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This article was originally posted on Electric Bike Report on June 20, 2015

One of the many things people consider when making a lifestyle change is how to make their commute to work simpler and less of a hassle.

They think: wouldn’t it be great to eliminate the pain of being stuck in traffic and then parking your car. The expense of gas, maintenance, tolls, and parking.

Or waiting for public transit and making connections that slow them down.

There are health reasons too. Why drive to the gym before or after work, again sitting in traffic when you can just get your exercise during the commute?

Often, they think about it but then can’t figure out how to make it work. The distances are too long or the terrain too hilly. Maybe they’re worried about how to deal with getting sweaty.

In this post, I’m here to show you that it’s possible for almost anyone to do at least some of their commuting by bike, particularly on an electric bike. In some situations, it may even be a year-round mode of transportation.

There are three major areas of consideration when getting started:

  • You and your comfort
  • Your route.
  • Your equipment.

First, you and your comfort.

This is partially about gear, and partially about your route, but both of those things are very important for your comfort.

Firstly, your bike needs to fit you well. Your clothing should also work for you, not against you. You need to be seen and safe to feel confident on the road. You need to know you “belong” on the roads and that they’re there for your use, no matter how you are traveling.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room: Sweat!

Most of us need to show up at work clean and not dripping in sweat. But how to do this?

Well, there are many, many options, depending on your situation and facilities available to you.

Firstly, is there a place at your work to take a shower? Many workplaces have these and yours may be one of them. It may not be readily apparent, and you may need to go searching for it. Asking other cyclists at your workplace might prove enlightening. Or, ask the people in facilities or housekeeping. They might know as well.

But what if this isn’t an option? Well, all is not lost! One of the best inventions of the last 40 years is the now ubiquitous “baby wipe”. Keep a box of these in your desk or locker, and use one of the stalls in the washroom to freshen up. I like to wait a few minutes after I arrive at the office to cool down a little bit, and then change out of my cycling clothes, clean up using the towels, and then get dressed. This works really well and nobody will ever know you didn’t just come straight out of the shower!

Here too, an electric bike is a tool that makes riding to work easier:

Just don’t sweat at all, to begin with! When you’re riding in, take it easy and let the bike do the work for you. Pedal lightly, and dress in a way that keeps you cool. If you don’t exert more effort than you would by walking, you won’t sweat any more than you would walking. Often, it’s even less, as you’ve got that nice, cool 15 mph breeze coming over you. You’ll get your cardio exercise on the way home since you have a shower there!

When dressing for a ride, obviously you need to take the weather into account.

One thing I learned after many years of traveling by bike is that when dressing for cold weather, it’s important to make sure not to over-dress. If you aren’t slightly chilly when you start out, I guarantee you’ll end up way too warm very soon, likely within a couple of minutes. Layers are also your friend. Dress in layers; that way if you need more or less protection, you can add or remove an item of clothing. You don’t want to have to choose between freezing in your tee-shirt and sweating like crazy in your down parka.

Now, let’s talk about routes.

This is where the advice: “think outside the box” really starts to make sense.

It’s important to remember that what makes a good car route may not be a good bike route. When driving, we tend to focus on the roads that get us there most quickly, and we also consider the same thing when riding. However, there are differences.

One of the big ones is traffic lights and stop signs. When picking a route for our car, we look for trips that have a minimum number of these, as every one of them slows us down. Especially at rush hour, it’s not uncommon in many places to have to wait for several cycles of the light to get through the intersection.

On a bike, this isn’t as big of a problem. Just filter up on the right side of the road, being careful to watch for people turning right or opening car doors. This is important – getting “doored” is no fun, so when doing this, use caution. Some cyclists won’t even do this as they consider it too dangerous. I do it and find it works for me, but I do it slowly and carefully. Even if I go 5 MPH, that’s still faster than 0 MPH!

Please be aware that I’m not saying you should run red lights or blow through stop signs. This is illegal, unsafe, and inconsiderate. So follow the rules of the road. Since cyclists are less common than drivers, our offenses are more obvious to others when we make them. Don’t be one of those “bicyclists” that drivers hate! While this may seem unfair (what percentage of drivers on the highway are actually going the speed limit?) it’s a fact of life. We’re doing something different, and our infractions are more noticeable. Plus, you don’t want to get hurt, either.

