Commuting by car is notoriously bad for your health, your wallet, and the environment. Between the hassle of obtaining a license, the expense of insurance, and the time spent sitting in traffic every day, it’s easy to see why people would be looking for a better way.
For commuters in the market for a personal mode of transportation, electric bikes are both a practical choice and an opportunity. The time you spend on a bike allows you to fit in a workout, feel connected to your environment, and save a surprising amount of money. Even for the fair-weather commuter who may only ride a couple times a week, the impact of trading out a car for an electric bike adds up.
So if you’re ready to get started commuting by electric bike, we recommend looking through our top 10 tips below.
1: Choose the Right Electric Bike
This one might be obvious, but before you even get on an electric bike, you’ll need to consider what style suits your commute. All GEN3 bikes can be used for commuting, but our most popular models for commuters are The Stride and The Flex.
The Stride features a step through frame, ergonomically shaped grips, and comes with a cargo rack. This means you don’t have to carry a bag while you’re riding, you can mount it right on the back. The thinner road tire profile offers low road resistance, making this the ideal bike for a commuter in the city.
On the other hand, The Flex features a classic frame and hybrid tires that can handle a variety of terrains from road to gravel. It also offers 21-speed shifting, which is a unique feature in our lineup, and allows you to dial in your ride for climbing steep hills.
Plus, they both have an estimated range of up to 40 miles—enough to travel around most cities in America, twice!
2: Check the weather
Without the roof of a car over your head, checking the forecast is an essential part of preparing for your commute. If you’re not going every day, you’ll want to time your rides for the best weather. Riding in different types of weather poses different challenges.
If it's hot outside consider carrying an extra water bottle to help prevent dehydration during your journey since dehydration can have large effects on physical performance. If it’s cold, you may need to start with a coat until you’re able to warm up your body. That brings us to our next tip, which is how to dress for your commute.
3: Dress in Layers
If your commute will be affected by weather, you may need to change clothes, adjust the fit of your clothing, or put on an additional waterproof layer. Flexibility is key, especially when you first start commuting or you’re in between seasons.
Whether you’re dressed in what you’ll be wearing to work, or changing when you arrive, you’ll want to consider clothes that allow a range of motion, and that won’t trap any sweat if you’re trying to work out on your ride.
It’s also wise to invest in a foldable waterproof garment bag, which can be used to carry your extra layers. Ponchos are useful when it starts raining, and can often be packed up into a smaller pouch and tucked in a pocket.
4: Plan Your Route
It's important to plan your route ahead of time as traffic rules will be your guide. Most congested areas can't be avoided, but as with any method of transport, some routes are more efficient.
Keep an eye on local construction projects and special events that may disrupt your route and add time to your commute. It's best to travel outside peak travel times when traffic is lighter, such as early in the morning, and later in the evening.
Another thing you can do is avoid outbound roads from downtown businesses where they often have more locals around.
5: Invest in a bike lock
There are two main reasons why a lock is so important. First, a lock will make it less likely that someone would steal the e-bike from you while you're not looking, and second, the lock can help protect your bike from storms. The GEN3 Bike Essentials bundle includes a sturdy 3ft combination chain lock, which is a good bet to keep your electric bike safe.
Thieves are becoming more sophisticated, so make sure you not only check the lock but check what you’re locking it to can’t easily be removed. You’ll want to loop your lock through the frame and tire whenever possible.
A lock also ensures that your e-bike is more likely to endure any oncoming storm surprises out there like strong winds, rain, and hail. Even if it isn’t carried away, a strong wind can tip your bike over and potentially cause cosmetic damage. Another thing you can do is avoid outbound roads from downtown businesses where they often have more locals around.
6: Pack snacks and water
It is important to pack snacks and water every time you embark on a bike ride because humans are unable to store sufficient glucose (the chemical that powers our muscles) in their muscle cells for more than 90 minutes. That's where biking with snacks and water comes in handy!
What will happen if the body is not replenishing its stores of glucose? Your blood levels of sugar will drop, triggering hunger, shakiness, dizziness, and elevated heart rate which ultimately leads to "bonking".
Bonking is the term given when someone has used up all of their glycogen storage within their muscles. Some people refer to this as an "energy crash" or simply feeling tired.
7: Be Traffic Aware
Situational awareness is important when commuting by bike, because while there may not be a license required to ride, you are still expected to know the rules of the road. Obey traffic lights and stop signs, making sure to look both ways before crossing through an intersection. Local laws may vary, so it’s a good idea to brush up on what rules apply along your route.
People are often in a hurry when commuting, and unfortunately bikers are at greater risk than cars when they collide. Lighting and reflectors can help you signal your intent to other commuters, as well as indicating with your arms how you intend to turn.
8: Maintain Your Bike
Basic maintenance should be done every week. Oil the chain guide once a month and check for loose spokes, brake pads, and handlebars. Apply a light coat of lubricant to keep the moving parts clean and operating smoothly.
Make sure you wash it as needed as well. It’s important to clean around the battery and to ensure no dust or dirt can work its way into critical areas. Over time, grime can naturally also build up so using a chemical-free wash on water-proofed areas is essential.
9: Plan Around Your Battery Life
This is easier said than done. But the most important thing you can do is be aware of how far your battery can take you on one charge. Find out your battery's kilojoules (different e-bike manufacturers measure this in different ways).
For those who decide to opt for Stride or Flex, enjoying hours of fun and travel is possible due to our astounding 40 miles estimated travel distance! That is enough to last most people nearly an entire week!
Ultimately, 40 miles is going to last most people at least a few days. It’s important to make sure you never head out with a low battery. Even if you have your charger with you, you may be stuck in a not-so-safe area. Instead, make sure it’s fully charged before each ride.
10: How to maximize storage on an e-bike for commuting
The process of optimization for e-bikers is by using a backpack or messenger bag as your main storage unit. This is because these pockets are placed in a position higher than the rest - at waist-level.
In this way, they can be more easily accessible and help with stability on an e-bike as they only have to carry only one object at a time.
In terms of ensuring comfort, it's best to carry light but bulky objects on your back so you don't overstrain your arms and ride handsfree low down with lighter items such as water bottles or umbrellas near the handlebars instead.
Objects not being carried should also always go into the basket which should ideally have plenty of room for drinks and snacks if you do not have a backpack -- which is always suggested for long-distance traveling.
E-bikes are a great option for commuters who want to get around town without the stress of traffic and have some fun while doing it. They also offer an excellent solution for people with disabilities or cannot cycle long distances due to a disability, but still would like to explore the world.
If you live in a city, don't have time to ride your bike outside of work due to commitments, then e-bikes may be right up your alley!
If you’re not yet an official e-bike owner yet, feel free to browse through our inventory. We have e-bikes, scooters, and more to fit just about every need you have!