Winter doesn’t mark the end of the cycling season. Riding to work during winter just requires being prepared and equipped with the right clothing to make your journey more comfortable. We look below at what to wear when bike commuting in the cold season.
There’s no shortage of apps designed for cyclists so we have compiled a list of our top picks for a range of different situations. Some apps will require you to have your phone installed on the handlebars, whereas with others, you can just hit start, put your phone in your pocket, and start your ride. The Furo X battery has a USB port allowing you to charge your phone on the go. This is particularly useful when using GPS and data.
Packed with a lot of features, Strava lets you track and analyze every aspect of your riding. You can track your progress over time with GPS, join challenges, connect with friends and share your performances and photos on your feed. Intuitive and easy to use, Strava adds a great social aspect to your riding and is a great way to get inspired by a friend’s activity. You can compare your efforts to your friends and other cyclists on popular stretches of road.
Free to download and offers various paid features – iOS and Android
Another popular option is RidewithGPS, which makes it easy to map, analyze, record, and share your bike rides. The route planner tool will help you to plan your next bike ride directly on the app from their large and comprehensive database of rides. You can modify it to build the perfect route based on distance, elevation and difficulty. In addition to this, you can record rides and download routes to navigate while offline.
Free to download and offers Basic and Premium plans – iOS and Android
For those who want to explore and get off the road, Komoot is a great intuitive route planning app. Asphalt or trails, Komoot generates sport-specific, topographic routing and tailor-made itineraries. You can create your own collection of routes based on your own criteria such as route information, road type and surface. This helps as you’ll know exactly what you’re facing when planning your off-road adventure. The app is community-based and lets you recommend your favourite spots, share your rides with your friends, and browse routes made by other users.
The app’s pricing is based on regions. – iOS and Android
Bike Map provides cycling route navigation for riders for a range of terrains including road, off-road, gravel and more. The app benefits from an active worldwide community where you can enrich the user-generated cycling route collection by adding your own unique favourites. Their extensive database will allow you to find the most suitable route for training, touring and commuting. The app also displays riding necessities such as bike shops, public toilets, ATMs and most importantly, cafes!
Free to download with options for in-app purchases – iOS and Android
Bike Citizens is a navigation app specially designed for the needs of cyclists in urban areas with real-time route calculation and a GPS navigator prioritising bike-friendly paths. The routes specially optimised for cycling take into account current short-term closures as well as live traffic information. Additionally, you can choose insider cycling tours through the city, created by local cycling couriers. The app also delivers a categorised list of sights, from which you can create individual tours in the cycle route planner.
Free to download with options for purchasing city guides – iOS and Android
Easy to use, the Relive app has a great feature set, including 3D route visualization. Track your rides and turn them into 3D videos for visualizing rides with lots of elevation changes and displaying photos captured along the way. At the end, the video shows you your total stats, including distance, elevation gain, time, and average speed. Making your ride look like a Tour de France stage.
Free to download with options for in-app purchases – iOS and Android
This advanced bike tracking app is rich with features like maps, graphs, splits, intervals, laps, announcements, zones, training plans and more. Very comprehensive the app lets you get in-depth with your stats when your ride is complete. You can as well connect the app to external sensors and displays to collect the advanced ride data. Another great safety feature is the Free Live-Tracking to keep others informed on your location.
Free to download with the option to upgrade to premium for more features – iOS
The advent of electric mountain bikes has been a bone of contention within the mountain bike (MTB) community. Some people see using an electrically-assisted mountain bike as cheating, whereas others think they’re a great evolution in biking and that there’s room for both eMTB riders and MTB riders. Here we discuss some key differences between electric mountain bikes and traditional mountain bikes to help you decide whether you should buy one.
Mountain bikes are aimed at a very particular niche. People who love cycling off-road, and those who are fit enough and experienced enough to ride over such dangerous terrain safely. It takes a lot of practice to get good, and it’s an exciting but also very gruelling activity. Electric mountain bikes aim to open up the activity to more people.
They’re aimed at those who are less experienced at cycling off-road, or perhaps older people who wouldn’t feel comfortable going off-road without some electrical assistance. Even experienced mountain bikers who are recovering from an injury can enjoy the benefits of an electric motor. It also opens up the activity for your friends and loved ones, who want to join you on your mountain bike adventures but aren’t able to keep up. E-mountain bikes lower the barriers to entry for mountain-biking so more people can enjoy it.
Do more with an electric mountain bike
Following on from the previous point, as well as allowing more people to take part in mountain biking, e-mountain bikes allow even experienced riders to do more than they otherwise could. With assistance from the electric, you can ride faster, travel further, and conquer tougher terrain. Peaks that were previously out of reach can now be reached, and steeper inclines are easier to ascend now you don’t have to rely solely on your own power.
Electric mountain bikes allow many people to do more within the sport of mountain biking than they otherwise could. Purists may see it as cheating, we see it as technology helping us to achieve more than we previously thought possible. Is sending an email “cheating” when compared with writing a letter by hand? Of course not!
As a form of exercise
A criticism that mountain bike enthusiasts may have regarding electric mountain bikes is that they’re a less effective form of exercise. The claim is that the electric motor takes much of the strain away from the rider, thus making the activity less of a workout. The logic makes sense, but is this actually the case? A good way to test this is to compare the average heart rates of a person riding a mountain bike vs an e-mountain bike. One experiment did just that and found that the heart rates are almost identical, suggesting that both vehicles are an excellent form of exercise. Riders shouldn’t be worried about skimping on exercise if they choose an electric mountain bike over a traditional mountain bike.
