Electric Bikes for Kids and Teens – A Buying Guide and Top Picks

Electric bikes for kids are quickly gaining in popularity, and the technology powering them continues to get better and better. From electric balance bikes for kids to e-mountain bikes, kids ebikes are an incredible tool for enabling kids to go faster and farther than their little legs can carry them on their own.

Whether you have a young toddler eager for speed, an MTB grom who wants to ride longer distances, a 16+ teenager commuting to work, or you’re a parent looking to replace short car trips, there’s an ebike for that!

Ebikes for kids vary widely in purpose, so understanding what to look for as well as what is available is essential to finding the right bike for your child and your family.

Best kids electric bike collage

Electric bikes also comes with risks. Due to numerous severe injuries involving kids and ebikes (mainly those with throttles), the bike industry, local governments, as well as the CPSC, are currently trying to figure out how to safely manage kids on ebikes for everyday use.

As a result, options for electric pedal bikes are very limited for kids! If you don’t see what you’re looking for on this page, odds are a child-safe version of it doesn’t exist. As a result, electric scooters are often a better option for younger riders.

While we highly recommend reading our full buying guide for Electric Bikes for Kids , here are some quick tips and specific bike recommenations for those TL;DR folks :-).

Quick Tips for Buying a Kids ebike

(1) eBikes vs. electric balance bikes: Small electric balance bikes without pedals (such as STACYC) typically are not covered under ebike laws, but should still be used with caution.

(2) Be aware of your local laws and regulations: Many areas prohibit kids from operating Class II (ebikes with throttles) as well as Class III ebikes (ebikes with a 28mph max w/wo a throttle). All eMTBs listed are Class I ebikes w/o throttles, which are allowed on most single-track trails.

(3) Look for a bike with a torque sensor: Torque sensors allow the rider to control the speed of the bike with the pedals. Without one, pedaling slower will NOT slow down the speed of the bike, which can be very confusing and dangerous for kids.

(4) Say no to the throttle: Throttles allow kids to reach high speeds quickly without pedaling and should be avoided. Throttles on essentially all ebikes, however, can be turned off or removed after purchase (with exceptions to electric balance bikes which only have a throttle).

(5) Pay attention to weight: ebikes can weigh up to 60 lb. (or more!) and can be a lot for an adult, let alone a child, to handle.

The Best Electric Bikes for Kids

This list was compiled after extensive research as well as leaning heavily on our own experience with electric bikes. Unlike our other “best” lists throughout this site, we fully admit that we have not tested or personally seen a few of these bikes.

More details about these specific bikes are included in the age-based sections below. Like always, any additional feedback and suggestions are welcome in the comments.

Bike Age Range Best Use Price
Electric Balance Bikes for Kids 3 to 8
GoTrax Kids 5 to 8 Best for Paved Use $379
STACYC 12/16 eDrive 3 to 7 Best for Off-Road Use $799
SUPER73 K1D 4 to 8 Best Multi-Use $995
Electric Bikes for Kids 8 to 12
woom UP 5 8 to 12 Best All Around eMTB $3,799
Speciaized Turbo Levo SL Kids 24" 8 to 10 Best Aggressive eMTB $3,800
Commencal Meta Power 24 8 to 12 Best Value eMTB $2,800
STACYC 18/20 eDrive 8 to 12 Best for Motocross $1,999+
Electric Bikes for Kids 12+
Jetson Bolt Pro 12+ Best Value $499
GoTrax Nano 12+ Most Secure - Key Ignition $380
Aventon Soltera.2 16+ Best City eBike $999
woom UP 6 12+ Best All Around eMTB $3,799
Electric Bikes for Carrying Kids
Aventon Abound Adult Peppy longtail ebike, holds two kids $1,799
Bunch Family Bike Adult Holds up to 4 kids! $5,399

**Don’t see what you want?!? If you’re looking for an affordable ebike for tweens and teens, they really don’t exist. Quality ebikes with proper safety features to reduce the risk of injury don’t come cheap. If you are on a tighter budget, your best option is likely an Electric Scooter for Kids. For older teens, our Best Womens Electric Bikes provides many additional pedal bike options.

