eBike tips every beginner needs to read
So, you’ve bought your first eBike – great choice! But with the concept still being relatively new in the cycling world, it can be a bit confusing or daunting if you’ve never ridden one before. Don’t worry though, it’s mostly like riding a normal bike, just with some added features including electrical assistance to help you along during your ride. Once you’ve got used to these few things, it’ll be a breeze!
To help you get accustomed to your new ebike, and encourage you to get the most from your cycling experience, we’ve put together six key tips for beginners:
Spend some time learning the controls
Not only does an eBike have gears like many standard bikes, but it also has multiple levels of electrical assistance. This, combined with any other interactive features, means you might find your new bike a bit overwhelming. There’s multiple controls you’ll need to get used to, and as such, you should spend some time learning them before you head out on the road.
Make sure you know what everything on the bike does, rather than struggling to get to grips with it while you’re out and about. It’ll make for a much smoother, less stressful journey!
Find your optimal assistance level
eBikes offer various levels of electric assistance, with it being up to you to choose how much extra power the bike provides you with when pedalling. The Avaris eBike for example offers nine different assistance levels – the lowest level is close to riding a non-electric bike, with you doing most of the work to keep moving. The highest level makes the session much easier, with the bike helping you to power forward with extra speed and less pressure on the pedals.
Don’t be afraid to flick through the levels while you’re getting used to the bike. Try out multiple levels from the lowest to highest and you’ll soon find yourself a level, or range of levels, to stick to on your regular journeys. The optimal level will be one that allows you to have a comfortable ride – a perfect balance between a level that stops you from exhausting yourself, while also ensuring you’re still getting a workout.
Go for a quick test ride
Before you start using the bike as part of a regular commute or for long recreational rides, you should definitely have a bit of a test run in your local area. Even if it’s just cycling up and down your own street, it’s ideal to get to grips with the bike before you get serious with it.
It’s a good opportunity to discover the bike’s features and settings, and after a few quick laps of the local area, you’ll feel right at home on your new eBike.
The best routes for eBike commuters
The first part of a good eBike commute is mapping out a safe and convenient route to work or school. It is important to remember that you will most likely be riding a different route than a typical car route; you won’t be riding along a super busy road that is a main car route. Bike routes generally take less trafficked neighborhood streets and bike paths that make riding safer and fun to explore. Google Maps is a good starting point for finding a good route with their biking feature that recommends safe bike routes. Your city or town may also have a bike map with recommended routes across town. Here is a more in-depth article on finding good bike routes that includes other route finding tools. Some come in app form so you can easily bring them along on your mobile phone. Another benefit of riding along good bike routes is that you may be exploring new areas of your city or town along the way to work or school. This can be a fun way to checkout parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and other local places along the way or bookmark them for exploring later. Riding an electric bike is also more engaging than traveling in a car. You have more opportunities to say “Hi” to pedestrians and fellow bike riders which is a great way to get to know your neighbors and others in your community.
- Bring your charger with you and top off the battery during the workday.
- Buy a second charger and leave it at the office for convenience.
- Bring a second battery on your trips, allowing you to swap to a fresh battery without waiting for charging.
Most electric bikes have a removable battery so you can bring just the battery in for charging instead of the whole bike.
If your commute is really far you may want to consider the option of a hybrid commute where you drive or use mass transit for some of the commute combined with using your electric bike for the other leg of the trip. For instance you could drive from home to a convenient parking area on the outskirts of the city and eBike the rest of the way to avoid bad traffic and parking issues. Here is a guide to car racks rated for eBikes so you can buy a compatible one for your car or truck.
If you do use mass transit combined with your eBike, double check the rules for carrying an electric bike on board the vehicle (bus, train, ferry) before you go.
Packing work clothes on your bike
For those who need to wear professional work clothing, there are a lot of cargo carrying options for transporting the clothes on the bike and then changing when you arrive at work.
There are some bike rack bags (panniers) that are specifically designed to carry professional clothes to make sure the clothes stay wrinkle-free, clean, and dry. They are also easy to hang up on a door hook for getting dressed at work.
