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Modern technologies that will enhance your electric mountain bike experience

A dropper post
Not to be confused with a suspension seat post, the dropper post is a relatively new, but groundbreaking addition to the mountain biking world. In simple terms, the dropper post is an ultra-fast way to drop or raise your seat post. It is far faster to adjust than the bolted seat clamp of old, faster still than the newer quick-release clamp and now slicker than the under saddle lever that started off the dropper movement. Most systems now are hydraulic in operation and incredibly slick compared to earlier designs.

Modern dropper posts may not even be noticeable at first, as many are now internally cable routed through the bike’s frame to a remote or trigger on the handlebar that, when activated, will enable you to use your weight to push the post down into the frame in a mere moment. The reverse occurs when it is time to raise the post, albeit with some control of the motion gently raising the post back toward the extended position.

Why would you need this technology and why would it improve your riding? That’s simple; you will be able to climb with greater efficiency with the seat post at full extension and pressed against your posterior. The reverse is the case when dropped, meaning you’ll have greater control on descents with the seat lowered, giving you more agility to get your bum over the rear wheel and ready to point sharply down the trail with no fear.

Most mountain bikers, if they had to choose a game-changing technology, now cite the dropper post as a significant development that improved their overall ride experience.

Tubeless tyres
Gone are the days when the inner tube reigned supreme. There are nowadays challenging technologies, including vastly more robust tubes from brands like Tubolito that are also worth a look if you’re not ready to make a tubeless conversion, but you’ll find that many modern mountain bikers prefer to go tubeless for good reason.

The key reasoning behind going tubeless centres on the ride control you’ll gain, as well as the reduced number of flat tyre issues you’ll encounter. Where tyres can be run at lower pressures you’ll find your traction is increased and that the tyre is more moldable to the trail’s features. As there is no tube to pinch the snakebite pinch flat is now a thing of the past and thanks to tyre inserts you can protect your rims too.

As and when the tyre does encounter a thorn of a shard of glass, the tubeless sealant will immediately be sucked toward the gap in the rubber, clogging and clotting the hole, thus sealing it. Often this happens without you even noticing that a puncture has occurred.

All in all, this is generally a cheaper solution and with less waste product than running and replacing tubes frequently.

As for downsides, there is generally a greater level of skill involved to install a tubeless system, so be sure to have your local bike shop handle the setup. Without a compressor to quickly inflate and seal the system, you may make a mess at home. Components of a tubeless setup include a compatible tyre, sealant, rim tapes and a pair of tubeless valves.
It of course doesn’t hurt to carry an emergency tube, just in case of any major incidents where the tyre may not reseal.

1X Drivetrains
You may notice that many modern mountain bikes no longer carry a front derailleur and this is quite simply down to manufacturers achieving enough range on the cassettes, with 12-speed systems now not uncommon, 13-speed systems are even emerging with some manufacturers.

What the removal of the front derailleur has enabled most of all is the evolution of bike geometry. No longer do frame designers need to account for the placement of the front derailleur and so they have been able to get a little more creative with angles and chainstay lengths in order to create more capable feeling bikes. As an example, a shorter travel bike can now feel a lot more capable than the spec sheet suggests, thanks in part to this development.

Most riders will not notice any major loss of range in the new 1X systems, which have a broad ratio, just with fewer steps in between gears. The change is not as noticeable as you may think and with the addition of a motor the difference is negligible; you’ll be able to comfortably tackle even the steepest mountain passes.

Suspension front and rear
Certainly not a new innovation, but one that gets progressively more capable, to the point where some suspension systems, such as RockShox Flight Attendant, use automatic sensors to read the trail and adjust to offer the perfectly matched suspension settings on the fly. These clever bits of tech won’t feature on all mountain bikes, of course, but the modern suspension is lightyears ahead of its mid-80s roots.

There’s not too much that’s essential knowledge, but it’s good to be aware of some basics when it comes to suspension. One phrase you’ll hear often is ‘travel’, that being the term for how much length is in the stanchions (fork legs), or in other words, how much absorption you have to play with before you’ve exhausted the forgiveness offered.

Longer travel systems – say 180mm to 200mm of travel – are reserved for aggressive downhill and slopestyle pursuits, so for most of us that’ll be overkill. For the typical trail in the south of England, a 130mm travel would be a sweet spot between cross-country comfort and slightly livelier trail use, while a 150mm to 160mm travel might be better for exploring the rough and ready parts of the Lake District, for example. Anything with around 100mm to 120mm of travel will be fine for cross-country usage, but any lower than that and you’re probably looking at a bike better suited for the towpath or city use.