Another thing to consider when thinking about this is that since we aren’t as worried about stop signs, red lights, and speed limits, that the best route may not be on the main road but through residential neighborhoods. In your car, you probably don’t want to drive on the adjacent residential streets with a 25 mph speed limit, when there’s a main road with a 40-50 mph speed limit right there. On a bike, you likely won’t be going over 20 MPH most of the time, so these speed limits don’t slow you down.

But, and this is the big point I want to make here: those roads are much more pleasant to ride on! So giving some thought to your route makes a big difference. Consider alternatives, like side streets, roads with bike lanes, and bike paths as well. I often use the “bicycling” mode of Google maps. It tries to build a nice, safe route for you, based on feedback from users about the roads. You can also drag the route around something you would prefer to avoid.

Now, this is where electric bikes give us even more options. What if the pleasant route is longer or hillier than the shortest route? Well, with an electric bike, this is much less of a concern. You’ll be going faster, and have assistance up those hills, so it opens up new route possibilities for you.

Here’s a personal example: I regularly need to make a trip that is around 15 miles each way by the shortest bicycle-legal route (not on the interstate). I could take the busy, 2-4 lane state highway with the 40-45 MPH speed limit and minimal to no shoulder, (Route 28 north of Boston, for those of you who are curious), but I don’t.

Riding on that road is no fun at all, and I say this as someone who’s used to riding in heavy traffic and has done so for decades. Fortunately, there’s another route that I can take that is about 18 miles long, and has more hills. But with an electric bike, I care a whole lot less about these factors. Result: a much nicer route that doesn’t stress me out.

In some situations you may not be able to eliminate all of the undesirable parts from your route; for example, there may be a river you need to cross, and there are only a few ways over it. Still, doing your best to minimize them sure helps a lot!

On the other hand, there may be routes that are impossible or difficult in a car, but doable on a bike. Dead end roads often have a short, old trail that cuts through to another dead end road. Sometimes, there’s that one pesky one way block that’s in the way. Ride carefully on the sidewalk or walk your bike. By the way, please remember that pedestrians have the right of way, so ride slowly and cautiously if you plan to do this.

Also, consider recreational paths. Sometimes, even cutting across a city park on the pathways can make a route feasible on a bike. Again, even if it makes your route longer, you might find it much more pleasant.

Finally, consider time. Make your estimates of travel time reasonable, so you won’t constantly be rushing. If you need to be at work at 9AM sharp, make sure you plan to arrive with time to spare, especially at first. While this applies to any method of commuting (how often have you cursed the traffic making you late in your car?), it can be even more important when cycling. Having to take risks to get there on time is not something you want to be doing. On the upside, bicycle commuting times can be more consistent and reliable than other modes since unexpectedly bad traffic slows you down less. Soon, you’ll have a good idea of how long it takes you, and can adjust your departure time.

One final note: try out any new route out before depending on it to get to work on time. Pick a non-workday and see how it works out for you, or, if you can’t do that, at least leave twice as much time as you think you’ll need. I recommend the first option. Since traffic will likely be lighter, you can concentrate more on the ride, and less on timing and traffic. It also gives you the option to make changes. For example, you might spot a potentially better route than one you planned. This gives you the time to explore that option.

Supply Chain In The Time of COVID-19

As the CEO of EVELO, I wanted to take a moment and share a bit about what goes on behind the scenes today in the bike industry to provide background context as to why some bikes may be out of stock and why you can pre-order them for a delivery a few weeks later.

What’s Going On Behind the Scenes?

As the COVID-19 pandemic causes shutdowns and stay-at-home enforcements around the U.S., similar events are occurring in other parts of the world. Every country is affected.

The bike industry has traditionally been a global one. There are dozens of components on every single bike, especially on electric ones, and they are sourced from multiple countries. For our bikes, we use components sourced from Europe, from Asia, and from the rest of the world.

We then work with our partner factories in Taiwan to assemble the bikes, do extensive quality control, and ship them to our warehouse in Seattle where they get distributed to our customers.

Today, this global supply chain has been affected by three key forces: 

  1. Reduced factory capacity – many of the factories in Taiwan are currently working at reduced capacity with less staff than usual to keep their employees safe.
  2. Reduced shipping capacity – as the global demand for goods plummeted, it has affected the ease and timelines of being able to reserve space on a ship and get it delivered to the U.S.
  3. Spike in demand – the bike industry is currently experiencing an unprecedented rise in demand. As more people are looking for an active pastime they can do on their own, the demand for electric bikes has more than doubled virtually overnight.

Meeting The Demand

We’ve been in business for nearly 10 years and are fortunate to have established supply chain partnerships in place.

