No, you do not need to pedal! There is both a twist throttle and a pedal assist system. You can pedal and the electric motor will kick in and provide you with assistance, and there is also a twist throttle that will override the pedal assist and allow you to ride our bikes more like a motorcycle, only silent! The level of pedal assistance will determine how much boost power the motor provides based on your pedaling input. Level 1 will be just a little and level 5 will get you moving like a pro cyclist. The throttle is always 0-100% power depending on how much you twist your wrist!