The greatest part about riding an electric bike is the pedal-assist function. This is when the motor is helping you pedal by supplying extra power and allowing you to dramatically increase your riding efficiency. But there are a few things you can do to make this work even better!
In this article, I will give you some tips I’ve learned after riding over 12,000 miles on a pedal-assist ebike that I think will greatly improve your riding experience.
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Tips For Riding A Pedal Assist Ebike
- #1 – Familiarize Yourself With Your Ebike’s Controls
- #2 – Test Your Range Limits
- #3 – Make Sure Your Ebike Is Shifting Smoothly
- #4 – Use Your Gears Properly
- #5 – Make Sure You Are Sitting in a Comfortable Riding Position
- #6 – Be Mindful of Your Contact Points
- #7 – Make Changes to Your Ebike if Needed
- #8 – Regularly Check Your Tire Pressure
- #9 – Keep Your Chain Cleaned and Lubed
- #10 – Stop and Stretch On Occasion
- #11 – Smile and Wave at Folks 🙂
Let’s go further into each of these tips and really get to the core of what they can do for you!
#1 – Familiarize Yourself With Your Ebike’s Controls
Before you jump on your new ebike and take off, just take a minute to be sure you know how to operate it.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may want to test out each assist level and know what you are getting into.
Try out the highest assist modes on a safe road even if you don’t plan on using it much, just so you know what feels like. You may accidentally set your assist to this level when you don’t intend to and this way it won’t surprise you later.
Also, know what other features your ebike has. Many ebike displays will be able to tell you how many miles you’ve gone on your current trip and how long you’ve been riding. Some will do so much more!
If you decide to choose a Bosch-powered ebike, Bosch has displays now that will map out your ride, tell you your altitude and graph it out, allow you to connect a heart monitor, tell you the slope, show how many calories you are burning, and more!
Just be sure you know how to change assist modes and to operate the display. You can move the controls so that they are in the optimal place for you to ride safely.
#2 – Test Your Range Limits
Testing your range limits somewhere close to home will help you know how far you will be able to go on your ebike. Every rider will have different range limits based on their weight and how much pedaling they are adding.
This is super important! I always recommend that anybody trying out a new ebike for the first time, try riding for little ways with the motor off to feel what it’s like.
This way you will know what to expect if you run out of battery or if your electrical components stop working for some reason. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere and have a long way to ride with no extra power!
Don’t expect to get the exact same range as someone else. Also, it’s good to know ahead of time that your battery is holding a full charge or if it needs to be warrantied.
Occasionally you may get a bad battery on a new bike, that dies out way before it’s supposed to. Don’t learn this the hard way!
#3 – Make Sure Your Ebike Is Shifting Smoothly
If you ordered your new ebike online it may need some adjustment right out of the box. I know my new Lectric XP needed the shifting adjusted.
There is a little barrel on the rear derailleur and possibly one on the shifter that you can use to tension your cable.
By twisting this barrel adjuster slightly counter-clockwise it will tension the shift cable. So if your ebike is not shifting down into the easier gears very well, just twist your barrel adjuster a little and try again.
Don’t twist too much! A little goes a long way.
Keep in mind, this is only a basic adjustment. One thing to check is to look down at your rear derailleur and make sure it is parallel to your rear wheel. If it looks bent at all, you should bring your bike into your local shop and have them straighten it out.
A bent rear derailleur can cause your chain to jump into your wheel and get jammed up. This is pretty common on shipped ebikes. It’s easy for the rear derailleur to get bent a little in shipping.
The best practice is to have someone that is experienced with bikes, check your ebike over first.
#4 – Use Your Gears Properly
Electric bikes need to be ridden like regular bikes. Downshifting into lower gears before you come to a stop and before you get to a steep hill, will help you out a ton.
I see too many folks riding their ebikes in too high of a gear for the speed they are traveling.
Ebike motors are designed to work at their best when you are pedaling like normal. Just shift gears as you would on a normal bike and don’t rely on your motor to take up all the slack.
Just try starting out in your highest gear (if your shifter has a display for the gears this will be the highest number) and using your highest assist level, you will find it difficult to pedal.
You will want to shift gears while pedaling gently, you don’t want to have the change into a different gear while you are applying a lot of force on pedals. This may damage the chain and possibly bend the teeth on the gears.
#5 – Make Sure You Are Sitting in a Comfortable Riding Position
One of the great things about ebikes is that you set up your bike in the most comfortable position for you, and the motor will help you with propulsion.
The reason that we put people in a more “aggressive” riding position (when the saddle is high and you’re leaning more forward) is to increase riding efficiency.
