Essential gear for your electric bike

Essential bike gear to accessorize your eBike

Once your tyres— adequately filled with air to the proper pressurisation — hit the road, you have nearly accomplished the basic requirement for cycling. Full tyres, a fully charged battery pack and shoes is about all you need for a casual e-bike ride around the block. But if you are planning on cycling in lieu of commuting, or longer distances, then you are going to need to slap on some essential bike gear to be fully stocked and prepared for any bike-related necessity.

While whatever gear you choose to put on your bike or e-bike is optional, there some basic items you’ll likely need. Unless you have the physiology of a camel, you are going to need something to drink. Most bikes have a couple of screws on the frame where you can attach a water bottle cage. If you are going for extremely long rides, depending on the frame, you can attach multiple water bottle cages. Just stay hydrated.

Cycling, for all its health benefits, does come with natural side effects like flat tyres and loose bolts. My crankset (the bit that the pedals are attached to) needs to be tightened every 50 miles or so. For that reason, I carry a small saddle bag under the seat. This is attached to the frame and a clip that is attached to the saddle. This bag contains necessary tools like a socket wrench, allen wrenches and tyre irons in case I need to change a tyre. It also contains a mini medical kit just in case I fly over my handlebars again.

A helmet doesn’t technically count as bike gear in the sense of being attached to the bike, but I was glad to be wearing one in that instance. I’ve had enough head injuries.

That’s just some of the more basic gear. For longer rides, you’ll want to stock up your travel gear.

If the saddle bag isn’t enough, then you might want to think about getting a frame mount bag or a handlebar mount bag. The difference is that the frame bag sits comfortably out of the way, while the handlebar bag usually has a clear plastic opening for you to put your phone while cycling. In these types of bags you’ll generally carry all the things you don’t want to, or can’t, carry in your pockets. Especially if you are wearing super tight compression shorts.

If that’s still not enough space to carry all the things then you can install a bike rack and sling some traditional saddle bags (like you’d see on a motorcycle) over the sides. There are all kinds of saddle bags. Some sling, some stack and some are like giant tote bags that you have to use bungee cords to secure. A bike rack can also be used to secure deliveries, child/pet carriers or a full case of White Claw.

If you have an e-bike then you are likely going to need that bike rack or at least some sort of attached bag to carry an extra e-bike battery if your bike requires it. Some e-bikes are built with the batteries in the frame, some require extra batteries for extra distance. While it does add some weight to your ride, carrying an extra e-bike battery can come in handy if your e-bike is your primary source of transportation.

While I don’t recommend carrying extra tyres in your saddle bags because the chances of you destroying a tyre while on a ride are slim, I do recommend carrying extra tyre tubes and an air pump. Most bikes have a place where you can attach an air pump holder to the frame, but if not, you can just zip tie it on like I did. You are going to get a flat tyre at some point, so add a patch kit to one of your numerous bags.

Adding all this stuff to your bike might seem like too much, but when you are out there under the sun, miles from home, you’ll be glad you rode prepared. Having an extra battery for your e-bike, or a full bottle of water or even a few band-aids make for a much more reliable and confident ride. With the exception of a bike rack and saddle bags, I carry all this gear on my bike, including some extra tools so I never have to ask a random HVAC repair person to borrow tools again.

Gear up. Get riding. And don’t forget to get a really good bike lock.

 

Curtis Silver

 

 

How to Safely e-bike in traffic

Whether you are using your e-bike for pleasure or for the pleasure of commuting and not being stuck in a dusty old car while doing so, you’ll want to be aware of some simple rules for the road that can keep you from becoming a statistic. The rules for e-biking in traffic are similar to the ones for riding a standard bike and while not set in legal stone, will keep you alive and unharmed if followed. 

 

The most simple safety tips should be the most obvious. Always wear a helmet. Always ride on the proper side of the road with traffic, not against it. Keep your tyres inflated to the base PSI. Use a mirror.

 

Some cities are set up for e-bikes (better and more available bike lanes, wider streets) but most aren’t. Since most e-bikes are not road-legal vehicles, you’ll want to choose a route that has bike lanes. If that route isn’t available and your e-bike is street legal (proper turn signals and you can keep up with traffic) then be sure to own the lane as you head into traffic. 

