Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are becoming a popular method of transportation across the world. More and more, commuters are “going green” and opting for other modes of transportation outside of driving.
According to a 2018 industry analysis, e-bike sales were up 83% between May 2017 and May 2018. These bikes will undoubtedly continue to gain traction in America as the years go on.
But, of course, safety is a significant factor to consider while riding these bikes. In fact, in a 2015 survey, 72 percent of Americans stated that was their top concern.
It’s understandable. Electric bikes are newer and do differ from traditional bikes, so it’s understandable.
So how can you stay safe while riding an electric bike?
From properly riding the bike on the road to the maintenance it requires, we’ll break down all of your safety concerns in this post before you purchase your new electric bike.
How Does An Electric Bike Compare To A Regular Bike?
If you’re making the switch, it’s important to know the differences between electric bikes and your standard bicycle to prepare yourself for a safe ride better. So let’s break it down.
Unlike traditional bikes, which simply require you to hop on and pedal, e-bikes need to be charged, typically through a wall outlet. With each charge, you can expect your bike’s battery to last between 35 to 100 miles, depending on the model.
It’s important to know your model’s charge time (and the number of charges the battery will get) so you don’t run out of juice while on the road!
Though there are electric bikes that are run by simply twisting a throttle (no pedaling involved but is significant wear on the battery), most electric bikes still take a bit of pedaling, though much less effort than a traditional bicycle.
With these newer bikes, cyclists can pedal and activate the electric motor with a battery-powered boost to get through tough terrain or hills without overexerting themselves.
That’s helpful when hauling cargo or going long distances!
Another major difference (which can also be a safety concern, but we’ll discuss that in a minute) is the speed. The average cyclist will go up to 9.3 mph while pedaling on a traditional bike.
However, with an electric bike, riders can move at speeds typically around 18 mph, with some models even going towards 40 mph. The motor, not the wattage, will usually determine how fast these bikes can go.
For the previous reasons mentioned, e-bikes cost more than conventional bikes. The average pricing is between $1,000-$3,000 but could cost upwards of $10,000 depending on the model of the bike. That’s in comparison to an average cost of $1,000 average for a mid-range traditional commuter bicycle. So it’s certainly an investment.
How Do You Ride An Electric Bike Correctly?
So, since these e-bikes are a bit different from the bike you learned to ride as a kid, it’s crucial to have the proper technique. You should take things slow and learn your new bike before going out on the road.
It may seem counterintuitive for an electric bike, but it’s better to pedal faster for a smoother ride, especially if you are climbing hills.
A slower pedaling rate is fine, but you will also get better battery life by pedaling faster.
Use The Eco Boost When You Can
Most e-bikes come with a switch to allow you to change the boost setting during your ride. Those settings typically range from eco (low) to turbo (high).
Though it may be tempting to use the turbo boost to go as fast as possible, riding in eco mode is safer when you’re first starting as a rider.
Riding at a lower speed will also help you save your battery. Or you can turn the electric motor off entirely and go manual.
Cyclists will need to brake a little earlier than they may anticipate avoiding collisions. e-bikes are much heavier than a traditional bike, and you are operating with a lot more speed and power.
If you wait too late to brake, you may end up hurling yourself from the saddle. To work on the correct braking technique for your bike, practice on an open stretch before riding around.
What Are The Best Safety Tips When Riding In Public?
While out on the road, it’s vital to practice safe habits as you ride your electric bike.
Always Check The Bike Before You Head Out
Charge your battery before you head out for your ride. Clean, lube, and inspect the chain on your bike regularly and make sure your brakes are working properly. Replace your brake pads and rotors when needed.
Making sure your tire pressure is at the right level is vital too. On the casing side of the tires, you will find the minimum and maximum pressure for your specific bike. Otherwise, you’ll have a pretty rough ride.
Wear Protective Gear
This may seem simple, but it’s a must. Wearing protective gear is a must. At the very least, you should wear a helmet. You will be riding at a pretty fast speed for a bike alongside other cars and pedestrians.