To meet the increase in demand, we’re accelerating the production and delivery of our products in every way possible in an effort to get the electric bikes shipped to you faster.

In the short-term, as the bikes get sold, you may see some of our models get sold out of in-stock inventory. The good news is that we have multiple production runs already scheduled and in-progress. This means that more of the popular models are on the way and you have the option to reserve a model from the upcoming production run(s). Although there may still be a bit of a wait, it guarantees a specific bike that will be shipped to you as soon as we receive it in our warehouse facilities.

We want to make sure that every person that wants to have an electric bike at this unprecedented time can get one quickly. We know that it can be frustrating to have to wait, but since you’re making an investment into a product that you’ll enjoy for years to come, it’ll be well worth the wait.

In the meantime, you can discuss with our team which bike would be the best fit for you and place a pre-order to reserve a specific bike from the upcoming production run and ensure that it gets to you as soon as possible.

And of course, we’ll keep you posted with regular updates on the progress of your bike, so you’re aware of every step along the way.

If you have any questions, we encourage you to reach out and discuss your needs and preferences and we’ll be happy to help you make the decision that’s right for you.


With optimism,
Boris Mordkovich
CEO | EVELO

Any bike that gets ridden seriously as transportation or on long rides needs at least a basic tool/emergency kit, and the knowledge to use it unless the rider is always in a position to call a friend with a car or a cab when their bike needs a quick fix on the road. If you never travel more than a few miles, this can be overkill, and calling a friend or a cab may be just the ticket, but if you want to be more self-reliant, this is something you should seriously consider. This list may sound like an awful lot of stuff to carry, but really, it only weighs a few lbs and fits in a small, under-seat bag that comes off quickly so I don’t have to leave it with the bike if theft is a concern. If you always carry a regular rack top bag, you can also just put all this in a small nylon bag and throw it in there, but I prefer an under-seat bag.

We’ve already discussed the Topeak ALiEN 2 multi-tool, but what else should you carry?

HERE’S WHAT I HAVE IN MY TOOLKIT:

Multi-tool: Again, I use the ALiEN, but there are lots of good options if you prefer something else.


Mini Pump: This actually goes on the frame of your bike, as it’s a bit too big for most under-seat bags. Coming soon, we’ll have a review from Bill of his very favorite one, but a good pump is a lifesaver. Some people instead carry a CO2 inflator, which is faster and easier to use but does require disposable cartridges, and each time you have a flat, you’ll need at least 2 of those cartridges. There are combined pump/inflator tools that we’ll also talk about soon.

Patch kit: Patch kits are easy to use, light and compact, and if you get more than one flat on a ride (it happens more than you’d expect), it can save you when you’ve already used your spare tube. Plus, on a rear wheel, patching a tube can be faster than replacing it, as you can often do this without removing the wheel at all. Another upcoming post is going to show you how to patch a tube.

Spare tube: Sometimes, a tube is just too damaged to be patched, or has had a failure such as the valve stem breaking off which isn’t something that can be patched. To save weight and space, I usually keep a lightweight version of the right size tube for my bike. Since one of the first things I do with most bikes that I own is switch them over to heavy-duty thorn resistant tubes, I just take one of the originals and put that in the toolkit.

Tire levers: Needed for removing the tire for patching. One of the reasons I like the ALiEN is that it has built-in levers. Dedicated levers aren’t expensive, though, and they’re lightweight, too. Also, they tend to be longer, and therefore have more leverage, so they’re often easier to use if you have limited hand strength.

A wrench that fits the hub nuts: If your bike has quick-release front and rear wheels, you don’t need this, but if you have an internal hub on the back, such as the NuVinci, a wrench that fits is a great idea. 99% of the time, this is a 15mm wrench, but you should check your bike. A 6-inch adjustable wrench can also work, but it will be heavier, and when using an adjustable wrench, you do need to take more care to not round over the nuts. A fixed wrench is the best choice. Some multi-tools have a 15 mm wrench built-in, but again, if you have limited hand strength, something with more leverage is a great idea.

A small length of duct tape: I wrap a 6” length around my wrench, or you can use a pencil as well. This is in case you get a tear in the side of a tire – a “boot” made of duct tape can be the difference between riding home, and walking!

A spare battery fuse or 2: Not for every bike of course, but this is the EVELO blog!

A few zip ties: In case something comes loose, it’s nice to have a few zip ties. I usually carry about a dozen 8” long ones and a half dozen 4” small ones. They weigh almost nothing and a huge number of uses!