Travel will generally be well matched on the front and rear on most off-the-shelf bikes, though technologies vary and offer differing ride feels and performance. All you need to worry about is matching your weight to the setup, something that your local bike shop can advise on and set up in-store.

Wheel size
If you’ve been away from the mountain bike scene for a while, or are brand new to it, things have changed in the past five to ten years on the wheel size front.

Where 26-inch wheels used to be the norm, now the mountain bike world tends instead to offer either 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels and sometimes a combination of the two. 27.5-inch is occasionally also referred to as 650b. If you end up with a bike with two differing-sized wheels, be aware you will need to consider two differing tube and tyre sizes for future maintenance.

What does this mean for you? The consensus is that both 27.5-inch and 29-inch wheels handle better than the 26-inch wheels of old. Certainly, a larger rolling diameter will more casually roll over cracks or root systems in the trail, resulting in a smoother ride and more control. Where the wheels are bigger it is more important than ever, especially if you are a smaller rider, to get the right frame size to make sure you’re comfortable on the bike, so be sure to go to your local bike shop to get sized up.

Can I commute on any bike?
It is extremely common for people to start commuting on the bike they already own, after all, why not? We tend to agree that is a great starting place, but if you want to really up your enjoyment and efficiency there are indeed some hacks, including obtaining the right tool for the job in terms of style. Add to that a pedal-assist motor and you’ll more than likely find that you are more often drawn to the convenience of cycling. Indeed, studies from many regions with higher rates of electric bike use have found that, over time, those who formerly drove tend will with increased frequency leave it at home once they get accustomed to e-bike riding.

A commuter bike does what it says on the tin, so as far as tools for the job go it’s a fair assumption to start with this category, that is assuming your journey does not involve any public transportation such as trains. Commuter bikes are those that are set up for covering mile after mile of tarmac, with the notable exception of a less aggressive riding stance than a road bike. The tyres will worry less about weight and show greater concern for puncture protection. If not already fitted at the point of purchase, there will more than likely be mudguards, lighting, racking and a kickstand. 

If you are using your bike for the first and last miles of your journey with mass transit in the middle then an electric folding bike would be an excellent investment and indeed these make ultra-capable commuters. In many instances, train companies will have off-peak only policies that require a booking to take bikes aboard in the UK, but folding bikes are generally more widely accepted at all times of the day. Across much of Europe, trains will have dedicated bike carriages or storage, but the UK has, as yet, generally not invested in developing this element of its rail services.

Aside from the aforementioned accessories, things to look out for when buying a folding bike include the weight and ease of fold. It is crucial that you find a bike that you are comfortable handling and able to fold in 10 to 20 seconds, ideally. Nobody wants to be left fumbling on a station platform as the train doors close. Also, consider that you are likely to be carrying or wheeling this style of bike at least some of the time, so weight is more of a consideration here than in some categories.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from commuting on a road bike or even a mountain bike, but each of these styles of cycle will have drawbacks. In the case of mountain bikes, while they may open up shortcuts, the wider and knobbly tyres are not efficient on the tarmac and it may feel energy sapping even with the motor’s assistance.

The best practice tips for locking your bike
A concern of many electric bike buyers is security at either end of a journey and there’s good news on the technological front here. Many electric bikes now, thanks to the electronics within, have the capability to track a bike by GPS, so the user can remain aware at all times of where their bike is. In some instances, largely at the higher end, electric bikes may come with immobiliser technologies that will disable the motor and render the bike useless to somebody who has tried to steal it.

Again, some spec sheets will also build in a rear wheel lock, so when you are in your local bike shop ask about each bike’s built-in security options as it may pay to upgrade your purchase rather than buying add-on accessories that will need to be lugged separately.

That said, it is obviously wise to carry at the very least one top-tier lock. In the UK the Sold Secure standard is very often used to identify the level of protection that a lock will offer, categorising the durability of each item with bronze, silver and gold indicators and sometimes platinum or diamond too.
When buying a lock it is important to consider how you will carry it as they are, by their very nature, heavy and awkward items. If you have racking and pannier bags then these can be helpful, but try to place the weight at the bottom of the bags so that your bike’s centre of gravity remains as low as possible. Weight affects handling.

