Are Electric Bikes Dangerous?

Man riding uphill on an EB8 Off-Road eBike.

Over the last several years, electric bikes have become increasingly popular. For many, these eBikes are the perfect combinatio­­n of a standard bicycle and a motorbike. They are small and convenient like a bicycle, yet still provide the luxury of electric power that reduces the physical effort required.

Despite the growing popularity of electric bicycles, some potential riders might have concerns about their safety. After all, almost everyone’s heard about the situation that British music mogul Simon Cowell “broke his back” after falling off an electric bike (we’ll get to this in a bit). And no one wants that for themselves or a loved one!

But the reality is that just as with all motor vehicles, the safety level of eBike greatly depends on the operator — think Grandma vs. Evel Knievel.  In fact, you can do many things to significantly reduce the risk of an accident or injury while electric biking.

Here’s a look at some great tips for staying safe on the road. But first . . .

That Wasn’t an eBike

Media outlets called Cowell’s vehicle an “electric bike.” But what he was actually riding was an electric motorbike—more specifically an imported SWIND EB-01 electric motorbike. And that distinction is very important. Typical, those vehicles have a top speed of 60mph—most e-bikes in the U.S. are pedal-assisted and limited to providing power up to 20mph. Even in the EU, the top speed for most eBikes is 15.5 mph. And SWAGTRON eBikes usually stay in that area, for safety reasons. After all, no one looks good with a bad case of road rash.

The SWIND EB-01 Electric Motorbike.

Difference Between a Standard Bike and Electric Bike

To stay responsible while riding an electric bike, it’s crucial to understand the distinct differences between an eBike and a standard bike. Of course, the major difference is that eBikes have electric drive systems that include a motor and battery. Yep, no more climbing hills on pedal power alone!

This electrical component can also cause the eBike to accelerate at a faster pace than a standard bike. Hitting the acceleration too quickly right from the start can cause the rider to lose control. Never apply full throttle until your electric bicycle is in motion.

The EB6 All-Terrain Electric Bike.

In addition, the brakes on electric bikes can be touchy. If you’re not careful, pressing too quickly on these brakes may cause your bike to stop while you keep moving forward. Not a pleasant prospect! You can avoid this issue by applying pressure slowly to the brakes until you and your bike come to a full stop. And always get a feel for your eBike’s controls and response times before riding.

Follow the Rules of the Road

Before you start electric biking, learn the rules of the road. Many states and local jurisdictions don’t have specific rules and regulations for eBikes, so it can be difficult to determine if you should follow standard bicycle traffic rules or motorcycle laws. Study up on your region’s regulations if available, and obey all roadway signs and signals, including traffic lights, stop signs and speed limit signs.

Additionally, always ride with traffic and never against it. This step can protect you and other riders on the road, as well as pedestrians. You can also improve your safety on the road by using designated bike lanes when available. If your eBike doesn’t have turn signals, be sure to use appropriate turning hand signals at all crossways.

Practice, Practice, Practice

As with any new experience, the more you ride your eBike, the more capable you’ll become. Start by riding in areas that are relatively flat with only slight turns, such as designated biking paths. Use this time to practice starting and stopping your electric bike to familiarize yourself with its acceleration and brakes.

This practice time is also a good time to adjust your seat and handlebars and customize the bike’s settings, so you’re comfortable as well as looking cool. The more you ride your bike, the more accustomed you’ll become to its power and the better able you’ll be to make quick safety decisions while riding.

Split image of SWAGTRON EB8 unfolded and folded.

Safety First

The best way to reduce the risk of an accident or injury is to make safety a priority. Always wear a helmet to protect your head in the event of an accident. Secondly, ensure your eBike is safe for the road. For example, if your electric bike doesn’t already have headlights and reflectors, install them. This step ensures other drivers and riders can see you clearly no matter what time of the day or night it is.

It’s also a good idea to have a horn or whistle attached to your bike. EBikes are so quiet that other riders and pedestrians may not hear you coming up behind them. Using a horn or whistle can help alert them to your presence and avoid scaring fellow citizens.

Proper Maintenance

While you may have heard stories of lithium batteries catching on fire, the vast majority of these cases involved homemade battery packs. You should never build a DIY battery pack for your electric bicycle unless you have experience or have done extensive research. Protect yourself on the road by only using high-quality batteries made by reputable manufacturers, such as SWAGTRON’s® replacement packs.

You should also check the air pressure in your tires and the bike’s brakes before every ride and have your electric bike professionally inspected on an annual basis.

Using these tips can help keep you safer on the road and reduce the risk of an accident. Join numerous others who are enjoying all the fun and excitement an electric bike has to offer. Start shopping for your new eBike today.

Last Update: November 3, 2021  

October 13, 2020    EBIKES, FAQ, GENERAL INFO    

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