A pair of disposable latex gloves: Not absolutely necessary, but good for keeping grease and grime off your hands during a repair. Also, nice to have in an emergency when it starts raining and the temperature drops 20 degrees and you don’t have a pair of regular gloves. Just keeping your hands dry and the wind from directly blowing on them makes a huge difference in comfort.

Pencil and paper: In case I need to make a note of something, for example, a license plate number, or the phone # of the nearest cab company after I get that from directory assistance. I keep this in a small ziplock bag to keep it dry, along with the next item:

Change and a $20 bill: In case your cell phone’s battery dies, it’s nice to still be able to use a payphone if you need to. Also, the $20 is a great thing to have in case you lose your wallet or have some other mishap. I’d rather be able to sit in a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant when it starts raining while I’m waiting for my friend or cab ride, and a hot cup of tea or coffee or the beverage of your choice and a snack makes it all the more pleasant. Just try to remember, this is for emergencies, and if you use it, replace it ASAP!

For the budding mechanic: A good pocket-sized repair guide. One good option is the “Pocket Guide to Emergency Bicycle Repair” by Ron Cordes and Eric Grove. It’s only 3.5×4.5 inches and a half-inch thick. I don’t carry this myself, but for someone who’s new to this whole bike repair business, it’s really helpful to have. A future blog post will cover this book in detail.

Basic first aid supplies: A few bandages of varying sizes. 6 Aspirin, or other OTC painkiller of choice. A few alcohol pads in sealed foil packs, useful for cleaning grease off grease and grit off of the bike, and also cleaning cuts on yourself if you take a spill. 1 day supply of any prescription drugs you need to take regularly. Wrap these up in tinfoil and tuck away. It might just save your day.

A plastic garbage bag, or $2 disposable poncho: Just in case of an unexpected downpour or getting caught out after dark. More than once, I’ve gone for a ride on a beautiful day with a perfect forecast, not taken a jacket, and had the weather go south on me. Being able to cover up can mean the difference between just mild discomfort or freezing cold, shivering ride home!

Keychain style flashlight or headlamp, LED type, not incandescent: The keychain style is tiny and lightweight, the headlamp style is a bit bulkier but easier to use. You can get these for a couple of bucks or less at the local big box hardware store. The LED ones are lighter, more durable, and last considerably longer. Very useful if you need to make a repair after dark! I keep a keychain style one as a backup as I normally have a headlamp in my backpack.

AND A FEW THINGS FOR THE MORE ADVANCED MECHANIC:

Spare brake cable

Spare shifter cable

A short length of the right size chain.

A small tube of liquid lip balm. Usually, these are around 1/3 ounce, and in addition to being nice on chapped lips, it’s an easy way to carry a tiny quantity of lubricant in case my chain starts squeaking or a cable starts sticking. Just be sure to properly clean and lube whatever you used it on when you get home!

This often sounds like an awful lot to carry to many riders and sometimes even I go for a ride without this whole kit. The absolute bare minimum I will ever go for a ride that I wouldn’t want to have to walk home from is a patch kit, tire pump, and multi-tool. Anything over 3 miles and I want the full toolkit.

One final thing to remember: If you’re riding with friends, not everyone has to carry a complete kit. I’d still personally bring my minimalist kit, no matter what.

In future posts, we’ll go into more detail on how to use these tools and recommendations for particular ones.

If you want to know how fast or powerful an electric bike will be, you need to understand watts (W), volts (V), and amp-hours (Ah) as these energy measurements apply to ebike motors and batteries.

Otherwise, “attempting to compare ebike power ratings is a great way to lose your sanity. That’s because ‘rated power,’ the metric some manufacturers use, doesn’t equal a motor’s actual power output or maximum potential power output,” wrote Dan Roe in Bicycling magazine.

Rather, as an electric bike owner or shopper, you need to understand how these electrical measurements impact an ebike’s performance. This is especially helpful if you are comparing electric bikes for a new purchase. Let’s look at a brief definition of each of these electrical measurements and describe how the motor or battery impact performance.

Electric Bikes: Watts

In most cases, the watt rating on an electric bike motor describes how much energy the motor can handle (or consume) continuously. This continuous watt rating is different from a peak watt rating that describes how much energy the motor can manage (or, again consume) for short periods of time.

An electric bike motor might reach its peak watt rating when under stress, climbing a steep hill or similar.

