E-bikes are popular, with sales growing every year (about 14,000 e-bikes were sold in New Zealand in 2017).
If you're new to bike riding it can be easier to learn the basics on a regular bike first. And if you're getting back into riding after a long time, brush up on your bike handling skills. E-bikes are heavier to handle and often faster than regular bikes.
Professional instructors offer personal and workplace e-bike training. BikeReady cycle skills courses (for bikes in general) are also a good place to learn bike handling and on-road riding techniques.
Buying your first e-bike
- e-bikes with a maximum speed cut out of 25km/h
- e-bikes that give more power in proportion to how hard you pedal — these handle more like a standard bike compared to e-bikes with a throttle
- e-bikes with a motor in the middle or rear of the bike — these are easier to balance and steer than e-bikes with the motor in the front wheel
Get used to your e-bike
E-bikes are typically heavier than regular bikes and handle differently. Get used to your e-bike before going on the road.
Start somewhere where you have space to yourself and try:
- riding with the electrics turned off
- adjusting the power assist settings to an easy level
- testing how it responds when stopping and starting
- turning, balancing and getting past obstacles with different levels of power assist
- finally, making sure you understand how to change to higher and lower gears
Riding your e-bike
Stay in control
You'll often be at higher speed on an e-bike compared to a regular bike. Take care. Scan well ahead, signal your movements and keep an eye out for turning cars turning in and out of driveways and side roads. Keep one metre clear of parked cars in case a door opens.
At intersections, drivers may not expect you to start off at speed. Wait on your e-bike where you can be easily seen. Make eye contact with drivers who may turn across your path.
Pedal assist usually kicks in on the second rotation of the pedals. If you have it in a high gear you'll experience a surge in power and will take off quickly, so be aware of which gear you are in. Get a head start by waiting in advanced stop boxes (the painted green space for bikes at the front of an intersection).
When taking off at an intersection or up-hill, stick to a low gear to get going more easily.
Passing other people on bikes
Before passing, look behind you for traffic, and signal before pulling out. Give enough space when passing and let the other person know by ringing your bell or calling out.
Shared paths are for bike riders and people walking. The pace is slower and more relaxed. Put your e-bike in a low power setting and go slow enough that people feel comfortable when you pass.
Getting the most out of your battery
For long distances you can extend the battery range by using lower power settings and pedalling more. Remember to charge your battery every day you use it.