Can an Electric Bike be used as a Regular Bike?
Electric bikes are becoming a speedy, convenient, affordable option for men and women seeking to get fit, enjoy the outdoors, and bike with a little extra help from a small motor. They’re a mid-way vehicle, between a traditional bike and a moped, and come in various sizes, power levels, and styles.
But what if you just want to ride along with no help from the motor? Can you use an e-bike in the same way that you’d use a traditional bike, with only human power? Are there any caveats to riding this way, and what is the best way to ride your e-bike like a traditional bike?
How E-bikes Work with Pedaling
To fully answer this question, it is important to understand how the motor of an e-bike works in conjunction with your pedaling. The entire bike is meant to be used as an electric unit, and the mechanisms within the bike are put together and designed with this use in mind.
E-bikes, therefore, come with sensors that detect how much effort a rider is putting into pedaling. A cadence sensor is much simpler and simply measures *if* you are pedaling and will tell the motor to kick in once it detects pedaling from the rider.
With a torque sensor, the motor adjusts its output to align with the amount of power the rider contributes; more pedaling means the motor will kick in more intensely to provide more power to the rider and make their ride easier. Less pedaling from the rider will cause the motor to ease off and reduce the bike’s power.
E-bikes also come with a manual e-assist or throttle, which allows the rider to manually adjust the amount of power the motor gives off by using a small switch near the handlebar. This allows the rider to get more or less power from the motor and makes their ride either more effortless or a little bit tougher on their legs, depending on how much exercise the rider wants.
A good way to use your e-bike in a manner that most resembles a traditional bike while still using some electric output is to switch to a lower level of e-assist. This will give your bike less power, force you to use your legs more, and save battery life, too.
The simplest way to use your e-bike, like a traditional bike, is to switch the motor completely off. This will effectively kill (temporarily) your ability to use your bike on anything but foot power and will guarantee you a more intense workout.
Just put your e-assist on zero or on-off mode; you’ll be biking using only your legs and can always get some help from the motor when you need it. This is ideal for biking on a flat surface or on terrain where you can easily manage with no help from the motor. One thing that you do need to consider when riding your e-bike as a traditional bike, however, is weight.
Here’s the main thing that makes riding an e-bike with no motor power a pain in the neck. The thing is heavy. Like, remarkably heavy. A traditional lightweight bike weighs an average of about 20-30 lbs. An e-bike, on the other hand, can weigh anywhere from 40 lbs up to 80 lbs, some of the heaviest and toughest e-bikes.
That is a *lot* of extra weight to be dragging around. What makes these things so heavy? The main causes of extra weight will be your battery pack and your motor. Those add a substantial amount of density to your e-bike, and the components of the e-bike that need to house and protect the battery, motor, and additional electrical components add more weight.
So, if you choose to power down your e-bike as you ride completely, keep in mind that the bike you’re now riding is at least twice as heavy as a traditional bicycle. That’s quite a bit of extra heft to lug around using only your feet. And if you do power off, make sure you have the physical strength to move that much extra poundage. Don’t attempt this if you’re not in good or apex physical shape or have cardiac or respiratory issues (such as heart damage or asthma) that would make excessive straining dangerous.
The Best Way to Ride Without Power
If you’re sure, you won’t want or need any power on your ride, removing the battery can take a bit of weight off your e-bike and make it a bit easier to pedal. Just store your battery at home in a cool, dry place and charge it up, and it’ll be ready for you to use when you want it again.
When you ride your e-bike as a traditional bike, you still have gears to help you along. Your gears will work just as they do on a regular bike, helping you ride easier on inclines and ride smarter on declines and even terrain. Use your gears to give your body the maximum amount of help and rest, and go easy on yourself.
Another helpful move might be to choose terrain for yourself that will be less demanding and less exhausting. Remember that with a heavier bike, you’ll have to put more effort into even simple climbs. So, if you’re riding an e-bike on absolutely no power and your battery is at home, taking a ride on flatter and easier paths will give you a more pleasant ride while still allowing you plenty of physical exercises.
So, can you use your e-bike as a traditional bike? You can, but remember the added weight and the physical strain of powering a much heavier machine.
You can ease the burden by powering down manually and leaving the option free to power back up if needed. You can also lighten your load by removing the battery pack so long as you can get where you need to go without it. The good news is that the e-bike is still usable without the added power. Find out what’s the best e-bikes for you.
Whichever way you use your e-bike, ensure you carry enough water to power you through, be safe, and have fun!
Trevor James is the founder of Electric Bike Paradise, the #1 online retailer of electric bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs, electric golf caddies, solar kits, and trolling motors. Trevor has been selling bicycles, electric bikes, and electric scooters online since 2010 and eventually established Electric Bike Paradise in late 2013 when he happened to meet a car enthusiast that introduced him to electric bikes. Trevor searched for electric bikes online but couldn’t find a website that offered a wide selection of electric bikes, scooters, and informational articles. He started a website where everyone can shop conveniently, browse buying guides, and read educational posts. The website is called Electric Bike Paradise.