1. Learn The Controls
When you first swing your leg over an electric mountain bike, most of the cockpit will be familiar. Your brakes and gears work in the same way as a regular mountain bike, but you will notice a few extra controls.
Your handlebars will have an LCD screen, which allows you to see lots of information about your bike. Some LCDs have buttons so you can select the necessary assistance levels. Other electric bikes have separate buttons to do this.
The controls are becoming more intuitive as electric bike technology improves. The improvements make selecting your assistance level and managing your battery power much more manageable.
Most electric mountain bikes have 3,4, or 5 assistance levels. Each one determines how much help you get from the motor for different circumstances. You still need to pedal, but the motor helps you climb hills and ride longer distances before getting tired.
2. Pedal Fast
Electric mountain bikes work best when you use a high cadence. Faster pedalling helps the motor to work more efficiently. Therefore, you'll be able to ride further before you need to recharge your battery.
If you ride a regular mountain bike when you transition to an electric one, you may be tempted to use a higher gear to push up a steep climb. The problem with doing this is that it is not very efficient, nor is it very smooth. The best way to climb a hill is to go for an easier gear, sit on the saddle and pedal.
Be careful when you try this on the highest assistance level. This is because the torque from the motor tends to lift the front wheel. Therefore, when climbing, ensure you weight the front wheel to keep it on the ground.
3. Manage Your Weight
Electric mountain bikes make carrying extra weight easier. However, the more weight you have, the harder the motor has to work, reducing your range. So, you should be mindful of what you carry on your rides. If you like to bring an extra battery to increase your range, use a lighter one as your range extender.
As soon as you point your electric mountain bike downhill, you will be very aware of its extra weight over a regular mountain bike. The extra weight comes from the motor and battery, but they are located low down on the bike. The result of this positioning is a low centre of gravity, which plays into your hands with the correct technique.
To get the most out of an electric mountain bike, you need to adjust how you brake. The extra weight increases your braking distance, so you need to brake earlier than usual.
But this extra weight makes the bike track the ground very well, especially on rough, off-camber terrain. The low down weight adds stability, making it less likely that you will take a tumble.
4. Use Your Electric Mountain Bike To Explore
The way an electric mountain bike covers ground is seriously impressive. Mountain bikers who have adopted e-bikes have conquered previously inaccessible terrain.
Those steep, long uphill paths littered with roots and rocks are no longer a hindrance. All you need to do is put your weight over the front wheel and select a lower gear and a higher assistance level. Your electric mountain bike will power up like a Land Rover.
But don't be fooled into thinking it is easy. Your legs are still doing a lot of work, so you cannot be accused of cheating. You will find that you will look for more steep and technical ascents to test you and your bike. Most of the time, the technical climbs just take an extra dose of commitment than usual.
But when you explore the unknown, make sure you are responsible. More electric mountain bikers are getting themselves into trouble. They find themselves getting out of their depth and struggling to find a safe way back home.
When you decide to explore on your electric mountain bike, you need to make a proper plan. Ensure you know where you are going and have a good idea of the terrain. One of the most important things is to ensure you have enough battery power to complete your ride.
Trying to pedal a dead electric mountain bike up a steep hill is not fun. So, manage your battery power, and take an extra battery on longer rides. Also, tell someone your plan and check in with them regularly by phone. It is also essential to not go exploring on your own.
5. Take A Test Ride
Electric bikes are expensive things; therefore, take a test ride before you commit to buying one. A test ride will highlight how the motor delivers the power and how well it works with the drivetrain. You will also be able to get a feel for the bike's geometry to see if it suits you and the terrain you ride.
The geometry of an electric mountain bike is important, as it will make a difference in how it fits you and feels. For example, its reach figure will dictate how "roomy" it feels, and its head angle will determine its stability on steep descents.
Your electric mountain bike unlocks a tremendous amount of potential for riding. Whether you want to make two loops of your favourite trail, rather than the one you can typically manage, go exploring, or just to make life easier.
These 5 tips for starting E-MTB are just the tip of the iceberg. But they will put you in good stead for your first few rides. The main things to take away from this are to have fun and stay safe.