Why do we love May so much? The predictable answer might be the improving weather, more sunshine, longer days, and the shared anticipation of summer. But here at Juiced Bikes, May is one of our favorite months because it’s National Bicycle Safety Month, of course!
This month, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is reminding bicyclists to do their part to help stay safe while riding. Following safe riding practices is essential for all cyclists, but it’s even more crucial for e-bike riders because they accelerate faster and hit higher speeds than traditional bikes. Unfortunately, many automobile drivers aren’t accustomed to the pace at which e-bikers ride, putting them at an increased risk when riding in more densely populated areas.
Instead of bombarding you with frightening statistics, we’ve curated the top 10 e-bike safety tips to help you stay safe while riding on the road. So strap on your helmet, don your reflective clothing, and let’s roll!
1. Always Wear a Helmet
This may go without saying, but it’s so critical to rider safety that we’ll say it anyway — always wear a helmet whenever you ride your e-bike! Head injuries are the most serious injury a cyclist can sustain, so wear a properly-fitting helmet that meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards to reduce your risk. How often should you replace your helmet? The CPSC recommends replacing your e-bike helmet every five to 10 years. However, if you get into a crash, replace your helmet before you ride again.
2. Inspect Your E-Bike Before Taking Off
Just like a car, you should inspect vital components on your e-bike to spot worn or damaged parts and prevent avoidable accidents. Here’s what you should examine on your electric bike:
- Tire Pressure: Measure your tire pressure and adjust as necessary. You'll find the recommended PSI range on the side of your tires, but you may want to experiment with a pressure that works best for you — just don’t exceed the maximum pressure rating!
- Wheels: Check the front wheel for play, or side-to-side movement, by rocking the wheel back and forth with your e-bike resting on the ground. Next, raise the front end of your e-bike and spin the front wheel to ensure it spins smoothly without any grinding noises. Repeat this process for the rear wheel. Use this opportunity to inspect your tires for punctures, cuts, and tread wear.
- Brakes: Firmly clasp the left-hand brake lever, and rock your e-bike back and forth to ensure the brakes hold steady without slipping or squealing.
Repeat this process with the right-hand brake lever. If your brakes squeal or slip, your brake pads may need to be replaced.
- Battery: Make sure your e-bike battery is securely mounted by lightly pulling on it. Check your battery percentage on your e-bike's LCD screen. Stay within 80% and 20% voltage for peak performance and battery life.
- Chain: Examine the chain for rust or grime. If you spot surface rust or dirt, try cleaning and re-lubricating the chain. If the chain is covered with rust, it's time to replace it. Next, spin the cranks backward to see if the chain moves smoothly and quietly over the cogs. If your chain squeals or skips, clean and re-lubricate it. Check your chain's condition with a chain wear indicator tool and replace it if needed.
- Handlebars: Inspect your handlebars for loose bolts. E-bike handlebars must be tight enough to stay in place under all riding conditions. If not, a bolt could snap, or the handlebars could come loose and cause all sorts of calamity. If you find loose bolts, tighten them with a wrench until there’s no play in your handlebars.
3. Carefully Mount and Dismount Your E-Bike
Electric bikes weigh 40–50% more than traditional bicycles, presenting a tipping hazard for some young-at-heart adventurers or riders with mobility issues. Mounting and dismounting are when tipping-related injuries happen the most, so exercise extra caution when getting on and off your e-bike. If you want an electric bike that’s super easy to mount and dismount, consider the RipCurrent S Step-Through or CrossCurrent X Step-Through.
4. Increase Your Visibility
See and be seen is a simple rule of thumb for staying safe while riding your electric bicycle on the road. Illuminate the road and enhance your visibility to motorists and other cyclists by riding an e-bike with an ultra-bright headlight and integrated brake light, like the HyperScrambler 2. Consider purchasing a helmet with a magnetic taillight or adding reflective strips to your outfit to draw more attention to yourself during rides in dim or low visibility conditions. And wear reflective or bright-colored clothing while riding during the day or night.
5. Obey Local Laws and Rules of the Road
Remember to ride like you’re driving. Ride in the same direction as car traffic, and obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. Know your state’s laws regarding e-bike classification and how they impact your e-bike options. Most e-bike manufacturers and state laws follow this class system, but it’s always important to check your local laws to determine helmet requirements and age restrictions:
- Class 1: The motor only assists when you pedal and cuts out at 20 mph.
- Class 2: Features pedal assist up to 20 mph and a solely throttle-powered mode.
- Class 3: Purely pedal assist (like class 1) but continues until you hit 28 mph.
6. Signal When Turning
Signaling your intent to turn is not only courteous to other riders and motorists but also vital to safe on-road riding. Higher-end e-bike models like the HyperScorpion and HyperScrambler models make signaling easy thanks to integrated turn signals. If your electric bike doesn’t have turn signals, use hand signals to alert motorists and other cyclists when you turn left, right, brake, or stop.
7. Watch Your Speed and Brake Earlier
Nothing beats the adrenaline rush you get when you blast through congested traffic on your high-performance e-bike! But with great speed comes great responsibility. Electric bikes can hit higher speeds (some Juiced Bikes models can go over 30 mph!) than traditional bicycles, so periodically check your speed and always obey local speed limits. In addition to being much faster, e-bikes also weigh more than conventional bikes, so make sure you brake earlier for traffic stops, crossings, turns, and obstacles.
8. Stay Alert and Focused
Keep your wits about you and focus on traffic flow while riding on the road. Make eye contact with motorists and pedestrians if you cross in front of them. Exercise good judgment and never ride while texting, intoxicated, tired, or upset. Be a proactive cyclist and anticipate the movement of motorists, other cyclists, and pedestrians. Again, ride like you're driving!
9. Use Your Mirrors
Think about how much time you spend glancing at your mirrors compared to turning your head to look at the traffic around you. Though these seconds may seem trivial, any time spent looking away from the road ahead is potentially dangerous. Mirrors maximize your visibility on all sides of your e-bike while minimizing the time you spend looking away from the road. The HyperScorpion and HyperScrambler sport a set of rearview mirrors, but you can also add them to your electric bike as an accessory.
10. Avoid Riding in Heavy Rain
E-bike batteries are water-resistant, not waterproof — meaning they can withstand low-pressure water jets from any direction, condensation, and water spray. While riding your electric bicycle in light rain is perfectly safe, you should avoid riding in heavy rain because the constant, high-pressure spray from the water on the road will potentially force water into the e-bike battery. On that note, big puddles, flooded streets, and other standing water can also potentially damage your battery, so postpone your ride if the weather takes a turn for the worse.