With more cyclists on the roads than ever (both electric and non electric) now has never been a safer time to take to two wheels – safety in numbers and all that. Nevertheless a decent helmet and some reflective / high visibility clothing will give you protection and help other road users see you. Helmets needn’t be the clunky old fashioned things of days gone by. Choose from a variety of styles and shapes but ensure you buy from a good local bike shop so you can have it fitted in store. Hi-viz clothing can also be wind or waterproof and in either case make sure it’s breathable so you don’t arrive all sweaty and smelly at the other end.
Trailers & child seats
An electric bike allows you to carry additional loads easily. Fit a trailer to the back of the bike to do the shopping, run errands or carry the kids. Trailers can be seat post or axle mounted. Choose axle mounting if your seat post is short. Your local bike shop (preferably one with experience dealing with electric bikes) will advise on fitting if unsure. Don’t forget : The more weight you carry the less miles your battery will take you so make sure you have a big enough battery to get the job done.
Child seats can be fitted to some electric bikes and some come with their own rear rack that needs to be fitted first. If you have a rack mounted battery then you may want to consider a trailer instead. Some child seats fit behind the handlebars and allow you to keep an eye on the child while riding.
Panniers can be more waterproof but baskets are often the most convenient for just dropping a bag of shopping or a handbag into. There are many styles of each available though so seek out the wisdom of your local bike shop to get the best solution for your particular needs.
Bike lights have come on leaps and bounds over the last few years. Forget the old faint yellow glow that ate batteries and was about as effective as a tea light in a jam jar. Modern lights can be as bright as car lights. If you live in a city and ride on streets that are mostly street-lit then a basic system will set you back around £30. If you live in a rural area where the only light around is what’s coming off your bike then be prepared to spend £60-£200 on a front light system that will show you where the potholes are. Be advised though, these lights are extremely bright. Make sure they’re correctly fitted so they don’t dazzle oncoming motorists. Battery life on the super bright stuff is only a few hours, but are rechargeable. Plug them in at night so you’re not caught short. It’s worth noting that many ebikes, eg. Wispers, come with lights that are powered from the main battery. That is exceptionally convenient, however it is worth having back up LED lights in addition to these because otherwise if your ebike battery runs flat you will of course have no lights!
Pumps come in various flavours. The traditional hand pump is fine for emergencies and it’s a good idea to keep one with you in case of punctures. For home use a floor standing pump is more efficient, easier to use and much faster. £20-£30 will get you an excellent one.
Most bikes nowadays have mudguards but some more ‘sporty’ looking models have done away with them in the interests of aesthetics or (perhaps even more tenuously) weight saving. If your name is Bradley Wiggins and being a 10th of a second faster over 100 miles is the most important aspect of your ride then by all means leave the mudguards in the garage. For the rest of us invest in a set if your bike doesn’t already have them. It will revolutionise your comfort levels and your dry cleaning bills. Most are cheap enough at £20-£50 a set. Some bespoke handmade wooden ones can be several hundred but will look a million dollars on pretty much any bike.
Covers and stands
If your bike lives outside a cover will make it last longer, especially if it’s an electric bike. All good electric bikes will be able to withstand being used in a rain shower but do not expect it to last a long time if permanently kept outside in the rain! Get a cover that’s breathable and avoid the cheap and nasty as they are thin, will tear easily and retain moisture which is bad for the electrics. Pay around the fifty quid mark for a good one. The tyres won’t get frosted up and cracked, the chain and cables won’t corrode and you’ll have a dry bum when you sit on the saddle the next morning. On the subject of dry bums an elasticated saddle cover (look like a shower cap) stowed away in a saddle bag or pannier will be a godsend should your bike be caught in an unexpected downpour. You can usually pick them up for under a tenner – or ask The Electric Transport Shop for a complementary one!
A decent lock is step one. Insurance is also important; especially for electric bikes as the good ones start at the £1000 mark. In the old days if your bike got nicked, your insurance company would ask if it was locked. These days they will want to know what type of lock was used. Good locks come with a rating system called Sold Secure. There are three levels; bronze for bikes under £250 in value, silver for £250-£1500 and gold for bikes worth more than £1500. Make sure the lock you get is rated for the value of your bike.
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