Ebikes have become incredibly popular over the past ten years. They offer a fresh take on a traditional concept that we are all familiar with. If you already own an ebike or e cargo bike, then you’ve probably already put it to good use and experienced what they have to offer. And if you haven’t yet, then now is the perfect time to try.
Ebikes, also known as ebikes, work nearly the same as traditional bikes. The major difference between the two is the small, high-power battery connected to the frame. This battery is used to provide a noticeable power boost when needed. For example, if you’re pedaling up a formidable hill or across rugged terrain, then you’re going to appreciate having that battery.
A Guide to Safer Riding on an eBike
As fun as an ebike can be, there are also some dangers involved. Whether you’re riding on the open road or taking a more scenic route, it’s important that you always have safety in mind. Not only for yourself but also for other pedestrians and motorists around you. We’ve gathered a few essential ebike safety tips that will help keep you safe while you enjoy your new machine.
Think Safety Before You Get On
You’ll obviously want to keep safety in mind while you are pedalling around; however, you should have safety in mind before you take your first seat. This means knowing where you are going, the safest routes to take, and what sort of gear you should bring with you. You’ll rely on a lot of the same safety gear that you would use when riding a bike or motorcycle, such as a helmet and possibly knee pads. There are plenty of brands that sell durable, efficient, and fashionable safety gear designed specifically for ebike riders. Find a brand with a style you like and stay safe while you ride.
Wear A Helmet
This is a pretty common word of advice that you’ve undoubtedly heard before if you’ve ridden a bike before. But even if it was repeated a million times there would still be people who forget. The helmet is easily the most important piece of safety gear you can purchase. At its core, it is designed to protect your head and brain. Many accidents that could have ended in a fatality did not do so because the rider wore a helmet. And there are many riders who have died simply because they did not have a helmet.
This is such an important piece of gear that you’ll find entire sections of stores dedicated to various helmets. A very basic helmet is sufficient enough to protect the skull. However, there are also helmets that have adjustable face shields. These are a great choice because they provide additional protection from bugs, harsh winds, and excess UV light.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
Are you in the habit of checking your tires each time before you ride? If not, now is the perfect time to start practicing this habit. It only takes a few moments and it can easily save your life or at least save you from walking miles with a flat tire. As your bike tires lose air they also lose their reliability. A deflated tire is far less responsive and more difficult to steer. As an added benefit, inflating your tires makes it easier to gauge their condition and determine how worn down they really are. Sooner or later they will need to be replaced.
Use Your Light When The Sun Goes Down
Bike reflectors are somewhat useful for warning other pedestrians and motorists of your position, but they aren’t nearly enough to keep you safe on a busy evening. The majority of fatal bike accidents happen at night and for good reason: the cyclist wasn’t visible. You may not be legally required to use front or backlights on a bike but it’s still a smart safety choice.
Most high-end ebikes will come with front and backlights installed. You should always use these lights in dim environments. If your ebike does not come with lights, then it’s up to you to find a set for your bike and have them installed. One of the key benefits is that it will help you see better when cycling. Another benefit is that it will help other motorists see you. This brings up the next tip …
Do Your Best To Keep Motorists Informed Of Your Position
The road is a dangerous place even for people protected inside of their vehicles. It is far more dangerous for someone who is exposed on the back of an ebike. Your helmet is essentially the only thing between you and the concrete below. If a motorist strikes you, even at low speeds, it is going to cause some serious harm. So how can you reduce the risk of this happening? By making sure that other drivers always know where you are.
The most obvious way to do this is with the aforementioned tip: use your lights. Just having lights installed isn’t going to help if you don’t take the time to actually use them. A white light in the front and a red light in the back are standard in these situations. You should also install a bell or horn that you can use when you want to immediately alert someone of your position. They are extremely helpful when attempting to pass another driver.
Ride Inside The Lane
If you are able, then you should always strive to drive the posted speed limit when on the road. In urban areas, the speed limit is rarely going to surpass 25 MPH and will likely be much lower during busy hours. You may be tempted to weave through traffic and ride on the outside of the lane, but we recommend against this. It is much safer to operate inside of the lane with other vehicles so that you remain visible at all times.