With an ebike, this is no longer a factor.
You can set your ebike up so that you are as comfortable as possible and not lose any efficiency!
#6 – Be Mindful of Your Contact Points
What are your contact points? These include your grips, saddle, and pedals. The places where you make contact with your ebike.
As you ride for the first time try to be extra aware of how your grips feel and whether they need to be rotated or changed out to more comfortable ones. There are many different grips available these days.
Also, take heed as to how your hands are feeling. Do you think you may need to raise or lower your handlebars? Maybe even change out your handlebars to more comfortable ones. Most components on your bike can be changed.
Don’t feel like you’re stuck with the saddle, handlebars, grips, and pedals that came stock on the bike!
Pay attention to how your saddle feels. Are you having to scoot back or scoot forward? You may need to adjust the tilt of your seat. You can do this too! Saddles can even slide forward and back of the same seatpost. 🙂
Do your feet slide off your pedals? You can change those out to ones with more grip. Also, note how your hips feel after riding for a long time. If they are getting sore you may need to widen your pedals out a bit. (I know I had to)
Having your seat at a good height is also important. Too low, and your knees will feel it, and too high, you will feel it in the backs of your legs.
It should only take a ride or two to figure out if any of these things need attention and any local bike shop should be happy to help you out!
#7 – Make Changes to Your Ebike if Needed
This one goes right along with tip #6 above. As you are riding and you think something is out of place or if you may need to make some changes, take note. It may help to bring a notepad or take notes on your phone. (I will often forget until the next ride)
Often you’ll find that just getting a more comfy saddle can mean the difference between you being able to ride at all or not.
Sometimes I’ve just tilted someone’s saddle a little and it made all the difference.
Your ebike should feel like home when you get ready for a great ride!
#8 – Regularly Check Your Tire Pressure
Did you know that having the proper tire pressure can give you better range on your battery?
All tires lose air over time and will need to be topped off on occasion. My rule is if I can’t remember the last time I put air in my tires then it’s the right time to put air in them. 🙂
Properly inflated tires on an ebike are safer and will last you longer.
I like to have a floor pump sitting by where I store my bike. This way I always have to see it before every ride and will be sure to actually use it more often.
This is the SKS Rennkompressor Floor Pump!
This is the most durable pump I’ve seen. It has a wooden handle and the rest is all metal. The footpad has a rubber grip and it can be folded up for easy storage and it will last you for decades!
#9 – Keep Your Chain Cleaned and Lubed
Keeping your chain as clean as you can allows your bike to shift better and your chain will last longer.
It is just a good habit to get into if you want to get the best riding experience. I just wipe my chain off after rinsing my ebike.
Then, when it’s all clean, add some fresh chain lube to it. That way it’s ready for my next ride.
Your bike chain likes to be moving freely and after a while, it can get all gunky from dust and dirt you pick up out riding. The dirtier it is, the harder it is to pedal and shift.
Every once in a while, just take a little time and inspect your drive train. This includes your chain and gears. If they are looking pretty gunky or rusty, then it’s a good time to clean them up!
#10 – Stop and Stretch On Occasion
I always like to find park benches while I’m riding that I can stop and take a break at, then stretch my legs out a little.
It’s easy to just get right on riding and never stop and stretch out. You don’t have to do this all the time, but a little stretching will keep your legs from getting sore and allow you to take a short break from riding.
Sometimes as I’m riding and my legs start to poop out, I will just take a little rest break and stretch them out nice and good. Afterward, I always notice an increase in energy, it’s like a free cup of coffee.
Your legs will feel re-energized and ready to keep riding!
#11 – Smile and Wave at Folks 🙂
As electric bikes gain attention you will probably notice some people checking you out as you ride by.
I always try to smile and wave at folks as I pass them and let them know that most of us ebikers are courteous and friendly.
Because of the random inconsiderate person flying by on an ebike, electric bikes have gotten a bit of a bad rap in the cycling world.
I just want folks to know that it’s not the bike, it’s the rider.
If we want ebikes to be allowed more places then we need to change the narrative!
Plus, I’m a big advocate for electric bikes and want others to know just how much fun I’m having so they will consider getting an ebike of their own.
At the End of the Day
I hope some of these tips will help you to ride your pedal assist ebike a little better and give you a better riding experience overall.
As you ride more you will notice that you are automatically pedaling more and more without even trying. Your legs are getting stronger and should even see improved range on your battery.
If you are already doing most of these things then I commend you!
Stay safe out there and keep on riding!