You know, you'd be surprised the number of times we hear from customers that say something along the lines of "I'm loving my eBike, but..." Then we stop them there because, pardon the pun, it's usually got something to do with their butt 😂
We are all different. Long torsos / short torsos. Different ranges of mobility. Different spots that tend to get sore. Knee / back / neck / hip issues. Most ebikes are made to be comfortable and the great news is that if you are finding you have a comfort niggle there are a heap of small, useful things you can do or add to them to make them just right for YOU.
We hope some of these tips help!
Bike Size and Fit
If you're yet to purchase an eBike one of the major considerations should be your bike size and fit. Choosing the right frame size is fundamental to a comfortable riding experience. Secondly, it's worth considering what style of bike you may prefer i.e. whether you have an upright, moderate or athletic riding position and whether you have a cross bar or step through frame.
Recommended Read: EBike Frame Styles and Sizing
As a summary though, a more upright seating position is generally considered more comfortable as it reduces strain on your neck and shoulders; however, distributes more weight to your butt as opposed to your hands and feet.
Finding the middle ground between these positions will help optimise your riding comfort.
Fit is actually a slightly different thing. A proper bike fit assumes you've chosen a correct size and style and seeks to optimise your riding position.
Common adjustments are things like:
- seat height (see our video here for how to adjust this),
- saddle position (move it forward/back)
- crank lengths
- handlebar shapes
- grip type and positions
- stem types and positions and more.
What works is specific to every individual and starts to take into consideration your body proportions and unique features.
If you are finding it tough to get comfortable after making some of the obvious adjustments mentioned above it may be worth visiting a professional bike fitter.
Now imagine.... smooth rolling tarmac from here to the horizon, no bumps, no lumps just plush path between you and your destination. Now if you know a place like this, tell us!!!
In all seriousness though most bike paths will have some ditches and deviations, so we need to be prepared.
Suspension is a mechanical means of shock absorption which helps dissipate any harsh hits. So, how much suspension do you need and where does it come from?
Front forks - very common on eBikes as it reduces any impact forces to your hands and upper body
Rear shock - either air or coil based, this suspension type reduces impact forces on the rear wheel providing a smoother ride and more control, also lowering strain on your bum and back
Seat post - provides similar benefitsto a rear shock but at the convenience of being added down the line
Saddle - again, akin to a rear shock in benefit but usually the most affordable and simple solution for buffing up your comfort
So how much suspension do you really need? Most urban riders will opt for a small amount of front suspension and maybe an upgrade to a suspension saddle or seat post. If you're riding off road the more adventurous it gets, the more you may wish for.
Longer travel suspension will allow for bigger and scarier jumps/bumps whilst better quality suspension will ensure better responsiveness and feel. Rear shocks are usually not possible to add down the line, but most other options are able to be upgraded or added to your bike.
Tyres believe it or not vary the comfort of your ride significantly. Generally wider tyres at lower pressures can act as their own form of suspension. This is a common strategy when you have 'balloon' style tyres like the Schwalbe Super Moto-X (commonly around 2.4 inches wide).
Recommended Read: Find Your Tire Size and Tire Pressures
If you are looking to upgrade to wider tires just be aware that your bike will have limitations on how wide your tyres can be due to clearance of the fork and around the frame. Best to check with one of our friendly bike technicians first.
Tread pattern is also an important factor. If you ride with a knobby style tyre but spend most of your time on roads, it may be worth considering swapping to what's called a semi-slick. This will not only improve your comfort but also reduce your rolling resistance.
What if you’re looking to add just a little bit of comfort to your beloved eBike and only have a small budget. Here are some little add-ons and accessories that are well worth investing in:
Back to 'buts' again haha...Saddles are a very individual thing.
Women tend to have wider sit bones and therefore require a wider platform at the back. Men on the other hand tend to have narrower sit bones and will therefore find a narrow platform more comfortable.
The length of the nose at the front can also be quite important.
Most ebikes, particularly urban and touring ones, will have saddles that cater to a broad range of people, like the GoCycle one pictured above. The better brands will choose the saddle to match the type of riding and intended body position.
Our suggestion is to ride with the one that comes with the ebike for a period and then decide if it needs changing as there is always a period of familiarisation required with saddles anyway.
If you are considering changing to a new one some things to remember are:
Find the right shape to suit your sit bones, wider is not always better
Be aware of the super soft/cushy saddles unless you plan to only ever do short rides. They feel great when testing in a store but over time will mould to your shape restricting air flow
Look for channels or means of air flow
Our go-to saddles for those looking for long-term riding comfort are the Italian-made Selle SMP. The gel Trekking version is our most popular and there are other versions too if you want a different shape.
The width and shape of your handlebar can make a difference so what to do if you fall in love with an ebike but the one that comes with it isn't quite right? Change it.
Handlebars come in lots of different styles ranging from stylized ultra-comfort ones custom-made for the ebike (like the Moustache Lundi ones pictured above) to straight, narrow sporty ones and anything in between. It just depends on the ride position you want.
Ask us about our range of handlebars if you wish to change.
One of the easiest and most effective adjustments you can make if you want to raise or lower your handlebars. Changing a stem is also a simple way to make your reach longer or shorter.
Some ebikes come with adjustable stems (see the picture above) and some are fixed and, as long as your ebike doesn't have a custom-made set up, both types can be changed out to something else if you prefer.
Grip choice and how it forms to your hand can be quite important. Ensuring your grips are positioned at the right angle with the right amount of surface area can greatly reduce any hand strain. There are grips available with bar ends too which enable you to reposition your hands during your ride, redistributing any strain.
They also can change your riding position to be more upright, helping to relieve shoulder and neck pain.
Our go to for grips is the Ergon GP range. Something there for everyone depending on the type of riding you want to do and your hand shape and size.
If you're still struggling with sore hands, it may well be due to prolonged vibrations which can irritate your skin. This is particularly the case for long gravel or mountain bike rides with uneven surfaces. A nice set of full or half-fingered gloves with padding can significantly aid in this area.
Knicks and anti-chafing creams
Cycling knicks are a purposely designed clothing product that reduces chafing and adds padding to your butt. Anti-chafing (emollient/chamois) creams can also be purchased should you find yourself getting skin irritation over longer rides.
Just remember these are only going to be quality of life improvements but they provide a fantastic and easy option to spruce up your ride! Psssst, they also make really good presents from family and friends 🎁
We hope these tips have added to your ARSEnal of comfort tools 😉 . You can see some of our comfort accessories online and for more personalised options including suspension options, tires, handlebars and stems feel free to contact us.