Electric bikes, commonly known as e-bikes, are becoming more and more popular especially in Auckland where it's very spread out with plenty of big hills.
E-bikes make hills easier to get up, longer distances shorter, and arriving at your destination still feeling fresh.
Like regular bikes, there is a large range of e-bikes which are designed for all sorts of different riding styles. When deciding on an e-bike, it's worth asking the same questions as you would when buying a regular bike, find out more about choosing a bike.
E-bikes are typically much heavier then regular bikes which means they handle differently. Most bike shops will let you go for a test ride and it’s worth trying out a variety of styles to find one which will suit you best.
An e-bike can come with a range of power settings which change the level of assistance on the bike. Some also have a throttle.
The motor can be located in either of the wheels or in the middle of the bike around the bottom bracket.
Typically a motor located in the rear wheel or bottom bracket is the recommended option as an e-bike with the motor in the front wheel can be a little more difficult to control.
Batteries are normally found along the downtube of the frame, or on a rack over the rear wheel and they can be removed so it can be charged whilst still on the bike or whilst taken off.
There are differences between types of motors and batteries. Some bikes have a top motor-assisted speed of 25km/h whilst others will be 32 km/h or higher.
Tips for riding e-bikes
It's worth spending some time getting used to an e-bike in an off-road environment before heading out on longer rides.
Most e-bikes will have a display panel showing how long you can ride for before the battery runs out and it’s good to keep watching that.
E-bikes can still be ridden with the motor off, but can be hard work to pedal due to the weight of them.
Using gears and levels of assist
Try out the different levels of assist and how they respond when stopping and starting and get used to handling and maneuvering the bike.
Get familiar with how to change the levels of assist and note that the higher the power assist level you are using, the less range you will get out the battery.
If you've stopped at an intersection in a big gear and high level of assist then there will be a surge in power as you start pedalling and you'll take off quickly.
Use the gears on an e-bike like you would on a normal bike and change down into an 'easier' gear for going uphill or when coming to a stop.
Adjusting your speed
When riding an e-bike you'll likely be travelling at higher speeds than a regular bike so a little more caution is required. Follow the same practices as a regular bike when riding on the road including scanning well ahead, signalling your movements and make eye contact with drivers where possible.
When riding on a shared path, it's a good idea to use a low power setting and cycle at a speed more suitable for a lower speed environment. Be aware of other users, use a bell, and give them plenty of space when passing.