An electric bike is fun to ride. The power from the electric motor will add to your pedaling efforts, making you go faster with little physical exertion.
However, because of the increased speed provided by pedal assist, you should approach riding an electric bike differently from riding a conventional bike.
So, how do you ride an electric bike? This article will answer this question. We’ll discuss the things you should take note of to ride your electric bike safely. Let’s get started!
Tips for Riding an Electric Bike
The tips for riding an electric bike safely include:
- Adjust the saddle and handlebar position to your liking
- Careful when mounting and dismounting
- Start slow
- Use the lowest assist setting
- Maintain traction on both wheels
- Maintain a seated position
- Make yourself seen
- Brake earlier
- Exercise care when making turns
- Pay attention to traffic
1. Adjust the Electric Bike (Seat and Handlebar) to Your Liking
The position of the seat and handlebar of your electric bike can affect your ride, determining whether or not you’ll have a comfortable and controlled ride.
To optimize pedal efficiency and control, the seat height should be such that when you are stopped, you’ll have one foot flat on the ground, and the toes-tip of the other foot reaching the ground.
At that seat height, the electric bike is more stable when you are stopped, giving you more control.
Except if you are racing and need more traction, your handlebars should be raised higher than your saddle height for a more comfortable ride. This is because it gives you a more upright sitting position, reducing the stress on your back and neck.
2. Exercise Care When Mounting and Dismounting the Electric Bike
The extra components (motor and battery) added to e-bikes make them heavier than conventional bikes by about 20+ lbs. (9+ kg).
Thus, when mounting or dismounting your electric bike, it is important to exercise care so that the heavy bike does not tip over and fall on you. This is a cause of many bike injuries, especially among rider groups like young riders, elderly riders, and new riders.
To mount your electric bike safely, you need to ensure that the engine is off and that you are holding down the brake (the bike should not be moving).
Then take the following steps:
- Stand on one side of the bike and tilt the bike towards you a little.
- With one leg on the ground, swing your other leg over the bike’s frame, to the other side of the frame. When swinging over the frame, the supporting leg should be on the ground, and not on the lower pedal.
- Land in front of the seat, and slide back onto the seat.
You can then disengage the brake, and start moving the bike by pushing down on the pedal, using the leg you swung over the frame.
To dismount an electric bike safely you need to turn off your engine, hit your brakes, and make sure the bike comes to a complete stop. Once you engage the brakes, you need to reverse mount.
Reverse the mounting steps:
- Slide off your seat
- With one leg flat on the ground, shift your weight on the supporting leg to tilt the bike a little
- Move the other leg over the bike’s frame
- Engage the kickstand and disengage the brake
3. Start Slow
The power from the motor will make your electric bike reach high speeds with little physical pedaling effort from you. This is especially true of cadence-based systems, as such bikes can reach high speeds as soon as you start pedaling.
If you start without any assistance from the motor, as the assistance kicks in, you’ll feel in control.
4. Use Low-Assist Mode as Much as Possible
It is not enough to start slow and then max out the motor assistance and go as fast as you can go.
Electric bikes usually have different motor assistance levels, with the most common models having 4 – 5 levels (where ECO is the lowest motor assist level and TURBO is the highest motor assist level). To ride an electric bike safely, use the lowest motor setting as much as possible so the motor adds only minimal power to your pedaling effort.
Less assistance from the motor will give you a better workout. Importantly, it’ll mean that your speed will not be misjudged by other road users. Generally, road users use how fast you are pedaling to judge how fast you are riding, and they make choices based on how long they think you are riding.
That said, when you ride in a low-assist mode always, your cycling speed will not be more than that of a conventional bike cyclist by too much. So drivers and other road users are less likely to incorrectly guess your speed and make unsafe choices as a result.
5. Maintain Traction
When riding an electric bike, it is important to maintain traction at all times by always keeping both wheels on the ground. It ensures that your weight and electric power are well distributed.
In an electric bike set-up, one wheel receives power from the motor, while the other wheel balances the bike. So, having one wheel up in the air will make the bike lose its balance.
6. Maintain a Seated Position
An essential safety tip for riding an electric bike is to always maintain a seated position.
In the electric bike setup, the motor supplies power to the bike according to your steady pedaling effort. However, getting up from your seat changes your rhythm and your pedaling becomes very erratic, which is not the best mode for the operation of the motor.
Thus, except if you want to climb a hill, you should maintain a seated position. You may stand up to attack a trail. But after some heavy pedaling strokes, you should sit back down, maintain the momentum, and let the motor kick in with equivalent power.
7. Make Yourself Seen
Many road mishaps involving electric bikes occur because of visibility issues – the cyclist is not seen at all or not seen on time. Thus, whether you are riding your electric bike during the day or at night, take steps to make yourself seen.
Important tips in this regard include:
- Fit your electric bike with lights. A headlight will illuminate your path when riding at night and let road users know you are coming. A taillight or brake light will make sure you are seen from behind. You may also consider fitting a helmet light.
- Use reflective gear. When riding your electric bike, wear one or more items made with reflective materials (including vests, jackets, helmets, etc.).
- Make sure your battery is fully charged. You do not want to run out of juice when out there. It ensures that your lights are powered, making you visible to other road users.
8. Brake Earlier
Even when riding with the lowest motor assistance, about 50 watts of power is added to your pedal stroke. You’ll travel faster than you would on a conventional bike, so you’ll want to slow down ahead of time.
Thus, when riding an electric bike, you should hit your brakes earlier than you would on a conventional bike.
9. Exercise Care When Making Turns
Because electric bikes go faster than conventional bikes (relative to the effort applied), you need to exercise more care when making turns. Some tips to stay safe when making turns:
- Stop pedaling and slow down when entering a turn
- Gently incline into the turn
- Start pedaling again to accelerate after exiting the turn
10. Pay Attention to Traffic
Because electric bikes go faster than drivers would expect bikes to go, you should pay attention to your surroundings when out riding.
You should adopt defensive riding when out on the road. That is, you should anticipate dangerous situations, and take steps to protect yourself and be safe on the road.
Some steps you can take are:
- Don’t ride your electric bike when feeling sleepy or under the influence
- Observe all traffic laws, signs, road markings, etc.
- Stick to e-bike speed limits, and when such limits are not
- Ride on bicycle lanes (if the law allows it)
- Minimize distractions by riding without music
- Install side mirrors on the handlebars of your electric bike
- Move as far to the side of the road as possible when a car tries to pass you
- When in doubt about who is right, err on the side of caution and yield.
- Keep a buffer between you and other drivers
Riding an electric bike is fun but this does not mean you should hop on one and attack it as you would a conventional bike. Because an e-bike is heavier and faster than its regular counterpart, you need extra care when riding an e-bike.
We’ve covered 10 essential tips for riding an electric bike, which includes exercising care when mounting/dismounting, starting slow, using the low-assist mode, maintaining traction on both wheels, making yourself seen, braking early, and paying attention to traffic.
Follow these tips, and you will make your e-bike rides safer and more fun. Happy rides!