10 things you should never do on an e-bike

Avoiding these mistakes and mishaps will help you to stay safe, while also helping to keep your electric bike in tip-top condition

Clock08:17, Wednesday 3rd April 2024
Avoid these mistakes when riding an e-bike

© GCN

Avoid these mistakes when riding an e-bike

From finding the right bike to heading out for those first pedal strokes, buying and riding an e-bike for the first time can be a steep learning curve. The process is filled with lots of potential mistakes that are easy to fall for. While most won’t have too many repercussions, some could have, so you’ll want to avoid them wherever possible.

To help, we’ve pulled together a list of 10 mistakes you need to avoid if you own an e-bike. From illegal bikes to charging the battery correctly, here’s everything you need to be aware of.

1. Use illegal e-bikes or ride too fast

From uncapped to throttle-powered motors, there’s a large and murky corner of the e-bike market filled with illegal models. Avoid these.

Many countries have laws that govern how much assistance an electric bike can provide, which is capped at a certain speed, and e-bikes should be designed to meet these requirements. If yours isn’t, you will be breaking the law.

More importantly still, these laws are implemented for the safety of you and other pedestrians/road users, so you’re putting multiple people at risk.

2. Ignore traffic and the rules of the road

If you’re riding on a road, you’re subject to the same rules as everyone else. Some rules, like maximum speed limits, probably won’t be too much of a concern as you’re unlikely to ever be going fast enough to break them.

There are many other rules that do have an impact on cyclists, though. For a start, always signal your intentions so other road users are aware if you’re about to turn. Position your bike correctly too, which will be on the side of the road unless turning, at which point you may need to position yourself in a specific lane or on the opposite side of the lane.

3. Forget to use lights

Some countries also have laws requiring cyclists, including those on e-bikes, to use lights, usually during nighttime hours.

It’s harder for motorists to spot cyclists so this is vitally important for your safety. As a minimum, you’ll need a front and rear light, but use as many as possible.

This is easier for e-bikes as many have in-built lights that are powered by the e-bike’s battery, like on the Orbea Diem hybrid e-bike.

4. Refuse to use a helmet

They may mess up your hair or not look particularly cool, but a helmet is a must when riding an e-bike.

You’ve probably heard many people preach the importance of helmets before, but they really can be life-saving accessories in a crash. So, wear one for every ride.

While you can get a standard bike helmet, some brands have electric bike-specific models, like the MET E-mob which has the added safety feature of in-built lights.

5. Leave your battery flat for extended periods

Never leave the battery flat for extended periods of time, or even for short periods. It’s a trap many e-bikers fall into when the wetter months strike and they tuck their bike away for hibernation. A fully discharged battery will lose capacity faster, which is why you should try to avoid completely draining it in the first place, never letting it drop below five or ten percent.

If you’re going to be riding the bike again in the near future, charge the battery up to 100%, but only go up to around 70% to 80% if it’ll be life idle for an extended period of time. Then keep it topped up so it doesn’t go flat.

6. Overcharge the battery

To avoid having to regularly top up the battery, it’s tempting to just leave the battery permanently on charge - don’t!

Many e-bikes have smart chargers that should cut out the charge when the battery is topped up, but this could malfunction, leading to potentially serious consequences.

If you often forget that it’s on charge, connect the charger to a timer.

7. Ignore an error code

E-bikes are great but like any other kind of technology, they can sometimes run into issues. This will usually be displayed as an error code on the e-bike screen. Don’t ignore a code if it flashes up or simply rely on turning the e-bike off and back on.

An error message may not be anything serious, but it could signify a fault with the battery or motor. You’ll want to get to the bottom of this otherwise the issue may strike in the middle of a ride, leaving you struggling with no assistance.

Check in your owner’s manual for error codes or on the manufacturer’s website. If that doesn’t help, contact them directly.

8. Blast electronic components with water

All of the electronic components on an e-bike are protected in waterproof casing. If they weren’t, e-bikes would be redundant every time rain struck.

However, you don’t want to test the limits of this water resistance when cleaning your bike by blasting a pressure washer at the motor or battery. Even if the water is directed directly at these components, it can still carry some force if it’s deflecting off the frame, so be careful.

9. Use maximum assistance at all times

Some riders will need a high level of assistance when riding, and that’s fine, but don’t use maximum assistance when you don’t need to. This is a sure-fire way to rundown the battery level really quickly, and you’ll be constantly charging the battery.

Batteries naturally lose capacity as they go through charge cycles, so overusing assistance could accelerate this decrease in capacity.

10. Ride unprepared without accessories

From punctures to unexpected mishaps, things can go wrong on rides. Fail to carry the correct accessories and tools and you could be left stranded on the side of the road, cue a grovelling SOS message to loved ones.

As a minimum, carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers, a mini pump and a multi-tool - the latter will cover most minor niggles you might encounter. Even if you can’t fully fix your bike out on the road, you may be able to patch it up enough to make it home. Then a more comprehensive toolset will come in handy to complete the job, although you can also recruit the help of a local bike shop.

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