Electric Bikes for Kids – Table of Contents

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The Best Electric Bikes for Kids (with Pedals)

From 8-year-olds taking on longer distances with their parents to teens needing a budget ebike to commute to work, we’ve done hours of research to find the best electric bikes for kids. While we have not personally seen all of these bikes, we have tested four different ebikes with seven different kids on a variety of trails.

child riding a kids ebike on a paved bike trail

The best ride for your child really comes down to your budget and how you plan on using it. For kids’ safety, we have not included any Class III ebikes (they’re too fast).

While we do not recommend bikes with throttles for kids, we have included several Class II (slower max speed but have a throttle) on this list knowing that the throttles on ebikes can easily be removed.

While there is certainly a lot more to consider besides motor and battery when purchasing an eMTB, we have included those that are readily accessible in the US and also have proven durability and performance with true trail riding.

Electric Bikes for Kids Comparison

Bike MSRP Seat or Rider Height Weight Torque Sensor PAS Modes Gears Motor
eMTB Bikes for Ages 7 to 12 - Class I - No throttle - 15 mph max
Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids $3,800 48" to 60" tall 36.6 Yes 3 11 320W
woom UP 5 $3,999 28" - 33.5" 35.6 Yes 3 11 250W
woom UP 6 $3,999 30.9" - 37.4" 37.3 Yes 3 11 250W
Bikes for Ages 12+, Class II w/ Throttle - 15.5 mph max**
Jetson Bolt Pro $499 4'5"+ 43 No 1 1 350W
Bikes for Ages 16+, Class II w/ Throttle - 20 mph max**
Aventon Soltera.2 $1,399 4'11" - 6'1" 46 Yes 5 7 350W
Townie Go! 7D $1,899 4’11 – 5’11 44 Yes 3 7 250W
**Suitable for teens if the throttle is removed

If you are unaware of the importance of a torque sensor, please read our section below about the differences in ebike sensors. Essentially, without a torque sensor, the speed of the bike cannot be controlled by the pedals.

The Best Electric Balance Bikes

While electric balance bikes should never be a replacement for a traditional balance bike, they are great fun for tiny riders – whether they be future motocross riders or fun bikes for casual use. From doing laps at the track to simply riding around the campground or backyard, these electric balance bikes can help instill a passion for riding at a very young age.

STACYC electric balance bikes (owned by Harley Davidson) are by far the most popular as their low center of gravity design and vast network of dealers make them great for motocross families.

SUPER73’s new K1D is an impressive new bike that is MUCH quieter than STACYC, has a larger battery, and is better suited for kids who want a multi-use bike rather than a mini-dirt bike.

GoTrax’s Kids e-bike is a great option for neighborhood use, but its single fast speed is a bit intimidating for many riders.

While other cheaper non-brands have hit the market, we don’t recommend them as they rarely have safety certifications (including UL battery certs) and don’t offer customer support or replacement parts.

young boy riding the stacyc electric balance bike
STACYC 12eDrive in Action (Image from Stacyc.com)

Compared to the similarly-sized Yamaha PW50 kids’ gas motorcycle, these electric balance bikes are quieter, lighter, and significantly cheaper! Like the PW50’s governor, most electric balance bikes have several speed settings to limit the top speed for new riders.

Electric Balance Bikes Comparison

Model MSRP Seat Height Speeds Wt. Range
Bikes for Ages 2 - 5
STACYC 12eDrive $799 14" - 16" (3) 5, 7, 9 mph 17 lb. 30 - 60 min
Bikes for Ages 4 - 7
GoTrax V14 $379 19.3" - 20.9" (1) 12 mph 27 lb. ~15.5 miles
STACYC 16eDRIVE $1,049 17" - 19" (3) 5, 7.5, 13 mph 19 lb. 30 - 60 min
SUPER73 K1D $1,295 19" (3) 7, 13, 15 mph 27 lb. 90 -120 min

STACYC bikes are also available under several other brand names, including Harley Davidson (who purchased STACYC in 2019), KTM, GASGAS, and Husqvarna . As far as we are aware, besides aesthetics, the bikes themselves remain the same across all lines.

Which Electric Balance Bike is Best for my Kid?

