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, electric 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 helmet is required for all riders under 18 and all riders with an ebike that exceeds 20 MPH. Make sure the helmet fits snugly on your head; and that it is buckled correctly EVERY time you ride. Gently shake your head to ensure that the helmet doesn’t slip around too much. Some helmet brands are adjustable. Beach E Biking includes an ASTM and CPSC approved helmet with its rentals. Consumer Reports recently rated the best bike helmets of 2022.
2. Bike Tires
Choose puncture-resistant tires. It is worth the expense to minimize a flat tire. Check the tire pressure and do a visual inspection of the tire for any damage prior to riding. The correct tire pressure affects your ability to steer and stop safely and is an important item to maintain regularly. EBC bikes have the option to upgrade to the Continental City Contact Plus E50 tire with the highest puncture protection.
Electric bikes can reach speeds over 28 MPH and are heavier than a regular bike, which makes a powerful hydraulic disc brake system a critical safety feature. Look for hydraulic disc brakes with 4 pistons for maximum stopping power. Also look for a motor inhibitor as part of the braking system. Check the brake lever tension. When the lever starts to feel 'spongy', the brake system will need to be serviced. Check the brake pads visually. Ask your ebike dealer or repair service for instructions on how to check your brake pads.
The electric motor is what makes the e-bike so appealing to riders of all ages. The motor is helpful to maintain a safe speed uphills, helps people with knee pain or other injuries to get back on the bike, and helps with starting from a stopped position at an intersection. Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer. A good warranty goes up to 10 years.
5. LCD Display
Electric bikes usually come with an electronic instrument panel. It allows you to control the level of pedal assistance that the motor provides and displays the estimate 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 bike to 19 MPH.
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.
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.