Skip to Content

Are Pedal Assist Bikes Worth It?

Pedal Assist Bikes are a great option for anyone who lives within a 10-15 mile radius from home, store, church, or other places they travel to regularly. They tend to be a popular choice for commuters who travel a short distance every day and who want to skip the traffic while also getting a modest workout in at the same time.

A pedal-assist bike or an electric bike with a Pedal Assist System (PAS) can pay for itself in as little as 2 years when replacing a daily commute by car, even when used seasonally. Pedal-assist bikes are also a great option to bypass heavy traffic while having the option of getting a light workout in.

When it comes to cost savings, the daily commute is where you have the biggest opportunity to offset costs. And both electric and pedal-assist bikes can help you out here. That said, pedal-assist bikes strike a careful balance between the advantages of an electric bike while still offering that classic biking experience.

Is A Pedal Assist Bike Worth It For Your Daily Commute?

Black electrical bike fat tire folding 20 inch wheels

Many electric bikes feature a Pedal Assist System (PAS) or Pedal Assist mode, and this mode changes how and when the motor activates, making your bike riding experience easier. If you’re looking to get an e-bike with this feature, you’ll need to check a few specific technical specs of the bike; while a majority of eBikes do offer this feature, some may exclude it to try and reduce the price. 

Both fully motorized electric bikes (models with a throttle that don’t require you to pedal to accelerate the bike) and pedal-assist bikes are worth it for people who want to skip city traffic and who don’t need to travel long distances beyond ~15km every day for work. Typically they can pay for themselves in as little as 2 years.

The value and return on investment will vary greatly and depends heavily on the person / how much you use the eBike instead of jumping into your car. The average eBike user usually uses it to commute to and from work during the summer months and store it away during the winter months. This allows them to keep the battery charges and the tires in good condition, requiring less maintenance (although eBikes already require very little upkeep compared to standard bikes or cars).

How Much Gas Money Can a Pedal-Assist Bike Save You?

While bikes offering a Pedal Assist System (PAS) typically come in with a high price tag (usually ranging from $800 up to $1,300) they can save you a lot of money, even if only used seasonally. Because pedal assist bikes are commonly used to commute from home to work or run to a store to grab a few items, the reduction in gas usage will add up quickly. 

Doing some quick calculations, if you currently fill up your car with $40 worth of gas every two weeks, it would only take you a year of commuting solely using your Pedal-Assist bike or eBike to pay back the initial investment. A more reasonable estimate might come from assuming you only use the bike in the warmer parts of the year, say half the year, and the payback can still be a short 2 years in this case. However, your mileage may (literally) vary, and each payback case will be specific to the amount of car travel being offset and the initial cost of the specific eBike being considered.

How Does a Pedal-Assist Bike Work?

Sheng milo-MX02S 26 Inch Fat Tire Electric Bike 48V 1000W Motor Snow Electric Bicycle with Shimano 21 Speed Mountain Electric Bicycle Pedal Assist Lithium Battery Hydraulic Disc Brake

The pedal-assist feature is implemented in different ways across the industry. A fully motorized electric bike will have a throttle allowing it to accelerate independently at the push of a button on the handlebars. It may also have pedal-assist built-in, either as an automatic feature activated when you pedal, or as a specific setting you turn on and off. There are some bikes that have only pedal assist, and because these models have fewer options (no independent throttle control), they may resale for less and cost less up front. 

There are a few easy ways to see if the eBike you’re looking at offers the Pedal Assist feature. Obviously, the bike will need to have pedals to offer the Pedal Assist mode. Another easy way to easily spot if the bike you’re looking at offers the Pedal-Assist feature is if the feature is listed on the website page or on the box. Usually, it is listed on the back of the box, or it may be located on the front in the form of an icon or the abbreviation PAS (Pedal Assist System). If it does have a throttle, that may mean that the bike doesn’t offer Pedal Assist.

Bikes with Pedal Assist like the VIVI Electric Bike (on Amazon) typically have to toggle into our out of Pedal Assist Mode to activate the feature. The actual change in how the bike operates in and out of this mode is focused on how the motor is activated. In the non Pedal Assist mode, the throttle is used to make the bike go with very little effort from the rider by giving the motor its input to start and stop. When Pedal Assist mode is on (or on a bike that only has Pedal Assist), the rider has to physically rotate the pedals to activate the motor.

