When I first dipped my fingers into the world of electric bikes, I was amazed by the blend of traditional cycling and motor-assisted power. But what really stood out was how combining the use of pedal assist and a throttle changes your ride for the better. The humble throttle can seriously change how you ride.
This small component, acting as the gateway between me and my eBikes motor, can change how you ride. If you want more exercise, you can turn off the pedal assist, and use the throttle for some added help with hills or head winds.
Another way to ride is at a low pedal assist level and juice up the power on demand. Today, I want to share my insights into thumb throttles and twist controls, exploring their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Control
Comfort, ease of use and control are the most important factors regarding throttles. My preference is a twist throttle, but unfortunately most ebikes don’t come standard with them.
Without something to compare, you don’t know what your options are.
A comfortable and intuitive throttle system has enhanced my rides, while an ill-suited one led to frustration. That’s why it’s crucial to understand the options available and choose the control system that best aligns with your needs and preferences.
Ride eMTB Pro Tip: Looking to learn about the nitty gritty details of throttles? Read 👉 What is an eBike Throttle and How Does it Work
Do All electric Bikes Have Throttles?
eBikes, are typically categorized into three classes based on their capabilities and how the power from the motor is applied.
Class 1 eBikes are pedal-assist only, meaning the electric motor provides assistance only when you’re pedaling and stops assisting when you reach 20 mph. These bikes are great for those who want a more natural biking experience with a bit of an extra push, especially on hilly terrains.
Class 2 eBikes have both pedal-assist and throttle modes. The throttle allows you to ride without pedaling, much like a motorcycle or scooter, up to 20 mph. This class is perfect for those who want the option to cruise without pedaling, perhaps during a long commute or when taking a break from a strenuous ride.
This is the type of bike I recommend. Having the choice of using a throttle and pedaling like normal is what I prefer. A Class 2 eBike allows for all modes of riding your ebike.
Class 3 eBikes, also known as “speed pedelecs,” are pedal-assist bikes like Class 1 but with a higher speed limit. The motor assistance cuts off at 28 mph, allowing for faster commutes. However, these bikes don’t have a throttle mode. Class 3 eBikes are ideal for experienced riders who need to travel longer distances quickly and efficiently.
Remember, the classification of eBikes and the regulations surrounding their use can vary by location, so it’s important to check the local laws in your area.
The Different eBike Throttles Explained
In my journey, I came across three main types of throttles: thumb, full twist, and half twist. Each has its unique features and advantages, and the choice often comes down to personal preference.
Operated by pushing down on a small, spring-loaded paddle, thumb throttles offer very little speed modulation and control. Making it difficult to fine tune the speed and power to the electric motor. They require constant pressure to maintain a specific speed, which can lead to hand fatigue during longer rides.
Full Twist Throttle:
This type of throttle is operated by twisting the entire grip with the hand. It offers a comfortable grip and reduces the risk of hand fatigue during longer rides. It offers a more precise speed modulation, but if your arm and wrist move from bumps, you can easily change the speed without intending too.
Half Twist Throttle:
Similar to the full twist throttle, the half twist throttle is operated by twisting only half of the grip. This allows for a more comfortable grip and less hand fatigue during longer rides. It also provides a higher level of precision compared to the full twist throttle, making it a popular choice among many eBike riders.
With a half twist you can use your hand to “squeeze” the two halves together locking the bike at a desired speed.
Thumb Throttles: My Underdog Hero
I first tried thumb throttles on an electric bike I built. The throttle came with a kit and I didn’t think much about it. It’s operated by pushing down on a small, spring-loaded paddle, it is pretty difficult to control and acts more like an on/off switch versus something to control the speed.
For me, I found that they required constant pressure to maintain a specific speed, which led to hand fatigue during longer rides. Additionally, operating the thumb throttle while wearing gloves was challenging due to reduced sensitivity.
Pros and Cons of Thumb Throttle Control
|Intuitive and easy to use
|Hand fatigue during longer rides
|Responsive in that it was on or off. Very little fine modulation of the speed
|Very little fine control of the bike’s speed. More like an on and off switch
|Challenging to operate with gloves
|Easy to accidentally bump into it and inadvertently power your bike
|Takes up more space on the handlebars limiting accessories like mirrors and bells
- Intuitive and easy to use: I found it easy to get the hang of thumb throttles.
- Responsive in that it was on or off. Very little fine modulation of the speed.
- Hand fatigue during longer rides: My thumb would get tired from the constant pressure.
- Very little fine control of the bikes speed. More like an on and off switch.
- Challenging to operate with gloves: On colder days, this was a bit of a hassle.
- Easy to accidental bump into it and inadvertently power your bike.
- Takes up more space on the handlebars limiting accessories like mirrors and bells.
Twist Throttles: A Classic Choice I Love
Next, I tried twist throttles, also known as grip throttles. Operated by twisting the grip with the hand, they offered a comfortable grip and reduced the risk of hand fatigue during longer rides.
I also found that I had increased control over the bikes speed. This was especially nice if I was riding with someone and wanted to match their speed to have a conversation.
Pros and Cons of Twist Throttle Control
|Ergonomic design for comfortable grip
|Difficult to install if your bike has a twist shifter
|More precise speed control
|Full twist grip throttles can be difficult to control in rough terrain
|Less hand fatigue during longer rides
|Easy to operate with gloves
|Doesn’t take additional space on the handlebars, allowing for accessories
|Matches the ergonomics of a motorcycle making it more intuitive
- Ergonomic design for comfortable grip: I found twist throttles to be very comfortable.
