Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt
Everything fun about an electric bike is essentially connected to the battery and motor. These core components usually define the overall performance of an electric bike. But what do you do when the battery dies on you mid-ride?
In such a scenario, you may wonder if you can just manually pedal the rest of the way. I’ve tested this many times myself and have all the answers you’re looking for.
Can you ride an ebike without the battery?
You can ride an electric bike without a battery, just like you would ride a traditional bike. The only major difference between a traditional bike and an ebike without a battery is that an electric bike weighs more. You can also ride your ebike manually with the battery. All you’ll have to do is turn off the pedal assist feature on your bike.
How to ride an e-bike manually?
You can ride an electric bike manually pretty much in the same way you would ride a traditional bike. If your battery isn’t dead and you want to ride the electric bike without assistance, simply use the power button to turn off the motor. You can also just turn the pedal-assist feature off, or remove the battery.
If you plan on riding your electric bike manually, I recommend removing the battery to reduce some weight. It’ll make the bike easier to move, control, and maneuver.
Why ride an ebike manually?
There are a few reasons why you might ride an electric bike manually.
Obviously, your battery may die mid-ride, and you will pretty much have no other choice but to ride it manually. Yes, technically you could push your ebike or carry it, but I see no good reason for that.
Of course, getting more exercise is a great reason to ride your ebike manually.
Many people enjoy having both options to ride their electric bikes. It eliminates the need for them to buy a traditional ebike exclusively for exercise, and they can always turn on the pedal assistance when they get tired.
Another reason you may need to ride your electric bike manually is if you’re traveling via airplane and you want to take your ebike with you. Airlines don’t allow battery packs on board because there have been instances where lithium-ion batteries have exploded on the plane, causing emergency landings. However, you can still take your ebike with you on your trip, you’ll just have to remove the battery and use your ebike manually after you land.
The pedal-only mode can also be convenient when you need to run an urgent errand, but have forgotten to charge the battery. Instead of waiting hours for the ebike battery to charge, you can just ride without it.
Tips for riding an ebike without the battery
If you ever need to ride your electric bike manually, here are some tips to make the ride safer and more enjoyable:
- Review the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure the bike won’t suffer any damage when you ride it manually.
- If you want to remove the battery to make the ebike lighter, check if removing the battery will void any warranty.
- Use the proper safety gear, like helmets, knee and elbow pads, to protect yourself from injuries.
- Avoid riding the bike without the battery at night, but if you have to, wear a reflective vest and stay on a path with streetlights to be visible to others on the road.
- Don’t expect the bike to perform like it would with a battery. Not having pedal assistance will reduce the electric bike’s speed and overall performance.
- Removing the battery could change the weight distribution of the electric bike, so be prepared for a slightly different balance and weight distribution of the ebike.
Disadvantages of riding an ebike without the battery
Having the option to manually ride your electric bike can be convenient but comes with some drawbacks.
- Since electric bikes weigh more than traditional ones, they are harder to maneuver.
- Riding up steep hills can be difficult and tiring without motorized assistance.
- The bike won’t ride as fast as it would with a motor.
- Manually riding an electric bike is more physically demanding because you’ll be putting in more effort.
- You won’t be able to cover longer distances without over-exerting yourself.
- Riding an electric bike without a battery at night can be dangerous because the bike lights won’t work.
Can you save battery by riding your ebike manually?
The battery’s main responsibility is to power the motor. If you manually ride your electric bike, the motor won’t be used, so you’ll save up on the electric bike’s battery.
You can turn the battery on when you get tired and need help pedaling. This way, you’ll be able to ride greater distances and have enough battery to use the throttle or higher pedal assist levels.
Will riding an electric bike without battery damage your ebike?
Riding your electric bike without a battery won’t damage your electric bike. Electric bikes are specially designed to function as traditional bikes in case the battery dies.
That being said, traditional bikes require 24% more energy than electric bikes due to a lack of motorized assistance. Riding an electric bike manually will require more effort because of the extra weight of the electrical components.
Modes of riding an electric bike
The riding modes offered by an electric bike can vary depending on the manufacturer and model, but they usually include the ones described below.
In this mode, the rider pedals the bike, but the pedals also get extra power from the motor. A torque sensor in the electric bike measures how much force you apply on the pedals and then sends that information to the controller.
The controller then regulates the motor’s power so the rider has just enough pedal assistance to avoid getting tired.
This is the most popular mode among electric riders (myself included) because they get to enjoy riding the bike and get some exercise without over-exerting themselves. The mode makes riding challenging terrains easier as well.
Pedal only mode
The pedal-only mode basically lets you ride your bike like a traditional bicycle without any motorized assistance. It turns off all the pedal-assist features so you can manually pedal the rest of the ride. This mode may not be the main reason you’d buy an electric bike, but it comes in handy when your bike runs out of battery.
Sometimes, even when my electric bike does have some battery left, I ride it manually to get some exercise. If I’m too tired on the way back, I turn the pedal assist on for support.
Throttle only mode
In the throttle-only mode, the throttle directly powers the motor to move the bike without needing the rider to pedal. So the bike basically moves without any effort from the rider. Since this mode uses too much battery, you won’t be able to use it as often as you’d like.
The mode can especially come in handy when going up steep hills, against strong winds, or at the end of your ride when you’re too tired to pedal. The speed of your electric bike at full throttle will depend on the weight your bike is bearing.
Some electric bikes also come with a walk-assist mode which lets you walk the bike with low levels of motor assistance. This mode can be helpful for walking your bike through tight spaces and crowds.
If you aren’t confident enough to climb steep hills with your electric bike, you can use the walk assist mode to walk it uphill.
On most electric bikes, you can activate the mode by holding down a specific button on the handlebar. As helpful as the mode is, you shouldn’t use it for extended periods because it’ll drain the battery pretty quickly.
How much does an electric bike weigh?
Riding an electric bike manually can be tiring because of the added weight of the electrical components. The weight of an electric bike depends on its type, battery capacity, motor, frame material, etc.
On average, electric bikes weigh between 40 to 70 pounds / 18 to 32 kg. Electric bikes like mountain bikes and fat-tire bikes are designed for off-road use, so they have larger frames and tires. The weight of these bikes can range between 50 to 70 pounds (23 to 32 kg).
Lower-end bikes, like entry-level ones or commuter electric bikes, weigh much less, usually between 35 to 55 pounds (16 to 25 kg).
An electric bike with a battery and motor assistance will always give you a better riding experience. But if you find yourself in a situation where your battery dies or you need to remove it, you can ride the electric bike manually without any worry.
Riding the electric bike will be like riding a traditional one, with the added weight of the electrical components as a small, barely noticeable additional downside.