December is here, and many people are looking to find gift ideas for the ebiker in their life, or…maybe you are thinking about treating yourself to something special for your favorite ebike. Here are some suggestions and ideas to help get the process going.
In the pic above, just get two cheap used belts from a thrift store, but…I’d also suggest placing a 1/4-inch thick plywood square under the “beverage” holder, which the belts pass through, for extra support.
Some of the suggestions below will make your life easier or more convenient. Helmets (on the other hand) are an inconvenience, but…I am listing them first because safety is vitally important. If you don’t have a bike helmet yet, you need one. A cheap one is better than nothing, but sometimes having a cheap helmet now takes the pressure off of getting a good helmet…and you really should end up with a good helmet.
Since I ride at 30-MPH on a regular basis, and I also ride near traffic where I have seen distracted drivers texting when they should be watching the road? I have a serious DOT helmet that is actually made for motorcycles. I didn’t want a full-face helmet, because I thought it would make me stand out, and I like that my set-up “looks like” a regular bicycle, and the police don’t give me a second look, especially since I ride cautiously and don’t cause any trouble.
There are hundreds of bicycle helmet styles on the market, but if you don’t like the conventional style, and a motorcycle helmet is too expensive, you might consider an affordable skateboarder helmet. They come in any color imaginable, from macho black to adorable pink, and every color in-between. You might even consider painting your helmet to personalize it.
Due to limited cargo space, there are even styles of bicycle helmet that fold-up, like the new “Fend”, which I think is a clever design.
Left Side Mirror
This is another safety item. Cars can often run quietly, and when I’m riding, my hearing is usually clouded by wind noise. In this situation, it is vital to be able to see a car approaching from behind. I’m no safety nanny, but a 4,000-lb car being driven by someone who is texting absolutely scares the hell out of me.
Part of the reason I like my fat-tire ebike for street-commuting is that I never hesitate to bail out over a curb onto the sidewalk if I feel a car is going to pass too close to me. I’ve done it before with no damage to my wheels, so I never have to find an escape route that won’t wreck my rims, forcing me to walk home.
Of course, having fat tires doesn’t help if you don’t even see a car coming, and a left-side mirror is cheap, so…nobody should be riding their ebike in the streets without one. If you can’t find a perfect one now, get a cheap one right away. Then, upgrade when you finally find the perfect style, later on.
Mirrors are so vital, they can be found in styles that are attached to your bicycle helmet, the handlebars, or even your sports glasses. If you go to “google images” and search “bicycle mirror”, you can see hundreds of styles. One of them should fit your needs, and also your own personal style.
This is another item that is vital for safety, in case you think that you might sometimes not make it home before it gets dark. If you get hit by a car at night, and you don’t have any lights? The car-drivers’ insurance might not have to pay. But…even if they do have to pay for damages to your ebike, and the injuries to your body…a light is cheap insurance, and it can save your life.
There is one major design choice you need to make when considering a lighting system for your ebike. Do you get a front and rear light-set that has their own rechargeable battery pack? or…do you get the kind that is powered directly from your ebike battery pack?
Due to the “pedal only” bicycle market, there are hundreds of bike light types that have a standalone rechargeable battery, with many resembling a flashlight that is clipped to the handlebars and rear seat. If you have an ebike, you have the option of having lights that are powered by the main pack. It is not only more convenient, you are also less likely to end up on the road with a dead battery for the lights.
Lights that are powered by the main ebike battery pack are the type of system that I recommend. if you don’t already have a preference, Luna Cycle has a great bang-for-your-buck LED headlight that converts a low amp-draw into a lot of lumens. The 9-watt light is the more affordable option, and the extra-powerful 15W is for those who want a much brighter light. Both have integral DC converters, and run directly off of any 12V-72V pack
There is also a third option…If you buy a small water-proof DC/DC converter (designed for electric golf carts), then it can take your pack voltage (anything from 36V-60V input) and convert it to a 12V DC output. The reason I mention this is because…sometimes, 12V lights from the motorcycle and moped world can be very powerful and also very affordable. Plus, a DC/DC converter gives you the option of adding a motorcycle radio to your ebike.
If this appeals to you, search ebay for “golf cart 12V dc dc”. Check the design specs, because some of the 48V input converters will accept up to 60V, and a 14S ebike battery pack has a fully-charged voltage of 58V (even though its average “nominal” voltage is 52V)
Nothing separates a serious commuter from casual weekend rider like having cargo baskets. It gives you a place to hold your helmet, bicycle lock, and gloves…along with sunglasses and possibly a dozen other personal items that make your rides easier, safer, and more convenient.