Another option is using general all purpose waterproof bike bags for carrying work clothes that have been rolled up to prevent wrinkles.
A great trick for car owners is to drive to the office on Monday with a full work-week worth of clean clothes. That way you don’t have to carry them on the bike, saving weight and packing time. Next time you drive to the office, bring all the dirty laundry home in the car.
Showering at Work?
Some workplaces offer showers for their employees and this can be a great thing for the average bicycle commuter but you probably won’t need that as an electric bike commuter. Electric bikes are great because you can set how much of a workout you want to get with the various levels of pedal assist and/or throttle.
For instance you can set the pedal assist to the higher levels for getting to work with no sweat. That way you arrive presentable and ready to go. If you need to you can quickly change into work clothes, if that applies to you.
To get some exercise and relieve some stress you can set a lower pedal assist level for more of a workout on the ride home. It’s a good way to unwind from the day and arrive home with some good mental space between work and home.
What if it Rains?
Rain is a good argument for skipping the eBike commute but there are options to help you ride and stay dry. Many eBikes come with fenders or have attachment options to add fenders to help keep you dry on wet roads.
There are also a lot of good rain jackets and rain pants that can help with staying dry and in some cases they can help you stay visible on the road with their high visibility colors and/or reflective material.
Whether you decide to ride in the rain may depend on how hard it is raining and if you decide to tough it out. Sometimes it is just more convenient to drive or take mass transit on a day of heavy rain, nothing wrong with that!
How Long Do E-Bikes Last?
How long your e-bike lasts depends on a variety of factors. There are several key components behind your bike’s overall lifespan, depending on how much wear and tear you put them through.
In general, you can expect an e-bike to last roughly 3 to 5 years. That’s how long the battery lasts before it begins to decline. Tires under normal wear and tear will last between 1,000 to 3,000 miles. Good rim brakes can last up to 3,000 miles, while disc brakes can last up to 6,000 miles, though downhill braking will shorten this lifespan.
Generally, the longest-lived component is the motor. Direct drive motors can last up to 10,000 miles, while a geared motor lasts between 3,000 to 10,000 miles.
How to Choose the Best E-Bike for You
Thinking of making the switch to an e-bike? They’re not one-size-fits-all. Here’s how to choose the perfect bike for your needs.
The Type of Riding You Plan to Do
The biggest deciding factor is the type of riding you plan to do. A small, light city bike is not designed to handle off-road terrain, while a rugged mountain bike isn’t built for the type of riding you would do on your daily commute.
This will also change the class of e-bike you needa Class III e-bike is faster than Class I or Class II, though it won’t be allowed in the same places.
Commuters typically need speed and comfort, which means a more upright bike compared to a mountain or training bike. After that, it depends on your commute.
If you’re dropping off the kids at school, for example, a touring e-bike can handle a child’s bike seat. A road racer, on the other hand, is good for those who need speed above all else.
Also, think about how smooth your commute is, as this will change what suspension you need. A full-suspension mountain bike is great for hurtling down hills, but for a five-mile ride as smooth as a mirror, it will cost you pedaling efficiency.
Sports (e.g. Triathlon. Is It Allowed)
E-bikes may not be allowed in triathlons, but you can use them for sports training, even if you don’t use them in the sport itself.
As with commuting, think about the type of sport in question. A featherlight racing bike is great for smooth roads but hilariously impractical on rocky trails, while a mountain bike costs too much efficiency on bike trails.
If you’re using your bike for exercise, an e-bike is actually a great investmentand actually encourages you to ride more often. In a survey of 1,800 e-bike owners. 55% said they rode their bike daily or weekly before owning an e-bike, while 91% of respondents said they rode their bike daily or weekly after purchasing an e-bike.
As with commuter bikes, think about the type of exercise you’re interested in. If you want a casual ride around the park, look for an upright bike made for comfort. If you’re interested in speed, go for a lightweight bike that makes it easier to put your weight forward and aid in forward momentum.
A touring bike is a specific type of bike intended for multi-day rides where you carry everything you need with you. They can be used as a commuting bike, but your average all-purpose commuter bike should not be used as a touring bike.