Beyond price and specs, during our extensive testing periods we found significant differences in the riding experience between the STACYC, SUPER73 and GoTrax electric balance bikes. All three of the brands were well loved by our testers and their parents, but were clearly designed to excel for different riding styles.

young rider on the SUPER73 K1D kids electric balance bike
Super73 K1D Electric Balance Bike

The low-end torque and low center of gravity of the STACYC made it the clear winner for those sticking to mostly motocross style riding (or racing), while the much cheaper GoTrax is strictly built for sticking to the pavement.

The SUPER73 was comfortable and capable on both dirt and paved surfaces, but its heavier weight and less low-end torque makes it less suitable for jumping and racing than the STACYC.

Motocross Racing✔✔✔✔✔
Dirt Trail Riding✔✔✔✔✔
Neighborhood Use✔✔✔✔

How loud are these bikes?

Compared to kids’ gas powered motorbikes, any electric bike is very quiet!! Having your child ride any of these bikes around the neighborhood won’t have them protesting due to noise.

Due to its motor with a real gearbox, the STACYC is louder than the other bikes with rear hub motors. The STACYC’s unique motor, however, is what allows it to have powerful low-end torque for quickly flying up and over jumps. (Learn more about STACYC in our extended review).

young rider on the GoTrax V14 electric and STACYC electric balance bike
GoTrax V14 and STACYC 16eDrive

The rear hub motors on both the GoTrax and the SUPER73 are very quiet. So much so, that you really need to pay attention to make sure you know where your kid is as they can easily (and sneakily) ride out of sight.

How long do the batteries last?

As shown in the comparison chart above, the lifespan of the batteries on all of these bikes vary greatly. The STACYC 12e has the smallest battery, but it’s removable, and spare batteries are available for easy swap outs of spent batteries. Due to the low-end torque of the STACYC, they also tend to run through their batteries faster (30 – 60 minutes per battery).

The SUPER73’s battery lasts longer (90 – 120 minutes) and is also removable, but extra batteries currently aren’t available for purchase. The removable battery does allow you to easily charge the battery inside without hauling the entire bike inside. To help extend the life of the battery, the SUPER73 K1D has regenerative braking, which recharges the bike’s battery when the hydraulic rear brake is used.

The GoTrax doesn’t provide a time frame for its battery, but rather a distance of 15.5 miles. Considering our testers just use the bike close to the house, the bike only needs to be charged about once a week or after a couple hours of riding. The battery on the GoTrax, is not removable, so the entire bike needs to be brought to a plug in order to charge the battery.

How fast do they go?

These electric balance bikes range in speed from a 5 to 15 mph. The STACYC and the SUPER73 each have three different speed modes, while the GoTrax only has one. We found the slower max speed settings on the STACYC and SUPER73 (5 and 7 mph) to be very helpful for young kids learning to ride.

The slower max speed allowed riders to slowly ease into the bike and made accidental accelerations on the throttle much less problematic. These brands also made adjusting the max speed a non-intuitive process, so kids can’t adjust it on their own!

young rider on the STACYC 12eDrive electric balance bike

With the max speed of the GoTrax being a high 12 mph (with no option to lower it), it was a bit intimidating for young ones to get started on. Once they got it, it was also a bit worrisome to see small kids go so fast on the bike, but we never had a test rider have an accident and always made sure they were riding in a safe environment with a helmet on.

Electric Cargo Bikes for Hauling Kids

From quick drop-offs at a friend’s house to skipping the pick-up lane after school, electric cargo bikes are a fun and fast way to get around the neighborhood! With the flexibility to hold everything from toddlers in child bike seats to a full-grown adult, your family is sure to get many years of use from an electric family bike.

Mom riding the aventon abound with her young sons
Aventon Abound Electric Cargo Bike

There are many different types of electric cargo bikes (or trikes!) to consider. In addition to the information covered in our buying guide below, there are a lot of variables to consider. For an in-depth dive into the specifics of cargo bikes for families, we highly recommend checking out Bike Shop Girl’s Cargo Bike buying guide.

When it comes to your budget, higher-end bikes are typically lighter, offer better speed control via a torque sensor, as well as increased durability from the drivetrain and electronics.

If your planned trips are within a few miles around your neighborhood, don’t be afraid to go for a lower-end cargo bike, such as the Aventon Abound. Although heavy and not as fine-tuned as other bikes, it works great for quick trips and after 100s of miles, we have no complaints!

