On your e-bike! Your guide to riding electric9/6/2023
Electric bikes are a game-changer. Whether you're seeking a low-impact workout, a faster commute or just a fun way to explore BC's stunning landscapes, e-bikes deliver. They give you a gentle boost when you need it most, ensuring that steep hills and long distances are no longer obstacles but exciting challenges to conquer.
Thinking about trying an e-bike? Public e-bike share services such as Evolve E-Bike Share, created by BCAA, can be great affordable and sustainable commuting options, while getting your own electric wheels can put convenience at the tips of your toes. Here's everything you need to know.
How to ride an e-bike
If you can cycle, it should be an easy transition to an e-bike, but there are a few differences to watch for. E-bikes offer you throttle-powered or pedal-assist modes and both affect how you accelerate and manoeuvre.
Throttle mode lets you control your e-bike motor with a handlebar throttle grip instead of pedalling, so the e-bike will accelerate under its own power and you don’t have to pedal at all.
Pedal-assist mode provides a power boost each time the rider pedals. Some e-bikes have a single gear for easy operation. With other e-bikes, you can choose between a higher level of pedal assist, which will make your rides effortless, or a lower level to make your ride more of a workout, save your battery and extend your range.
To ensure a smooth ride, start by practicing in an open area (with no traffic) to get used to the electric boost. For a smooth start, begin in a low gear, and set up your leading pedal in the ‘power position’, which is on a diagonal almost parallel to the bike’s frame. Push down on your pedal and expect a brief delay before the motor engages. Then gradually lift your trailing foot off the ground and continue pedalling.
Your e-bike's acceleration can catch you by surprise, so gradually increase speed until you're confident. E-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes so if you’re looking for more stability when you first start riding, lower your seat height so your feet have more contact with the ground.
Of course, be sure to wear a good bike helmet. Always follow traffic rules, use a bike horn or bell, and use hand signals to signal your intentions.
To see a full list of e-biking safety tips, download this essential e-bike safety guide that Evolve E-Bike Share created in partnership with HUB Cycling.
What do you need to know about getting your own e-bike?
Charging your e-bike
Most e-bike manufacturers suggest that you recharge your battery before it totally runs out of power. This ensures that your battery cells retain their life cycles and don’t die on you faster. How long will it take? Most e-bikes have lithium-ion batteries which take two-to-six hours to charge.
Now, you might be wondering how you charge your e-bike. Do they charge as you pedal or do you have to plug them in? The answer: most e-bikes do not charge when you pedal. While some models have regenerative braking that helps charge your battery as you ride, it's not a significant source of energy.
Since we still don’t have fully-solar-powered e-bikes (not yet), the vast majority of e-bikes need to be plugged in to charge up. Simply plug your battery into a standard wall outlet. You should charge your battery indoors, with the battery charger that came with your e-bike, and with the motor system powered off.
E-bikes can be charged with the battery on the bike, although most batteries are removable and can be charged off the bike. Here’s more info on charging your e-bike battery.
Caring for your e-bike battery
Caring for your e-bike's battery is vital for its health and longevity. Avoid leaving the battery in extreme temperatures—both scorching heat and icy cold can affect your battery’s performance.
Whenever you store your e-bike for a short or prolonged period of time, you should:
- Make sure your battery is off and the e-bike is not on.
- Store your battery in a dry, climate-controlled, indoor location. Water, moisture and humidity are not good for any electrical device.
- Never store your lithium-ion battery on an empty charge. Before you store your e-bike for weeks at a time, give it a good charge. This helps you extend your battery's life. Every month or so, check on it to ensure your battery's energy level hasn't significantly dropped.
- Don’t leave the battery attached to your e-bike for a prolonged period of time. Remove the battery from your e-bike when storing long-term and keep it in a safe, level place.
Storing your e-bike
When you're not riding, bring your bike indoors or in a well-sheltered area. To keep your ride in prime condition, store it in a cool, dry place, away from rain or direct sun. Think of a garage, basement or shed. If you're storing it for an extended period, give it a quick clean and lubricate the chain. This way, when you are ready to ride again, your e-bike will be ready, too.
Locking up your e-bike
Chances are you’ve paid a lot for your e-bike and you’ll want to protect your investment from theft. Your best deterrent is to invest in a high-quality lock – U-locks, chain locks, and folding locks are excellent options.
When you’re locking your e-bike around town, lock your e-bike to sturdy objects, ideally in well-lit, public areas. You will want to snake your lock through the main triangle of the frame and to a fixed object. To help thwart thieves, double locking is an excellent option. You may even want to get three locks: two lighter locks for when you’re riding around town and a heavier lock that you keep at home.
Protecting yourself and your e-bike
In addition to good locks, you can protect your e-bike from theft with BCAA Home Insurance. Our personal property coverage includes e-bikes and will be there to help fund a replacement should you need it. For more information or to get an online quote, visit bcaa.com/home or book an appointment online.
Get peace of mind with Roadside Assistance
Even your best-laid plans can sometimes go sideways. That's where your BCAA Membership and Roadside Assistance comes to the rescue.
If you find yourself with a flat tire or a broken chain, a BCAA Road Assist Technician is only a click or call away to get you moving again. If the breakdown or mechanical issue cannot be repaired on the spot, we'll drive your bike to a nearby repair shop or to your home (up to the distance included on your Membership plan).
E-bikes do contain more complicated components than regular bikes, so make sure you have a Plus or Premier Membership which include coverage for e-bikes and motorcycles. Ride with peace of mind knowing you'll never have to worry about getting stranded on your journey. Not a BCAA Member yet? Join today!
Final tips for e-bikers in BC
Want to try before you buy, or ride an e-bike without getting your own? Try Evolve E-Bike Share, which is available to the public in Whistler, SFU Burnaby campus and New Westminster. It's also available for private businesses across Metro Vancouver and Victoria.
Simply download the Evo app to sign up and unlock an e-bike nearby. Ride as long as you like, just return the e-bike to any Evolve Parking Zone. For more details, visit evo.ca/evolve.
For more information on e-bikes, check out our partner HUB Cycling’s e-bike education resources. They’ll teach and inspire you on how to enjoy your e-bike around beautiful BC.