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Can E-Bikes Be Turned Off?

E-bikes are quickly becoming a favorite among teens, adults, and bike lovers alike. From super-fast speeds to effortless cycling, safety, and convenience, e-bikes bring a whole riding new experience. However, there is bound to be a time when you want a bike that doesn’t go so fast. Other times you may want to do actual exercise and cycle with your strength. In these scenarios, what you need is a regular, motorless bike, so you may wonder if it’s possible to turn off your e-bike and use it as a normal bike. 

Some E-Bikes remain “on” as long as they have power, but most come with switches for you to turn off the electric motor anytime you want. When it’s off, you have to pedal with your strength alone. You don’t have to wait until your bike’s engine is drained entirely before using it as a manual bike.

Turning your e-bike off is as simple as flipping a switch, regardless whether it is a commercial e-bike or a DIY (Do It Yourself) e-bike. In any case, all commercial e-bikes have a switch for turning the electric motor on or off. DIY e-bikes, on the other hand, seldom come with controls, but there’s still a way to turn them off. Note, however, that although turning your bike off may be easy, riding it afterwards is not. 

Is It Possible To Turn Off An E-Bike?

Ukraine Dnipro 27.06.2021 - display on the steering wheel of an electric bike in the park

As earlier stated, it is possible to turn off an e-bike. Companies understand that there are times these bikes need to be turned off. This is why the majority – if not all – commercial e-bikes out there come fitted with on and off switches. If you have an e-bike and it doesn’t have an on/off switch, it’s probably a DIY bike of a public shared bike. 

DIY (Do It Yourself) e-bikes are those e-bikes made by random individuals who know how to build them. Converting a regular bike to an e-bike is not too difficult – all you need is the proper knowledge and materials. The problem, however, is adding an on/off switch to the fabricated bike.

Standard controls do not work for e-bikes due to the high current involved. If you use normal on/off switches on a high-powered e-bike, they’ll get roasted. Regular on/off switches can only work on low-power e-bikes, and even then, the risk is high. 

To enable it to be turned off, most of these DIY e-bikes come with an e-bike connector. Plugging or unplugging the connector manually kickstarts or turns off the bike. Once you join both ends of the connector together, the e-bike turns on, you disconnect, and it turns off.

The downside with this setup is that it creates sparks when connected and eventually corrodes and fails. Compared to a typical on/off switch, this DIY connector will require far more maintenance or replacements. 

Not having an on/off switch on an e-bike could feel like a colossal letdown. Using the connectors found in DIY e-bikes is usually time-consuming, not to mention unreliable. However, DIY connectors still serve as a sure way to turn off your e-bike. 

The Kill Switch

The kill switch is a safety measure, usually seen in powerful electric bikes. It allows you to cut off power to the motor and bring your bike to a quick stop.

This kill switch comes in handy if there’s a fault with your bike’s electronics while it’s at top speed. By simply using the kill switch, you bring your bike to an abrupt stop. Sometimes the on/off switch equally serves as the kill switch.

Is My E-Bike Always On?

Yes, and no. Your e-bike is on so long as it’s charged and you haven’t switched it off. Turning your bike off (using a switch or connector) ensures that it stays off until you turn it back on.

But if your e-bike has no means of switching on or off, then yes, your bike will always be on. The disadvantage of this is that the battery will run down very fast. Also, you have no choice but to use speed, even in situations where you should have gone slow. 

However, some e-bikes have features that make them turn off when needed. For instance, in a few models of e-bikes, there’s a feature that cuts off power while breaking. With these bikes, every time you brake, you automatically recharge the battery, extending the battery life by 5-10%. 

Some other e-bikes have power-saving mode, too. For these e-bikes, the moment you’re riding in a situation that doesn’t demand power, it won’t draw any electric power. It’s kind of like an auto switch.

For instance, if you’re going downhill, your e-bike (if you turn on power-saving mode) consumes zero electric power. The moment you are climbing a hill, however, the bike’s motor kicks in to assist you. In this case, it’s safe to conclude that your e-bike isn’t always on since it only draws power periodically. 

Can My E-Bike Be Used Manually?

Yes, you can use an e-bike manually. Though e-bikes automatically provide a boost when you pedal, they equally allow for manual cycling. There are different ways/methods to do this.

Switch off and drive

Most brands make their e-bikes in such a way that it allows for manual pedaling without the power. These bikes will have no issue if driven without power for a long time. Here, all you have to do is switch off the e-bike and pedal yourself.

In some good bike models, switching to manual regenerates or recharges the battery. This switching method is best because it’s no trouble turning your e-bike back on whenever you’re tired of pedaling. 

Ride On A Flat Battery

It is possible to ride your e-bike even when it has run out of battery – this is another way to drive manually. If e-bikes didn’t allow for manual driving, people would get stranded whenever their bike’s battery goes flat unexpectedly.

So whether your bike has a switch or not, you can take advantage of this feature. On days you feel like going manual, forgo charging your e-bike completely. However, as much as you may love manual pedaling, try not to keep the e-bike’s battery uncharged for too long. 

Remove the motor or battery

This one is a bit technical because it requires installing and uninstalling an e-bike motor. But for riders who can do this, it is one of the best ways to go manual on an e-bike. The significant advantage here is that you’re doing yourself a favor by removing unwanted weight.