For hauling more than 2 kids or younger kids that have outgrown bike seats, the Bunch Bike is a fabulous and fun option. As a tricycle, you don’t have to worry about the bike tipping over and it can haul up to 4 kids!

Hauling kids in the Bunch Bike
Link to ReviewsMSRPWeightTorque SensorRange
Bikes for 1 or 2 Kids
RadWagon 4$2,19976.7No45 mi.+
Aventon Abound$1,99981Yesup to 50 mi.
Xtracycle Swoop$4,49962.9Yesup to 60 mi.
Tricycles for 2+ Kids
Bunch Original$5,399152No
**All bikes listed have a throttle

eBikes for Kids Buying Guide

If you are new to ebikes, there is certainly a lot to learn! In this guide, we will be focusing on the features of ebikes that are particularly important for kids. While the specifics of battery life, battery volts, motor torque, and countless other ebike components are very important to the overall performance of the bike, they don’t necessarily affect kids more than adults, so we won’t be discussing them here.

Woman posing on Townie Go! 7D electric bike for women

For a more general reference about electric bikes, REI’s How to Choose an Electric Bike is a great place to start. For a deep dive into the electric systems of ebikes, ebikes.ca is a top-notch resource, while Juiced Bikes does a great job going into the specifics of batteries. Our Best Electric Bikes for Women article also offers additional info about electric bikes as well as ebike recommendation for older teens and adults.

Why an ebike for kids?

Two words – distance and elevation. Electric bikes allow kids to ride their bikes for longer distances as well as tackle greater elevations gains. Based on our experiences with our own kids, ebikes can magically transform rides that were previously too hard, too long, or too boring… into exciting adventures that kids truly enjoy.

Electric bikes are very different than electric scooters. Many people balk at the idea of a child riding an electric bike as they envision kids zipping down the street without taking a single pedal stroke. While this is certainly possible, it’s not probable nor is it the purpose or design of ebikes for kids.

When given the right bike (kids don’t need a throttle!) and in the right conditions (longer rides or in hilly areas), kids can still get plenty of exercise on an ebike.

young child pausing while riding the  woom up electric bike for kids on a mountain bike trail

Kid-specific ebikes don’t have a throttle (more about this below) and require kids to pedal for the motor to even kick on. If they stop pedaling, the motor also stops. While many tweens and teens can technically fit on adult ebikes with throttles (Class II or III), many areas have regulations to prevent kids from riding an ebike with a throttle.

Class of eBikes

Prior to shopping for an ebike, it is important to understand the differences between the three classes of ebikes on the market. Many states do not allow kids under the age of 16 to ride a Class III ebike, while many states don’t allow anyone (even adults!) to ride Class II ebikes on bike paths and trails. Check out Bikes for People’s Electric Bike Laws to learn more about your state’s regulations.

The two main differences between the classes of ebikes are:

  1. The presence of a throttle
  2. The max speed at which the motor will assist the bike

What is a bike throttle? A throttle is a lever or button that activates the motor of the bike without having to pedal. If a bike does not have a throttle, the motor can only be activated by pedaling the bike.

Max mph assistThrottle
Class I20No
Class II20Yes
Class III20/28Optional

Class I

The motor on Class I ebikes cannot assist the rider above 20 mph max. While the rider can pedal to accelerate the bike faster than 20mph, the motor will stop providing additional assistance once 20mph is reached.

Class I ebikes also cannot have a throttle. The motor can only be activated via pedaling and the rider must continue pedaling in order for the motor to operate. Most ebikes sold in big-box stores are Class I ebikes.

All kid-specific ebikes are Class I, but for added safety, they typically have a lower speed at which the motor will stop assisting. For example, the kid-specific woom UP line maxes out at 12 mph, while the Specialized Turbo Levo SL Kids maxes out at either 10 or 15.5 mph (two different settings)

Class II

Like Class I bikes, the motor on Class II can only assist up to 20 mph. The main difference is that Class II bikes have a throttle that allows the rider to turn on the motor and propel the bike forward without pedaling the bike. The rider can also choose not to use the throttle and to activate the motor via the pedals as well.

Class III

Stepping it up a notch, Class III ebikes can assist the rider up to 28 mph when pedaling, but only up to 20mph when using the optional throttle. Due to their higher speeds, Class III ebikes are the most regulated and in many areas are limited to street use only.

