Safety & Operations
Riding an eBike is a wonderful experience opening up the joy of cycling to a wider audience than ever before. For many riding an eBike will be the first time they have ridden a bike since they were young and in many ways riding an eBike is just like riding a standard bike. Pedaling is usually involved unless you are using an eBike with a throttle-only option and it involves forward motion and balance to stay upright just like a standard bike. Depending upon the model it also can involve shifting the rear cluster of gears to maximize your effort according to the terrain you’re riding. There are single gear models too that don’t require shifting but they may not be appropriate if you’re riding hilly terrain. We have both types available in our rental fleet.
Although there are some similarities there are also some significant differences between bikes and eBikes. Whereas a competition road bike can weigh less than 20lbs. a typical eBike weighs anywhere from 45 to 65lbs. depending upon the size and style of the bike. Additionally, depending upon the Class of eBike you’re riding an eBike can go up to and sustain 20mph on a Class I eBike and up to 28MPH on most Class III eBikes (some select models can go up to 36mph) whereas sustaining or reaching the same speeds on a standard bike only occurs when you are “topped out” or are going downhill.
As this is the case it is always important to keep foremost in your mind how to safely operate your eBike. Here are some of the important items you need to be aware of when operating an eBike.
General Safety & Comfort
First and foremost, you must always wear a bike helmet properly fitted snugly so that it doesn’t move around on your head. As part of any rental of an eBike from VeloCambria we provide you with a properly fitted bike helmet as part of your rental.
It is also highly recommended that you also wear some type of eye protection, either your prescription glasses if needed or a good pair of sports glasses designed for cycling and other sports. It is not uncommon to be hit with flying insects and bees while riding, especially in open country, and when going at the speeds that eBikes can attain they can impact your eyes and might cause some damage.
Further is you plan on being out on an eBike for several hours you may want to use a good sunscreen of at least 30 SPF or more depending upon your skin type unless you are wearing clothing that covers your arms which are most prone to getting burned while riding.
While it is not necessary to ride in cycling-specific clothing such as lycra shorts or bibs you may still want to consider using a pair of riding shorts that have either a padded seat sewn into the garment or an insert that can be inserted and removed. This particularly applies to people who have not ridden a bicycle for a long time and are not used to the pressure on the crotch area from the seat. Different eBike models come with different types of saddles ranging from well-padded “tractor style” wide seats to more narrow competitive style seats. Most of them use gel padding to help absorb some of the road impact and for short rides, they’re adequate however for longer rides a padded pair of shorts or inserts are recommended. These types of shorts and/or undergarment inserts are available in our store or online.
Velocambria is also now carrying several eBikes where we have retrofitted a suspension-style seat post, which is like a shock absorber mounted on the seat post to absorb the impact from the road. If you do not care to wear a cycling short or undergarment with a padded seat, then using a suspension seat post is the best option to help “soften” your ride.
Rules of the Road
Always follow the rules of the road when operating an eBike. At least for right now when riding Class I and III eBikes you are required to follow the same rules of the road that standard bikes follow as described in the DMV Vehicle Code under Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety available online. Always remember that when having a collision with a vehicle the cyclist is always at a significant disadvantage due to the immense difference in the mass of an automobile and a bicycle. Therefore, always remain vigilant of traffic on the road and always presume that the vehicle has the right of way until you have confirmed the vehicle is aware of you and has yielded the right of way to you. Please note that due to their higher speed capacity further vehicle codes are currently being developed to govern Class III eBikes. In the near future, Class III eBikes may require licensing similar to registering a car or motorcycle.
Always ride in the bike lane when available or as close to the right-hand side shoulder as safely possible when no lane is available. Always ride with the flow of the traffic and pay attention to all traffic signs and signals as you would in a car. When riding an eBike like all bicycles always ride single file and presume that a vehicle does not see you before proceeding.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the vehicle code as it applies to bicycles and pedestrians so that you are in compliance while riding.
Make sure you have been properly fitted on the right size bike frame with the appropriate seat and handlebar height and angle setting. Almost all eBikes come in three sizes, Small, Medium, and Large. The size frame will be determined mainly by the rider’s inseam and ability to stabilize the bike when at a standstill with the rider’s feet touching the ground. A rider’s body type will determine these settings so that the rider is in a comfortable upright position unless riding an eBike with drop bars (like our Diamondback Currant’s) in which case the rider will be leaning forward over the bars.
As a guide when reserving an eBike to ride the frame sizes typically fit as follows:
- Small- 4’10” to 5’4”
- Medium- 5’5”- 5’9”
- Large- 5’10” and up
There are two styles of eBike frames available; a step-through frame which does not have a top tube and you can “step-through” the frame when mounting the bike while the other style frame is your standard frame with a top tube that you have to step over. Select the style you feel is most comfortable for you.