So, when you compare electric bikes first be certain whether continuous or peak watts are being reported. In some cases, you will see both, as an example, the motor on the EVELO Delta X electric bike is rated for 750 watts of continuous power but has a peak rating of 1,000 watts.

CONFIGURATION IMPACTS POWER

While there can be a relationship between the wattage rating for the electric bike motor and how “powerful” an electric bike may feel, the amount of power at the wheel can differ greatly for motors with identical watt ratings depending on the ebike’s configuration.

In fact, a wattage rating may be the least indicative measurement of the those we are considering in this article since an ebike’s controller and battery can have a lot more to do with how an electric bike feels when ridden.

One of the best examples of the difference between a motor’s wattage rating and how an electric bike will perform can be found when you compare mid-drive and hub-drive electric bikes.

“A hub motor is situated in the hub of one of the bike’s wheels, providing propulsion by spinning whichever wheel to which it’s attached. As electric bikes first began gaining popularity, these were the most frequently used type of motor,” explains chapter five of “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

In contrast, “mid-drive motors drive power to the bike’s drivetrain, typically at the crankset. By directly powering the bike’s cranks, mid-drive motors work in tight coordination with the bike’s already existing gears, amplifying the mechanical advantage they provide. This becomes particularly helpful when it comes to climbing steep hills or navigating extended inclines,” according to the buyer’s guide.

Thus, an electric bike with a mid-drive motor rated for, perhaps, 350W of continuous energy may have more “power” than a 500W or even 750W hub-drive electric bike in some cases.

Electric Bikes: Volts

“Volts are a measurement of tension. How much pressure can be contained in the battery,” explained Michael Geurts, a partner at Blue Monkey Bikes, in an excellent video about electric bike power.

The electric tension Geurts is describing is really the potential power (electromotive force) in an electric bike system. Often, this electrical tension or pressure is described with a “water-flow analogy.” Basically, if you can imagine how water pressure builds up in a pipe, you can understand the voltage.

YouTube publisher, Gary Chang, has a good video describing all the parts of an electric circuit with a water-flow analogy. In the video, you will see how volts represent the pressure in the circuit.

In terms of electric bikes, “batteries usually have volts in sequences of 12 such as 12, 24, 36, 48,” said Geurts, adding, “volts pretty much mean power — how powerful a battery can be, but it also lends to top speed.”

“A 48V battery will not likely propel an electric bike 50 miles per hour because it simply doesn’t have enough pressure to rotate a wheel that many revolutions. If you climb up steep hills, a 48V battery will outperform a 36V because the 36 [volt] system will be working harder to produce the same results,” Geurts said.

It is possible to have too many volts. “If you have a 72V battery that is only propelling a system at 20 miles per hour then that means that you have unused voltage or really underutilized voltage in that system,” Geurts said.

Given what you now know about volts, you should understand why it can become very important to look at the number of volts in an electric bike battery relative to the bicycle’s entire configuration. You want the battery and motor to work together to get the desired performance.

Electric Bikes: Amp Hours

Amp-hours are an indication of the capacity of the electric bike’s battery. You might even think of amp-hours as the fuel tank or the range for the bike.

First, an ampere or amp is the base unit for measuring electrical current or load.

“A battery with a capacity of 1 amp-hour should be able to continuously supply a current of 1 amp to a load for exactly 1 hour, or 2 amps for 1/2 hour, or 1/3 amp for 3 hours, etc., before becoming completely discharged,” wrote Tony R. Kuphaldt in the “Lessons in Electric Circuits” textbook available on All About Circuits.

“In an ideal battery, this relationship between continuous current and discharge time is stable and absolute, but real batteries don’t behave exactly as this simple linear formula would indicate. Therefore, when amp-hour capacity is given for a battery, it is specified at either a given current, given time, or assumed to be rated for a time period of 8 hours (if no limiting factor is given),” Kuphaldt wrote.

For an electric bike “higher amp hours generally means higher range,” said Geurts. But it “is not an exact mathematical formula for volts and speed and amp-hours and distance…bikes and especially riders are not that precise.”

Here is an example.

“They do a Georgia Century Ride here where they actually close Georgia 400 down, which is a major expressway. …You get to choose from a nine-mile ride, a 22-mile ride, a 45-mile ride, a 62-mile ride, or a hundred-mile ride, and I did the 62-mile ride on the [EVELO] Delta and still had battery juice leftover because I did a lot of the work myself because I wanted a really good workout,” said Steve Brown in an EVELO testimonial.