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A touring e-bike will be designed to favor stability, with a wide gear range of 1:1 or lower. Touring e-bikes are also distinguished by front or rear racks that make it easy to carry what you need.
Comfort, Mobility, Convenience
You also want to think about comfort, which is dictated by the style of riding you have in mind.
A cruiser, for example, tends to be an upright bike designed with comfort as its foremost priority, with wide tires, suspension to reduce shock in the front fork, and higher handlebars for an upright ride.
A commuter bike is characterized by large, narrow tires for efficiency, paired with an upright design to provide comfort. You’re still relatively upright compared to a racing bike, but the tires allow for greater speed.
A road bike, on the other hand, typically features drop handlebars and narrow tires for the express purpose of encouraging fast riding.
Age and Size of the Biker
Your age and size will also dictate what bike is the right fit for you. For example, a child’s e-bike may need to be especially light and small.
Women’s bikes are also made differently than men’s, with a shorter top tube to accommodate women’s shorter torsos and shorter arms. They also feature smaller grips, narrower handlebars, and wider seats, though performance riders may prefer a narrower seat anyway.
How Far You’ll Be Riding
If you plan to ride farther, you need a battery that can keep up with you. This typically means a larger battery to ensure you’ll have pedal-assist for the duration of your ride.
On the other hand, if you’re just commuting a few miles to work every day, a smaller battery will get the job done nicely.
Your Cycling Experience Level
Most beginner e-bike riders will get everything they need from a Class I e-bike. These are the most affordable and the most universally acceptable in regular bike settings.
If you’re more experienced, you can start to think about e-bikes with added features, which is when you get to Class II or Class III e-bikes for added power and speed.
How Fast You Want to Travel
The speed at which you want to travel will change how the bike is constructed and the class of bike you need.
Class I and Class II bikes stop pedal-assist at 20 mph, while Class III bikes stop pedal-assist at 28 mph. Regardless of class, a bike designed for faster-paced rides will be built for efficiency and will allow you to ride forward. The lower the handlebars and the narrower the wheel, the further forward you can ride and the more efficient your ride will be.
What an E-Bike Rider Needs to Remember
You’ve got your bike and you’re ready to ride, right? Not quite. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start riding, whether you’re commuting or taking a pleasure cruise on the beach.
Best Clothing for Bike Rides
Whether you’re on an e-bike or a traditional bike, you have the same priority for cycling clothes: items that won’t get in your way while pedaling and items that make you highly visible.
In warm weather (70 degrees and up), your ideal riding uniform will look something like this:
Bike shorts are unique from other shorts in that they’re fitted but breathable with padding in the groin area for added comfort. And while you might not think of gloves in hot weather, they can help you grip even when your hands are sweaty.
In slightly cooler weather (50 to 65 degrees) swap out your bike jersey for a long-sleeved shirt. Arm and leg warmers are a good choice, since you can take them off if you overheat, but be careful of too much extra material on your legs. Change out your fingerless summer bike gloves for full-fingered ones, and add a thermal headband.
In winter, layers are the name of the game. You’ll have three layers:
As you get into cooler temperatures, you’ll gradually increase the weight of all three layers to account for the weather. In 40 to 50 degrees, for example, your outer layer might be a simple windproof jacket or a rain jacket, but below 25 degrees, you’ll need a heavyweight cycling jacket, heavy tights, heavy full-fingered gloves, and wool socks.
If the weather is wet, look for cycling clothes that will protect you against moisture. These include:
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof pants
- Waterproof overshoes
- Waterproof gloves
As for your helmet, there’s a cheap and easy solution to keep the rain out: cover your helmet with a shower cap. It might look a bit funny, but it’s effective.
Your single best item of safety equipment is your helmet. This may be optional or compulsory depending on where you live, so check the local laws before departing on your commute.
Either way, look for a helmet in a high-visibility color or with reflective patches. You should also make sure your helmet fits wellit should feel snug but comfortable on your head.
It’s also a good idea to wear a crash jacket, just in case. This can be a padded cycling jacket, or even a leather jacket. There’s a reason why motorcycle riders wear leather, which is that if you go flying, leather lets you slide across the pavement.
