7 Safety Features You Need When Riding Your E-Bike
Due to the increasing popularity of electric bikes, e-bike safety is critically important. Here are 7 safety features you need to make your e-bike experience as safe as possible.
Due to the growing popularity of electric bikes on neighborhood streets and bike lanes, e-bike safety has become a critically important topic, particularly for our youth who haven’t yet learned the rules of the road. In fact, California passed AB 1946, which provides funding for the California Highway Patrol to develop e-bike safety curriculum by September 2023. Electric bikes have specific features that affect the safety and enjoyment of your riding experience. Beach E Biking carries the Electric Bike Company brand, which are specifically designed with high quality features like built-in front and rear lights, hydraulic disc brakes and more. The weight of the average EBC bike is 55-60 pounds, including the battery, so the brakes need to be powerful and reliable. Here are just a few factors to consider to make your e-bike experience as safe as possible.
1. Bike Helmet
A quality bicycle helmet is critical for a safe riding experience. Consumer Reports recently rated the best bike helmets of 2022. Beach E Biking includes a helmet with their e-bike rentals and sells various brands in their store location. Here are the 5 most important considerations for a bike helmet:
- A helmet is required for all riders under 18 and all riders with an ebike that exceeds 20 MPH. Choose one that is ASTM and/or CPSC approved.
- The helmet should sit low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows.
- Gently shake your head to ensure that the helmet doesn’t slip around too much. It should not move more than 1/2 inch in either direction.
- Make sure the helmet fits snugly on your head; choose an adjustable style for the best fit.
- Wear the helmet and and buckle it correctly EVERY time you ride. The strap should be just under the chin.
2. Electric Motor
The electric motor helps riders of all ages enjoy the health benefits of riding a bike. It also assists in maintaining safe speeds, particularly when traveling up hills and when starting from a stopped position. Riders can increase the distance and duration of their bike rides, which improves fitness while pedaling. Consider these features of the motor before purchasing an e-bike:
The amount of torque provided is powerful enough to climb hills and carry cargo yet not too strong for the rider.
Can be safely programmed with a maximum speed accounting for city regulations and rider size and ability.
Make sure your e-bike includes a brake disconnect that shuts off the motor when slowing to a stop.
Check the warranty offered by the dealer/manufacturer. A quality e-bike motor has up to a 10-year warranty.
3. Bike Tires
The tires on an e-bike require continuous monitoring for maximum safety. Here are some important items to pay attention to on your bike tires:
- Consider puncture-resistant tires for your e-bike. Ask your bike shop about the option to upgrade tires for the highest puncture protection. When purchasing your bike or replacing the tires, it is worth the upgrade to minimize a flat tire. The Beach E Biking rental fleet is upgraded to the Continental City Contact Plus E50 tire with the highest puncture protection.
- Do a visual inspection of the tire for any damage prior to and after riding. Replace the tire if you see any cuts, cracks, bulges, or areas worn through the tread.
- Before every ride, check the tire pressure. The correct tire pressure affects your ability to steer, maneuver and stop safely.
- Check the wheel. Ensure the tire is seated correctly, there are no loose or broken spokes, and the wheel nut is tight.
A powerful hydraulic disc brake system a critical safety feature on an electric bike. The Beach E Biking rental fleet is powered with quality brakes that are checked regularly by our service team.
- Once per season, ask your bike shop to check the brake pads. Ask your service tech for instructions on how to check them at home.
- Before each ride, check the brake lever tension on the front and rear brakes. When the lever starts to feel 'spongy', the brake system will need to be serviced.
- Remember to use the rear brake first when slowing down or stopping especially when riding downhill.
- When purchasing an e-bike, look for hydraulic disc brakes with 4 pistons for maximum stopping power. A motor inhibitor should be part of the system.
5. Battery and LCD Display
On an e-bike, the battery and instrument panel are important features to use correctly. Here are top 3 things to learn about:
- The LCD panel allows you to control the level of pedal assistance that the motor provides and displays the estimated battery level. The Electric Bike Company LCD display can be programmed to adjust the maximum speed. Ask your EBC dealer to assist you with programming your electric bike motor settings. For example, Beach E Biking has set the maximum speed for its rental bikes to 19 MPH.
- The screen displays the estimated battery level remaining based on wattage. Make sure to learn your battery’s actual range based on your riding style and to preserve battery power by pedaling on those long rides. The range of the EBC battery is up to 50 miles on a single charge, based on an average rider size using a low level of pedal assist.
- Look for a battery that is certified, tested and warrantied. Electric Bike Company brand e-bike batteries have a 5 year warranty for safety, reliability, range and life cycle.
Electric bikes can be programmed to set the maximum speed.
6. Pedal Assist and Throttle
Pedal assist is the feature that initiates the motor when you pedal the bike and can be adjusted at various levels while you ride. A higher pedal assist level can be helpful to maintain a safe riding speed up hills on city streets and a lower pedal assist level can help you start from a stopped position with a gradual speed increase. There are two main types of throttle systems: 1) thumb throttle which is activated by a thumb switch or 2) twist throttle, which is activated by twisting the grip with your hand. The Electric Bike Company bikes offers a thumb throttle for safety since it allows easier access to the handbrake lever and minimizes accidental acceleration that can happen with a twist throttle.
On an e-bike, the lighting system is critical for safety when riding after dark. Here are top 3 things to consider:
- A quality electric bike has high-powered headlight and tail-light which operates from the battery. Some even have turn signals and brake lights.
- Look for a helmet with rear lights and reflectors that help drivers see the rider in dark conditions.
- After-market lights are available at your local e-bike dealer to add to your e-bike.
And Always Remember Traffic Laws
It is of utmost importance to obey all the traffic laws when riding e-bikes. The CHP offers an excellent online bike safety course that features video examples of proper bike riding behavior, particularly at intersections. The main items to remember are: 1) stop at stop-signs and traffic lights, 2) maintain a safe speed based on the riders ability and size, weather and road conditions, and 3) ride in the same direction as the cars on the road. Be sure to signal turns and brakings, and stay on the right side of the road - make sure not to weave in and out of traffic. Look out for motorists, and, most importantly, never assume they see you. Consider wearing bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. Lights and reflectors are required when it is dark. The Manhattan Beach Bike Safety page summarizes this well: “Courtesy and predictability are a key to safe cycling.”
For parents with children riding e-bikes, make sure they know the rules of the road before they head out. The California DMV has helpful bike safety information that all riders should know. The CA DMV has these fast facts about Sharing the Road and they refer bikers to the California Driver Handbook to become familiar with the rules and regulations.
Be aware of restrictions that apply to e-bikes in the areas you want to bike. In Manhattan Beach, no bicycles of any kind are allowed on the Strand pedestrian path, and ebikes must be pedaled when on the beach bike path; in Hermosa Beach, there is a speed limit of 8 miles per hour on the Strand walkway and bike path and there are additional regulations on the city of Hermosa Beach website.
All of the rental bikes in the Beach E Biking fleet include an adjustable helmet, will not exceed 20 MPH and are built by the Electric Bike Company to have ultimate safety features including powered headlights and taillights for those sunset beach rides. In addition to the CA state resources, you can find bike safety tips and guidelines from the city of Manhattan Beach HERE.