How not to sweat during your electric bike commute? How to arrive at your destination refreshed and not tired? What to pay attention to during your commute?
How not to sweat on electric bike commute? Make every effort to ride at a steady pace, do not speed up. Maintain your pedaling effort just below your sweat level. Choose flat routes and drink plenty of water as you ride. Use a rear rack, not a backpack. An upright riding position is preferred to a sporty position. Cooldown fast when you arrive.
Assuming that you have already well prepared for your trip, let’s dive into no sweat e-bike commuting tips. What to do and not to do during your commute.
Take a look at this post for tips on preparing your trip for a no-sweat e-bike commute.
Ride at a steady pace, do not speed up
Compared to riding a conventional bike, riding an electric one gives us a wonderful opportunity to always keep the same steady riding pace. Electric assistance does its job and takes much of our pedaling effort away, even when taking on rather steep hills.
And this is exactly what is needed in order not to break into a sweat. We sweat when our body compensates for increased physical activity. If we ride steady and keep the same moderate pace, this overcompensation will not happen and we will not sweat!
It may help to understand a bit more about using electric assistance levels in this post, in order to master this skill.
It could be tempting to “show them all”, how fast you can go, and how easy you can overtake other bikers or take on “that hill ahead”. And your electric bike makes it easy to do this. If your goal is to avoid sweating while commuting, just do not follow this urge and your no-sweat reward will follow.
Even a short sprint or uphill effort can make a big difference in how sweaty you will be when you arrive at the destination. Maintain a consistently low effort, using low gears (thus, more electric power) for any uphill.
Ride with little effort
As a general rule, treat each pedal stroke like a step on a flight of stairs – a light step. This goes for the entire ride: go easy. By using low gears, you will pedal faster but will use less force.
Most e-bike models have, at least, four electric modes (gears or speeds), from OFF (or neutral), when no electric assistance is used, to SPORT, which is giving maximum assistance. For a sweat-free commute, consider using one gear lower than you would normally use.
Take a look at this post to learn about switching gears on an e-bike.
Choosing a lower gear, will not give you as much pedaling exercise, and, at the same time, will minimize your pedaling effort, thus there will be less risk of sweating.
There is a caveat to remember, on a lower gear, your electric bike will start off faster when you start pedaling. Use this high-speed mode with caution and learn on less crowded roads prior to trying it out on a busy city street.
If in doubt, use heart rate monitor
One way to measure maximum speed you can ride without sweating is to use a heart rate monitor. Notice your heart rate at which you can ride without breaking into a sweat.
Then keep your riding heart rate 5-10% below this measure on your regular commutes. Soon, you will not need to carry a heart rate monitor with you, as you will naturally feel the necessary heart rate threshold.
This is my favorite Polar heart rate monitor (chest type) if you would like to have look (Amazon link). Most modern wearable bracelets would also do this job for you.
Choose flat routes
There could be various ways to plan your commuting trip. If you have a choice, avoid hills, avoid going up and down. While going downhill fast could be fun, going up and down hills will be breaking your steady riding pace. This will then be risking your sweat-free commute.
Drink water as you ride
Take a bottle of water or green tea with you on your commute. The longer your commute is, the more water your body will need to stay hydrated. If your body becomes dehydrated beyond a certain level, it will start releasing water, by burning fat. And this will be more smelly than releasing pure water as sweat.
An upright sitting position is better
Unless you bike a lot (not only for the commute) and are used to it, an upright sitting position will serve you better. An upright sitting position is more natural for your body. Your body will not need extra effort if you seat straight and not bent forward.
Use rear bike rack or basket
It is better to let your e-bike carry your luggage than carrying it on your back. If you need to take a change of clothes, an office briefcase, or a gym bag with you, pack it nicely on the rear rack of your bike. There are plenty of easily installable rear racks or front baskets/panniers available. Make sure your bicycle has this accessory.
Some of us, including me, are big fans of backpacks. Backpacks are a great way to carry your belongings while traveling. A backpack will leave your hands free. Carrying a backpack is usually less tiring if compared to carrying a handbag. I fully buy into this logic for my trips. Still, using a pannier or a rear rack while commuting could be a better choice.
The simple reason is that having a backpack on your shoulders is likely to leave you with a sweaty spot on your back and, possibly, shoulders as well as underarms when you arrive.
Also, any strap that makes your clothing tight against your upper body will wrinkle the clothes, will restrict airflow around your torso, preventing sweat evaporation. Thus, it will make you sweat more. If you still want your backpack with you on your trip, take it off and pack in a basket or on a rear rack.
Bike and a train, or bike and a bus could be a good combination
If you feel that your commute may take too long, do not be scared. There is a good chance that you can bike and take a bus, or a bike and take a train or metro, instead of doing the entire distance yourself. Although, as you already know, an electric bike will significantly reduce your pedaling efforts, if you still want to start small, there is a good chance that this option is there for you.
If you are just starting, 5 miles (8km) ride is easy and is a piece of cake. Doing 10-15 miles (25km) one way is reasonable. And for more than 20 miles (30+ km), you will probably need a bit of practice.
If you think that you will be using various modes of transportation on your commute, see if it could make sense to consider a foldable e-bike model, which will be easier to carry or a train or bus.
Here is a special post with a few tips on choosing the right electric bike for your commutes.
Have a backup plan
As in any outdoor activity, things can go wrong. Weather and humidity are big determining factors for a comfortable commute. If it’s particularly muggy out, don’t ride. Find another way to get to work or use a combination of various means. But even for most summer days commuting to work should be doable.
Consider that, according to some studies, cycling is about 500% more efficient than walking (source). That means that on a bike you can commute to work at an average speed about five times as fast as the speed at which you would sweat on the same commute on foot. You really can get to work efficiently on a bike without breaking a heavy sweat.
Slow down five minutes prior to arrival
It is a good practice to slow down a few minutes prior to arriving at your destination. These few minutes will let your body start cooling down and gradually reduce effort level as you are getting close to stepping off your electric bike.
Through your ride, as on any sports exercise, your body will do through warp up (first few minutes of each ride), steady ride (most of each commute) and cooling down phase (last few minutes prior to arrival).
If you plan for this, you will be in sync with what your body requires from you and will sweat less or not at all. It would help, for example, to ride a couple of casual cooling down laps around the parking lot on arrival.
Do not forget to do your dismounting and taking stuff off the bike, in the shade.
Cooldown fast when you arrive
Experiment with taking with you a metal water bottle with ice and the beverage of your choice. When you stop biking, put it on your forehead, neck, face, chest and anywhere else you think it will cool you down. Plastic water bottles will be less effective but still will work.
Use a desk fan in your office to cool you down. Take a relaxed position and cool down sitting for a few minutes.
This post will help with further tips on what to do when you arrive at your destination.
There is no one-for-all clear-cut recipe of how to completely avoid sweating while commuting on an electric bike. Electric bicycles offer many advantages for sweat-free commutes, compared to conventional bicycles.
Keeping steady pace during your commute, maintaining good hydration, packing your luggage on a rear rack or in a pannier, and cooling down on arrival, will certainly make your commute life easier and more enjoyable.
I encourage you to experiment with different combinations of the above tips to understand the best combination that will work specifically for you. Arriving at the office completely sweat-free is an art, not an exact science.