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Safer Cycling for E-Bikes

Safer Cycling for E-Bikes

Heavier and Faster, Proper Maintenance Is a Necessity

By Bryan Hope | October 4, 2023

E-bikes are an incredibly fun and an efficient means of transportation. But, parents, your teenager’s e-bike or your cargo kid-hauler could be an avoidable disaster waiting to happen.

I am alarmed that roughly half of the bikes I touch as a certified bicycle mechanic are unsafe, some to the point of being outright dangerous. This is partially due to the popularity of direct-to-consumer brands where riders, inexperienced in the mechanics of assembly, build or partially build their own bikes. An equally significant contributor is a lack of proper basic maintenance.

E-bikes come with additional weight and speed. These two factors accelerate the wear of essential safety components like brakes and tires. The good news is that a little awareness goes a long way to making everyone safer.

An example of a brake pad worn beyond the pad
An example of a brake pad worn beyond the pad. | Bryan Hope
 
Here are a few quick tasks that anyone with an e-bike can perform on a regular basis, and the best part is these will prevent a large percentage of potential problems.
 
  1. Most e-bikes use a quick-release to attach the front wheel to the bike. Make sure that the lever is in line with the fork and that it’s tight!
  2. Pull both brake levers — if there is resistance, that’s good. If the levers pull to the handlebar, that is not good and your brakes need attention!
  3. With the brake levers pulled, gently rock the bike forward and backward. If the bike feels solid and doesn’t move, that’s good. If there is looseness in the front or back of the bike or the brakes slip, that’s not good!
  4. Stand at the front of the bike facing the handlebars. Place the front wheel between your knees. While keeping the wheel stationary, hold onto the handlebar grips and twist side-to-side and forward and backward. If there’s movement, then bolts need torquing and a mechanic might come in handy.
 
As always, wearing a helmet and practicing safe cycling could save your life. And please make sure those teens are buckling their helmets! If ever in doubt about the safety of your bike, it’s best to consult with a reputable and certified bicycle mechanic — it’s money well spent.
 
Bryan Hope is a certified bike mechanic and the owner of Energized Bikes, a Santa Barbara-based e-bike tour and mobile repair business.