Buying a New E-bike—A Personal Experience.
Whether you’ve had a bike lately or not, you may have found that an electric-assist bicycle raises your interest. Once the desire hits, getting that new E-bike can be as easy or hard as you make it. The easy way is to just ramble down to the nearest shop, let them pick a quality one that they think works for you, and ride on down the road. The hard way can be to shop online for a cheapo one and hope for the best, (This way may sound easy, but believe me, chances are it won‘t be.) We are going to talk about my way.
This involves some intelligent investigation of your options. Checking sites like this, shopping at every local E-bike center and keeping track of what you have found can be the key to a great electric bike experience. There are many types, companies, levels of quality and price ranges. I’ve covered most of these topics before and that isn’t the point of this article. This is about getting the bike, getting it set for your riding needs and making sure it will treat you well.
The focus is my wife’s new commuting E-bike. Her old one (a 7 year-old eZip that still works well) was begging for an up-grade (more my thinking than hers). I ride so many E-bikes, and had proclaimed my favorite bike of the year as the IZIP E3 Path+ from Currie Technologies. We both like the styling, the regular every-day bike appearance and the reputation of the company behind it all. It has some nice features and was chosen to be the perfect replacement for many other reasons.
Upon receiving her new Path+ the first thing I did was to record the frame serial number and I recommend you do the same. It required moving a few under the frame cables to see it, something that most bikes don’t need. You will find this number under the pedal arm bearings (the bottom bracket), on the front head (steerer) tube or on the frame where the rear axle mounts. The numbers (and letters) could be hard to read so use a strong flashlight at different angles to help. If your new bike doesn’t have this number, call the shop to find where it is or consider returning it immediately. A good shop will have your frame number in their files already, but make sure you know where it is, and that it matches your and their paperwork.
Next up is to check that all the nuts, bolts and fasteners are secure. Each has a certain torque and shouldn’t be over-tightened (or too loose). There are a few, like on the derailleur, that are adjustment screws and aren’t suppose to be cinched down, so watch for that. All this should be done when the bike was built and then checked by the shop before delivery, yet you might be surprised at all the ones I have found loose. Get help with this step if you need.
Set your tire pressures to the correct level. There are some options here. On the sidewall of the tire it will tell the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch), a number to remember. You will also see that number in BAR (the metric equivalent). You can go by those if you like, just make sure you use the right one on your bike pump gauge. Some tires will give you a straight number, others will give you a range (ie.–25-60 PSI). When it has a range, then the lower number will let the tire be softer to give a smoother ride, yet add more rolling resistance (and chances for pinch flats). The higher number will do just the opposite. I would opt for the higher number every time.
Next up is to do some test riding. I would imagine you have read the owner’s manual and battery instructions well before we got this far, I hope so. If not take the time to do it now, before you mount-up. Correctly charging and maintaining your battery is important and you will be dealing with that all the time. Learning how to use the controls for the motor, shifting and braking is a given. If you got your new E-bike from a good shop they will have gone over this with you beforehand. And, feel free to ask them any needed questions for the life of the bike.
During your test ride you will feel if the motor controls, shifting and braking are right. Your new bike should be fully adjusted in all these parameters. If it isn’t and you don’t feel comfortable making the changes, then your dealer is to be seen. On most any E-bike you will buy, these adjustments are included under the warrantee for at least one year. Take advantage of that service to keep your bike in top shape. Seasonal tune-ups are also important. With every ride of your bike you should pay attention if anything needs some looking into.
Your shop should have also offered to set your saddle, bars and brake levers to fit you and your riding style. Seat height is easily changed and makes a big statement for comfort and body health. Setting the saddle angle is often overlooked, but important too. It also slides fore and aft. I like mine a little higher in the front and all the way rearward, yet everyone is different. This might take a while to find the sweet spot for you, so learn how to do it on your own.
Normally the handlebar setting will be fine. There can be more options on some bikes. The height and angle should be set for a comfortable ride and minimal hand fatigue. This can be slightly dependant on your saddle settings, so once again work them little by little to find what feels good to you. On some bikes they use ergo grips and these too need to be rotated for the best comfort.
Last here is the angle of the brake handles. Most every E-bike I test has them set way too high. In that position it almost requires you to release the grips to use the brakes—not good. They should be set so the natural extension of your fingers is just above the handle lever. Changing these normally requires rotating the throttle unit, handlebar mounted buttons and shifting unit too. Have your dealer help you with this, hopefully the day you pick up your new beauty.
If your new E-bike showed up on your door-step in a box, it makes all these steps way more important. I do my best to discourage internet purchasing of this kind of item, but sometimes you have no choice. If your did get your bike this way, pay extra close attention to everything and keep in mind you are practically on your own with any issues. A phone call might help, but every time your bike is shipped, the chances for new problems and damage go sky high.
Keep in mind too that most of my suggestions here are for any bicycle. Whether you just got it or have been riding for years, all those little adjustments and bikes needs are important. If you want to be safe, comfortable and have your bicycle last a long time, it is up to you to make it happen. I hope these tips help.
Last is adding accessories. There can be many or none. The bell should be easy to reach. A blinking headlamp and tail light is important. (We use our basic ones day or night for all to see). A spot for a bright nighttime headlamp is usually needed on the bars and a really bright taillight for the night its complement (if you ride at night or in dim conditions). A rack or bags (or both) could be a necessity for you. Chose them wisely and make sure they fit your bike correctly. There could be (and most likely will be) more cool stuff you should get (a rock solid lock for example).
There you go. My wife’s and your new E-bike should be set for many miles of fun and utility. Take care of any problems when they crop-up and keep a close eye on your tires and brakes. Have fun and smile on that awesome new bike, most everyone should be jealous as you enjoy yourself. And don’t forget to mention to them to get one for themselves, why wouldn’t they?
Keep two-wheeling, Turbo Bob.
“Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia”.—H.G. Wells.