I can’t tell you how often our customers tell us that installing LEED’s ebike kit has them riding a bike again after 10, 20, or even 30 years! In fact, a customer just called this morning to tell me how much fun he and his wife had on their trip. He said they would never have considered riding their bikes 25 miles without our ebike kit, but now the sky is the limit. He was bursting with joy. Which has ME bursting with joy! Honestly, it gives us so much satisfaction to know we are making a difference in people’s lives. Just see our electric bike kit reviews! But the other day, I had someone ask if we had any tips for someone who has never ridden an ebike. This got me thinking. With so many of our customers just getting back on their bikes after many years of not riding, we need to start at the beginning. So here are our top 10 tips for getting back out there on the road (with 2 wheels and a motor).
If you haven’t been on a bike in years, the first step you should take before riding around town is simply getting comfortable on your bike. Take some time to practice in your driveway, in a park, or on a calm side street before you take your wheels on the road. Practice the range of motions you’ll at some point do on your bike, such as riding with one hand, shoulder checking, and stopping quickly. If you have already installed your ebike conversion kit, practice pushing the pressure switch. It’s always a shock that first time you press the little grey button and feel the power! If you don’t know what to expect, it can catch you off guard.
2. CHECK YOUR BIKE.
Give your bicycle a good once-over before you take it out on the road. Clean the chain, put air in the tires, and make sure the brakes are working properly. If you’re not comfortable with basic bike mechanics, take it to a local bike shop for a tune-up before you go. After installing your kit, re-check to make sure things are running smoothly by turning the bike upside down and running the motor for a second or two with the wheels free spinning in the air.
3. GRAB A FRIEND.
Finding a more experienced rider to tag along with can be a great way to beat those first ride jitters. Find a friend, family member or coworker who cycles regularly, and join them on a trip around town. Let them lead the way, so you can just focus on getting comfortable.
4. PLAN AHEAD.
Look for a map of bike lanes and paths in your community and plan a route that will have you spending as much time as possible in protected bike lanes or bike routes on traffic-calmed roads. While in most North American cities, commuting entirely in dedicated cycling infrastructure is impossible, many cities have cycling infrastructure that will cover you for at least part of your trip. If there isn’t a bike route map on the municipality’s website, contact a local cycling organization or bike shop for advice on the best routes in town.
5. BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS.
Be cognizant of other cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles around you. Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, shoulder check before turning, and mind the turn signals of cars in front of you as you approach intersections. Pay special attention to staying out of the blind spots of motorists.
6. USE ALERTS.
Pass on the left, and use a bell to alert other cyclists and pedestrians that you are about to pass them. You can also say “passing on the left,” if you don’t have a bell. Trust me, with your new ebike conversion kit from LEED, you will definitely be passing other cyclists often, so this one is a must. Just try to keep the laughing to a minimum or you’ll give yourself away. 🙂
7. FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD.
Bike in the direction of traffic and obey traffic lights. There are a few bicycle traffic laws – such as the requirement to come to a complete stop at stop signs – whose relevance to people on bikes is currently being debated. The ability to treat stop signs as yields, known as the Idaho Stop, is a bike-specific law designed to reduce congestion and keep cyclists safe. But the Idaho Stop aside, obeying traffic laws is the best way to keep yourself and others safe.
8. USE HAND SIGNALS.
Biking in a predictable manner can go a long way to keep you safe on the road. If people behind you (other bike riders, cars, etc.) can predict what you’re going to do, they can better plan their movements around you. Just as drivers who don’t signal cause crashes, so do people on bikes. Use hand signals when you’re turning or stopping to avoid unnecessary confusion. A bent left elbow, fingers raised skywards, means turning right, while pointing your arm straight out to the left indicates a left-hand turn. Pointing your fingers down with a bent left elbow signals that you plan to stop.
9. MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE.
Biking in a predictable manner can go a long way to keep you safe on the road. If people behind you (other bike riders, cars, etc.) can predict what you’re going to do, they can better plan their movements around you. Just as drivers who don’t signal cause crashes, so do people on bikes. Use hand signals when you’re turning or stopping to avoid unnecessary confusion. A bent left elbow, fingers raised skywards, means turning right, while pointing your arm straight out to the left indicates a left-hand turn. Pointing your fingers down with a bent left elbow signals that you plan to stop. We highly recommend a reflector vest such as the Nathan Bicycle Reflector Vest available in our store.
10. HAVE FUN!
While cycling needs to be approached with the same degree of precaution that any form of transportation should, it shouldn’t be a stressful experience. Cycling is safe, healthy and most importantly, fun! Relish the experience of the wind in your hair and the sun on your back. Take note of your surroundings, say hi to other cyclists. As much as it’s about health and sustainability, cycling is also about putting the joy back into your commute, and we promise, cycling will bring you more joy with your new LEED electric bike conversion kit than you ever thought possible! But don’t take our word for it, get out and ride!