- More precise speed control.
- Less hand fatigue during longer rides: This was a big plus for me on my longer rides.
- Easy to operate with gloves: On colder days, this was a lifesaver.
- Doesn’t take additional space on the handlebars, allowing for accessories.
- Matches the ergonomics of a motorcycle making it more intuitive.
- Difficult to install if your bike has a twist shifter
- Full twist grip throttles can be difficult to control in rough terrain.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Thumb Throttle and Twist Throttle
When I was deciding between a thumb throttle and a twist throttle for my electric bike, I took into account my personal preferences and riding style. I found that if I prioritized precision and fine speed control, the half twist throttle control was the better option for me. It is more comfortable and provides more natural application of power.
Safety should always be a top priority when choosing a control system an electric bike. I found it easy to accidentally bump the thumb throttle, launching the bike unexpectedly.
Changing a Thumb Throttle to a Twist: A DIY Guide
Switching from a thumb to a twist throttle is a straightforward process that usually only requires a set of hex wrenches. However, it’s crucial to consider the wiring pin on the plug, wire length, and whether you want a right or left-hand twist throttle before making the switch.
Where to Get Your Twist Throttle
There are many places to purchase a twist throttle for an ebike. The most popular place is Amazon. It’s where I got mine. Here’s a shortcut link 👉 Amazon Twist Throttles
Remember to consider these things:
- Look at the wire connection, note the number of pins, the color and if it is a male or female connection.
- Double check that the wire will be long enough.
- If your bike has a twist shifter, you’ll need to do a lot more work. A twist shifter occupies the same place as the twist throttle. You’ll need to change you shifter to a thumb style.
Step 1: Look at the Electrical Connection
Take note of whether it is a male or female end. Usually, it is a yellow 3 pin connector. Use this when ordering your twist throttle.
Step 2: Test Before Tearing Apart
With the new twist throttle in hand. Unplug the thumb throttle and test the new twist throttle. Do this as soon as you get the twist throttle so if you need to return it you can. Theirs no need to go further if it doesn’t work.
Step 3: Gather Your Tools
You’ll need a set of hex wrenches. Sometimes if the wiring doesn’t match you may need, a pair of wire cutters, a soldiering kit and shrink tubing.
Step 4: Remove the Grip and Thumb Throttle
Use your hex wrench to loosen the screw holding the thumb throttle in place on the handlebar. Once it’s loose, you can slide the throttle off the end of the handlebar. Be careful not to pull or tug on the wires.
Step 5: Prepare the Twist Throttle
If your twist throttle came with a connector, make sure it matches the one on your bike. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to cut off the existing connector and solder on a matching one. Use heat shrink tubing to cover the soldered connections for a secure and waterproof seal.
Step 6: Install the Twist Throttle
Slide the twist throttle onto the handlebar in the position where you want it. Make sure it’s oriented correctly – you should be able to twist it comfortably with your wrist. Tighten the screw to secure it in place.
Step 7: Test the Throttle
Turn on your bike and give the twist throttle a test. The bike should respond smoothly as you twist the grip. If it doesn’t, check your connections and make sure everything is installed correctly.
Ride eMTB Tip: Pedal Assist and Throttles? Wondering which one you need? No worries read 👉 Pedal Assist vs Throttle Which is Better
Other Considerations for Your eBike Throttle
If you plan to ride in cold weather, a twist throttle is preferred as your thumb can get cold quickly when extended out in the wind.
If your bike has a twist shifter, changing to a twist throttle can be more challenging, and it might be best to switch the twist shifter to a thumb shifter.
Throttle FAQs: Quenching Your Curiosity
Can I Remove the Throttle from my Ebike?
Yes, often it’s as easy as unplugging the wire extending up to the throttle.
How do you turn off the throttle on an ebike?
With both twist and thumb throttles, you turn it off by simply releasing it. If the throttle is working properly, the power should immediately stop.
Can You get a left-hand twist throttle?
Yes, full twist and half twist throttles are sold for the left side of the handlebars. Be sure to check the wiring plug configuration before purchasing, though.
I’ve got a group of articles explaining why eBikes are Awesome Check Them Out Below 👇
- I love riding eBikes, want to learn why? Read 👉 What Are The (Great) Features of Electric Bikes?
- Are you weighing the Pros and Cons of getting an eBike? Let me help 👉 Electric Bike Pros and Cons
- Interested in how it “feels” to ride an eBike? Awesome 👉 What Does it Feel Like to Ride an eBike?
- What is “Pedal Assist? Let me explain it in this article. 👉 What is Pedal Assist and How Does it Work?
The Final Verdict: Choosing Your Throttle Companion
Choosing the right control system for your electric bike is an important decision that can greatly impact your riding experience. Both thumb throttle and twist throttle controls have their advantages and considerations, and the decision ultimately comes down to personal preferences and riding style.
I love using twist throttles, it’s unfortunate that more ebikes don’t have them as standard equipment.
Consider the pros and cons I’ve outlined in this article and take the time to test both control systems if possible. By making an informed choice, you can ensure that your electric bike provides you with the smooth and effortless riding experience you desire. Happy cycling!