Electric bike expertise

Outfitting & protecting your e-bike

Accessories – what you need for safety, security, & function

When you buy a car, many extra items are included that are important for your safety (like lights and seat belts), security (like locks and keys), functionality (trunk for carrying things), and repairs (spare tire, jack and wrench). When you purchase a bicycle many of these kinds of items may not be included and must be purchased separately. Every cyclist should consider purchasing each of the items listed below.

  • Visibility – The following are recommended items to keep insure you visible and secure on the road

Helmet – Get one for each rider in the household.

○Bright yellow jacket or vest – Bicycles can be very invisible to drivers, and bright clothing can make a big difference to being seen at twilight and at night. You should have one jacket or vest for each rider in the household.

Lights – Some e-bikes come with lights included as a standard item, but most do not. Bike manufacturers are required to install reflectors on all bikes, but these are not sufficient to protect you from being hit by a car at night. Lights are the responsibility of the rider, not the manufacturer, but required by law in many states (including California4 ). A bike must have one white light in the front to ride at night and a red light in the rear is recommended. Blinking lights are excellent for high visibility in urban settings and have much longer battery life than steady lights, but battery life is less of an issue in an e-bike than a regular bike.

Bell – This is very useful for warning pedestrians as you approach. If you will be riding in traffic a lot, you may want to consider a horn.

Pant clips – needed to keep pants from getting caught in the chain if there is not a chain guard.

  • Security is critical. E-bikes and their parts will be attractive to thieves. Get a tough lock and learn how to use it well to lock at least both wheels and your helmet. Lock it securely at home and work, not just when you are out in the world.

Lock – You get what you pay for. Get the highest quality lock you can afford. Heavy duty, keyed U bolt or chain is best. Combination locks and cable locks are easily broken and should be avoided. Look for locks rated “Sold Secure Gold” or “ART 3 stars” or better.

Wheel & seat security – These are common targets for theft. Quick release axles make fixing a flat tire or removing the tire to fit in a car quick, but also make theft quick (see Security section below). Likewise, quick release seatposts make adjustments easy if multiple riders of different sizes are sharing the same bike, but otherwise just make the seat an attractive target for theft. Bolts are safer than quick release. Lockable options include:

Cables: These are used to thread through the wheels and then locked with the main lock (See below under “Taking care of your new e-bike”). A cable can also be used to lock the helmet to the bike. A small cable & lock can secure the seat.

Security skewers: lockable axles for your wheels or seatpost.

Pin lock bolts: These bolts require a special tool to remove and make it very difficult for a thief to steal the seat, wheels or other parts.

GPS Tracker – A device that mounts to your bike, detects when someone else moves it, sends an alert and tracking to your cell phone.

Carrying capacity. Think about how you will be haul things (or people!) to make your bike a true replacement for a car. Of course, you can always start with a backpack or messenger bag until you can afford add-ons for your bike.

Cargo Rack – If the bike is not a cargo bike with built in carrying options, a bike should have at minimum one good rear rack that can carry panniers.

Child Seating: Some cargo bikes come standard with seating, but more often at least padding will be an add-on item. For younger kids, you also may need a full child seat or “monkey bars” or a similar rail system to surround kids on the rear of longtail bikes and give them something to hang on to.

Panniers – These are baskets or bags that hang on either side of a rear rack. They may be either open baskets or a set of strap-on bags. They should be large enough to hold at least one full grocery bag. Some are foldable. Some are removable so you can carry them with a shoulder strap or even as a backpack. If you are planning to ride year-round including in the rain, consider (more expensive) waterproof panniers. Also consider fenders.

Front basket

  • Tools. If you live far from a bike shop or just like doing your own minor maintenance at home, you might want to consider tools for maintaining tire pressure, fixing flats and tightening bolts and keeping your chain running easily.

Pump & Pressure Gauge: Your tires will lose pressure over time and need to be pumped up about once a month. There are two types of valve Schrader (the kind used on automobile tires) and Presta (thinner valve used on some high pressure bike tires). Most pumps have an adapter for either valve type. A tire pressure gauge is useful to insure inflating your tire into the recommended pressure range, although some people are satisfied with checking by thumb pressure. Some pumps come with a gauge built in. Beware – the gauges on some less expensive models can be inaccurate – some over 10 pounds off.

Patch kit &/or a spare tube: Broken glass happens.

Tire irons/levers: These are needed to remove the tire to change a flat tire

Wrench and/or hex key set: If the bike does not have quick release axles and seat post, this will be necessary to remove wheels to repair a flat tire or to adjust the seat height. This also will be useful for tightening other bolts that may come loose over time.

Chain lubricant: Your chain will last longer and riding will be much easier if you oil your chain every few weeks or after it is exposed to lots of rain or dust.

Chain wear gauge: This helps you determine when your chain is too worn and should be replaced.

  • Rain protection – If you intend to ride year-round you will want some protection for you and your gear from rain.

Fenders – Front and rear. Bolt on instead of clip on will be more secure and harder to steal

Waterproof pannier bags – These are more expensive than non-waterproof ones but can make a big difference if you are going to ride through rainy weather.


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