
Here’s a list of the pros of having a throttle on your electric bike:
- More control over your speed- You can get a burst of power whenever you need it
- No need to pedal to use the electric motor- So if you’re really tired, your e-bike can practically drive home on it’s own
- Great for stop and go traffic and hilly terrain- You’ll get moving quickly and easily (seriously, I can’t get my electric bike going by pedaling only when starting up on a steep hill… I need my throttle)
- You can go uphill without pedaling at all (but it may be slower than you’d like)
- You can go farther on your electric bike and not worry about being able to make it back (just use the throttle if you’re too tired to pedal)
- And because you can ride a long distance, you’ll have the opportunity to get more exercise
Cons of Having an Electric Bike Throttle
- You may not feel like you’re getting a workout- If getting exercise on your electric bike is important to you, you’ll need more determination to work hard (and not get lazy)
- You might feel like you’re cheating on your workout… more so than if you were pedaling (but who cares if you’re just having fun or using your e-bike to commute)
- You can go too fast with a throttle and get hurt- It’s easier than you’d think to hit the throttle too hard, so you always need to be prepared for sudden movement (and be extra cautious going up steep hills… you don’t want to do a wheely unless you’re planning on it)
- It drains your battery power more quickly- Throttling makes the battery put out more electric energy, so your battery won’t last as long if you use it a lot
How Do You Put a Throttle on an E-Bike?
Generally, adding throttle to your electric bike isn’t hard, as long as you have a working controller with an available wire for the throttle add-on. Some electric bikes already have a plug available near the handlebars where you’ll install it.
Once you’ve purchased your throttle, you can generally add a throttle in just a few minutes. Different types of bikes may require more or less time. For example, electric bikes with a hub motor may be more easily connected.
Watch the video to discover how to add throttle to your electric bike… or check out the simple steps below:
Steps to add a throttle:
Step 1- Twist off the handlebar grip on the side you’re installing the throttle
Step 2- Use an Allen Key (check the size but it’ll probably be around a 3mm)
Step 3- Slide throttle on and pull wire with yellow tip around to meet up with the other yellow-ended plug (if already there).
If you need to, pull a wire from the e-bike controller to sync up with your throttle wire.
Step 4- After getting the throttle lined up, use an Allen Key to wrench it tight (but don’t overdo it).
Step 5- Slide your grip back on and tighten it up with your Allen wrench.
If you have a toolkit for other basic electric bike maintenance, you should already have what you need to attach the throttle.
Where to buy a good throttle
When buying a throttle, you’ll need to first decide on what kind to get: a thumb or twist throttle.
You can get one from an online bike store or local bike shop. Check out some of the best, highly customer-rated throttles from Amazon (paid links):
A thumb throttle lets you simply use your thumb to engage it. You just push down on a small paddle and you’ll feel it start to go. The more you push, the faster you’ll go.
The nice thing about it is that it takes up less room than a twist throttle on your handlebar. But it also may cause thumb pain if you use it a lot.
And since thumb throttles are small, they can typically be used with your current handlebar grips.
A twist throttle requires your whole hand to rotate towards you (twisting it downward). It’s just like on a motorcycle or moped. You’ll need to have the ability to grip it and turn it. But once you’ve got that grip, it’s easy to maintain.
However, if you have wrist pain or arthritis, then you’ll probably be better off using a thumb throttle. But, again, this is not likely to be too big of an issue if you only use the throttle occasionally.
I need to point out that having a twist throttle can involve a little more risk to your safety. Since it sits right next to your usual handlebar grip, and is generally the same shape and size, it’s easy to accidentally twist the throttle when you’re not planning for it.
Fortunately, this can be overcome with a little practice.
Is it legal to ride an e-bike with a throttle where you live?
Here’s one last important question to ask yourself before you add a throttle to your electric bike… because adding one could get you into trouble.
Will it be legal to ride your e-bike model with a throttle in most places? And especially, can you ride where you live?
In the US, the three-tier classification system already prevents Class 3 e-bikes from riding on some paths and trails because they can go up to 28 mph with electric assistance (the majority of locations cap the pedal-assisted speed at 20mph).
Adding a throttle will further prevent you from riding these trails with a Class 3 bike and possibly prevent you from riding in some places that you were once allowed.
If you add throttle to a Class 1 e-bike (generally allowed to ride pretty much anywhere in the US), then it’ll be placed in the Class 2 electric bikes category.
I’ve found that my Class 2 RadMini can be ridden on a majority of trails although it can still be banned from some areas. So adding a throttle to a Class 1 bike could prevent you from riding legally in some places as well.
But… and this is important:
Each state and the local area is allowed to write its own rules! Therefore, a Class 1 (that essentially becomes a Class 2 by adding a throttle) may make your favorite riding paths illegal to ride on.
So, make sure you understand what type and classification of electric bikes are legal to ride in your area before adding a throttle to it!