Ebike Sizing vs. Traditional Bike Sizing

Like regular kids bikes, ebikes for kids are sized according to wheel size. So if your child is riding a 24″ bike, they will likely fit on a 24″ kids electric bike.

Like all bikes, it is also important to take minimum and maximum seat heights into account as they can vary widely within a wheel size, depending on brand. If you aren’t sure what wheel size your child needs, be sure to check out our Kids Bikes Sizing Guide.

Currently, there are only a handful of child-specific ebikes on the market (in the US). The smallest pedal-assist ebike we are aware of is the woom UP 5, which has a minimum seat height of 28″ and can fit kids as young as 7. The Swagtron EB-6 20″ bike is a popular bike marketed as a kid’s bike, but it is too tall for most kids and with only 1 PAS mode, we found it to be way too fast for kids to ride safely.

Electric Class I mountain bikes from woom, Commencal and Specialized, fit younger riders, but are a bit overkill for everyday neighborhood riding. With suspension and top-of-the-line components, these bikes are powerhouses on the single-track MTB trails but also come with a steep price tag that puts them out of reach for many families needing a bike for city riding.

child riding an electric bike for kids on a mountain bike trail

As a result, many older kids (teens at least 5′ not riding on a mountain trail), will likely ride an ebike designed for an adult. Our page on Electric Bicycles for Women has many bikes small enough for a 4’11 – 5’0 kid rider. Just be aware that due to the faster speed of these adult bikes, we don’t recommend them for kids younger that 16 (or those who aren’t capable and confident to drive a car).

The wheel sizes on adult electric bikes vary widely from 20″ fat tires to 700c street tires. As a result, the wheel size on adult ebikes cannot be used as an indication of the overall size of the bike.

an ebike for kids with 24" wheels next to an electric bike for adults with 20" wheels

Weight of eBikes

Ebikes are heavy! While the motor does help to compensate for the additional weight to get the bike moving, ebikes can still be significantly harder to maneuver than traditional bikes. This is especially true for tweens and teens riding adult ebikes, which can weigh up to 70 pounds.

Kid-specific ebikes tend to be a bit lighter than adult bikes, but they are in turn much more expensive. As a point of reference, the $3,799 woom 6 UP with 26″ wheels weighs 37.3 lb. while the $900 Swagtron EB6 weighs 48.5 lb.

Like traditional bikes, lightweight ebikes tend to be very expensive. Don’t be surprised if entry-level ebikes don’t have their total weights listed. When researching for this article, reviews of specific bikes on YouTube and electricbikereview.com were helpful in providing information about the weight and overall size of the bike.

For adults carrying kids as passengers on an ebike (such as the Aventon Abound), the total weight of the bike can be a lot to negotiate. Over the years, we’ve found Class II ebikes with throttles to be a game-changer when riding with a heavy load.

Using the throttle to propel that heavy load forward from a standstill is significantly easier than attempting to do so by pedaling, even with pedal assist. Once the bike is moving, it is easy to maintain balance and momentum on the bike by pedaling and the throttle is no longer necessary.

women and teenage daughter riding on the RadPower Plus 3 with a passenger kit

Pedal Assist Modes (PAS)

A bike’s pedal-assist mode or PAS, determines how much “help” the motor provides while pedaling. Most ebikes have 3 to 5 pedal assist modes. The higher the pedal-assist mode, the more the motor will assist in propelling the bike forward.

The PAS modes are easily adjusted by pushing a button on the bike’s display on the handlebars, or on some bikes, the downtube. PAS modes can be changed at any time during a ride.

Pedal-assist modes work by altering the total output of the motor (watts). The higher the pedal-assist mode, the greater the percentage of output the motor will produce, and the less effort the rider has to exert on the pedals to propel the bike forward.

As a point of clarification, be aware that these percentages are the MAX percentages the motor or the rider can have on the total output (basically speed) of the bike. The bike does not need to reach “100% output” in order to move.

The % of the output from the rider, as well as the motor, can vary within the set PAS range. For example, on a bike with 3 PAS modes, in PAS 2 the motor can apply up to 80% of the output, while the rider can apply up to 20%. As a result, the higher the PAS mode, the less effect the rider’s pedaling has on the speed of the bike. In all PAS modes, however, the motor will stop providing additional assistance once the bike reaches its max MPH allowed for motor assistance.