Brown effectively got more range out of his Delta electric bike in the Georgia Century Ride by pedaling more. Range and even speed then is not completely based on the electric bike alone but includes the pedal power (many adults produce between 150W and 200W with their legs) and the electric bike’s drive system.

When you compare amp hours for one electric bike against another you need to understand, as Kuphaldt described, how amp-hours are expressed, and you need to consider range as a function of the entire electric bike system.

Electric Bike: Watt, Volt, and Amp Hour Resources

Hopefully, this article has helped you to better understand watts, volts, and amp hours as they impact the speed, power, and range of an electric bike. But if you want to learn more, here are several, hand-picked watt, volt, and amp-hour resources.

In today’s installment of our 3 Minute Electric Bike Video Series, where we demystify electric bikes we are talking about why more electric bikes don’t offer regenerative braking on their bikes.

It is often referred to as “regen braking” for short and so upfront I want you to know that although it is definitely possible, it’s really not an efficient or practical and there’s a number of reasons why.

Regenerative brakes require a Direct Drive Motor, which is a different type of motor than you see in typical electric bikes. These motors are very heavy in comparison to the other types of motors out there. Since electric bikes tend to be heavier than their traditional counterparts, this makes a difference in the distance you will be able to go on our charge.

In addition, Direct Drive Motors doesn’t offer a freewheeling mechanism that will insulate the rider from the motor. That’s fine as long as your battery has charge. Once your battery runs out of charge it means that as you pedal, not only do need to move yourself and the bike, but you also need to push against the resistance of the motor. It really makes for some hard going!

Over the course of a single charge, you are only really going to get back about 5% of the overall charge of the battery. So let’s say that you normally get 30 miles per charge on a ride, 5% of that is 1.5 miles! You have to question, is it really worth the additional weight and the resistance of pedaling a Direct Drive Motor to gain just a mile and a half?

The next problem with regenerative braking is that it causes significant heat when charging. When you are actually cruising downhill and pushing current back into the battery there is a lot of heat generated within the battery itself. Heat is not good for lithium batteries, it breaks down the overall lifecycle of the battery and it’s generally not good for it.

Finally, there are a lot of forces produced by Direct Drive Motors. Most electric bike frames are made out of aluminum which can fatigue over time, especially the dropouts which are the places that the axle engages the frame.

Regenerative braking, even though it sounds great on paper and you think you could ride forever with it, the reality is it’s just not that practical.

I hope I’ve given you a good look at how regenerative braking works and why it’s not practical for electric bikes!

Slippery roads, biting wind, and low visibility can make biking in the rain more challenging than a sunny-day ride. But, in most cases, a few drops of rain shouldn’t stop you from touring the countryside, commuting, or simply enjoying your electric bike.

Imagine it is a Friday afternoon and you’re having lunch with friends at Naam Thai Cuisine on 34th Avenue between Pike and Union in Seattle. The day started relatively sunny for Seattle in December and your EVELO Delta X electric bike is chained up just outside.

Just as your yellow curry with tofu arrives at the table, the weather turns, and a steady drizzle begins to fall. After lunch (which included an extra order of rangoons), you have a choice. You can abandon your bike and Uber back to the office or you can ride your electric bike in the rain. You choose the latter.

Rain isn’t going to stop you. This is especially true if you have taken time to prepare your electric bike, yourself, and your gear for rainy rides before clouds appear. Do this and you should be able to avoid getting cold, wet, chaffed, or worst of all broken.

Tip No. 1: Use Fenders

Electric bikes, like their conventional cousins, are generally resistant to rain. The drivetrain will survive splashes. The battery won’t fail because of raindrops alone. But that doesn’t mean that you want to spray water and debris from the road all over yourself and your electric bike’s many and various components.


Simply put, if you are a bicycle commuter or if you know you’re going to be riding in regions prone to rain, you will want fenders.

Fenders will keep the rain off of you and your bike.

Tip No. 2: Weatherproof Yourself

“The hardest part about riding in wet or cold weather is taking the first pedal stroke. Once you actually get riding, it’s not so bad,” said David Dye, an agent with EVELO’s industry-leading customer service team.

“At its most basic, you need to stay warm. Staying dry definitely contributes to that as well, but I find it less important.”

Dye recommends starting with a hat. “A cycling cap has just enough of a brim to keep the rain out of your eyes so you can still see, but also fits under your helmet. Get a wool one when it’s cold; bonus points for ear flaps.”

Next up, you’ll want gloves. “Gloves are so important that I will take a spare pair if I know I’m going to be out for a long time or if it’s raining really hard,” Dye said.