Like most standard bikes, many eBikes have seven gears on the rear hub that is selected by a trigger shifter on the right side of the handlebars. There is a shifter trigger to upshift to a lower (easier) gear, which is the larger chainrings on the rear hub cluster of gears and is used when climbing grades, and another shifter trigger on the backside or below the upshift trigger to shift to a higher (harder) gear, which are the smaller chainrings on the rear hub cluster of gears used for higher speeds when on flatter terrain. There is only one front chainring so there is no shifting necessary except for the rear chainrings. When using a single-speed eBike there is no shifting necessary.
While you can throw a chain on any type of bicycle more care must be taken when shifting an eBike due to the additional torque the motor adds to the chain to propel the bike. Each shift should be limited to one gear at a time with a slight hesitation in the pedaling while shifting the gear and then making sure the gear has changed before selecting another gear to shift to. If you push the shift selector trigger several times before you hesitate your pedaling and let the gear shift one gear at a time, the chain has the potential to “jump” the front chainring, which then requires the chain is put back on the front chainring. This requires the rider to grab the chain and place it on the top of the chainring and then turn the chainring clockwise to guide the chain fully back onto the front chainring.
Every eBike has a controller mounted on the left-hand side of the handlebar which has an on/off button, + and – buttons to select the amount of power assistance you want from the motor. Most eBikes have four levels of power assist, Eco, Tour, Sport & Turbo when the motor assist is turned on. ECO is the lowest power assist setting while Touring, Sport, and Turbo each increase the power assist incrementally. The controller also has settings for miles traveled per trip, highest speed, average speed, and accumulative miles. Additionally, it has a battery life indicator that shows you the amount of charge left in the battery.
All eBikes have a rechargeable Lithium battery that powers the electric motor. The range available on an eBike is difficult to specify because of the many variables involved however most eBikes have 45 to 50 miles as the maximum range. Please note that attaining 45- 50 miles range out of the battery requires conserving the battery by using the Eco and/or Tour power assist levels and riding at moderate speeds. Conversely, if you ride aggressively in Sport and/or Turbo power assist levels the range will be significantly shorter, more in the range of 25 to 30 miles per battery cycle. The typical eBike battery takes approx. 4 to 5 hours to fully recharge or less if there is a partial charge left in the battery.
Power Assist (Motor)
There are two types of power assist. One type is the “rear hub” design where the electric motor is located on the rear hub of the rear wheel while the other type is a “mid-drive” design where the motor is located on the pedal crank and is integrated with the pedals. The rear hub drive eBikes are the most common type of eBike because they involve simpler engineering to build them and therefore, they usually cost less than the mid-drive type eBikes. Rear Hub style eBikes can be pedal assist and/or operated with a throttle mounted on the left-hand side of the handlebars to control speed. At VeloCambria we have both rear hub and mid-drive eBikes available to rent.
Mid-drive eBikes are pedal-assist only whereby the action of pedaling initiates the motor for power assist, the level of which is set on the controller as previously explained. The benefit of a “mid-drive” eBike is that the power assist is synchronized with the pedaling giving a ride more similar to riding a standard bike, while when riding a “rear hub” drive eBike using a throttle is similar to riding a motor scooter like a Vespa.
For optimum power assistance and maximum range, a cadence (one revolution of the pedal stroke) of around 80 strokes per minute or an 80 cadence should be maintained. This is a casual pace that almost anyone can easily maintain. Keep in mind that turning a pedal stroke on an eBike is much easier than pedaling a standard bicycle in that you don’t have to put anywhere near the same pressure on the pedal stroke because you have the motor assisting you. If set in Sport or Turbo mode, you barely exert any pressure on the pedals and really are just spinning the pedals to initiate and sustain the motor’s assistance.
All eBikes are fitted with front and rear disc brakes operated by brake levers mounted on the left-hand side of the handlebars to operate the front brake and the right-hand side of the handlebars to operate the rear brake. Simply squeeze the lever to apply the brake. Typically, you would normally apply pressure on the rear brake before applying pressure on the front brake so that you maintain the stability of the bike while braking.
eBike Rental Support
Our rental support team is there to properly fit you on the right size and style eBike, make the necessary seat and handlebar adjustments to custom fit the eBike and review the above guidelines with you on how to safely operate the eBike before you go out on your ride. We also have maps of the local area rides available to guide you. If you experience a breakdown on the road while renting one of our eBikes we will send out a technician to either correct the issue (i.e., change a flat tire, etc.) or bring you back to the shop if it is an issue that cannot be corrected out on the road. I this case we would either provide you with another eBike to complete your ride or revise your rental charge to the amount of time used.
If you have any questions or require further information regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (805) 395-7055. We hope you too will explore the rewards of riding an eBike and we are here to introduce you to doing it safely.
FISCALINI RANCH PRESERVE
Explore the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and all the unique beauty and solitude it has to offer. From VeloCambria’s central location, E-Bike rides at Fiscalini Ranch will find you on dramatic ocean bluffs within minutes. You’ll explore everything from grassy terraces to a forested ridge, with breathtaking views of migrating whales, birds, and whimsical sea otters.