Having a front basket may not be macho (I’m a hairy old guy), but it puts your most often-used items in easy reach when you are sitting on your ebike, and it also keeps them within eye-view when riding. Rear cargo baskets (I’ve heard them called “panniers”) should not extend any more forward than the rear-wheels’ axle (on a conventional frame), because your heel would keep bumping into it when you pedal. Of course, if you have a longtail cargobike, that is not an issue.
If you are riding your ebike to work, then you definitely need a place to store a few wrenches, a spare tube, and a CO2 cannister…for those times when you get a flat tire.
Whether your baskets are “affordable” or fancy, large or small…they are an incredibly useful addition to any ebike.
Fenders are one of the items that are rarely found on entry-level ebikes. Customers are always price-sensitive, and deleting the fenders is one way to keep the purchase price down on an ebike that might still be over $2000.
However, if a street ebike turns into something that you end up using frequently, you will soon find that adding fenders can save you from getting splashed with mud and water.
Most street-commuting ebikers would be happy with plain blue-collar plastic fenders that affordable, light, and don’t rust. However, if you are looking for some high-budget fenders that are a real show-stopper, wooden fenders from Woody’s will really make your ebike stand out.
We wrote about using suspension seat-posts for hardtail frames back in 2013, and no other suggestion we have made has had a more consistently positive feedback. I have personally owned a Thudbuster and also the Suntour NCX, and I can recommend both of them without hesitation.
The pic above is the Cirrus Body Float. I couldn’t find anyone who owned one because they are much more expensive than the more popular Thudbuster and Suntour NCX. However, for riders who have a hardtail frame, I haven’t found anyone who regrets getting ANY brand of suspension seat-post.
When i first saw the “ergonomic” grips that had a wider section near the outer edge, I thought they were just another gimmick to get people to buy one more unnecessary gadget. However, I rode several ebikes at the Interbike meet and I was impressed by how much I liked the way they feel.
I highly recommend them as an affordable gift idea, or maybe just a way to give yourself a well-deserved treat. It’s also an easy way to add a leather accent to the trim on your ebike.
I sometimes load my ebike onto a bike rack on the back of my car, and also I sometimes have to squeeze in-between my car and ebike when they are both in the garage. For both of these reasons, I decided to buy some “folding pedals”. I knew they existed, but…once I started looking at the choices for pedals that fold up, I stumbled across pedals that actually are easily removable.
This style intrigued me, and after I bought them I am glad I did. After just a little practice, I can now reach down and pop off one pedal with one hand. I no longer bang my shin on one of the pedals when squeezing by my ebike in the garage, and with one pedal off, the ebike sits flatter against the bike carrier on my car. I also think they act as a mild theft-deterrent, since a potential thief trying to pedal off with a bike that only has one pedal (with one in my pocket), is obviously going to be difficult.
Many of the standard maintenance and repair jobs on a bicycle can be handled by common tools…like screwdrivers, metric allen wrenches, an adjustable wrench for axle-nuts, etc.
However bicycles require several tools that are not commonly found at hardware stores. You could buy each one separately at a local bike shop (LBS), but Luna Cycles has assembled a very good collection of bicycle tools in one handy case. A few of these tools are specifically made to help install a mid drive kit, but even without those, the rest of the tools here will be useful for any bicycle.
The classic bicycle bell (operated by your thumb) is one of the most affordable ways to accessorize your ebike. They can be small or large, simple or vintage….and their styles can range from just about anything, starting with a black skull and ending at a white-and-pink “Hello Kitty” bell.
Digital Multi Meter / DMM
I know these aren’t sexy or romantic, but…if you have an ebike, you need one …NEED. It’s just the kind of thing that someone won’t buy for themselves, but they are not expensive ($15-$20 ish?), so they actually make a great gift.
Anti-Theft system with GPS
I didn’t want to include this until I had at least one suggestion, but…with ebikes typically costing $2000 or more, I just want to remind everyone that this is an important item to research and buy.
Once I get enough time to properly research the best options, I will write an article to help present the features that are available right now. Something that texts your phone when it detects motion (like a thief trying to cut the lock-and-chain) would be great to help prevent it from being stolen. But even then, they might still get away, so…a built-in GPS would help you find it after it’s stolen.
I hope this list gave you some useful ideas, and if you have a favorite accessory that is not on this list, please post it in the comments below.
Written by Ron/spinningmagnets, December 2016