What is meant by the term ‘Pedelec’ electric bike?

‘Pedelec’ (from Pedal Electric Cycle) refers to a bike in which an electric motor assists pedaling.


Juicy Roller eBikeA popular pedelec eBike


In pedelec (or ‘pedal assist’ or PAS) bikes, electrical power assistance is only applied when you pedal. As a result, you get no assistance if you stop pedaling.
Riding a pedelec bike feels similar to riding a traditional bike. The power from the motor simply supplements the power of your pedaling. In most pedelec bikes, the motor cuts out once you hit a certain speed.

Most >Pedelec bikes have a controller mounted on the handlebar to let you select the level of assistance you want. This means you’re in control of how much the motor helps you.

There is no need for a throttle on a pedelec bike. This is because the amount of assistance you receive is set by your pedaling and the power level controller.

As you reach pre-defined speed limits the assistance from the motor is reduced or stopped. Government regulations specify the speed at which the motor must stop assisting.

In most jurisdictions, a low powered pedelec electric bicycle is subject to the same road rules as a regular bicycle. As a result, you can use them on cycle paths in most areas.

Pedelec Requirements

  • The maximum power output of the electric motor.
  • The need for you to provide pedal power in addition to the motor input.
  • At what speed electrical assistance must reduce or cut out.
  • Weight of the bike (a factor in a few jurisdictions).

Components required to make pedelec electric bikes work

  • Electric motor.
  • Rechargeable battery.
  • Assistance selector – to let you set how much motor assistance you require.
  • Speed sensor – to ensure the amount of assistance reduces at certain speeds.
  • Brake sensor – to cut off the motor assistance when you engage the brakes.
  • Pedal sensor –  to cut off the power when you stop pedaling.

Some rear hub motor sytems have all of the sensors built into the hub motor. Furthermore, you can set the level of assistance using a mobile phone app so you don’t need any addiitonal components.

Electric bikes which do not require you to pedal are usually controlled by a throttle on the handlebar. Fewer sensors are required and as a result these bikes are usually cheaper and simpler. However, in many juristictions they cannot be ridden on public roads.

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