Last but not least, while your motor and battery get the most attention, you should still know your way around your e-bike’s gears. After all, they’re still the basic components that make your e-bike work.
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The majority of e-bikes are equipped with derailleur gears, while the remainder use hub gears. Derailleur gears are external gears with a cable connected to the rear derailleur. If you add tension on the cable, it becomes easier to pedal. Take tension off the cable and it becomes easier to travel at higher speeds.
A hub gear system, on the other hand, is fully encased in the rear hub. Most hub gear e-bikes are 8-speed systems. This makes the gears much lower maintenance than derailleurs since they’re not exposed to the elements. On the other hand, if something goes wrong, you’ll need an expert to fix it, whereas derailleurs can be fixed on your own with a bit of know-how.
Check Your Speed
Quan adds that the biggest mistake he sees new e-bike riders make is to go for the fastest assist setting right out of the gate. Anyone would be excited to see what their new set of wheels can do, but Quan recommends that riders take time to learn how the bike feels at lower speeds before cranking it to turbo.
Because you have a lot more speed and power behind you, braking becomes all the more important. Even at the lightest assisted gear, Quan says, a Karmic e-bike will add around 50 watts to your pedal stroke. That means you’ll want to slow down well ahead of stop signs and road crossings, and far earlier than you would on a slower-moving bike. Get to know your brakes and their relative power, so you can better assess the safest time to start slowing down.
Careful While Mounting and Dismounting
For some older e-bike riders, or younger riders with mobility issues, mounts and dismounts are where many injuries happen. This is partially because of the bike’s heaviness—the extra 20-plus pounds could cause it to tip over and injure the rider. Make sure the frame you buy is one that’s comfortable to get on and off easily. For some, that may mean seeking out a step-through frame (which aren’t just for women!) or a standard frame with a more sloping top tube.
Mind your tire pressure
Here’s a tip you probably already practice with your truck. Tire pressure is essential to gaining and maintaining traction, which is why you air down before hitting the trail in your truck.
Thankfully, it’s not something you need to adjust as much on an eBike. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor it, though.
As temperatures fluctuate, air pressure might go with it. Considering you can hunt during the frigid winters or those sweltering spring days, you should keep an eye on tire pressure to ensure it’s to spec whenever you decide to hit the woods.
Repair kits are essential
Things happen. A sharp rock might pop your tire, the chain might take a hit, and your brackets might come loose. You’re riding on rough terrain, and it’s natural for your eBike to take a beating.
That’s why you need to prepare for such situations by building an emergency repair kit.
Some eBikes come with tool kits as an optional accessory. You should still invest in spare parts such as chains, spokes, and inner tubes to ensure you’re ready for just about anything, though.
We know what it’s like to decide last minute that you’re going hunting this season. The night before opening day, you scramble to pack your gear, get your license and clean your firearms. While an eBike is versatile, simply hopping on it with no planning or preparation isn’t exactly wise.
At the very least, you need to run through the basics. Make sure everything is clean and lubricated, the tires have the proper pressure, and that you have a full charge before you get rolling.
On top of that, one of the most important things to consider is the range of your bike. As a rule of thumb, the furthest you should go into the woods is about half as far as the bike can go on a single charge. That way, you know for sure that you have enough juice to make it back to the truck.
Also, you should consider how much weight your gear and potential take will place on the bike. There is a weight capacity, and overloading it can cause serious issues, and you need to load up accordingly.
Riding an hunting eBike isn’t this massively difficult task that lends itself exclusively to seasoned riders. In all reality, it’s easy, and safe riding is all about common sense.
Still, a hunting trip might not be the best choice for the maiden voyage.
We suggest taking your bike out a few times before you go riding. Familiarize yourself with the riding styles and the bike’s quarks. If you can do so with the additional weight that matches the gear you’ll take out, you’ll be better prepared for that trek into the wild.
What a drag, right? Preparation involves getting out and enjoying a state-of-the-art piece of gear that allows you to tackle new and exciting parts of the woods that you’ve never attempted to tackle before.