In case of a collision, you want to make sure your body is as protected as it can be. Trust us; you’re not too cool to be safe.
Be A Defensive Driver
Just like when you’re driving a car on the road, you need to anticipate what other drivers and pedestrians will do.
Some drivers may take a turn in front of you or come dangerously close to sideswiping you as you ride in the bike lane. Pedestrians may jaywalk across the street at any moment, and you need to be prepared to stop or move for anything.
Obey Traffic Laws
Just because you’re a cyclist doesn’t mean that you are not responsible for following traffic laws. It may very well save your life.
Cyclists sometimes forget to obey traffic lights and signs because all they’re doing is riding a bike. However, when you’re on the road with other cars, you need to follow the same rules that they do.
Otherwise, you may get into a tragic accident.
Using Warning Lights and Sounds
Something else that will be very helpful in keeping you safe with your electric bike is using warning lights and sounds.
You should install both a bell and a horn on your bike. For the record, bells are for warning pedestrians, and horns are for warning cars (no pedestrian wants to be honked at while in the zone as they walk).
Cyclists should also use a blinking front light and rear LED light on the e-bike, especially if you plan to ride at night.
Bottom line: try to stick to a lot of the same rules and protections of the road as when you’re driving.
Lock Up Your Bike In Public
If you are commuting to work or running errands, always make sure to lock your bike! Some electric bikes have a pre-installed battery lock that is easy to use.
If your model doesn’t have one, the best external lock to use is a U-Lock, which goes around the front tire to lock at a bike rack. Get as small a U-Lock as you can. If there’s not a lot of space in between the lock, thieves will struggle to break the lock with a crowbar or other tools to make off with your e-bike.
How Do You Properly Maintain Your Electric Bike?
In addition to checking your brakes and other parts of your electric bike regularly, it’s vital to be proactive about maintenance on the bike. That’s not only in regards to the life of your battery and bike but also when it comes to safety on the road.
Regularly Clean The Bike
This may seem obvious, but giving your e-bike a good clean will help to keep dirt and other particles out of the engine and potentially messing up the motor.
E-bikes should be washed once or twice a week using a low-pressure water stream or simply a wet rag. Just make sure you dray it off when you’re finished.
You can also use an air duster to clean any dirt from the e-bike’s controller and display.
Protect The Battery
The battery is vital to the life of the bike, so it’s essential to care for it as well. Store your battery at room temperature instead of really hot or really cold temperature.
This may affect the battery power and, ultimately, your ride. Just avoid taking your bike out in extreme weather conditions entirely.
Check Your Handle Bars
Every few months, check to make sure that your handlebars and stem are tight on the e-bike.
Vibrations while riding can cause the handlebars and stem to become loose. You don’t want to lose control out on the road!
Transport It Safely
If an e-bike is going to be transported by car using a bike rack, remove the battery and any other removable components. This will help make sure it’s not damaged.
Because the bike is so heavy, experts suggest using a rear-mounted bike rack instead of a roof carrier system to transport the bike on trips. Also, bring waterproof protective covers as well to protect the bike in case it does rain.
Find A Quality E-bike Shop
Having a regular maintenance schedule at a bike shop that knows how to fix e-bikes will be essential for the life of the bike. Not all shops are equipped to handle these bikes, so do some deep research into places around your area.
If you ride regularly, it’s a good idea to get a full tune-up on your bike from a qualified shop every 6-12 months. If you only ride seasonally, then bring your bike into a professional at the start or end of the season.
Be mindful, though, that if you attempt to convert a regular bike into an electric one with a kit or buy from a shop with only online service, it may be harder to find a shop to help in times of need.
And there you have it! This guide will certainly help you have a safe and comfortable ride with your electric bike.
Be sure to leave a comment below on what you think about these safety and maintenance tips! You can also read one of our other articles to help determine which electric bike may be the one for you!