Imagine a world where instead of dreading your commute to work or school you could actually look forward to it? Shocking, I know! Instead of sitting in traffic stressing about being late for work you could enjoy a fun ride on an electric bike knowing that you will get to work on time because there is no traffic on your route.
Electric bikes make commuting by bike very feasible by removing the typical concerns of riding up hills, into headwinds, and arriving at work or school sweaty. In addition the electric assist helps you to maintain a higher average speed and arrive in a predictable timeframe.
When you add in some moderate exercise and enjoy the fresh air you will get from the ride to and from work it is a great way to get some physical and mental health benefits as well.
The electric assist really turbocharges the advantages of bike commuting and makes an eBike a great commuter vehicle.
eBike commuting can also save money on gas, maintenance, and parking fees. The savings can be so significant that they can offset the price of an eBike within a year. That is a good return on investment! Here is an article with a closer look at how the savings add up when commuting by electric bike.
Commuting by eBike is a win in so many ways and in this article we will cover some tips to make your eBike commute easy and fun.
The best routes for eBike commuters
The first part of a good eBike commute is mapping out a safe and convenient route to work or school.
It is important to remember that you will most likely be riding a different route than a typical car route; you won’t be riding along a super busy road that is a main car route. Bike routes generally take less trafficked neighborhood streets and bike paths that make riding safer and fun to explore.
Google Maps is a good starting point for finding a good route with their biking feature that recommends safe bike routes. Your city or town may also have a bike map with recommended routes across town.
Here is a more in-depth article on finding good bike routes that includes other route finding tools. Some come in app form so you can easily bring them along on your mobile phone.
Another benefit of riding along good bike routes is that you may be exploring new areas of your city or town along the way to work or school. This can be a fun way to checkout parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and other local places along the way or bookmark them for exploring later.
Riding an electric bike is also more engaging than traveling in a car. You have more opportunities to say “Hi” to pedestrians and fellow bike riders which is a great way to get to know your neighbors and others in your community.
How far can I ride on a charge?
Most modern electric bikes have a range of 25 to 40 miles of range depending on the amount of hills, weight of the rider, and pedal assist or throttle level used.
That kind of range should cover most roundtrip commutes in addition to some errand running along the way. We have an eBike range calculator you can use to get an estimate based on the specs of your eBike and your riding style.
If the estimate doesn't meet your range requirements, you have a couple options:
- Bring your charger with you and top off the battery during the workday.
- Buy a second charger and leave it at the office for convenience.
- Bring a second battery on your trips, allowing you to swap to a fresh battery without waiting for charging.
Most electric bikes have a removable battery so you can bring just the battery in for charging instead of the whole bike.
If your commute is really far you may want to consider the option of a hybrid commute where you drive or use mass transit for some of the commute combined with using your electric bike for the other leg of the trip. For instance you could drive from home to a convenient parking area on the outskirts of the city and eBike the rest of the way to avoid bad traffic and parking issues. Here is a guide to car racks rated for eBikes so you can buy a compatible one for your car or truck.
If you do use mass transit combined with your eBike, double check the rules for carrying an electric bike on board the vehicle (bus, train, ferry) before you go.
Packing work clothes on your bike
For those who need to wear professional work clothing, there are a lot of cargo carrying options for transporting the clothes on the bike and then changing when you arrive at work.
There are some bike rack bags (panniers) that are specifically designed to carry professional clothes to make sure the clothes stay wrinkle-free, clean, and dry. They are also easy to hang up on a door hook for getting dressed at work.
Another option is using general all purpose waterproof bike bags for carrying work clothes that have been rolled up to prevent wrinkles.
A great trick for car owners is to drive to the office on Monday with a full work-week worth of clean clothes. That way you don't have to carry them on the bike, saving weight and packing time. Next time you drive to the office, bring all the dirty laundry home in the car.
Showering at Work?
Some workplaces offer showers for their employees and this can be a great thing for the average bicycle commuter but you probably won’t need that as an electric bike commuter. Electric bikes are great because you can set how much of a workout you want to get with the various levels of pedal assist and/or throttle.
For instance you can set the pedal assist to the higher levels for getting to work with no sweat. That way you arrive presentable and ready to go. If you need to you can quickly change into work clothes, if that applies to you.
To get some exercise and relieve some stress you can set a lower pedal assist level for more of a workout on the ride home. It's a good way to unwind from the day and arrive home with some good mental space between work and home.
What if it Rains?
Rain is a good argument for skipping the eBike commute but there are options to help you ride and stay dry. Many eBikes come with fenders or have attachment options to add fenders to help keep you dry on wet roads.
There are also a lot of good rain jackets and rain pants that can help with staying dry and in some cases they can help you stay visible on the road with their high visibility colors and/or reflective material.
Whether you decide to ride in the rain may depend on how hard it is raining and if you decide to tough it out. Sometimes it is just more convenient to drive or take mass transit on a day of heavy rain, nothing wrong with that!
Being seen on the road day and night is another important part of eBike commuting. There is a lot of gear available that can help with that including:
- High visibility & reflective clothing
- High visibility backpacks and messenger bags
- Bright and flashing lights and reflectors on the bike
- Lights and reflectors built into the helmet
Also being heard is another important part of letting pedestrians and fellow riders know you are passing. A bike bell or horn along with a “passing on the left” is a nice way to give someone a heads up that you are there.
Here is another article that will give you more in-depth ideas on the kinds of gear that is available and other tips on staying safe on your eBike rides.
Riding at Night
As mentioned above, being seen on the road day and night can be accomplished with a lot of high visibility gear that is available these days. Some of the lights can add some fun and unique styling to your electric bike while giving you many angles of being seen from the front, back, and sides.
A good setup for seeing the road at night is a bright LED front light with a wide beam. Some electric bikes come stock with front and rear lights that are powered by the eBike battery so you don’t have to worry about charging separate batteries for the lights.
Like driving at night, riding at night can have an effect on your reaction time to braking or avoiding an obstacle because of the limited sight distance. With that in mind it's a good idea to ride a little slower so you have more time to react to an issue on the road.
Like wearing a seat belt in a car, wearing a helmet on your bike is just what you do. In some locations it is the law depending on your age and which class of eBike you're riding. Check your local rules before you ride.
Helmets have really improved a lot over the years with features like being light, breathable, and comfortable with many adjustment options. There are a bunch of styles and colors to choose from to match your look.
Some helmets have built in technology from high visibility lighting to smartphone integration for making and receiving calls, turn by turn directions, and more!
The most important part of wearing a helmet is to make sure it is sized and adjusted to fit your head properly per the helmet manufacturer’s instructions.
Keeping Your eBike Secure
Making sure your electric bike is safe while you are at work or school is an important part of the commute. There are U-Locks And Cable/Chain Locks that can provide a good amount of protection from theft.
If you go high-tech there are some eBikes with built in GPS trackers or trackers that can be added to an existing eBike. Some workplaces and schools allow you to bring your bike inside which can be a great way to keep it out of sight and safe.
The Rules of the Road
People for Bikes put together the following video that highlights the common rules of the road for bike and eBike riders.
Those are the basics and they are much like the rules of the road when driving a car.
Enjoy Your Commute!
Commuting by electric bike can be a lot of fun while saving you money and making a task that can be stressful something to look forward to.
These tips should help you get a good start to commuting by electric bike. Please share this article with friends or family who also may be interested in eBike commuting.
Enjoy your rides!