 

That means that in city centres, you’ll generally be keeping up with and part of traffic, which is much safer than hugging the curb. In rural areas, hugging the curb is generally the way to go, as speeds are higher and it gives cars more room to safely pass. 

 

Regardless of whether you can ride in the road or not, be sure your e-bike has proper lights, especially on the rear. 

 

I always ride with my rear light on, day or night. This makes it easier for drivers to have a chance to see you and react a lot sooner, especially drivers who tend to drift into the bike lane. 

 

Either riding your e-bike in the road or in the bike lanes, you are still interacting with cars on the road, so no matter the safety equipment, your brain is the most important piece of head gear keeping you safe. Not all drivers know how to react with bikes or e-bikes on the road and different cities have different laws on who has the right to the road in accident situations. So your best bet on your e-bike is to avoid accidents all together. 

 

There are a couple brain tips to keep you safe while riding an e-bike with traffic. The first is to be defensive rider. This means always keeping your head on a swivel and assuming that each driver will do the worst thing possible in any given situation. Awareness is key to surviving your e-bike ride, including anticipating every traffic scenario in front of you. If you think that car will attempt to pull into traffic, cutting you off in the bike lane, they probably will. 

 

Watching out for drunk drivers is a lot easier if you are already under the impression that every driver is drunk. 

 

When I’m out on the bike, I ride with the knowledge that every person on the road is a terrible driver and will be making the worst decision possible, or actively putting me in danger. This is especially true with angled parking on city streets, back-up cameras be damned, I’ve almost been backed into numerous times. And don’t even get me started on roundabouts.

 

Which brings me to the most important piece of e-biking in traffic advice: always make eye contact with other drivers when crossing paths. Obviously this rule doesn’t hold true with the regular flow of traffic, but if someone is trying to turn in front of you, pulling into traffic or making an oncoming turn, making eye contact tells you that they see you and your e-bike and you can act accordingly. Often I wave drivers on, just to make sure they don’t make a dumb decision. Get them out of the way so you can continue on yours. 

 

Riding an e-bike can have many health and commuting benefits, but it will always include riding with traffic. 

 

Traffic doesn’t always do what you want it to do, so remember to stay aware, e-bike with the proper safety gear and communicate with car drivers. 

 

When it comes down to it, no matter who is right and who is wrong in a collision, you’re on an e-bike and they are in a several thousand pound motor vehicle. You will lose every battle, so it’s best to avoid the fight by being hyper-aware and attentive when e-biking in traffic.

 

Curtis Silver

 

 

E-bikes in the time of coronavirus

The novel coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world has changed how we work, how we shop and how we commute for either of those things. Most of us have shuttered ourselves in our homes, hissing at the sun for a good part of the day. Some of us have taken this opportunity to get outside, slap our butts on our bikes and cycle our little thighs off. E-bike sales have skyrocketed around the world during the lockdown, for good reason. 

 

We’re driving less, the environment is healing itself without all the dirty humans pumping toxins into the air, creating the perfect opportunity to pick up an e-bike and get out into the world. Social distancing doesn’t mean that we can’t get a fair amount of exercise in and it doesn’t mean that we can’t social distance as far as possible from the crazy loons we’re locked down with (our families). E-bikes offer a healthy escape. 

 

Need for better transport

 

So why the boom during a pandemic? There are several reasons. Economically, cities like New York have lifted e-bike restrictions for delivery workers, enabling a massive, essential workforce the ability to be more efficient and sustain business and supply food and other goods to the hardest hit city in the world. This case can be made in cities around the world. E-bikes are not cars, do not clog up roads in tight city centres and make it easier for delivery people to deliver while not wearing them down with hard cycling to do so.

 

In London, Brompton bicycles is loaning bikes to members of the National Health Service (NHS) while in Scotland, Forth Environment Link is providing free loaners to NHS staff so they can avoid using public transportation. This detail is important in cities around the world, where not only health workers but citizens are looking to avoid public transportation, which are basically just free rides for viruses. 

 

Those citizens are benefiting from lower e-bike prices. As demand rises and e-bike manufacturers are selling more e-bikes, they are able to offer discounts. Prices are dropping all over the place, enabling people who may have not been able to afford an e-bike before the ability to purchase one now. Especially if it saves them from cramming onto a bus with the coronavirus and its good friend COVID-19. Avoiding infection and disease is as good a reason as ever to get an e-bike. 

