It’s probably the most common question that we get when we run a demo event: “Where’s the throttle?” Especially considering Serial 1's origin story, some consumers just can’t come to terms with a bike that says “Harley-Davidson” on the side and doesn’t have a throttle to provide pedal-free forward motion. It simply does not compute, like Velcro-fly Levi’s or a digital Rolex…
If you haven’t already noticed, like most premium eBikes, every Serial 1 is pedal-assist only; we don’t make any eBikes with a throttle. This is a deliberate choice. Some regulatory agencies consider any vehicle with a throttle a moped—not a bicycle—and, as such, restrict access to bike paths, bike lanes, sidewalks or other places where you might safely and legally operate a bicycle (though enforcement is often inconsistent or non-existent). For us, the decision was simple. We didn’t want to find ourselves in a position where we spent millions of dollars developing a vehicle that might one day be deemed illegal for the most common use-cases.
At the same time, there are dramatic experiential differences between pedal-assist and throttle-assist that are even more important than any boring legal distinctions. Riding a throttle-assist eBike is fundamentally a passive experience: you sit down, twist a grip (or push a lever) and go. This can be fun—thrilling, even—and is especially a novel experience when riding a “bicycle.” It can also be boring and monotonous, especially after any novelty wears off. Don’t believe us? Try it for a few weeks and report back.
Riding a pedal-assist bike, on the other hand, is a fundamentally active experience. The harder you pedal, the more assistance you receive; the instant you stop pedaling, the power cuts out. It’s just like riding a regular bike, only you go farther and faster with far less effort than what your body and brain anticipate, giving you that super-natural feeling that is so familiar and so addictive to those of us who adore pedal-assist technology. It’s a radically more engaging and intuitive experience that never gets old, not to mention the obvious health and fitness benefits when you have to put in a little work to get a big reward. Because pedal-assist technology only produces power in proportion to what you put in, the farther or faster you want to go the more energy your body will have to put into the pedals.
If you’ve been poo-pooing pedal assist, we suggest you give this technology a fresh try. If you’re tired of just twisting a throttle and want a more engaging experience and gentle way to increase physical activity, just give a push on the pedals of a Serial 1 and see where that takes you.
- Aaron Frank, Brand Director, Serial 1