How to ride an electric bike

In How-To Guidesby evarchive3 Comments

Since I only learned how to ride an electric bike today, I’m going to explain it to you in easy to manage steps. Some people call an electric bike an e-bike for short and its a phrase I’m familiar with, though I should mention this so there is no confusion. This explanation assumes that you know how to ride a normal road or mountain bike already.

Step 1. Familiarize yourself with the e-bike display. I have shown a photo of the e-bike display I had (see below) and it seemed simple enough to me as it didn’t have too many buttons and showed basic information I might be interested in on the screen. In my case the top button was for turning on and off the display, I had to hold the button in for a few seconds to either turn it on or off. The middle button was to increase the speed of the e-bike pedal assist and you needed to press this to increase your speed. The bottom button was to decrease the speed of the pedal assist of the e-bike.

e-bike display on

e-bike display off

Do you only see one step above? That’s right that’s how simple it was for me to ride an e-bike if you have prior knowledge of riding bicycles you really don’t have to learn that much. I have put a list of tips below so you can avoid some of the mistakes I made whilst riding an e-bike!

Electric bike riding tips

When going downhill use a low setting like 0 or 1 on the e-bike display. I say this because I was traveling on a narrow trail and nearly crashed into a woman cycling in the other direction. I could see the horror on her face as my brakes came to a screeching halt. She apologized profusely, but I explained to her it was my fault for going too fast downhill! I got a little bit too confident with the speed I was traveling and should have been more careful going into a blind corner. A bit of a bruised knee and ego from the bike skidding into me, but I was fine to carry on. I was a lot more careful after that.

When turning a sharp corner use a low setting like 0 or 1on the e-bike display. The number of times I tried to turn a sharp corner on a higher setting than 3 and almost went into a bush was unbelievable! By the end of the trail I had learned to use a setting of 0 to handle the corners. As they say slow and steady wins the race, but in this case, it saved me from being savaged by some bushes with thorns.

Use the e-bike speed settings instead of gears. I found that if the hills weren’t too steep I could just adjust the e-bike speed settings depending on whether I was going uphill or downhill. This meant that some of the time I only had to concentrate on the e-bike speed setting and my braking. Only for steep slopes did I also control my gears up or down depending on the need.

Make sure you have enough e-bike battery to get back to the rental shop. If the e-bike battery runs out you basically have a normal bike but with the weight of a battery pack on it. I found that certain parts of the trail had lots of cobblestones sticking up from the ground. If I was going too fast over these stones it felt very uncomfortable so I reduced the e-bike speed to 3. which helped me save some of the battery, have a more comfortable ride and feel more in control.

Ohakune Old Coach Road- My first e-bike experience

It was my first experience riding an e-bike today, so while it was fresh in my mind I will share my riding tips. All of these tips I learned through my mistakes and I almost had a few crashes. Hopefully, this will save you from a few scrapes and scratches whilst riding a trail. I have to say that having used the e-bike today it was the most fun I had had on a bike in years. I was using mountain e-bike, on a trail called the Old Coach Road bike trail which is near Ohakune in New Zealand.

I arrived at the bike rental store and was greeted by a passionate and knowledgeable member of staff who offered me 3 different options for bike rental. The first option was a standard mountain bike that I could rent and had seen a million times before. The second was a mountain bike but it had really wide tires and looked like it could easily deal with any terrain thrown at it. The third option was similar to option 2 but it had some monstrous suspension on it, this bike would be able to handle anything thrown at it and would be a comfier ride. I decided to choose option 2 as I couldn’t resist going for the crazy looking bike with the wide tires and it was also the middle price point of the three options. So I handed over 70 NZD and the member of staff got me a helmet and some riding gloves. He also brought out the battery pack for the e-bike, all the bikes in the store were retrofitted e-bikes. This means that all the bikes were bought as normal bikes and then the bike rental shop converted them into e-bikes after. He started to go through the basics of an e-bike and showed me that it was basically the same as a normal mountain bike with regards to gears and brakes etc. However, there was a small display screen which I was shown and from this display screen it showed the speed setting for the e-bike which could be anything from 0 to 5. 0 was essentially just using a normal mountain bike without any pedal assist from the electric battery, 5 was powerful when I started using it on the road I felt like Lance Armstrong! I was traveling so quickly on speed 5 and it felt like a lot less effort than I remember from when I last cycled.

Cycling the trail was really fun, I enjoyed looking at all the old bridges and there are a lot of signs with information about the trail and the nature surrounding it. I stopped at a lot of the signs on my journey back to the bike rental shop, it was a nice way to break up the ride and the weather was great.

Overall if anyone is visiting Ohakune, in New Zealand I would highly recommend renting an electric mountain bike and cycling on the Old Coach Road trail. After all, I was a beginner at mountain biking and this was my first trail and if I can manage to do it lots of other people can. It was a good work out but the e-bike took away the stress out of those uphill parts that most people don’t like.


  1. Thanks for your article Robert. As a road racing cyclist for many years, I resisted the urge to turn to an e bike. That was until I rode a few, and got hooked. I now have a Giant Fathom Mountain Bike, and I love it. It has enabled me to get out more frequently, as I don’t need to worry about head winds, or hills! I’m 77 years young now. My partner (68), hadn’t ridden a bike for years. She has bought a Giant Commuter e bike, and we ride lots together. They are certainly a revolution for the oldies. I live in Rangiora.

  2. A question Robert. Are there any publications regarding e bikes in NZ? Like covering trails, and the various fitness levels etc?

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