The greatest eMTB is only as good as it is set up and ridden, right? That’s why we’ve curated this list of things-worth-doing-once-you’ve-bought-your-new-toy before your dreams are crushed. When it comes to your initial equipment, bike set-up, comfort, and safety, we’d rather see a satisfied grin rather than soul-battering disappointment written all over your face.
1. Setting up your suspension
Even after having the basic set-up done by your dealer or retailer, you might find your suspension needs some tweaking after a few rides. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a PhD in engineering to twiddle a few dials. These days the literature on how to set up your suspension correctly is pretty substantial, and high-end brands like FOX and RockShox have launched a range of online video tutorials to help too. If you don’t feel like you’re seeing the benefits (or prefer not to try DIY), then we’d suggest heading back to where you bought the bike and getting their advice.
2. Go tubeless, puncture less
Tubeless is now a permanent fixture when it comes to cars, and the same applies to today’s mountain bikes. Most bikes are sold tubeless-ready, which means they’re just running with sealant in the tires rather than a tube – and this majorly decreases the likelihood of puncturing. Another benefit is the reduction in weight and the ability to ride with lower tire pressures, increasing grip and comfort.
3. Enjoy a more comfortable ride
A decent bike shop will adjust the bike to fit you when you buy it. However, don’t be alarmed if there are some bugbears after your first few rides: a different saddle or grips could alleviate discomfort, or you could even try changing the set-up of bar and stem, like the width of the bars, the rise, or the length of the stem. If it still doesn’t feel right, a professional bike fit is always worth an investment. Most of the Top100 bike shops will offer this invaluable service.
4. Now, the pedals: clipless or flats?
Flat pedals are the best choice for 90% of eMTBers. They give a lot of grip and stability, ensuring that confidence is high on descents. When buying your pedals make sure that the ball of your foot covers the surface area of the pedals. The longer the pins, the more grip you’ll get in muddy, sloppy conditions. Clipless pedals tend to be the preserve of competitive mountain biking, as their fixed nature to the shoe means you get a higher power transfer and efficiency. This comes with a slight risk when crashing, as a certain technique is needed to make sure you clip out in time.
5. Don’t leave for a ride without…
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be MacGyver in order to fix a puncture while out riding (providing, of course, you’ve got a few key pieces of a puncture repair kit with you). The essentials involve a multi-tool with a chain tool, a quick link, a spare tube, cable ties, and a mini pump. For anyone riding a Bosch (or similar) motor you’ll also need a spoke magnet – these have a tendency to go AWOL, so make sure it’s placed somewhere safe. Over on our website we’ve outlined MacGyver-standard tips for on-the-fly repairs. unserer Website.
6. What’s the best riding kit?
You’ve probably spotted those skiers mouthing off about their cumbersome ski boots while downing a fair few drinks at an après ski bar. To avoid the same fate, make sure your riding gear is not only stylish, but also functional. A base layer should be the first piece of apparel you wear, and never ride without padded cycling shorts. (On an eMTB you’ll spend a lot more time in the saddle than on a regular mountain bike.) Stuff a rain jacket or windproof jacket into your backpack, as well as an extra layer so that you’re prepared for all eventualities – whether you’re commuting, crushing the trails, or enjoying a post-ride beer.
7. Remember kids, look after yourselves
Most of us are concerned with the state of our appearance, wanting our skin to look young and fresh whatever our age. Clothing obviously helps to deceive the world of your real age, but the best way is to look after your body and any exposed skin while riding. These days there’s no shortage of stylish helmets that are well ventilated and feature pads that will stop sweat from dripping down your face. Full-finger gloves give added protection in the event of a crash. Getting old won’t be glamorous – but at least take the necessary precautions to make sure you can grow old!
8. How to ride safely and have more fun
All new relationships come with an initial getting-to-know-you phase. The same applies to your new bike. eMTBs are unique because of their weight, their ability to accelerate, and the power they lend you to muscle up steep climbs. Faced with these advantages, you might find yourself reaching your limits sooner than anticipated. It’s therefore wise to get to grips with eMTB handling skills by attending a specific course before going wild on the mountainsides. Let the professionals advise you on how to tackle certain situations with ease. Trust us, you’ll have more fun as a result.
9. Pick the right pedal-assist
With eMTBs, it’s counterproductive to assume that bigger is better. The higher the pedal-assist mode, the quicker you’ll drain the battery. Inexperienced riders may well be taken aback by the sheer force of the strongest mode, and could find that the bike seems uncontrollable. We recommend using a mid- to low mode for the majority of each ride – team that with a high cadence and you’ll find that the battery range is optimized. You’ll also find that it feels like a more leisurely ride, and you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery instead of worrying about hitting the 25 km/h limit. Plus, isn’t society telling us that the current trend is all about decelerating?
10. Customize your motor through your smartphone
Bike brands like Specialized (as well as motor manufacturers like Shimano) have created apps for smartphones that let you fine-tune the behaviour of your motor. Things like its sensitivity to acceleration, how it unleashes power, or how each pedal-assist mode behaves can be customized so that you enjoy your ride more and the battery range gets extended. Depending on which software you have, there’s also the option to plan a route and tune the battery usage to suit that particular ride – AI at its best on the bike!
11. Bonus tip
Take it easy. Try things out, be adventurous, have a twiddle, and don’t be afraid to have fun.
Words: Andy Rieger, Robin Schmitt Photos: Christoph Bayer