There exist a number of locks on the market now that can be mounted to your bike, for example on the bolts that are otherwise generally reserved for bottle cages. Aside from that, some locks can be worn either on the belt thanks to hooks, or around the waist. These can be surprisingly convenient options and do not tend to weigh the rider down too much.

Once you have chosen your lock it is incredibly important that you put it to use in the most efficient way possible. If you are only using one robust lock then it is wise to try to capture both part of the frame and a wheel in one motion, thus reducing the chance that a thief will remove your wheelset. Our recommendation is to prioritise the rear wheel and rear triangle of the frame. If you have a folding bike, be certain that you have locked an enclosed part and not a segment that can be detached at the fold, thus circumventing the lock.

In the ideal scenario, you will use multiple security items, ranging from cable and D-locks to security bolts that can be an excellent add-on for guaranteeing you don’t lose saddles, or other components accessible by Allen key.

You do not need special clothing, but it may be more comfortable at times
Across much of Europe, there exists safe cycling infrastructure that has created a culture where cycling is normalised, as is wearing what you want to in the saddle. With the assistance of a motor, arriving sweaty is now slightly less of a concern and so why not arrive in style sporting a summer dress or the suit you intend to wear that day?

Of course across much of the UK cycling infrastructure standards do not match up to mainland Europe and so some visibility on the bike may be desirable. Of course, your bike will more than likely have front and rear lights fitted and this may be enough to achieve the desired effect of being seen at all times of day.

It should therefore be your own personal choice if you feel the need to wear high visibility clothing and of course, it doesn’t hurt the case for being seen if you are happy making the investment. The Highway Code has a hierarchy of road users that places emphasis on those in heavier vehicles looking out for cyclists and pedestrians, so don’t feel obliged to go overboard if you do choose to wear a reflective garment.

Arguably more pressing day-to-day is the comfort of your clothing choices. As a general rule, on warm days wear garments that are breathable and moisture-wicking so that sweat can escape. On rainy days only, pack a waterproof, but remove it once the rain stops to avoid overheating as these garments can be very good at trapping in your body heat, causing you to sweat and then get cold.

As for the subject of helmets, again, this should be a personal choice, but it does not hurt to err on the side of caution if you are unconfident, or are happy to make the investment in additional safety. Where the aforementioned safe cycling infrastructure is ubiquitous the cultural norm is to ride without and in the very few places where the use of a helmet has been put into law cycling rates have plummeted, which is somewhat counterproductive for the transport ecosystem and health benefits to of cycling to the population.

Download a journey planner app and invest in a sturdy mount for your phone or cycle computer
There are countless options on the market for journey planning by bike, but among the most popular are Komoot and Strava, to name just two. These apps have crowdsourced data from millions of users and so will know the most commonly used and generally safest routes to take. Google Maps will also achieve much the same if you select the bike icon at the top of the screen.

Such apps will be able to give either visual or audible instructions that will help you navigate using the safest and most efficient routes.

If you are placing your valuable mobile phone on the handlebar it is a very wise investment to spend well on the mounting equipment. Choose the most robust unit you can find and avoid anything that has too much flexibility or that does not appear to clasp your device tightly. Roads are very often bumpy and unpredictable, so don’t improvise here and certainly don’t try to ride with a device in your hand as this can drastically affect your balance and safety.

Still not sure? Cycle training is available, even for adults
If you find yourself to be unconfident even after a period of trying to get comfortable on your electric bike then worry not, training is available with dedicated cycle instructors if you seek it out. Bikeability is the UK’s national cycle training agency and it is Government funded to deliver at least some training to all school children. In many instances, adult courses are also available upon enquiry and these will cover how to position yourself on the road, how to interact with drivers and how to avoid any dangers.

A final tip, since you are likely here as a result of being an interested or current electric bike rider. When approaching traffic lights, knock your assistance setting up a notch so that from a standing start you have a little more lift to get out ahead of the traffic behind you. Buying yourself a few extra seconds to get upright and balanced before motorists catch up can be incredibly helpful when first getting used to riding on the roads. Once you are stable and pedalling confidently then return to eco mode on the flat sections in order to conserve your battery.

Have any further questions? Ask our network of bike shops for their recommendations, as local knowledge can count for a lot when planning your regular rides.