Look for good quality water-resistant gloves that will keep your hands warm and dry. Popular materials include Gore-tex or in extreme cases neoprene.

Your rain-resistant jacket or coat should strike a balance between keeping you warm and making you sweaty. You may even want to consider layering fleece, wool, polyester, or bamboo-based viscose fabrics so that you can vent or remove layers as conditions change.

Add rain pants or waterproof shoes to make the ride even more comfortable.

Tip No. 3: Weatherproof Your Stuff

Let’s imagine a hypothetical ride. It’s Saturday, and you decide to head downtown and check out some of the second-hand stores. At one place you find a pastel suit jacket that reminds you of Don Johnson in Miami Vice. Another store has a vintage lava lamp you can’t live without, but the real find is a dusty box of records in a consignment shop.

You discover a nearly perfect copy Curtis Fuller’s the Opener on Blue Note Records. It’s worth about $3,100 in mint condition. You buy it for a measly $20, put it in a canvas bag, and start the ride home. That is when the rain falls.

The point is clear, you want to be able to keep your stuff dry when you ride wet, whether that stuff is a classic vinyl record, a paperback novel, or your laptop.

For many electric bike riders, the best choice will be seam-sealed waterproof pannier bag, backpack, or shoulder bag. It can also be a good idea to have a few ziplock bags on hand. A small laptop will fit in a large freezer bag. An iPhone or Android fits in a typical sandwich bag.

Tip No. 4: Use Lights

When you ride your electric bike in the rain, you are sharing roads with lots of other vehicles. There are cars, trucks, vans, and buses. In some cities, there will be plenty of other cyclists and lots of folks on Lime or Bird scooters.

Each traveler is also dealing with the challenges of driving, riding, or otherwise getting around in the rain. Among these challenges is visibility and having lights will help. In fact, in many places, the law requires you to have lights on your electric bike in the rain.

Typically, you will want a front-facing white light bright enough that it can be seen at least 500 feet away. Aim this headlight straight ahead. You will also want a red tail light that can be seen from about 500 or 600 feet.

To these, consider adding a blinking light on your helmet, rack, handlebars, or pannier bags.

Tip No. 5: Lower Tire Pressure

Many experienced cyclists, including those on electric bikes, adjust tire pressure to match road conditions.

“On new pavement, your tires might feel great at 100 psi, but on a rough road, they might roll faster at 90 psi,” wrote Lee McCormack and Joe Lindsey in an August 2018 Bicycling article.

“In wet conditions, you may want to run 10 psi less than usual for improved traction.”

The idea is simple. The somewhat lower tire pressure allows more of the tire to come into contact with the road, thereby, giving your electric bike a better grip.

Tip No. 6: Slow Down

Riding in the rain can be invigorating. Perhaps, it is the cool drops on your skin. Or maybe you instinctively understand that riding harder and faster actually keeps you warmer. But in each case, you want to try to avoid going too fast when you ride your electric bike in the rain.

Wet roads and somewhat worse visibility can mean that you won’t have as much time to react. This can actually be more true on an ebike than on a conventional bicycle since electric bikes with pedal-assist and power-on-demand capabilities have the potential to maintain higher average speeds in all weather conditions.

So here is your tip, take a bit more time. Ride a little slower and more carefully when you ride an electric bike in the rain.

Tip No. 7: Brake Early

Closely related to slowing down when you ride an ebike in wet weather is taking more time when you brake. You will want to slow down gradually.

“The purpose of adding a motor to an electric bike is to give riders an additional source of power. Most electric bikes allow riders to control when the motor kicks in and how much power it provides. This makes possible a wide scope of riding options ranging from fully leg-powered pedaling, a combination of pedaling and motor assistance, and fully motorized riding, allowing the cyclist to fine-tune her riding experience to meet her specific needs and demands,” wrote the authors of the “The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.”

The additional power an electric bike provides requires better braking systems, and it turns out that this is a distinct advantage over some conventional bikes in the rain.

Many electric bikes include disc brakes rather than the rim brakes often found on conventional bicycles. Disc brakes, almost by definition, perform far better in the rain.

Add to your more powerful braking system some caution and early braking and you should experience a safe ride even in a downpour. Just remember that you need to brake early when you ride an electric bike in the rain.

Tip No. 8: Don’t Lean into Corners

Electric bikes are fun to ride. The extra power can dramatically improve the riding experience. Even a bike commuter in a suit can feel a little like a professional rider hitting the corners hard.