E-bikes weigh a lot more than regular pedal-powered bikes, mainly because of the motors and batteries. Since you’re going manual, removing either or both of these accessories helps you pedal your bike more freely. Install your motor and battery again to use your e-bike as before.

The battery is usually the easiest to unmount. If you don’t know how to uninstall any of the components, then you have to endure the extra weight. It can be very stressful, however, to pedal all that weight manually. 

Do I Have To Pedal My E-Bike When It Is Off?

Yes, you do. Putting your e-bike off means cutting off the electric power to your bike. So, in other words, you’re telling the bike you want to pedal yourself without any assistance.

So unless you intend on walking with the bike (or pushing it), you most certainly have to pedal. E-bikes are not motorbikes, so you can’t expect to sit on them and let them pedal themselves. 

The design of e-bikes assists your pedaling rather than taking over completely. Even when you turn them on, you need to pedal to use an e-bike – that’s why it’s called a “bike” (bicycle). It isn’t a bicycle if you don’t cycle. Bikes that do the entire pedaling for you aren’t classified as e-bikes. They’re called mopeds. 

The only time you’re likely to escape pedaling your bike is: 

  • When you are moving down a hill
  • When you’ve attained great speed and then cut off the power so you can cruise along with the momentum.

Apart from these two scenarios, you have no choice but to pedal for your e-bike to move. If it’s turned off, prepare to use a lot of effort while pedaling. E-bikes are way heavier than regular bikes.

A typical e-bike weighs about 50 pounds, while a regular bike weighs 12 pounds. I’m sure from these numbers you can guess how difficult it is to pedal an e-bike without its e-power. 

Is It Difficult To Pedal An E-Bike When It’s Turned Off?

Yes, it isn’t easy to pedal an e-bike when it’s turned off. This is especially true if you’re used to the massive assistance a powered bike provides. Folks who are used to riding regular bikes with no help seldom have trouble here. However, if you’ve been cruising e-bikes all your life, pedaling a turned-off e-bike will be a real pain. 

The thing is that e-bikes always come with a motor and a battery. These two things normally are a blessing, but should you turn off the bike, they’re more like a drag. The motor and battery weight on e-bikes make them very difficult to ride when switched off. This is why owners who use DIY e-bikes always remove these two items whenever they want a regular ride. 

Another problem that you may face with turned-off e-bikes is friction or resistance. Once you turn off the system, you may experience drag force or resistance while pedaling.

Typically, this drag force isn’t there in powered e-bikes because the motor power will overcome it. However, in the absence of motor power, your pedaling is resisted, resulting in greater difficulty in pedaling.

Some perfect e-bikes, however, don’t possess this limitation. Some e-bikes even have a turbo button that gives you an extra push when you press and hold. This turbo button functions despite whether the bike is on or off. 

Although pedaling e-bikes manually is difficult, it isn’t impossible either. If done consistently, it can become as easy as riding a regular bike. Over time your body adjusts, and you get used to the weight and drag of the bike.

The only time you may face actual difficulty is when climbing hills. But then the bike motor usually kicks in to help you out in these situations.

Will Riding My E-Bike While Off Damage The Motor?

Young woman riding an electric bicycle

No, riding your e-bike when it’s powered off will not damage the motor. Your only challenge will be difficulty in pedaling, especially when climbing on hills or rough terrain.

An e-bike’s motor assists in users’ pedaling, giving them a boost. However, sometimes a rider may want to do away with the electric power of an e-bike. In case you’re wondering why in the world someone would want to forgo the fantastic propulsion of an e-bike, keep reading.

Reasons Why Someone Might Turn Off Their E-Bike

  • When you need actual exercise: For some folks, e-bikes are too easy. If it’s necessary to break a sweat and do some essential cycling exercise, the electric power has to go. Turning the e-bike off will allow you to cycle with your energy and burn all the calories you wish to. 
  • When your e-bike has a flat battery: E-bikes need to be charged for continuous use. If for some reason, you don’t charge them, then you’ll have to drive them manually. Usually, in these cases, it’s best to remove the battery. Removing the battery makes the bike lighter and easier to ride. 
  • When you enter places with speed or weight limits: It’s not every time you can zoom off with an e-bike. Some areas will require you to slow down a lot, for instance, bustling roads or rocky terrains. You won’t need speed in these locations, so you’ll best go manual.
  • When you need to reduce the weight of the bike: Some places may require that you be within safe weight limits. For these cases, you’ll need to remove your battery at least, to satisfy the minimum weight. A good example is when you’re using a chairlift. 

The Real Risks of Riding Your E-Bike Manually

Whatever the case may be, going manual on your e-bike has one significant risk/disadvantage – difficulty in pedaling. Whether you’re riding without the battery or with the switch turned off, you’re not going to damage your motor.

Also, occasionally (or constantly), you may experience motor resistance when your bike is off. Don’t fret because such resistance only results from the type of motor used. Usually, direct or crank drive hub motors produce this effect. 

If you’re not comfortable with motor resistance, then turn your e-bike back on. Otherwise, ignore it and continue pedaling. Riding an e-bike without the battery too has no risk of damaging the bike. All you have to do is ensure you keep the battery space clean and install/uninstall the battery correctly.