How To: Ride an E-Bike Safely
Riding and commuting by e-bike is awesome. You can carry more while sweating less, go faster than a traditional bike with less effort, and you won’t have to deal with traffic jams or parking garages. Plus, you’re spending time outside getting exercise. Just like on a traditional bike, knowing how to ride and commute safely on an e-bike will make your experience that much more fun and rewarding.
Tips for Safer E-Bike Riding
1. Start slow—It may be tempting to ramp your e-bike up to the fastest setting right away, but we recommend taking it nice and easy and starting on the low power setting for your first few rides. We also recommend riding in a large, empty parking lot or a road closed to traffic while you get familiar with your new e-bike.
2. Brake sooner—More power, more speed, and a heavier frame means you’ll need to start slowing down sooner on your e-bike than you would on a normal bike.
3. Brake lightly and evenly—Basically all e-bikes comes with disc brakes, which means better braking in all conditions. When you’re getting used to your new bike and brakes, be sure to always brake with a light hand and a gradual, even pull of both brake levers.
4. Ride with extra care—E-bikes look just like regular bikes, so people might not expect you to be riding as fast as your e-bike allows. This means you should be extra careful and pay greater attention to your surroundings when you ride.
5. Follow the rules of the road—Your new e-bike will bring you a new level of freedom and fun—but you’re still responsible for knowing and following all the rules of the road, paths, and trails in your area. There’s a lot to love about e-bikes, so do your part in showing how they’re a fun way to ride. No one likes a reckless rider, especially when they’re on an e-bike.
Finally, always wear a high-quality helmet that fits properly every time you hop on your bike, no matter how far you’re going!
Know your route
One of the many awesome things about using electric bikes for commuting is that you can choose a longer, safer route (or a more scenic one!) and still get where you’re going on time. It’s best to plan your route ahead of time, and maybe even ride it on a weekend or day off to see how long it takes and whether or not you like it.
Research your route using online map services, and consider getting a handlebar mount for your phone or GPS if you want turn-by-turn directions. Pro tip: you can always stop into your local bike shop for route advice!
Optimize Your E-Bike Range
The amount of range your electric bike has per charge depends on your battery, motor, and level of assist. Factors like wind, weather, temperature, and terrain make a huge difference too, but you can’t alter those! Here are a few things you can do to maximize your range:
Find a comfortable cadence
The slower your feet are rotating, the harder your motor is working. Shift around to find an efficient balance that doesn’t overwork you or the motor.
Lighten your load
One of the best benefits of e-bikes is that they let you carry more. The downside is that the more you carry, the harder the motor works. It’s good to be mindful of how much you’re hauling.
Use a lower level of assist
The higher your power mode, the lower your range. Try toggling between assist levels by using a higher level when heading up a hill and switching into a lower one when on a flat stretch.
Watch this tutorial for more range-increasing tips, and use Bosch’s range finder tool to help calculate your e-bike’s range.
It’s safer to be noticed
No matter when and where you ride, people in cars (and other cyclists and pedestrians) aren’t always looking for people on bikes. This is especially true during peak commuting times, when distraction runs rampant. The good news is that there are several proven ways you can help yourself be seen and noticed.
Always have your lights on
During the day, use front and rear daytime running lights with special flash patterns that help you be seen from a distance. At night, use a bright front light to illuminate the road ahead in addition to your flashing front and rear lights.
Wear hi-vis apparel
Fluorescent apparel catches the eye, and it can increase your visibility during the day. Avoid wearing all dark colored clothing!
Wear reflective apparel
Apparel with reflective elements is critical to being seen in low light and nighttime conditions.
Get a bell
Ringing a handlebar bell is a great way to notify pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence, especially when passing them.
How To Pack for Your Bike Ride
Know how to pack for your ride
You know the motto—it’s best to be prepared! We’ll show you what to take along on every ride, and how to strategically pack it, too.
Here’s the short list:
1) Front and rear lights—always have your lights on, even in the daytime!
2) Flat kit
3) Water and food
4) Warmer clothes and/or raingear
5) Cellphone and cash
With an e-bike, you’ll also want to make sure your battery is charged before you hit the road or trail. You might even pack your charger if you are unfamiliar with your route and don’t know how long or far you’ll be riding. And of course, always ride with a high-quality helmet.
Properly secure your e-bike
While it’s wonderful to be able to park your electric bike almost anywhere you’d park a regular bike, you want to make sure you’re parking it somewhere safe and securing it well.
Buy a good lock
Even if your e-bike comes with a lock, consider purchasing a second one to help secure your investment. Be sure to choose a high-quality lock that’s difficult for would-be thieves to cut. Lock your bike to a fixed, permanent object, and lock up the wheels and any quick-release parts (your saddle, for example) with a cable lock if you are able.
Be aware of where you park
As with any bike, even if it’s properly secured, it can still be a target. This is especially true with overnight parking, as late-night vandalism comes into play. It’s best to park your e-bike in a well-lit area where other bikes are also parked.
Bring your battery inside
If you can easily remove your battery from the frame, it’s best to take it with you. It’s probably fine to leave it attached during a quick stop at the grocery store, but if you leave your bike parked for a few hours or all day while you’re at work, we recommend taking it along.
Finally, if you have an e-bike rack for your car don’t forget to look into how the rack locks to your vehicle’s hitch. You don’t want to go through the effort of locking your e-bike to your rack only to have the bike and rack stolen!