Electric bikes have become increasingly popular in the U.S., with the Light Electric Vehicle Association predicting over 3 million e-bike orders in the next few years. With their pedal-assist technology, e-bike riders can cover more ground, climb steeper hills and tackle more challenging terrain.
6 Simple Tips To Ride Your Trail Electric Bike
However, trail riding on an electric bike requires specific skills and techniques to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re an experienced rider or just starting, these tips will help you make the most of your electric bike and take your trail riding to the next level.
1) Wear Proper Gear
Proper gear is essential for safe and comfortable trail electric bike riding. When selecting gear, consider the type of terrain you’ll be riding, the weather conditions and the length of your ride.
For example, a standard bike helmet may protect you when riding an electric city bike at lower speeds, but you’ll want a more heavy-duty helmet when riding an electric mountain bike. Look for a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)-approved helmet for the best protection.
Wear high-quality cycling gloves made of polyester or propylene to help prevent blisters and improve your grip on the handlebars. Also, wear comfortable and breathable clothing, including padded shorts, a moisture-wicking shirt and flat-pedal shoes with a good grip and ankle support.
2) Scout out the Trails
Scouting trails before visiting is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable trail electric bike riding experience. Before heading out on your refurbished electric bike, research the trail and its difficulty level, terrain type and any potential hazards or obstacles. This information can be found on trail maps, cycling websites or through local bike shops or trail organizations. Knowing the trail in advance can also help you plan your route and identify key landmarks or features to look out for.
Scouting the trail in person before riding is helpful. This can help you identify changes in trail conditions, such as fallen trees or washed-out sections and ensure that the trail is suitable for your skill level and electric bike type. It’s also an excellent opportunity to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, identify safe break spots and scout out potential river crossings or other obstacles.
3) Stick with Trail Flow
When riding your e-bike on a trail, be mindful of trail flow, which is the natural path and rhythm of the biking tail. Sticking to the established path helps preserve the natural environment and protects the trail from unnecessary erosion or damage. Following trail flow also helps you safely navigate the trail, reducing the likelihood of unexpected obstacles or collisions with other riders.
To maintain trail flow, stay on the established path and keep a steady pace that allows you to navigate turns and obstacles smoothly. Keep your eyes focused on what’s in front of you and anticipate the trail ahead to avoid sudden changes in direction and maintain momentum.
4) Avoid Pedal Strikes
Pedal strikes can occur when the electric bike’s pedals hit an obstacle, such as a rock or tree root, causing the rider to lose balance or control. This is a common problem on technical terrain and can be a safety hazard.
The easiest way to prevent pedal strikes is to plan out your route so you know whether you can continue pedaling throughout your entire journey. If the route does not allow this, find out where you may run into an issue and maintain a high speed before getting to the obstacle.
Just before reaching the obstacle, apply a strong downward thrust on the pedal, engage the bike’s motor for added power and lift the pedal high. This technique will give you enough momentum to coast past the obstacle and start peddling again once you are clear.
Choosing the right electric bike with adequate ground clearance can also help prevent pedal strikes. Consider an electric mountain bike with a higher bottom bracket or shorter cranks to reduce the risk of hitting obstacles.
5) Be Cautious on Steep Chutes
Steep chutes can be a thrilling challenge for trail electric bike riders but also present a significant safety risk. Before attempting a steep chute, evaluate the terrain and identify potential hazards, such as loose rocks or steep drop-offs. Know your skill level and ensure you have the experience to attempt the chute.
When riding a steep chute, keep your weight back towards the bike’s rear wheel and use your brakes and body positioning to control your speed. Do not go from a stop into a steep chute; you must have two or three bike lengths before the chute’s entrance to build up speed and momentum. If you feel yourself start to skid, release the brakes and then reapply the pressure again.
If you feel unsure or uncomfortable about attempting a steep chute, dismount and walk your bike down. Always prioritize safety and avoid taking unnecessary risks when riding on challenging terrain.
6) Cross Logs Carefully
Crossing logs on an electric bike can be challenging and require extra caution. Logs can be unstable or slippery and falling off the bike could result in injury or damage to the bike.
The biggest issue with crossing logs for beginners is being afraid of them. You can get over most logs by committing to the act. Ride straight at it, keep your weight centered and do not jeer in another direction. Your electric mountain bike’s suspension should remain in line and the bike’s fat tires should allow you to cross over the log as if it were just a bump in the trail.
Consider performing a front wheel bump if you do not want to touch the log. As your front tire hits the logs, throw your weight backward to use the log as a ramp to propel yourself over. You can also bunny hop by transferring your weight into the bike’s tires and squashing them into the ground. Then use your core muscles and handlebars to jump the bike over the log.
Stay Safe and Enjoy the Experience
For trail riders, electric bikes offer a unique opportunity to explore new trails, push their limits and enjoy the great outdoors in a whole new way. By practicing safe and responsible riding habits, trail electric bike riders can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries and enjoy a fulfilling and exciting outdoor experience.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced rider, always prioritize safety and respect other trail users. Trail electric bike riding can be a fulfilling and lifelong passion with the right mindset and approach.