Bikes can be inherently mucky things

Whether you’re hitting the dirt or simply catching road salts dissolved into rainwater following a frost. Whether it’s old chain oil or road grime, there’s a lot that goes into the maintenance, use and cleaning of bikes and that requires just a small amount of additional thought when it comes to owning an electric bike. Thankfully, it’s not nearly as complicated as you’d think.

Turn your e-bike off!
Starting with the common sense tips, before you start pouring water over your bike turn it off and certainly make sure the bike is not on charge. Electric bikes are incredibly well sealed and waterproofed to a high degree, but nonetheless, it makes sense to turn off any electrics while washing your bike to avoid any shocks.

Find a reputable cleaning product to loosen grime
There is a high degree of competition on the market for bike cleaners, but not all are equal, so it’s worth taking a short while to seek out knowledge from your local bike shop to find out what they’re cleaning bikes with, or to read some reviews online.

One further tip; do seek out specific products and do not try to wing it with other household cleaning products as there is no telling if these will be safe for use on your bike’s paint, or whether they will damage the seals or leave a streaky finish once applied. Furthermore, some cleaning products, if they do not come off completely, could affect your braking performance, which presents a danger.

If you can, clean the bike in a stand, but never upside down
It is sometimes easier to think about maintenance and cleaning jobs with the bike positioned pivoted on the saddle and handlebar. Sometimes that can be okay for maintenance, but for cleaning it is not advisable as gravity will work against the drainage holes that the manufacturer will have made in frames and casings in order to let water drain. Another reason against doing this is the inevitable damage you’ll end up doing to the saddle and cockpit; very often brake levers can be scuffed, among other handlebar-based gadgets.

If you can stretch the budget a bike stand is an excellent investment in the ease of care for your bike and these have come down in price a lot over the years. Know the weight of your bike and then go shopping based on what each stand says it can comfortably handle. If your budget won’t stretch to a full on bike stand, there are simpler devices on the market into which you can park and balance a bike. Just search for cycle stands in your search engine.

Minimise jet washer use
We get it, it’s tempting to get the job done pronto and nothing gets the job done faster than a jet washer, but there is a very real risk that going overboard could do some water ingress damage. While manufacturers seal their bikes up against the elements, there’s a big difference between riding through puddles and having a high-pressure direct blast of water applied to moving parts and electricals.

If you cannot resist the temptation to use a jet washer, set it on the lightest of the settings and stand back, only targeting the area where there are no moving parts, electrics or lubricated components. A much better option is to use a garden hose, pushing your thumb into the end to create a spray if you need a little pressure to loosen the muck.

Look out for cleaning tools  
Most bike shops will carry a range of cleaning tools ranging brushes that can access the spaces in between cogs, right through to chain baths that are specifically designed to clean and gently relubricate a chain. If you are using fabrics to wipe down your bike, seek out something soft and be very careful not to accidentally clasp a bunch of grit in cloth, pressing that against your paintwork.

Take extra care on disc rotors
It goes without saying that disc brakes need to be as contaminant-free as possible and so it pays to take your time cleaning these with specialist products. You do not want to leave any residue on the brakes as it can affect the ability to stop your bike if the pads cannot grip a lubricated surface. An indicator that contamination has occurred can come from brakes that squeal when you pull on the levers.

In washing your cassette or chain, be extra careful that you are not accidentally washing the lubricants through the wheel and onto the brakes, which can happen very easily if you are choosing to wash the bike laid down. It is quite difficult to bring contaminated brake pads back to full performance, so save yourself the trouble of buying replacement pads by taking extra care here.

Finally, dry your bike as completely as you canWater is not the friend of metals in many cases and it’s a quick route to seeing your parts go rusty. Some bike care products are hydrophobic and will actively drive out moisture while maintaining lubrication, so these can be incredibly useful to keeping your drivetrain running smoothly.

Frame protection stickies
There now exist a wide range of bike protection sticky products that are pre-cut for various components and areas of the frame where grime tends to stick. Such protective stickers can very often be bought transparent, so as to not ruin the aesthetic of your bike and when they come into contact with mud they are incredibly good at re-shredding it, which will only serve to prolong the life of your pride and joy.

Need a deep clean?
Some bike shops have specialist component cleaning machines that are able to completely decontaminate component parts and in fact, some stores will do this as part of their top-tier bike servicing plans. As is so often the case, it can be wise to relax and leave it to the pros if you want a thorough job.

