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Staying safe while enjoying your electric bike rides

Staying safe while enjoying your electric bike rides

May 16, 2022 | Pete Prebus

Riding an eBike is a ton of fun, but it also comes with the responsibility of riding safely. Safety talk is not the most fun and exciting topic but in this case there is some gear that can add some style and fun to your electric bike, while enhancing your safety.

For instance lighting that helps with being seen can also add some really cool accents that will have others taking a second look. While helmets these days come in many different colors and types so you can add some style to your riding outfit.

Riding safely also comes down to picking a good route, checking your eBikes' operation, and keeping an eye out for problems along the way. 

This article will give you a good list of safety items to check off and hopefully some fun ideas for future electric bike accessories that can improve your ability to ride safely.

Lighting up the Day and Night

Bike lights have really improved a lot over the years with advancements in LED bulbs and lithium batteries. They can be super bright and they are amazingly small for the light they produce. This type of light comes in styles for the front of your eBike - usually mounted on the handlebar, and for the rear of your eBike, often mounted to the seatpost or back of a rear rack, if installed.

Some eBikes come equipped with integrated lights that run off of the eBike battery, so that you don't have to worry about charging separate batteries for the lights. While these lights will slightly reduce the range of your eBike, it's a worthwhile trade-off.

Bike lights have also evolved to be versatile for day and night riding. Night riding is the most obvious use of lights but the flashing mode for both front and rear lights really helps to be seen on the road during the day. Some of these lights have extra bright flashing modes that really make you noticeable even on a very sunny day.

Lights have also migrated to other areas of the bike and riding accessories. For instance there are wheel lights that create some fun patterns as the wheels turn and definitely help you to be noticeable from the side profile.

Pedals have also become a place for lights that are very noticeable as they move with the motion of the cranks.

Lights installed at the end of the handlebar add some additional detail for being seen from different angles. Frame lights are another flashy and creative way to add style and eye-catching safety to your bike.

There are also a number of helmets that have lights for extra attention grabbing detail. Flashing lights at the head level along with movement when you move your head really helps to be noticeable on the road.

Another way to customize the location of the lights is to get a light with a clip for attaching to your clothes or pack. There are a lot of economical light options to help you see and be seen out on the open road.

Be Reflective

Another tool in the "being seen" category are reflectors on the bike and on clothing and packs.

Most eBikes, like Denago, come equipped with front, rear, and wheel reflectors that help with being seen as other lights light them up. These are generally required by law and you should install reflectors - but they aren't a substitute for real lights, which you should install and use when riding at night.

Cycling clothing usually has some form of reflective material built into the garment and that is also true for a lot of bike bags. Some riders opt to go with safety vests that are high visibility colors for day visibility along with reflective material for night riding.

There are also pant leg straps that have built in reflective material and they are very noticeable as the motion of pedaling makes them stand out. Plus they help keep your pant legs out of the chain and chainring area.

Make Some Noise!

Making yourself heard is another great way to ride safely and courteously let others know you are passing.

The bike bell is the classic audible notification and even bells have evolved over the years. There are the classic larger bells that have a nice ring to them and can even add some unique style to your eBike.

Some of the newer bells are super small but they put out a loud and long lasting ring to alert even those other riders or pedestrians with headphones on!

Horns are still an option and could be a fun way to add some vintage style to your eBike.

There are some horns that have pressurized air canisters for a super loud sound - but you may want to use that sparingly so that you don’t give someone a heart attack!

When passing another rider or a pedestrian it is a good idea to give them the heads up with the bell or horn and then let them know you are passing. In countries where we drive/ride on the right (like the USA) you should pass on the left.

Wear Your Helmet

Wearing your helmet while riding your eBike is like wearing a seatbelt when you are driving your car. It is just the thing you do to stay safe out on the road. Wearing a helmet isn't just a good idea, it's actually the law in many locations, depending on your age, and even which class of eBike you're riding! Check to be sure you understand the requirements before you ride.

Helmets have come a long way from the original designs. They are generally pretty light, breathable, and comfortable with the many adjustments that are available to keep them comfy.

In addition there are a bunch of different colors and styles to choose from. Some of the kids helmets have fun styles that will make a younger rider actually want to wear a helmet!

As we talked about before, some helmets have front and/or rear LED lights built in for extra attention grabbing effect for riding during the day or night.

If you want to go high-tech there are some “smart bike helmets” with built in speakers and a microphone for intercom between riders and connectivity to a smartphone for calls, directions, and more. Additionally some smart bike helmets have an SOS feature that will alert an emergency contact if you crash.

One of the most important aspects of wearing a helmet is to make sure it is sized and adjusted to fit your head properly per the helmet manufacturer’s instructions.

Pick a Safe Route

Avoiding high car traffic routes is a good start to having a safe and fun ride. Good bike routes are generally along slower speed residential streets and dedicated bike pathways.

Google Maps is a good way to plot out a route with their bicycling mode that will suggest routes that are safer and better for bikes. Google Maps can help you avoid hills, tunnels, and can steer you toward separated bike paths in your community too.

There are a lot of other bike route tools available in this article, including some handy apps you can install on your mobile phone to take with you while riding.

Ride Check

Before every ride it is a good idea to do a quick safety check of your electric bike to make sure it is ready to roll.

First off is to make sure the tires are inflated to an appropriate pressure. That is generally the pressure recommended in your instruction manual, or the pressure range listed on the sidewall of the tires.

Investing in a quality bike floor pump is a good way to make adding a bit of air an easy task. It’s also a good idea to have a small bike pump that can attach to the frame or be transported with you in a backpack.

Next, it is good to check your brakes by walking with your bike and squeezing each brake lever to make sure they are engaging and they are providing good stopping power. If not, take your bike to your local bike dealer for an inspection.

Following 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.

And here is a summary of those for quick reference:

  • Obey all traffic signs, signals, lane markings.
  • Signal your turns, slowing, and stopping.
  • Ride on the right side of the road or path but watch out for car doors that could open.
  • Pass on the left and give others a significant heads up that you are passing.
  • Go with the flow of traffic.
  • Watch your speed and slow down on congested paths and bikeways.
  • Ride predictably, don’t weave in and out of traffic, use your hand signals, and don’t make sudden stops for no reason.
  • Ride defensively and try to anticipate what automobiles, other riders, and pedestrians will do to avoid a collision.
  • Watch out for potholes, rocks, and other debris in the road and avoid them while watching out for others along your pathway.
  • Give yourself more stopping distance and try not to slam on the brakes when the road is wet.

Those are the basics and they are much like the rules of the road when driving a car.

Enjoy Your Safe eBike Rides!

Once you have had a chance to implement these riding safety techniques a few times they really become second nature. With these safety techniques and tools you can continue to enjoy your many eBikes rides to come.

Plus, some of the safety gear can add some fun style to your electric bike.

Enjoy your rides!

-Pete