 

Health benefits lead the way

 

Right now, as we’re all waiting for an inevitable viral infection, boosting our immune systems through exercise is a great way to fight the coronavirus. Sunshine, cycling pair up well as an immune booster. That’s just science. Cycling is also a great way to physically distance while exercising, especially compared to running. Just don’t cycle in packs. That kind of defeats the purpose. Turn on that e-bike motor and leave everyone else in the dust. 

 

If you live in a crowded city and don’t own a car, an e-bike is a great way to get out of town without a train ticket. Most e-bikes can go at least 40km on one charge, many going up to 80km if you dial back the assisted power level and actually push pedals some of the way. You can carry a spare battery or pedal home (though 80km is a long way to pedal for even the most physically capable cyclists, so carry an extra battery). The more people you physically distance from, the better.

 

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon, but e-bike sharing might be. Many companies are cutting services because this isn’t the time to be using shared equipment. So people are buying their own e-bikes and are finding their world suddenly much larger.

 

Anywhere in the world is good for riding an e-bike during a pandemic, not just in a large city. Between running simple errands and getting a healthy dose of exercise, e-biking is a great alternative to driving. On a personal level, using the e-bike has provided a much needed escape from working-at-home, something driving doesn’t offer (because then I have to touch a gas pump). Roads or bike paths are available to e-bikers, and absorbing the peace of the great outdoors is its own benefit. 

 

With less cars on the road, better weather, easier riding in cities and healthier commuting options for essential workers, e-bikes are one of the best options for surviving the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Curtis Silver

 

 

Health benefits of riding electric bikes

Yes, riding an e-bike does have healthy side effects

There is a misnomer when it comes to e-bikes. They are often viewed as strictly electric bikes, something of a trimmed down moped or electric scooter. The truth is that most e-bikes are nothing of the sort. While they do provide an electric-assisted operation, they can be ridden and pedalled just like a normal bike. While they might be not preferred by hard core cyclists, e-bikes offer us regular folk a way to enhance our cycling experience and health.

For some of us, age and past injuries have bitten into our cycling time. While cycling has provided the opportunity to train our bodies to heal a bit, there are still undeniable truths when cycling. To wit: my knees are as old as I am and a rough youth of skateboarding and baseball has caught up to me. Distance and endurance while cycling has become a challenge. Swapping out my back tire for an e-bike tire to go further for a longer period of time is just the first benefit.

Go further, longer

E-bikes utilize your natural cycling ability and toss on a motor and range to keep you cycling for a longer period of time, with a further range. If you are used to doing 10-20km rides but have found it more difficult to do so, then slapping an e-bike enhancement on your bike will supplement your rides with a motorized assist. Most e-bike motors allow for independent pedalling (you can turn it off and on, or set the level of assist). This lightens the strain on your body and helps you train for that 30km ride you want to achieve. Tempering your cycling workout to build endurance is one health benefit of an e-bike.

E-bike for the brain

Aside from the clear aerobic benefits, e-bikes offer another healthy side effect, that of improving your mental state. While that could be said about any outdoor activity, e-bikes and cycling in general improve brain health, especially in seniors. There are even studies to support this. Why e-bikes over regular biking? We’ll get to that in a second. Right now let’s think about your brain. Your brain is stagnant. It’s bored. It needs physical activity and running is a terrible choice because while healthy, it’s pain. Ask any runner.

Cycling with an e-bike is not pain. It’s pleasure. It’s a relaxing ride through the country, through city streets recently converted to add bike lanes. It allows for both leisure and aerobics at the same time. This has positive effects on your mental health. It’s not torture for the sake of health like some activities, it’s health for the sake of health. Just being outside, going somewhere and absorbing nature along the way can change your state of mind for the better.

E-bikes are inclusive health

E-bikes are not just for a segmented part of the population. E-bikes make cycling more inclusive by giving people who might not normally cycle a boost in power and distance with battery assist. This enables people who might not be able to cycle normally take up the activity and build strength and endurance, especially seniors. Or people like me with damaged knees. While I can hit a long ride on the flat streets of the locale in which I live, the e-bike motor enables me to tackle the odd hill or rise that my knees generally couldn’t handle.