1: Find the best cycle cafes
About a decade ago a trend began where bike shops would become cafes and social hubs. This spawned a wide network of cycle cafes, which can be excellent places to meet like-minded people with whom to share rides, local knowledge and a slice of cake. It also makes good sense to get to know the owners as they’ll very often be able to advise you on the best products to buy, fix your ride and, if required, top up your battery if you ask nicely (and have your charge cable).

2: Download some apps, get discovering
This one is a cheap and easy way to enhance your ride experience, enable you to discover new routes, meet local riders like you and even benchmark yourself against the local whippets (albeit with the assistance of a motor). Apps such as Strava or Komoot are excellent for ride navigation and tracking your ride metrics. Premium subscriptions will unlock new levels of detail in the mapping and ride data recording, but the free versions are nonetheless fun to use to diarise your rides.

3: Clean your bike regularly
Dirt, grit and grime can lead to a deterioration of component parts and in particular things like road salts or sea air can lead to faster corrosion. So, if it’s been particularly moody outside them make sure you at least give your bike a freshwater wash down, ideally also using some kind of bike cleaner. It’s best not to use a pressure washer on bikes, however, as when set to high pressures these can force water into places where it is not ideal to have water. Electric bikes are waterproof, but it’s best not to test the theory, plus you can wash away vital greases in bearings, which will up the level of wear and tear.

4: Max out your bike’s range
Nowadays many electric bikes have the luxury of adding a range extender or an extra battery and while that’s very welcome if you enjoy spending the day riding only in ‘turbo’ mode, it is extra weight to carry.
Better than immediately going to the expense of buying an extra cell is optimising the usage of the one your bike already has. There are several ways to achieve this, including:

5: Don’t be a home mechanic!
There’s no shame in wheeling your bike into a bike shop for servicing. In the same way you wouldn’t fix your own plumbing without the right qualifications just to save a little cash it’s best not to try to fix your own bike if you are not well versed in product standards, compatibility, thread counts and especially not if you don’t have quite the right tool to hand, but something you think might work. It’s a sure-fire way to increase your mechanic’s bill if you have tried to undo a bolt with a set of old pliers.

Some absolute do nots include lubricating your disc rotors because they have a squeak, putting your forks on backwards and, we cannot stress this final one enough, do not tamper with your electrics, especially battery components. Though you may have heard of the practice of making electric bikes go faster there are numerous reasons why this is ill-advised. These range very real fire risks, insurance and warranty invalidations, legal liabilities surrounding type approval and much more.  

6: Sit comfortably with the right saddle for your sit bones
Finding the right saddle for you is not always an exact science, but thanks to the tireless work of manufacturers and bike fitters there are now a plethora of ways to calculate which stock on the shelves could immediately up your comfort. As pressure mapping applies to fitting you to the right shoes, it can too apply to your posterior, so ask your local bike shop if they have any methods to pair you and your sit bones to the right saddle. And don’t be too swayed by the idea of a gel saddle cover as an easy fix. It may add some comfort, but very often you will tend to find they slide around, creating a loose layer between you and your bike and that is not ideal for staying in control and comfortable for the duration of a long ride.

7: Don’t waste energy and battery with flat tyres
Pump up your tyres! On the sidewall of each tyre will be a recommended PSI range and these are rubber stamped there for a reason; optimal tyre pressures mean a combination of things, from the correct amount of traction on the road or trail, right through to free speed. A tyre that is too soft will feel sluggish and you will drain both your own body battery and your electric bike’s battery faster too.

It is worth checking your tyres regularly too. Very often small fragments of thorn or metals can embed in tyres and sometimes these will cause slow air leaks that may not be noticeable until it becomes inconvenient. Tubeless tyres filled with sealant will tend to self-seal these kinds of punctures if you carefully extract the offending item.

8: Get fitted to the right size frame for maximum comfort
Getting yourself fitted to the right size frame can be one of the most critical factors in ride enjoyment and if this is poorly matched it can also be the fastest way to ensure you have no appetite to ride. With that in mind there are varying degrees of bike fitting, which in simple terms is cycling’s equivalent of a gait analysis.

Many people will be surprised to learn that a mis-matched posture in the saddle can cause joint problems and discomfort even if only cycling a short distance. Therefore if you intend to ride often it is crucial that you have your local bike shop measure you up to make sure you ride away on the right sized equipment.

Bike fitting can go into great detail and the science behind it is so sound that the professionals and even some enthusiasts will have frames custom made to their dimensions to ensure optimal performance and comfort in the saddle. While that may sound like overkill, a professional bike fit can be the single greatest investment you make in your cycling experience.

