There's nothing inherently unsafe about electric bikes. They are just bikes after all. What you need for riding your e-bike safely isn't any different from the protection you'd need to stay safe while riding any bike. The only real difference is if something does go wrong an electric bike might mean it goes wrong at a bit higher speed and greater force.
The best way to prepare is to invest in quality gear, so keep reading Bike Perfect's tips on what to look for when choosing the best components and accessories for riding your e-bike safely.
- Best e-MTBs: electric mountain bikes that can get you up and down the mountain
- Best budget e-MTBs: great e-mountain bikes that won't break the bank
- What is MIPS in helmets? And why it matters when choosing a mountain bike helmet
Best mountain bike helmets
It should go without saying, wearing a helmet is an important safety accessory. Make sure you always ride with a helmet as riding off-road is unpredictable. It can seem like roots and rocks pop out of nowhere to break traction and try to topple you from the bike.
Terrain and riding discipline will dictate the most suitable helmet as coverage and protection can differ significantly between options. Find something that offers a balance between protection, ventilation and fit. Many helmets also feature slip-plane technology such as MIPS, which helps deal with rotational forces in the event of a crash. If you do experience a crash that damages your helmet, it is recommended that you replace it. Some companies even offer a crash replacement warranty.
- Best half-shell mountain bike helmets
- Best full-face mountain bike helmets
- Best enduro helmets
- Best XC helmets
- Best MIPS mountain bike helmets
Best mountain bike shoes
You might not have ever thought about it but shoes serve myriad functions - including protection. They represent your connection with the bike and are a big part of how you interact with the trail. The wrong shoes can result in a lack of control, increased fatigue and loss of confidence.
It doesn't matter which pedal system you're using (clipless or flat pedals), as you corner you push down on the pedals to initiate balance. Get it right and the reward is an epic spray of dirt and controlled cornering. Get it wrong and it could mean a fall. In this instance, the best mountain bike shoes will also help provide an added layer of protection for your foot, especially during a high-speed crash or rock-garden tumble.
Clothing provides the first layer of protection - both in terms of hitting the deck and when it comes to adverse weather conditions. Heading into the backcountry sometimes leaves you a long way from warmth. Depending on the season, the weather can suddenly take a big swing and if you don't have the right clothing, you could be in a dangerous situation.
You have to rely on sound judgment so preparation is key. When in doubt, always bring along some extra clothing such as a fold-up jacket or even arm- and legwarmers.
Mountain biking pads and armor
Ready to take your new electric mountain bike to do some serious downhill mountain biking? An electric mountain bike gives you the option of lapping your local tracks without relying on a chairlift or uplift service. Heading downhill at high speeds means you need to be prepared so gear up with the appropriate protection - even the pros fall.
Even if you aren't planning to spend time at a downhill park, consider pairing your electric mountain bike with elbow- or kneepads. Modern mountain bikes are already highly capable machines that can tackle serious technical terrain. Add an electric-assist motor to the equation and higher speeds require better protection. Your knees and elbows are often the first things to hit the ground in a crash so be sure to protect them.
Best mountain bike tires
The best mountain bike tires are a crucial safety component. If you've ever tried to descend a muddy trail with the wrong tire you will know just how tricky things can get. The correct tire will not only improve grip levels but also the way your bike behaves beneath you - control is key and this can only be achieved through traction.
Don't forget tire pressure either. Even the right tires for the given conditions can result in poor performance if inflated correctly. Too hard and you won't have any traction, but too soft and the tires can wallow in the corners leaving you feeling completely out of control.
Rear bike light radar
If you are going to spend any amount of time on the road, a rear bike light radar is a huge safety upgrade. While most of your time will be spent navigating trails, there are situations where you'll need to cross busy roads and it's here where a rear bike light radar will alert you of any cars approaching from behind. It also doubles up as a rear light improving your visibility to other road users.
The other big advantage of having the radar is not needing to keep looking behind to see what other road users and cars are doing. Why haven't they passed yet? Are they still there? How many cars are behind me? The rear bike light radar ensures you can concentrate on the road ahead.
Best mountain bike lights
The rear radar and tail light often come as one system - think Garmin Varia RTL515 but it's not the only light worth having. On the road a front light, day or night, is also a handy upgrade as it will increase visibility, especially for those who use the road to get to their favorite trail.
The best mountain bike lights will also help if the trail you're navigating takes longer than expected to complete and you find yourself racing the sun to get home. A light will help increase your visibility to others but also improve your field of vision. If there's any chance of being out after dark, make sure you pack your lights.