Anyone can use an e-bike which means anyone can enjoy the health benefits of cycling outside. To that end, more people are cycling with the assist of e-bikes than ever before.

More people are using e-bikes than ever before

The e-bike market is growing around the world. Part of it is for the health benefits found in the slightly aging population, part of it is parents keeping up with their kids, part of it is young people commuting to work and school. Riding an e-bike is much healthier than sitting in your car or riding the bus because there is physical activity involved no matter which way you split it. Even if you keep the motor running the entire time, you still have to balance and steer and that takes muscle control and cognitive awareness.

To that end, e-bikes aren’t a replacement for pure cycling. To some purists it might seem that way, but as a former road bike purist who now uses an e-bike to enhance my ride some days, I can say that the health benefits are the same as cycling. Some days it feels even more healthier because I’m able to use the e-bike to assist in pushing me further (and bringing me back). E-bikes have clear benefits for the senior population and for students and young workers who perhaps can’t afford a car or live in a city centre and don’t need one.

E-bikes are only growing in popularity and use. Recognizing that the health benefits are just as present as with regular cycling is a step toward creating a future in which we cyclists take back the roads, or build our own.

 

Curtis Silver

 

 

EXPERT REVIEWS – “Electric conversion for your Brompton Ludicrously Lightweight”

“Swytch’s Brompton conversion kit is ludicrously compact and light

Read the full article here    |        [Published on 14th October by expertreviews.co.uk]

We are delighted to have been awarded 4/5 stars by Expert Reviews, who just finished an in-depth review of our specialised kit for Brompton folding bikes. Jonathan Bray singled out the following highlights of our kit:

  • Amazingly lightweight
  • Simple to fit
  • Inexpensive compared with Brompton Electric

Jonathan noted a few areas for improvement – most importantly he commented that the control system cut off a bit sharply at 15mph, which is a good observation! Our high torque 40Nm motor is more powerful than most eBike motors, meaning that it gives high acceleration right up to the top speed of 15mph.

In contrast, other eBikes have weaker and weaker power as the speed increases, meaning that you don’t really notice when the power cuts out to comply with the law (eBikes must not be able to provide power when you are cycling faster than 15mph)

We’ve made note of this feedback and are working on some tweaks to the control system for our first batch of production so that the cut-off is more gradual and gives you a slight boost past 15mph the first time.

In summary, Jonathan said of our kit “Sure, it doesn’t quite have the polished feel as the Brompton Electric and it’s rough around the edges when it hits its 15.5mph assistance limit but, for the most part, this kit hits the mark. It’s very light, simple to fit to an existing Brompton and delivers more than enough power assistance.”

Fastest Funded UK Startup Ever – $250k in 24 hours on Indiegogo!

It’s official – we are the fastest funded UK startup on Indiegogo with over $250,000 raised in just 24 hours.

An open letter to all our Indiegogo backers:

“To all our brand new Swytchers, and to those who have supported us for the second time having already Swytched with our last indiegogo campaign…

Thank you! You are awesome

“It’s an absolute game-changer for us to be have raised so much support in just 24 hours. This means we can now fulfill our mission to change the way people move. This funding is sufficient to significantly ramp up production of Swytch kits and make a serious impact on the carbon footprint of our transport network.”

“Furthermore, once other people see the new influx of Swytch kits on the roads, word will spread and we hope within a few years that there will be a significant shift in the number of people choosing to cycle further and faster, with electric assistance, instead of driving!”

SWYTCH IN THE NEWS – “Hand-Held kit turns any bike electric” [DesignBoom]

“I can’t wait to buy one for my granddaughter and myself!!”

[DesignBoom – Kieron Marchese]

Read the full article here

Published on 6th September

The Swytch team was super excited to see our product get picked up in the press by major tech site DesignBoom.

The best bit about this article is the comments – over 300 people have shared or commented. And some of the comments are wonderful!

I can’t wait to buy one for my granddaughter and myself!” [Gary Rankin]

Awesome Gary! We can’t wait to see some cool photos of your Swytch bikes.

Alright! We’ll be looking out for it 🙂

I will be the first to order the kit” [Driss]

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