Bikes with 3 PAS Modes

% motor output/rider output
PAS 00/100
PAS 130/70
PAS 280/20
PAS 3~100/0

Bikes with 5 PAS Modes

% motor output/rider output
PAS 00/100
PAS 120/80
PAS 240/60
PAS 360/40
PAS 480/20
PAS 5~100/0

Riding with PAS

The rider must continue to pedal at all times in all PAS modes in order to keep the motor engaged. If the rider stops pedaling (even in PAS 5), the motor will stop providing output. The bike, however, will not stop as it will continue to coast like a traditional bike. (Note: If you are engaging the throttle on a Class II or Class III ebike, the throttle overrides the PAS and you don’t need to pedal.)

To stop the bike, the rider can stop pedaling and coast to a stop or simply apply the brakes, which automatically turns off the motor.

The “feel” of riding with PAS can vary greatly from bike to bike. Compared to higher-end ebikes, lower-end ebikes tend to be jerkier and can also limit the rider’s ability to control the speed of the bike with the pedals. These differences are the result of the bike’s ability (or inability) to regulate the rate at which the motor output is applied.

Some ebikes will automatically apply the max motor output for every PAS (for example, ramping quickly up to 80% output at the first pedal stroke), while others will slowly ramp up the output based on the pedaling of the rider (slowly increase from 0% to 80% based how hard or fast the rider is pedaling).

A bike’s ability to quickly or slowly apply power to the bike is determined by the bike’s PAS sensor. There are two main types of sensors – a cadence sensor, and a torque sensor.

Cadence Sensors vs. Torque Sensors

While the PAS modes control the max % of output the motor will produce, the sensors on the bike determine the rate at which that max % of output is applied. There are two main types of sensors – cadence sensors, and torque sensors. While seemingly minor, these sensors can make a huge difference in how the bike reacts to the rider.

A cadence sensor detects if you are pedaling (not how fast, but whether the pedals are moving or not) while a torque sensor measures how hard you are pedaling (~how much tension is on the chain). Lower-end bikes typically have cadence sensors, but higher-end bikes have torque sensors.

While riding both bikes is the best way to “feel” the difference between the two, we’ll do our best to explain the difference and why we highly recommend bikes with torque sensors for kids.

Cadence Sensors

Cadence sensors act as on and off switches for the motor. Upon sensing a forward movement on the crank arms and pedals, the cadence sensor turns the motor on. Once the motor is on, it then applies output according to the PAS mode selected. The higher the PAS mode, the more output is available from the motor.

The cadence sensor, however, does not have the ability to determine how fast or how hard you are pedaling, it just looks to see IF you are pedaling in a forward motion. On a bike with a cadence sensor, you can be pedaling in a very low gear with NO tension on the chain at all and the bike will still be propelled forward by the motor.

As a result, the benefit of cadence sensors is that very little effort from the rider is needed for the bike to function, especially at high PAS levels. But on the flip side, since the sensor cannot monitor how fast or slow the rider is pedaling, it can be very challenging, or in some cases not possible at all, for the rider to control the speed of the bike with the pedals.

Regardless of how fast or how slow the rider is pedaling on an ebike with a cadence sensor, the motor will apply the max % of input based on the selected PAS mode. For example, if your bike has 5 PAS modes and you are riding in PAS 3 (60% motor input, 40% human) the bike will automatically ramp up to 60% of its motor output once the pedals start rotating. Slowing down or speeding up your pedal strokes will not affect the amount of output the motor is providing to the bike.

You can increase the speed of the bike by pedaling hard and adding to the 60% output the motor is already providing (the 40% rider output), but you cannot decrease the output of the motor by pedaling slowly. If you are already pedaling at a slower pace (so as to not add to the motor’s output) the only way to slow the speed of the bike is to decrease the PAS mode, brake (which stops the motor), or stop pedaling (which also stops the motor).

It can therefore be very difficult to ride at a slow speed on a bike with a cadence sensor, especially at high PAS levels. Whether you are spinning in granny gear or huffing and puffing in high gear, the output of the motor will remain the same.

