Is riding an e-bike around town the same as a non-e-bike? Yes and no.
It won’t shock you to learn that at Cannondale, we happily endorse commuting by bike. The reasons are plentiful: You can get some time outdoors, alleviate a tiny bit of traffic, connect with your community more directly, and of course, if you want, you can get a workout along the way.
But what happens if that bike isn’t just a standard bike, but an electric bike? The basics of getting from A to B by bike are going to be similar, no matter the bike, but riding an e-bike gives you some different things to consider. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a first-time rider, we’ve put together some advice for those looking to get around by e-bike. Read on for our tips.
1. Do e-bikes ride differently than non-e-bikes?
When more is more.
Depending on the model of electric bike you’re riding, most will be heavier than a standard bicycle. More mass means more work for the brakes, tires, and frame. So, what does this mean for your commute?
First, you’ll want to give more space for braking, even with the more powerful hydraulic disc brakes you’ll find on many models (if you’re new to hydraulic disc brakes, their power may surprise you). Apply the brakes both sooner and more gradually, especially on your first few rides, to really feel the difference between your e-bike and a non-e-bike.
Turning and accelerating will feel a little different, too. The boost of electric power you feel on many e-bike models is usually adjustable, but no matter the setting, it’s important to remember you’re getting more power to the wheels than you may be accustomed to. When coming into corners, you’ll feel a bit more momentum pushing the bike, so in addition to the more cautious braking, you may want to take turns more gently.
As with any bike, we also highly recommend frequently checking your e-bike’s tire pressures, as well. Do so at least once a week, because all tires slowly lose air pressure over time. Keep them inflated within the recommended range (which you’ll find in either PSI or BAR on the side of the tire) at all times.
With all that said, it’s important to know that at Cannondale, we engineer our electric bikes to feel as natural and easy as possible in how they ride. Smooth electric power, stable handling, and confident braking are all part of every package. Check out our e-bike range here if you want to take a closer look at our many options.
2. How do I charge and store an e-bike?
The stuff you don’t think about at first.
No matter how great your bike lock is (and we very strongly recommend a good one), you always want to take any extra steps you can to keep your bike safe from thieves, vandals, and the elements. However, you’ll want to keep two extra things in mind with an electric bike: the additional weight, and the battery.
The additional weight means that it may be more challenging to bring an e-bike up or down a flight of stairs or a bike ramp. Make sure you’re comfortable with off-the-bike maneuvering before finding yourself on either end of your commute and being stuck or needing to ask for help. Some models are lighter than others, however, and some Cannondale e-bikes even have a “walking mode” to make it easier to move them around by foot. Look through our models or visit your local shop to feel them for yourself.
That additional weight comes from a reinforced frame, a drive motor, and of course, the e-bike battery. On some models, that battery is externally mounted – meaning it’s installed and visible on the outside of the bike’s tubes, as opposed to inside them – and on those models, the battery can often be easily removed. Not only can this lighten the bike so it’s easier to maneuver or carry, it also means you can take the battery inside to charge so it’s not vulnerable to theft or cold temperatures… which brings us to…
3. How do I plan an e-bike route?
Practice makes perfect.
It’s helpful to understand how your e-bike’s drive system works. Foremost, you want to always know how much range the battery can provide, and how the different levels of boost you can use will impact that range. Most Cannondale e-bikes can go a minimum of 40mi/65km on a single charge, depending on boost level – and some can go much farther – but every model’s range is a bit different. Check each bike’s specs, and be sure to know your route and your area well before committing to exploring or commuting around it by e-bike.
Before you try your e-bike commute for the first time on a schedule, try it in your free time. Make sure your battery is fully charged, then set off for a round-trip voyage to your destination and back. Initially, we’d recommend keeping the electric boost at a normal or average setting; for example, if your model provides five levels of boost, set the bike to the third level. At the halfway point, when you reach your destination, check how far you’ve gone (you can use the Cannondale App to track your mileage and more, no matter which brand of bike you ride) and check your battery level.
If you have enough range to get home, great. If it doesn’t look like you have enough battery power to make it back, try lowering the level of electric boost the system is giving you. This may mean putting in some more effort to get home (unless the first leg of the trip was mostly uphill), but it will mean you can go farther with some power, rather than having to ride home with none if you run out.
Of course, you may be able to charge your e-bike before you need to head home. You can purchase and bring along a second charging cable or battery charging cradle to keep at your destination – just remember to plug in when you arrive! And leave enough time to charge the battery up again before leaving. Keep in mind that very cold temperatures can temporarily reduce your battery’s power, too.
It may be worth trying a few different combinations of route and boost level to maximize the efficiency of your e-bike commute. Explore the maps and the local area as you experiment, and if possible, identify at least one reputable bike shop along the way to help with minor repairs if necessary.
4. What else should I know about e-bikes?
Because e-bikes are still bikes.
As with any commute by bike, an e-bike commute should abide by some basics. Foremost, stay safe with a proper helmet and lights for visibility. An old or improperly-fitted helmet won’t do you much good in a crash, and lights are a quiet hero to cyclists, no matter which time of day. Learn more about both by reading our article with tips and tricks for Bike Month.
The most helpful advice of all for an electric bike commuter? Be sure you have the best electric bike. Cannondale is one of the original e-bike innovators, having been the first brand to partner with Bosch over a decade ago, who now make the most revered and reliable electric bike drive systems in the world.
Since then, our designs have only gotten better, and we’ve got a wide variety of them, from high-performance machines based on racing bikes, to casual cruisers, to e-cargo bikes that can carry whatever you need – including the kids – far and wide. Check out our website to explore what we have, and use our E-Bike Finder to help you get going if you don’t know where to start.