Drivers often check the median of the road when pulling out but they will easily miss a cyclist who is hugging the curb. You need to give yourself plenty of space between yourself and other drivers and ensure that you are never in their blind spot.
Always Keep An Eye On Traffic
You want to do your best to remain visible to motorists but you should always assume that they cannot see you. Ride your bike at a safe enough distance from vehicles so that sudden stops or opened doors do not become a serious problem. Ebikes can reach impressive speeds of up to 40 MPH and other drivers may not be aware of this potential.
If traffic is heavy and dangerous in a particular area, then consider traveling an alternative route. Use this as an opportunity to explore the area and take in some new scenery. What’s most important is that you are safe and not trapped on a road with too many other drivers.
Most ebikes can reach speeds greater than traditional bikes thanks to the additional battery power. All of that extra power can be really enticing, but we recommend taking it slow at first. You should gradually increase your top speed as you become more comfortable controlling the bike. If you don’t feel comfortable riding at top speed, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with slowing down and putting safety first. Remember that riding fast means you are also comfortable with breaking quickly and maintaining control. It can be much more difficult than it might seem at first.
Shop For The Right Style Of Frame
Just as with traditional bikes, ebikes are manufactured with a variety of different frames. There are frames designed for people of specific height and gender as well as frames designed for specific terrains. What’s most important is that you are able to easily mount and dismount your bike without risking harm to yourself. The last thing you want to do is fall over when trying to dismount your bike on a busy sidewalk.
Focus On What You Are Doing
There are going to be a lot of stimuli on the road. It’s important that you maintain your focus on the act at hand, which is cycling itself. Concentrate on the bike, on the road, and on the other motorists around you. It may be tempting to answer that text that just came in especially if you’re traveling at a slow speed. But we advise saving that text for later. You can always stop to answer when you are in a safe location. Operating a phone while operating a bike is never a good idea.
Defensive Driving On A Bike
Defensive driving isn’t just something you practice when you’re in a car. It’s an equally important concept for cyclists as well. In a sense, you should drive as though other motorists are out to get you. Drive defensively so that you are always a safe distance away and out of their grasp.
Defensive driving is even more important for ebikes than traditional bikes due to the added speed. Many drivers believe that cyclists always travel at a slow speed. They may be completely unaware that you are on an ebike capable of speeds between 30 and 50 MPH. That means they are not going to judge their own speed correctly in relation to yours. It is up to you to maintain the correct distance and make the safe decisions.
There Will Always Be Obstacles
We may wish the road was smooth and safe for all, but that is never the truth. There are always going to be obstacles that get in the way. They come in the form of potholes, bumps in the road, and even people. Any one of these obstacles could easily damage your bike and cause serious bodily harm. Your objective should be to avoid as many of these obstacles as possible (especially the people). The more potholes and bumps that your bike hits the more damage your tires will take. It’s an easy way to wear your new bike down well ahead of schedule.
GPS Can Be Your Friend
Want to take your ebike a step further in terms of technological advancements? Consider investing in a small GPS system. This isn’t for you to navigate when riding the bike. Instead, it can be used to track your bike if it is ever missing or stolen. Depending on the GPS system you choose, it could also be used for gathering other helpful information like distance traveled on a particular day. There are a lot of GPS tracker kits and apps to choose from.
Drunk Drivers Are A Consistent Problem
Perhaps one day we can enjoy riding without worrying about drunk drivers behind the wheel. Unfortunately, that day is not today. You should always keep in mind that other drivers may be intoxicated. This is particularly true on the weeknights and around the holidays. If a driver appears to be under the influence, then you need to get away from them as soon as possible. Pull off, take a break, and get back on the road when there is less danger.
Mirrors Are Very Important
Your e-bike may not come with a mirror installed but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in one. Plenty of brands sell e-bike mirrors for incredibly low prices. For less than $20 you can buy a bike mirror that may easily protect you from an oncoming driver or nearby cyclists. It’s a small investment that can make a huge difference. You wouldn’t drive a car without a mirror so why should ride a bike without one?
You may already be familiar with some or most of these safety tips but it’s always good to be reminded. A cyclist must always have their safety in mind while also considering the safety of other pedestrians. So always wear a helmet, use your lights, practice defensive driving, and spend a few bucks on a new mirror. You won’t regret it.