Originally published on CleanTechnica
So you’ve bought a new eBike or are considering pulling the trigger on an eBike purchase. While eBikes are in many ways just glorified bicycles, there are a few differences that require some additional thought.
eBikes in Barcelona, Spain. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
I recommend ordering the first 3 of these along with your bike because when it shows up, the first thing you are going to want to do is to get out there and ride it. Having a helmet, bike lock, and tire protection will set you up for success even before you start riding.
Buy A Helmet
eBikes travel at higher speeds than your brain is used to traveling at on a bike. Protect it from its own inability to sense danger with a helmet. Moving at higher average speeds also means that any accidents are going to be at those same higher speeds, making full face helmets, gloves, elbow pads, etc., worth considering.
Get A Lock
eBikes are typically much more expensive than traditional bikes and thieves know it. Avoid the oh crap moment of coming out of the store to find your bike gone by buying a nice lock or two. I’m not talking about a $5 cable lock either. Go get a hardened steel chain lock, u-bolt, folding lock, or all of the above. You kicked down big bucks for an eBike, so don’t go cheap on the thing that will keep it safe.
For extra safety, pull the battery off and take it with you into the store, as the battery is a big chunk of the value of the bike. I’ve also built a habit of keeping my tools, spare tire, and pump in a rack bag that I can quickly pull off and take into the store with me. That’s one less thing for thieves to snatch and one less thing I have to worry about when I’m picking up some fresh veggies or some not quite as healthy Doritos.
Protect Your Tubes
I’m sure I’m deserving of an award for this one, but I have managed to get a flat tire in every ebike I’ve put any sort of serious mileage on in just the first couple of days. I know, I’m a slow learner, but when the inevitable flat tire comes, the first thing I do is to order some tube protection.
That starts with tire liners that put up a protective barrier between the outer tire and the inner tube to shield it from any thorns, staples, nails, and the like. Mr Tuffy’s makes a lineup of go-to products for different diameter tires and with different thicknesses, but there are many other options out there to choose from.
The second layer of protection is Slime. I stole this hack from Bosch’s ebike guru Brian Sarmiento who has embarked on several multi-day road trips on his fleet of eBikes. Slime stuff surfaced many years back and people have been pumping the snot colored goop into their inner tubes ever since. The goopy liquid contains solids in it that essentially clot up on any holes that might show up in the tube. You can buy Slime by itself or buy tubes pre-filled with it. They also have a heavy duty tube that comes with thicker walls for even more protection.
Image courtesy: Bosch
The reason tube protection is so important for eBikes compared to normal bikes is that it’s likely that you’ll be traveling longer distances and traveling on commuting roads or paths. In my neck of the
woods city here in Southern California, that translates to riding on the side of otherwise very busy streets on unkempt bike lanes. My tires inevitably end up eating all of the loose construction materials thrown out of vehicles and onto the side of the road. It’s not great. I wish it was better (and it may be in your area), but it has been a reality for me. Level up your protection by adding Slime to your tubes and by getting thicker tubes before you end up on the side of the road wondering what happened.
eBikes also tend to have rear wheels that are more complicated to take off, thanks to the drive motors and electronics that go with them. Protecting your tubes means less flat tires on the side of the road that you may or may not have the tools to repair in the field.
Keep Your Tires Inflated
Just like on a normal bike, tires are more susceptible to roadside debris when they are less inflated. Keep your tires filled up to the lesser of the tire’s max rating and the bike manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You’ll want to check this every couple of weeks to ensure they stay safe and give you the best riding experience.
Image courtesy: Pure Cycles
It may sound obvious, but just as it some time to build new routines around cars, rebuilding those routines around bikes will take some time. Don’t rush yourself, just take your time and be patient with yourself through the inevitable learning or (re-learning) process.
Even if you’re prepared and have taken measures to protect your tubes, #FlatsHappen. It’s never a bad idea to carry a spare tube to avoid getting stranded miles from home without options. I tossed one of the stock tubes that came with the bike in my repair kit after replacing them with Slime-filled tires. It’s not the ideal long term solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Tube Patch Kit & Tire Irons
Doing a field replacement of a front tire can be done in the field, but depending on the eBike, that might not be an option for the rear (or driven) tire. For these, it’s best to bring a tire patch kit. A key part of any patch kit is the tire irons that help you pull the outer tire off in order to gain access to the tube itself.
Roadside repair. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica
Patch kits haven’t changed much in years and there are essentially two types. The first type of patch uses a vulcanizing fluid to marry up the rubber in the tube and the rubber from the patch. The second type of patch comes with integrated adhesive. Park Tools is a staple in the bicycle maintenance world and makes a great patch kit with integrated adhesive that keeps it simple while ensuring high quality.
To fill up the tire after a tube replacement or patch, you’ll need a tire pump. Most portable pumps are tiny, but that means you’ll be pumping hundreds of times to fill up your big eBike tires. I opted for a larger full-sized pump from Zefal, but there are many options out there for pumps. Save yourself the headache of having to walk your bike back home by being prepared before heading out.
With all this gear, it’s a good idea to find a permanent home for it on the bike. That can be a backpack, pannier, or a rack top bag. Find a solution that fits with your lifestyle and fill it with the eBike essentials.
There are endless options for bicycle configurations and eBikes take that to an entirely new level with more power, higher speeds, more range, and accommodations for riders of different levels of fitness. Do you have a must-have accessory that we missed? Let us know in the comments!