For young riders, the lack of ability to control the speed of the bike with their feet can be VERY confusing and potentially dangerous. As a result, we highly recommend ebikes for kids with torque sensors (explained below).

Torque Sensors

While cadence sensors act as an “ignition” switch to the motor (turning it on or off), bikes with torque sensors take it one step further and essentially turn the pedals into a “gas pedal”.

By monitoring the amount of pressure applied to the cranks and pedals, a torque sensor allows you to slowly ramp up the output of the motor by pedaling faster and decrease the output by pedaling slower in all PAS modes.

So instead of quickly ramping up to the max % output in the selected PAS mode (like on ebikes with a cadence sensor), an ebike with a torque sensor will slowly increase the output of the motor according to how much tension the rider applies to the pedals (until it hits the max PAS %).

For example, if the selected PAS has a max output of 80%, the bike will feather the motor’s output from 0% to 80% depending on the force applied to the pedals by the rider. At a slow pedal rate, the motor may only output 20%, but as the rider pedals faster, the rate will increase until it maxes out at 80%.

So while bikes with torque sensors require more effort from the rider (the rider can’t just coast – they must apply pressure to the pedals), setting the bike to a higher PAS mode still allows the rider to get plenty of assistance from the motor by pedaling harder (like you would on a traditional bike).

As a result, like a traditional bike, an ebike with a torque sensor allows the rider to always be in control of the speed of the bike via the pedals. Want to go faster? Pedal faster. Want to slow down? Pedal slower.

The downside of torque sensors is that they are much more expensive to incorporate on a bike. As a result, ebikes with torque sensors are rarely found under $1,500 and are usually closer to $2,000+.

Single-speed or Geared

PAS modes on a bike do not replace the gears. Like traditional bikes, gears on a bike allow you to alter how hard the bike is to pedal. The PAS modes on the bike adjust how much additional input the motor adds to your effort.

Gears are especially important when tackling steep elevation changes or technical terrain. If a bike does not have a “granny gear” to allow you to easily start pedaling the bike, the motor can’t kick in, regardless of the PAS mode you are in. As a result, if you stop on a steep incline you may not be able to get the heavy bike started up again. (Unless you have a throttle.)

On technical terrain, this is especially important as the PAS modes can’t help you power through a particularly rough part of a trail if the bike is in too hard of a gear to pedal. On an electric bike with a torque sensor (which most e-mountain bikes do), in order to get full input from the motor in your set PAS mode, you also need to be able to pedal at a decent speed.

child pedaling up a hill on the woom up electric bike for kids

If technical terrain or strong elevation gains are not in your plans, then a single-speed ebike with several PAS modes should suit you just fine. Bikes with throttles also typically don’t necessarily need multiple gears as you can always rely on the throttle to power you up a hill.

Keep in mind, however, that regardless of the class of ebike, the throttle can never accelerate the bike past 20 mph. Speeds beyond 20 mph require input from the rider via the drivetrain (you gotta pedal hard!), so gears are also essential for riders aiming for higher speeds.

Motor Placement – Hub vs. Mid-drive motor

The motor on ebikes can be located in three different places, (1) within the hub of the front wheel, (2) the rear wheel, or (3) at the bike’s bottom bracket (called mid-drive motors). Rear hub motors are the most common on low to mid-range ebikes, while mid-drive motors are standard on most high-end bikes. Front hub motors are not as common.

Mid-drive Motor vs. Rear Hub Motor

mid-drive motor on woom up electric bike for kids versus a rear hub motor on a radpower radrunner plus

For basic riding on paved surfaces, rear-hub motors do just fine. Bikes with hub motors are typically much cheaper than bikes with mid-drive motors, but they can throw off the weight distribution of the bike. As a result, for more technical riding, mid-drive motors are always recommended. In addition to being centrally located on the bike, they are also placed lower, thereby helping to lower the overall center of gravity of the bike.

Another benefit of mid-drive motors is that it is much easier to repair or replace the rear tire of the bike. With a rear hub motor, removing a rear wheel is certainly possible, it just takes a lot more time and effort.

FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this review.  No monetary compensation was provided for this review, however, some of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate this article. All opinions and images are that of Two Wheeling Tots LLC.  All content and images are copyrighted and should not be used or replicated in any way. View our Terms of Use.

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