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Lime’s new throttle/pedal assist hybrid e-bike makes the best dockless bike even better

A Lime throttle e-bike parked on a sidewalk.

I was worried when I first read Lime’s announcement that they were launching a new throttle-controlled e-bike in Seattle because their existing Gen3 pedal-assist e-bikes were by far the best bike share bikes I’ve ever ridden. Would the new Gen4 bikes be more like sit-down scooters than bikes (like the Veo Cosmo “bikes”)?

Well, I finally got around to testing one of the new bikes out, and I’m happy to report that my fears were totally unfounded. It rides almost exactly like their previous generation of e-bikes. The braking is solid and, vitally, it has the same electric assist pedaling tech. The only difference most users will notice is that you now have the option of using a throttle to get power without pedaling. This is handy for starting on a steep uphill, for example, while also making the bikes usable by people who are unable to comfortably make a pedaling motion.

Having both pedal assist and a throttle is very rare for an e-bike. Usually it is one or the other. But it is a brilliant and simple way to expand the accessibility of the devices without turning them into sit-down scooters. The speed limiter, motor power and most other aspects of the bike seem largely unchanged. You can ignore the throttle completely and have a seamless biking experience. Or you can use the throttle to help get up to pedaling speed. Or you can keep the pedals still and let the motor do all the work. It’s up to you. Pedaling is still worthwhile since you can accelerate faster by adding leg power to the electric motor power. But most importantly to me, it rides like a bike. This may be largely personal preference, but I am more comfortable and feel safer on a bike rather than a scooter.


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Close-up of the new throttle on the right side of the handlebars labeled Go.

“That we chose to launch it here is Lime’s recognition of Seattle as a preeminent city for micromobility, and one we’re eager to continue investing in with our latest hardware,” said Lime’s Director of Government Relations Hayden Harvey in a press release. “Riders in Seattle continue to break their own ridership records and we hope that this new vehicle mode will support and encourage those booming numbers to continue, as Seattlites increasingly choose greener options for their travel.” Lime says Seattle scooter and bike users already passed one million trips in 2024, more than a month earlier than last year.

The new ridership records come as Lime’s competitors in Seattle either fold or falter. Only Lime and Bird are currently operating, both offering scooter and bike options. Seattle’s permitting rules put separate caps on the number of scooters and bikes a company can operate, providing an incentive to offer both. We are still waiting for Veo to return after they announced a “pause” in service as of March 1 that was supposed to last “several weeks.” While Lime has had a strong hold on the dockless bike market for years, I am hopeful a company can find a way to compete either on bike design or price.

In the meantime, did you know that anyone who qualifies for an ORCA Lift low-income transit pass (most fares cost $1) also qualifies for very discounted Lime and Bird trips? These programs reduce the scooter and bike unlock fees to 75¢ and the per-minute fees to 1¢, so a 30-minute ride costs only $1.05. If transportation costs are a stress for you, it’s definitely worth checking out the ORCA Lift and micromobility access programs. Households making under 200% of the federal poverty level qualify. Many people do not realize they are eligible and could be saving a lot of money on their transportation costs. Below is the current income guideline chart as posted on the ORCA Lift site as of June 2024:

Chart of ORCA Lift qualifying incomes based on family size starting at $2,510 for a single person, $3,407 for 2 people, $4,303 for 3, $5,200 for 4 and so on.
Screenshot of the ORCA Lift eligibility chart as of June 2024. Incomes listed are before taxes (“gross household income”).

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6 responses to “Lime’s new throttle/pedal assist hybrid e-bike makes the best dockless bike even better”

  1. Gary Yngve

    when are laws, park rules, and insurance going to catch up with the times?

  2. asdf2

    The throttle is extremely useful when walking the bike up a stairway with runnels. It allows you to use the motor to lift the weight of the bike, rather than having to do it with purely muscle power. But, since you’re not in the seat, pedal assist won’t work – the only way to get the motor to engage is with the throttle.

    1. Daigoro Toyama

      I totally agree. Or when you’re at a standstill in the middle of a steep hill, it’s often hard to get the necessary momentum (or “get up to pedaling speed”) when you go. I’ve got a Class 1 e-bike (Tern HSD), and while I can manoevre it without much trouble, I do wish it had a throttle.

  3. Ash M

    I actually got into the biking culture here in Seattle using Lime’s bikes. I would never have thought to get an ebike of my own if I hadn’t already been using Lime for months and I still use their services occasionally either when my bike is in the shop or I need to make a short jaunt somewhere and I don’t have my own bike on hand. The throttle is a huge plus since it not only makes it more accessible but it also makes it way easier to walk the bike up hills

  4. Al Dimond

    They should make a low-speed throttle mode for when the bike is “locked” to help those of us that move ’em out of the way of sidewalks and trails… or maybe avoid the problem by taking a page from the Biketown playbook. Put locks on ’em, have trips start and end at bike racks. It’s kind of wild that Portland is the only city I’ve heard of that’s arrived at the obviously correct compromise between the onerous restriction of needing bikeshare-specific docks and the chaos of letting people leave bikes in any random place.

  5. NickS

    Hi Tom,

    Just a quick correction — “Having both pedal assist and a throttle is very rare for an e-bike. Usually it is one or the other.” That’s not the case. With the three classes of e-bikes in the US, all are typically pedal assist, and most class 2 bikes have both pedal assist and a throttle.

    Class 1 = Max motor assisted speed of 20MPH, pedal assist only.
    Class 2 = Max motor assisted speed of 20MPH, pedal assist and throttle.
    Class 3 = Max motor assisted speed of 28MPH, pedal assist only.

    There are direct sales / Internet e-bikes that only offer a throttle and no pedal assist, but they’re the exception rather than the norm. I’m not aware of a single reputable, major manufacturer offering a class 2 e-bike without pedal assist.

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