The battery and motor of electric mountain bikes add considerable weight, so much so that they can be twice as heavy as traditional mountain bikes. You’ll certainly notice this when you have to carry or push the bike over rocks, a stream, or even up to some stairs. That being said, when you’re actually riding the bike, you’ll hardly notice the added weight thanks to the motor. The assistance provided will carry the lion share of the extra weight, so it’s effectively cancelled out. Also, the added weight may actually give you more stability and control when riding downhill.
Battery vs no battery
A natural concern that many may have in with regards to the battery life. With a traditional mountain bike, you only need to worry about your legs running out of juice. An electric mountain bike brings with it some more potential worries. What if you forget to charge it fully before setting off for a day on the hills? And what if the battery runs out while you’re miles from anywhere?
The truth is, ebike batteries are excellent nowadays, and they’re likely to last longer than you can! It may take some extra organisation to ensure your bike is fully charging before you embark on your journey, but it’s unlikely to run out of battery before you call it a day. Plus, if the worst should happen and your battery does die before you’re finished, it’s still a fully-functioning bike – you can just ride it home! You won’t have any assistance, of course, but you won’t need to push it by hand.
At their core, both mountain bikes and their electric cousins are very similar in how they’re used. While electric mountain bikes cater for a wider audience, there’s no need to see them as a “challenger” to traditional mountain bikes. There’s space for both in the world, and electric mountain bikes may act as a gateway to mountain bikes for some people. If you’re interested in buying an electric mountain bike, check out our very own Sierra. An extremely powerful, rugged yet comfortable e-mountain bike.
Once you’ve got your hands on a brand new electric bike, you’ll want to explore everything it can do. Whilst it’s already amazing straight out of the box, you might start tinkering around with it to get the ride you’re looking for. In this post, we tell you what to think about when proceeding to ebike modifications.
The lithium batteries used for electric bikes pack a serious punch. Whilst they’re intended to only provide assistance as you’re pedalling, they’re capable of much more – but this doesn’t come without significant risk.
Manufacturers of eBikes limit the output of batteries to 250 Watts and place an automatic cutout on the motor assistance as soon as the speed of the bike surpasses 25 km/h (15.5 mph).
Certain devices, however, are able to bypass these restrictions in order to reach higher speeds. One such device is attached between the wheel magnet sensor and the bike’s computer unit, and it essentially manipulates the speed at which the bike believes it’s travelling. This prevents it from cutting out at the legal limit of 25 kph and allows the motor to push the bike too much faster speeds.
As fun as this might sound, there are a number of problems with this particular eMod. The first is that it’s illegal; electric bikes are currently classed as Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (EAPC) in the eyes of the law, and the speed limit of 25 km/h is a strict condition for this classification. Anything faster, and the bike would be classed as a scooter for legal purposes, with everything that entails – licences, insurance, safety etc.
Tampering with the battery’s limits may also invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty. If anything else on your bike goes faulty and you’ve tried to tamper with the motor’s limits, then you won’t be covered.
Our advice is – if it’s speed you’re looking for, pedal harder or have a go at an e-bike mountain trail. You don’t want to ruin your electric bike (or your criminal record!) by messing with the motor.
A much more doable modification is to add fat tyres to your eBike. If you’re a regular biker, you may have noticed these whilst out and about on mountain tracks. They’re thick, almost-comically large tyres intended to help the grip of the bike and make the ride feel more ‘floaty’. Although they were originally designed to help bikes ride over snow, they’ve gained something of a cult status these days – they seem to be as popular in the city as they are up in the mountains. In any case, they can be added to your electric mountain bike to help you duck and weave your way down those highland trails, or the rush-hour traffic.
Another aspect of your eBike you can customise is the gears. Whilst many out-of-the-box eBikes are perfectly fine to ride with the gear setups already installed (Furo’s Sierra has an impressive 9 speeds), there’s always the possibility to change it to suit your own riding preferences without comprising the assistance given by the electric motor.
One idea is to change the gear ratio between the front and back of the bike. As a general rule, the more gears you have at the front, the harder pedalling will be but the faster you’ll be able to go. More gears on the back of the bike, on the other hand, makes riding easier in general, but harder in reaching faster speeds. Most eBikes will be able to handle either setup and the battery-powered motor will assist when needed.
Alternatively, you could even transform your eBike into a fixed-gear bike. A hipster favourite around the streets of London, a ‘fixie’ relies on only one gear and has no freewheel. The result is a bike which has a minimalist look but can be more difficult to ride at times (especially uphill). With a little nudge from an electric motor, however, you can look cool and get from A to B without breaking a sweat.
Once you’ve had your eBike for a little while, you might want to customise it to make it stand out on the road. If you’re looking to add a personal touch to yours, we’d recommend keeping away from the electric motor and instead focusing on other parts like the tyres and gears.
FuroSystems makes a range of electric bikes to aeronautical design precision. Our eBikes offer commuters a fast, efficient, and green way to travel to-and-fro. Check out the Furo X – the first-ever full-carbon folding electric bike.