But you won’t want to channel pro cyclists like Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, Peter Sagan, or Tom Dumoulin when you corner in wet conditions. Instead, gradually brake as you come toward a corner. Choose a line that lets you turn without leaning. Keep as much of the tire on the road as possible.

Tip No. 9: Look for Slippery Spots

When it rains, oil and gasoline come to the surface. This can make familiar asphalt suddenly unpredictable. So look for slippery spots.

You want to avoid puddles or standing water generally, but especially watch out for “rainbow” puddles since these can be full of slippery lubricants or fuel.

Also, avoid painted lines. Lane markers become especially slippery when it rains. Metal grates and covers are like ice, so definitely avoid them.

Finally, watch for debris. Something as seemingly safe as fallen leaves can be a slipping hazard when you ride your electric bike in the rain.

Tip No. 10: Clean Your Electric Bike After You Ride

After your rainy ride, be sure to take a few minutes to clean and dry your electric bike.

An ebike can be a very cost-effective and efficient form of transportation. It works well for recreational riding, basic transportation, or serious commuting. But it does need maintenance, and simply taking the time to clean and dry it after a wet ride can significantly increase its longevity.

Google Maps is among the best, free online mapping solutions, and it can be a good tool for planning recreational bike rides or commutes.

Whether you’re taking a leisurely ride around town, commuting to work or school, or even getting some serious exercise, riding an electric bike is fun and fast. But riding an electric bike is not the same as driving. You don’t necessarily want to use the same roads and you may not be interested in the shortest route.

What’s more, riding in unfamiliar places can put you right in the middle of heavy traffic or even get you lost. Here is a scenario. Imagine you are taking an RV trip. You find yourself in Boise, Idaho. You park. And now you want to explore the city on your electric bike. But you don’t know Chindin Boulevard from South Americana. So you could easily end up and Garden City instead of Ann Morrison Park.

One solution is to plan your bike route with Google Maps.

Plan Your Bike Ride

Let’s plan a bike route on Google Maps using a laptop or desktop computer. In the end, we will share the directions to a mobile phone.

Set Your Starting Point

Using your favorite web browser, navigate to Google Maps. The first step is to set your starting point. The example uses the Grove Hotel in downtown, Boise, Idaho, but you will enter your address or maybe the spot your RV is parked, etc.

Type the address or name of your starting point into the search field on Google Maps.

Set Waypoints

The bike route will be a round trip, but you will certainly want to see some places along the way, so let’s enter a couple of waypoints. These waypoints will also help us plan the bicycle route.

Click the directions icon. This icon is positioned just a little way down from the search bar wherein you entered your starting address.

The directions icon opens up the route planning features in Google Maps.

The Google Maps interface will change. You need to do three things. (1) To start, choose the cycling mode for the map.

Click the cycling mode icon.

(2) Then switch the position of your starting point so that it is at the top. To do this, click the up-and-down arrow icon.

Click the up-and-down arrow icon to reposition the starting point. You can move waypoints too.

This will move your starting location to the top of the list.

Your starting position should now be at the top of the list.

(3) Next, type in the address or name of a new waypoint. You can add several waypoints by clicking the “Add Destination” icon or link. The example includes five waypoints. The last waypoint is the starting point. Thus, we have a loop.

Add waypoints to create a loop.

Switch to the Bicycling Map View

Google Maps includes a bicycling view that will add cycling-specific information to the main map. To access this view, first, click on the menu icon.

Click this menu icon to open up some of Google Maps’ features.

Next, click on the word “bicycling” to add the aforementioned bicycling information to the main map.

Not surprisingly, selecting bicycling adds biking information.

This will fundamentally change the map. You should now see bike-friendly roads, bike lanes, and trails.

Google Maps provides helpful information for riding your electric bike.

Adjust Your Route

Now you can adjust your route. Click and hold any portion of the route to drag it onto a trail or a more bike-friendly road.

Click, hold, and drag to change your route.

As you change your route, Google will recalculate the total distance and the amount of elevation change. If you’re riding an electric bike, you will be able to climb the hills like they are not even there.

Google Maps shows you the total distance for your route and how much the elevation will change.

Send the Route to Your Mobile

Once you have a route you like, you can send it to your mobile phone.

Send the route to your phone.

If you are signed in to Google on your mobile and on your computer, Google Maps should have your phone available on a list of options. If not, you can email a link to yourself and open that link on your mobile.

You could also create a similar route directly in the Google Maps app on your mobile. The steps are the same.

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