Top tips for your (first) e-MTB trip!
Eager to get out on your first ride with the family and your e-bikes? So excited you can't sleep? Totally understandable! But before heading out on your adventure, here are our top tips.
As you’re probably familiar with the old adage that good planning is half the battle, we won’t bore you with the basics (clue: check your bikes thoroughly and make sure you have the necessary equipment), but we will say that e-bike rides require a little bit extra preparation. Follow these tips to make sure your family e-bike adventure goes smoothly!
If your motor decides to wave a white flag mid-ride, expect the fun to end pretty quickly. Unlike a dropped chain that can simply be slipped back onto the chainring, the drive system adds more complexity to your ride. We suggest checking it a few days before your ride. This way, you will have time to get it serviced if needed.
- MOTOR: Take it out for a test ride. Switch between the support modes to see if they all work. Does the pedal-assist have a consistent and regular feel? If the motor feels intermittent, it could be because of the contact points. These can be cleaned with a dry cloth in the event that moisture or dirt has found its way into the electrical connections. Spot any rust? Anti-corrosion spray can help resolve this.
- BATTERY: Check the battery life. Is the battery securely mounted onto the frame? A flat battery will not be welcome on your bike ride, so you need to allocate time to charge the batteries ahead of your departure – don’t leave this task any later than the day before your ride. While you’re at it, don’t forget to charge any spare batteries you might be taking too.
- CABLES: Fix any loose electric cables using cable ties so that they won’t go rogue during your ride and catch on obstacles, like roots or tree branches.
Like any ‘normal’ bike ride with kids, your e-route requires some specific child-friendly elements to win over the fun-seeking attendees. Loop in some adrenaline-filled extras, like whoop-inducing flow trails or adventure playgrounds.
It’s highly likely that you and your e-bikes will ride further and climb higher than usual. But when it comes to planning your route, you need to consider your battery.
- RANGE: The battery capacity depends on various factors. These include the rider’s weight, how they ride, the pedal-assist mode, the climbs, gradients, temperature etc. Top tip: Acquaint yourself with your battery’s characteristics ahead of any epic ride. Play around, test the conditions, learn how the battery life reacts to different sorts of climbs, and then ride it right down to empty. By familiarising yourself with how it acts, you will have the experience to know exactly....
- where your route needs CHARGING STATIONS: e-bike charging locations are becoming more and more common across the landscape. A range of practical apps, sites and maps, such as fahrrad.de or bike-energy.com, exist to give you an overview of where to find them. Best-case scenario is that you will refuel with something tasty at the same time as you are charging your bikes’ batteries at your chosen mountain hut or café. Top tip: do your research before the ride and bring an adaptor/power pack so that plug socket-compatibility will be guaranteed.
- SPARE BATTERY: If you want to be doubly sure or are unable to plot a route around charging stations, it could be worth investing in a spare battery (note: these are not cheap). For this purpose, specially designed e-MTB backpacks have a secure compartment specifically for the battery. These also feature an additional back protector to keep you safe from the hard edges of the battery in the event of a crash. For those of you riding with your regular backpack, make sure that the weight of the battery is as close to your body as possible so that your balance and stability are not affected. Note: don’t forget the key to remove the battery!
Start out with a familiar route for your first ride; this way, you will be able to gauge whether the battery will last. With a bit more experience, you can progress to longer, more adventurous routes – online platforms such as komoot.com, alltrails.com, bikemap.net, outdooractive.com are top tools for researching routes and getting inspired. Most of these sites also offer app-based navigation that can be used off-line too. So next time you’re in a remote area without a phone signal, you’ll be able to find your way home.
Even with the assistance of the motor, TIME remains a decisive element on any ride with kids. Your e-bikes might get you around quicker, but you still need to factor in some flexibility. Loosely allocate time for adventure and other spontaneous stops to ensure that the ride has enough variety. If you make good progress, you can always add extra loops at the end.
Take a moment to get to know your e-bike before heading straight out on an adventure. If it’s your first ever e-bike ride or a return after a long hiatus, you should ‘ride yourself’ into the experience. Test the different modes and get used to riding with the power. Get a feel for the brakes. The braking distance will be further than usual given the higher speeds.
TRANSPORTING YOUR E-BIKE
Not all e-bikers have the luxury of pedalling straight into a cycling paradise from their front door.
For riders that rely on a car to reach the start of a route, the safest way to transport your e-bikes is inside the car boot. However, this is not a realistic option for many, which is why car-mounted bike racks exist. Top tip: regardless of whether it’s sunny or raining, protect the electronic parts by removing the battery and, if possible, the display from the bars before driving. When purchasing a bike rack, check it is compatible to bear the heavier weight of e-bikes.
Hopping on a train to reach your ride is another sure-fit hit with kids. Do your research beforehand to make sure that bikes are permitted on your chosen route. You may need to make a special reservation for your bicycles.
We recommend taking a high-quality bike lock to protect your two-wheeled treasures from thieves. This will add additional weight to your cargo – a good bike lock weighs between 1 and 2 kg. Try to keep your e-bikes within eyesight, wherever you stop. We also suggest removing your battery at all times when off the bike – even if you’re not charging it. These are popular with thieves.
For a list of everything else you should take on your ride, check out this article here.
Got everything you need? Excellent! Your e-adventure awaits!