Can electric bikes be used manually - Thebicyclegeek

Electric bikes bring you the best of both worlds in two-wheeled transportation: the freedom and feeling of a bicycle coupled with the convenience and power assistance of an electric motor.

You may want to switch from pedal assist to manual on your electric bike for many good reasons: what if your battery runs out or you want some extra exercise? Can your electric bike be used manually?

Can You Ride An Electric Bike Manually?

Yes, an electric bike can be used manually. Any electric bike with pedals and an electric motor should be able to switch to manual pedaling. To switch to manual, either set the pedal assist setting to zero, turn the battery off, or disconnect (and remove) the battery altogether.

While all makes and models of electric bikes will differ slightly, switching from motor to manual is usually quick and easy. Below we give you practical tips and instructions on switching your electric bike to manual, so pedal on through!

How Does An Electric Bike Work?

eBikes are just like traditional bikes except they are fitted with an electric motor and rechargeable battery combo. The electric motor boosts the power to the pedals making it easier to ride. Some eBikes even let you switch to full motor mode, so you don’t have to pedal at all!

Don’t forget, an electric bike needs to be charged after you’ve used it. The battery sends power to the motor, draining the battery as it goes. Usually, the motor sits in the hub of one of the wheels, driving the wheel at the same time as the rider pedals.

Combining the motor’s power and the rider’s pedaling makes the ride smoother and easier than if you were only using your legs.

Controlling the motor happens from the control panel (usually found on the handlebars). The display tells you how much the motor is helping the pedals and usually has buttons to adjust how much the motor is being used. The controller also shows a speedometer, battery life, and other motor functions. More expensive control panels are touchscreen operated.

Read also about: How Do Electric Bikes Work

Some Reasons To Use An Electric Bike Manually

Let’s be honest, you bought an electric bike so that you don’t have to pedal so much. So, why would you want to switch to a sweaty manual ride? Well, there are lots of good reasons to switch from the motor to the pedals.

You Want To Use Your Electric Bike To Exercise

I hear you shouting, “I want to get fit!” Most people ride bikes as a fun way to exercise, get fit and lose weight. As your legs get stronger you don’t need the motor as much and you kick it into pedal mode more often.

Because the hills are the worst part of the ride, kick in the pedal assist on the mountains and flip it back to pedals only on the flats and downhills. You’ll find that you need the motor less and less as you become fitter.

You Need To Conserve Battery On A Long Ride

Every now and then you want a challenge. You plan a long ride, but you know your battery won’t last until the end, so you plan to switch the motor off from time to time on the ride. This guarantees you’ll have enough power for the motor when you need it and you can use the pedals when you don’t.

Choose carefully! Figuring out when it is best to pedal and when to use the motor will save you a dead battery half-way through the ride. You’ll be tempted to use the battery on the difficult uphills, but the motor will take more strain and kill the battery quicker.

Go through your route before you start the ride and plan ahead for when you’ll need to use the motor. If you go easy on the motor you can go much further than using it throughout the whole ride.

Your Battery Runs Out Or You Forget To Charge It

Like anything that’s battery-operated, an electric bike battery can only last so long.

We’ve all been there: You took the scenic route on a ride (or you got lost!) and the long way round meant you rode further than you planned. Or maybe you unplugged the battery before it was full and it died sooner than you thought it would. Or, even worse, you forget to charge it in the first place and now you don’t have time to charge it.

Whether the battery dies while you’re riding or you (accidentally!) forgot to charge it, there’s only one option: switch the bike to manual and ride with pedal power!

Is It Easy To Ride An Electric Bike Manually?

It’s as easy as riding a normal pedal bike. If the motor isn’t used the pedals work just fine without it.

Even though your eBike will work just like any bike from the 1980s there are some problems that come with the motor and battery being switched off.

  1. The added weight of the heavy battery and motor makes the bike much heavier. Your legs will need to compensate!
  2. Some of the cool features that come with having a battery pack strapped to the bike won’t work. Lights and gears that rely on the battery for help will turn off completely. In fact, anything that uses the battery will be as dead as a doornail.

Three Ways To Switch An Electric Bike To Manual

One of these three ways will switch you from motorhead to pedal-pusher in no time:

  1. Set the pedal assist all the way down to zero on the control panel.
  2. Turn the battery off.
  3. Remove the battery from its holder and store it at home.

Any of these three will do the same thing, stop the motor working on the wheel. But, what you plan on doing with the bike once you’re in the manual will tell you which of the three is best.

If you’re going to use the motor again later in the ride, your best option is to use the control panel. If you only want to switch to manual for a little while on the ride, go through these three easy steps:

  1. Find the control panel on the bike, usually, it’s on the handlebars.
  2. Toggle down to zero or manually using the buttons or touch display.
  3. Pedal the bike in manual mode to get going.

If, however, you don’t want to use the motor at all on the ride, then killing the battery and leaving it at home is the best option. You’ll save on the weight of the battery on the ride.


Some electric bikes have to be stopped to turn the battery off. Make sure you do this in a safe place!


There are lots of good reasons to switch an electric bike from the pedal-assisted motor to manual pedaling only, and it’s easier to do than you may think. Use the display panel to toggle to zero pedal assist or turn off the battery and remove it completely. This will allow you to ride the bike manually, just like you did as a kid!

Read Also: 10 Benefits Of Electric Bikes