Riding an electric bicycle is fun, is a nice exercise and is good for your health. Although there are many similarities between an electric bike and a conventional bike, there are few details that are different and worth paying attention to.
How to ride an electric bike? Make sure the battery is fully charged. Learn how to use electric assistance levels, how to switch gears, how to mount on your e-bike while facing uphill, what to pay attention to when making turns or using breaks.
How to use an electric bike covers early e-bike discovery tips of how an e-bike works and what an e-bike can be used for. In this post, I will talk about how to ride an e-bike. We will discuss the prep stage, while on the road, basic safety and maintenance tips. Let’s start.
Before your e-bike hits the road
Before you take your e-bike on a trip make sure all basics are in place.
The battery is fully charged. Although, you can certainly ride an electric bike as a normal bike, by just pedaling ahead, battery and motor provide you with the additional power of electric assistance, which makes an electric bike an electric bike!
You may not need fully charged battery for your first trip, but it is generally a good practice to have the battery fully charged just in case you will need this charge to take you where you want to be.
The helmet is on and adjusted. Wearing a bike helmet is a basic safety measure. As a saying goes – those who have what to protect, wear a helmet, those, who do not have anything to protect, do not wear one. Wear a helmet at all times!
The water bottle is full and packed. I have noticed that when I start something new, do something for the first time, I very often feel thirsty very quickly. Is it the stress level that goes up? I do not know. But I have found out that having a bottle of water always helps. And an e-biking trip will be no exception. Take a full bottle of water with you. There will be no regrets later.
Check tire pressure. Goes without saying, an electric bike is still a bike. Before taking off on a trip, make sure tires are well inflated. Not properly inflated tires are dangerous to ride with. Poorly inflated tires will not allow you to go fast. You will have to put on more efforts when riding with tires not inflated to standard. Standard e-bike tire pressure is around 2-2.4 bars (30 to 40 psi). Check it on your pump. Most pumps will show tire pressure.
Consider an air pump and a small repair kit as well. It is always advisable to have a simple bike air pump and an emergency repair kit with you. If you have them available, pack them with you on the trip.
Launching off for the first time
Switching on an e-bike. In order for electric power to become available to rotate wheels of your e-bike, you first need to switch on the electric system. The electric switch is usually located on the battery. Press it lightly. Light signal on the battery will show that the battery and the power system have been activated. This should also turn on control display on your handlebar. You are all set to go now.
Using electric assistance. When you start off, your e-bike will initially not be using electric power. Electric assistance will be in off mode. As you start pedaling, switch it from off to first electric speed (often called ECO mode) and you will feel that the bike is now helping your pedaling efforts with its motor power.
Depending on the model, an electric bike can have from 3-4 up to eight electric assistance levels. Most common models have four or five. They could be OFF, ECO, TOUR, TURBO, and SPEED, for example. Each electric assistance level provides increased power and, thus, discharges the battery faster.
Switching gears. For each electric assistance level, most e-bike models also have corresponding mechanical gears. Similar to conventional bikes, there will be gears on the left side of the handlebar and gears on the right side of the handlebar. Electric assistance levels are usually located on the left side and mechanical gears (or speeds) – on the right side.
On the e-bike model that my wife rides, there are eight mechanical speeds and five electric assistance levels. That is for each electric assistance level she can use eight different speeds. This gives 40 different speed combinations. This is a lot! Even on the single ECO mode, one can use eight different mechanical speeds, which will already suit a variety of terrains and training levels of a cyclist.
Where is e-bike different when you ride
Maintain seated position. One detail to pay attention to when riding an electric bike is to always maintain a seated position when you ride. This is important when you are using electric assistance. The motor adjusts its rotation power based on the steady pedaling effort from your side. If you stand up, your pedaling becomes more erratic, which will confuse the motor and will make it rev and slow down, which is not the best mode to operate a motor.
Maintain traction at all times. Another element, specific to e-biking, is to maintain the traction of both wheels at all times. Mountain e-biking will be different in this respect, but for all other types of e-bikes, it makes sense to keep both wheels on the ground while you ride.
This has to do with the distribution of weight and electric power while riding an e-bike. One wheel receives power from the electric motor and the second wheel stabilizes the bike on its track. If one of the wheels is up in the air, this balance is not maintained.
Making turns on an e-bike. Turning on an e-bike is quite similar to turning on a conventional bike. Also, again, there are some specifics. An e-bike generally has a lower center of gravity as compared to a conventional bike. This is due to the fact that motor (and often, battery) is located lower – closer to the ground.
Simple turns at a low speed are no problem. When making a turn at a higher speed, make sure you stop pedaling when entering the turn, half stand up and gently incline into the turn, letting your e-bike follow the curve. Once you are exiting the turn, you can sit down again and start pedaling to accelerate.
Breaking on an e-bike. As the center of gravity is lower on an e-bike, when breaking fast, it makes sense to stand up and put the power of your weight on the handlebar. This will lift the center of gravity higher, making the experience more similar to that on a conventional bike.
E-bike speed limits. Each of the electric assistance levels on an e-bike usually has its own pre-set speed limit.
- For ECO mode this limit will normally be 10 km per hour (or 6-7 miles per hour).
- TOUR mode – 15 km per hour (or 9-10 miles per hour).
- TURBO mode – 20km per hour (or 12-13 miles per hour).
There is usually an upper speed limit of 25km per hour (or 15-16 miles per hour), so top assistance level will be cut at 25km per hour speed. Take these pre-set limitations into account. Yes, you will still be able to pedal to a faster speed, or if you are going downhill, but your electric motor will not help you ride above pre-set speed levels.
Few extra tips for pleasant e-biking
Going uphill. You will need to pedal faster when going uphill on an electric bike. This does not mean though that you will have to pedal harder. Use mechanical gears to adjust your level of effort for each level of electric assistance. As you pedal faster, you will receive more power from the motor, which will make it easier for you to climb the hill.
For steeper hills, it helps to maintain 80 to 90 rotations per minute. Once you pedal with this speed, you will feel that your level of effort is actually much lower and you are getting much more support from the motor, then if you would have pedaled slower.
Mounting an e-bike on a hill. If you had to dismount from your e-bike, while going uphill, it may feel challenging to get back up and start over.
Using the following technique helps to start on a hill:
- Put your e-bike 45 degrees to the hill.
- Place one pedal up at 13 hours, and the second pedal down.
- Place one foot on the top pedal.
- Switch power assistance to TURBO mode.
- Mount your e-bike fast, while pushing the top pedal.
As you start pedaling, TURBO mode will quickly provide you enough power assistance to take you up the hill.
When you arrive – core maintenance
Recharge battery. As you arrive from a trip, put your battery back to recharge. I always do this, just to make sure that I am fully ready for my next trip. It will be a pity to find out that you cannot go on your next trip only because you do not have enough battery power remaining.
Use only original battery charger that is designed for your battery. There are known cases when non-original battery charges have damaged batteries and even caused a fire. It makes good sense to stick to original battery charger only.
Check tire pressure. Just to make sure that you did not lose any tire pressure on the trip, which may require changing a tire. Another good and easy practice to follow to be better prepared for the next trip.
Closing comments – riding an e-bike is lots of fun
Riding an e-bike is surely a lot of fun.
Make basic preparations for your trip. Charge battery, check tire pressure, put a helmet on and do not forget a bottle of water.
Know why and how riding an e-bike is different from a conventional bike. Learn how to use electric assistance, how to switch gears, how to mount on your e-bike while facing uphill, what to pay attention to when making turns or using breaks.
Perform basic maintenance, such as recharging the battery and checking tire pressure to be ready for your next adventure. You are all set!