9: Tune yourself up outside of riding
Alongside your riding exercise, it can be useful to undertake some form of strength training as well as improving your flexibility through activities like yoga. If riding for the purpose of a dose of adrenaline, then all of these things can make you a better rider if applied consistently. 

10: Learn about performance fabrics and cycle clothing
Something that can make an incredibly profound difference to your ride enjoyment is knowing what clothing to wear and when. There are of course a baffling plethora of options available, from windbreakers and bibshorts, right through to merino wool socks and rainjackets.

What we will recommend as a starting point is the aforementioned merino material that, while expensive, is considered by many something of a holy grail of materials. It will keep you warm when its cool and cool when it’s warm. It wicks sweat away from the skin, which is crucial to staying warm and its anti-microbial meaning that it will not smell as much as many other fabrics.

Raincoats are a misunderstood item at times. They should be worn only when its actually raining, otherwise you may tend to find what is waterproof on the outside, also is on the inside. This means that if you sweat, this has nowhere to go down to lack of breathability, which can make you colder.

Ideally, on a cool but dry day you should seek out fabrics that will keep you dry from the inside as a result of good breathability. From here, if you need to layer for warmth, you can do so, but try not to overdo it.
From a comfort perspective, shorts with a chamois pad may be advisable if you intend to be in the saddle for long periods and with the same in mind don’t be shy about trying chamois creams as these can alleviate soreness and keep you ready to roll again the next day.

Finally, you cannot beat a good pair of socks and gloves. Again, try to find something moisture wicking as cold feet and hands can be one of the fastest ways to kill off a ride.

11: Accessorise!
There exists an incredible catalogue of experience changing products on the market that you may not have known to have existed. For example, did you know that you can buy wing mirrors that plug into the ends of your bars? Here are some of our favourite accessory upgrades:

12: Pack the essentials, just incase
This final tip is more of a way not to ruin your day, rather than a quick and easy tip to brighten your day. If your ride is headed away from civilisation, it’s best to make sure you are carrying a handful of things that will get you out of trouble, if for example you were to wreck a critical component or have an unfortunate crash. Items that you may strongly wish to consider packing include, but are not limited to:

The pace of evolution in the electric bike market has been substantial in the past decade

But the rate of change is not too dissimilar from another product that we will all be familiar with. Remember the first handheld mobile telephones? Yes, the phrasing was deliberate, to take you back to a place in time when you may as well have been holding a home phone. The difference between the early days of mobile phones and today’s devices is vast. The batteries used to be heavy, and large and the tech within was not at all sophisticated compared to today’s multiple cameras, high definition OLED screened devices.

Similarly, only ten to fifteen years ago electric bikes were unsightly, essential running from a lead acid battery that would be better suited to a car. The weight made their handling prohibitively bad, as did the technology. You’d not get far assisted before the battery would run dry and you’d be left with a hunk of metal that was no fun to ride.

Fast forward to today, we largely have lithium ion and sometimes other battery types, which have revolutionised the electric bike experience, working alongside modern microchips, sensors and motor evolutions that have steadily helped bike designers create vehicles that ride just like a bike.

So, what were the main technological evolutions that changed the game?

Motoring on! Assistance comes in ever-smaller packages
The size, weight and shape of motors is a quite crucial considerations for bike designers. Once upon a time, it was harder to place the weight of the systems in the exact place frame designers desired to ensure the bike remained well balanced. It is generally desired that any component that carries weight is placed low down on the bike in order to give a low centre of gravity and create a more planted feel for the rider. Have you ever ridden with a dog in a basket on the handlebar? That’s a good example of why it’s no fun to have weight in the wrong place; it can unsettle the ride feel. Thankfully, modern electric bikes have engineered most motors into either the frame, often at the centre of the crankset, or into either of the wheels at the hub where there is no undue rotational weight causing the wobble.

That’s a bit on the shell of the motor, but what’s going on inside is arguably more interesting. Through the introduction of sensors, the motors have become incredibly efficient at knowing when to deliver power and how much torque to offer seamlessly alongside the rider’s cadence. This adds up to saved battery over the course of a ride.

More recently still, some motor systems have begun to build in anti-theft features such as immobilisers, or app-controlled functionality that can fine-tune output, or remotely lock. With a connection to a mobile phone, over-the-air updates to the software that can further enhance performance without you lifting a finger have become a reality. What’s more, that connectivity means you can fine-tune your assistance preferences and even pre-set new modes.