This may sound like a bug, not a feature since it requires more effort from the rider to activate the electric system of the bike and move forward, but many prefer Pedal Assist modes because of the more tactile sense of control over the bike. It doesn’t hurt that the added effort required means the rider gets a little activity and a light workout out of the deal too.

Characteristics of Pedal-Assist Bikes (Speeds, Range, PAS Levels, And Comparing to Throttle eBikes)

Speed – Typically Pedal Assisted bikes can achieve respectably high speeds, because the rider’s energy into the pedals can also be used to accelerate the bike, in addition to the electric motor. This really only applies up to a certain cap though. The fastest electric bikes (which we’ve covered in a separate article) get up to speeds that a rider’s pedaling couldn’t keep up with at all. So while Pedal Assist bikes may allow for higher speeds at the same energy output motor in some cases, in general it’s not going to make a huge difference on the overall average or sustained top speed.

Range – Most Pedal Assist bikes have a range of up to 15 miles, with rapid speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. These numbers are subject to change depending on various factors, including the terrain, the desired speed, and how often the motor is activating. But the interesting detail around range and Pedal Assist bikes is that since the rider gets to add some of their energy to the motor, that will increase the overall range because the bike isn’t relying only on the energy from its battery. The same rider on the same bike can go farther when using pedal assist than when relying solely on the motor.

Pedal Assist Levels – The Pedal Assist system usually has different levels; typically, the 0 level offers no assistance, which is very similar to pedaling a regular bike, although the included battery is bound to increase the weight of the bike and make “normal” pedaling a little harder. While the number of each bike’s levels varies depending on the manufacturer and the eBike, the maximum level typically means that the bike’s motor is at its full power. The maximum level also means that the bike should be moving at its highest speed. 

Throttle vs. Pedal-Assist Bikes – While Pedal Assist bikes are a type of electric bike, there are some significant differences when compared to throttle-type bikes. Throttle-only e-bikes can remove the pedals entirely, as they use a throttle instead of activating with the rider pedaling. Another reason that manufacturers may remove the pedals is to reduce the cost of the bike although these bikes usually feature a significantly smaller range. Past this cosmetic or functional change, the performance of the bikes when it comes to range, speed, and performance won’t be drastically different.

Who Can Benefit the Most from Pedal-Assist Bikes?

METAKOO 26" Electric Bike Cybertrack 100, 3 Hours Fast Charge, BAFANG 350W Brushless Motor, 36V/10.4Ah Removable Lithium-Ion Battery, Electric Mountain Bike with Shimano 21-Speed and Suspension Fork

The type of person who benefits the most from switching to a Pedal-assist bike lives in a densely packed city where there is heavy traffic. They can skip a majority of traffic, saving time and gas money, while arriving at their destination after a little workout, but not sweaty or exhausted thanks to that Pedal Assist System!

While a daily commuter that lives in a densely packed city is the type of rider that would benefit the most from switching to a Pedal-Assist bike, someone who commonly takes bike rides throughout the local area during the summer months or lives in the suburbs with the local shops nearby would also see a fantastic benefit from switching. 

Although, the high price tag of Pedal-Assist bikes does make them harder for non-commuters to look to buy one. The non-commuters would see a significantly lower ROI, or return on investment, as they would be using the bike less frequently. The non-commuters may need a few years to get their money back from the initial purchase. 

Another user who may find it very valuable to get a Pedal-Assist bike is someone with a significant distance between each house or store. One example would be someone who lives closer to farmland than suburbs. The close distance of the suburbs allows a Pedal Assist bike to be fully utilized without running out of battery, while the longer distances between desired locations with farmland could be a significant issue for Pedal Assist bikes with smaller batteries. 

How Pedal Assist Bikes Are Also Better for the Environment

Pedal Assist like many electric devices is significantly better for the environment when compared to gasoline-focused vehicles. Using an electric vehicle is much better for the environment due to the lack of CO2 being released. This lack of CO2 makes utilizing electric vehicles, such as a Pedal-Assist bike, an ideal option for anyone worried about climate change and our environment. 

Another way to make this vehicle more environmentally friendly is to use renewable sources of energy to charge your Pedal-Assist bike. One easy way to charge an electric bike is to attach a solar panel, which works better in locations that get direct sunlight like California or Arizona but would be significantly less effective in locations like NY or Washington. While this is a pretty advanced DIY project, some may be interested in diving in. More likely, you can just charge your electric bike at home and trust that the utility will eventually roll that electrical supply over to renewable generation.