One of the best things about electric bikes is that they give you the ability to put in as much or as little work as you like.
The easiest way to understand how that works is by jumping on one of our bikes and giving it a spin, but if a test ride is not in the cards, learning about pedal assist (PAS) is a close runner-up.
Okay, so what is pedal assist?
Each of our bikes is equipped with an electric motor. Its job is to add a little extra oomph to your ride.
Once you activate it, you’ll immediately notice that each pedal stroke suddenly seems a little easier. This is pedal assist in a nutshell.
All of our bikes come with an easy to use display on your left handlebar. By pressing the up or down arrows, you can control how much power the motor sends to your pedals (actually your wheel, but your pedals are where you'll feel it).
You should start at a low setting, like level 1, which will make you feel like there’s a steady hand guiding your ride with a soft push.
Once you get used to that, you can experiment with higher settings, which go from giving you just a tad more help to putting a whole lot of power behind each stroke (up to 750 watts in the U.S. -- the equivalent of 1 horsepower!).
The beautiful thing about this is that you can choose the amount of juice coming from the motor. When you stop pedaling, it stops working, so you’ll never have to worry about losing any control.
How does it work?
Pedal assist uses a cadence sensor built into the drivetrain of the bike.
The sensor detects when the rider is revolving the pedals and signals the electric motor to provide the level of pedal assistance that has been selected.
How many levels are there?
Most of our bikes range from 1-5 and the RadRunner 1 goes from 1-4. You can also set it to 0 to get a feel for how the bike operates without it, or just to get a reallllly good workout in.
What about the throttle?
Pedal assist is just the beginning. All of our bikes (U.S. and Canada) include a throttle on the right handlebar that lets you move without pedaling. Our EU spec bikes have a half-grip twist power assist that provides an additional boost while a rider pedals.
When you give it a twist, you will be able to ride your bike without pedaling. This is a great feature if you need to quickly get up to 20 mph or if you've spent the entire day pedaling and just want to give your legs a break.
How do I get started?
Here are a few tips to get you on your way!
- Practice without obstacles. Ensure you are firmly mounted on the bike and ready to ride with power assist before starting to pedal. Hold onto the handlebars with both hands and be prepared to squeeze the brake levers when necessary.
- Start in pedal assist level 1. “PAS 1” is the default PAS level. You can increase the pedal assist level from there as conditions allow, or turn it to 0 for no help at all.
- Begin pedaling. Once you begin pedaling, the cadence sensor will activate the motor after 1-2 seconds.
- Ride Rad! When you stop pedaling and do not squeeze the brake levers, there is a 1-2 second delay before pedal assist shuts off. This is to reduce the power from surging on and off whenever you stop pedaling momentarily (to adjust your feet or your seating position, for example).
- Stop pedaling (pedal assist power will remain active for a few seconds after you stop pedaling) or squeeze the brake levers to cut the assistance off immediately.