Charged up! Battery tech never stops evolving
First a stunning fact about the electric bike; around 200 times fewer rare earth metals are used in a modern electric bike battery than that of a typical EV car (and very often they carry the same single-person load). From a resource point of view, the e-bike delivers a massive return for the rider.

Lithium-ion batteries make up most of what’s sold in the marketplace, although there is a rush by some companies addressing the fleet market to create cells without the elements that can be flammable if damaged, modified or poorly cared for.

As such, you may find some bikes now have lithium iron phosphate cells that contain no toxic materials such as Cobalt and these can offer an impressive range. The same can be said for the emergence of Sodium-ion batteries that may prove an avenue to a sharp reduction in future costs because of the abundant nature of the raw materials. Ultimately, the electric vehicle market may move in this direction as the race for rare earth metals faces the familiar issue of a finite resource.

As with motor technology, battery technology has been the subject of a multi-billion dollar investment by the world’s key players. The bike industry has joined a queue for such cells, but now, thanks increasingly to collaboration, has been able to leverage its position to access better supply and thus pricing. Batteries do however remain the electric bike’s most expensive component in most cases, many thanks to the demand for lithium-ion cells.

Key technological developments have delivered some notable improvements in user experience, from faster charging to boosted capacity. In the future we may come to a point where solid-state batteries come into wide usage; the difference being that at present liquid electrolytes currently ship charge around a battery, while in future that is expected to be replaced by ceramics and other solid materials, thus making a more stable and reliable cell. The net result should be yet shorter charge times and improvements in safety.

A final trend that may or may not develop in the battery world is the concept of swapping. Made popular by some far eastern EV car makers, the idea of renting a battery and swapping is not so dissimilar to visiting a petrol garage to top up, except you would simply swap a battery and be on your way. This may be less viable in the electric bike world, but what is increasingly common is the use either of range extenders or the carriage of a spare battery. Brands like Camelbak even now do electric bike packs with a special sleeve for carrying a battery.

For the uninitiated, range extenders very often sit in a bottle cage, or bolt where you’d find one, offering a secondary battery that is accessed once the main source of power runs dry. These are not typically cheap upgrades, but if you hope to be out all weekend without a care in the world about power loss on full turbo, then they may be your new best friend.

Power to the people: Bikes may ride smarter than you can…
Where there’s a power source there’s scope for a whole lot of intelligent features. We are now in the era of the ‘smart bike’ and while at one time that simply meant integrating lighting and having each feed off the battery so you didn’t have to remember to charge those too, nowadays it can mean artificial intelligence setting up your suspension based on real-time trail feedback. Suspension systems exist that can detect when you are airborne, softening the suspension ready for landing and stiffening if you are approaching a climb.

As technology in other vehicles has evolved, the bike industry has mimicked and innovated its own useful features. One that is particularly useful is the integration of GPS, which opens up a whole host of benefits ranging from ride planning and tracking, right through to automatic locking systems that know when you are away from your electric bike and thus the security system activates. On some systems, you could remotely unlock a bike in order to let a friend or colleague use your bike. We are now promised by one Spanish business working under the Niche Mobility banner a ‘digital’ motor and transmission system. We are led to believe this will come to market as a fully automatic system, meshing gearing and pedal assistance.

Not all are related to electronics, for example, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) now feature on some electric bikes, which should prevent you from ever going over the bars or skidding on the gravel. At the present time, these come clad to specific high-end models, but you can expect this safety feature to trickle down to mid-price points in the future.

What can we expect in the future?
An interesting development for the electric bike world is the interest the automotive world has shown in two-wheeled products. Porsche’s investment arm has bought and is now rebranding a well-known electric bike motor company and has likewise bought its own electric bike brand too.

They are far from alone and while the automotive world has almost always partnered with bike industry manufacturers to put its logo on novelty products for car showrooms, nowadays they are actively investing and producing products too. There remains some scepticism around how far the trend can go. Traditionally bikes made by automotive businesses have had some wacky ideas and unusual geometries, but that was before substantial investments were made directly into traditional cycling industry brands.

The future, then, could look very familiar in the sense that we see household brand names and very recognisable automotive technologies start to adorn our bikes. It has to be said though, nobody makes a bike like the cycling industry and that’s why when buying a Corratec you can be certain of a bike designed by riders for bike riders.