Photo courtesy of M Sheppard: Bike shown is Riese & Muller Homage
When it comes to long-distance bike touring, also known as bike packing, the popularity of electric bikes, especially adventure bike models, has increased exponentially. In this touring tips article we have gathered first-hand tips from some of our experienced Electric Bikes Brisbane customers (and our resident touring enthusiast Andrew Hopper 😊).
Our sincere thanks to Andrew, to Tim Rose, Stephen Brown and John Price for their insight and advice, and for being so generous about sharing their knowledge.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a new adventure or an experienced tourer new to ebikes then this article is for you.
Also see the wrap video from our 4th Annual Open Day, focussing on Adventure and Touring with EBikes, held by EBB after this article was first published.
It will be no surprise there are some common themes that emerge from all of our contributors. Plus there are some gems of wisdom that might seem a little off-beat at first—but when you think about it it will make you go “That's gold. GREAT TIP!”
Continue reading for the top ebike touring tips from Andrew, Tim, Stephen and John.
Tips from our EBike Experts - Common Themes
- The 5 P’s - Prior Planning
- Bike Packing (Literally) – Weight and What Matters
- Battery Management - It's More Fun with the 'E'
- Accessories and Apparel
- Smell the Roses (Pardon the pun, Tim)
1. The 5 P's - Prior Planning
Good planning can make your trip much more enjoyable - and prepares you for things that don't quite go to plan. If something is bound to go wrong, there’s a chance that it probably will but don’t worry, these often end up becoming the most memorable parts of a trip.
Our experts raised these aspects as important to help you prepare:
Preparation of the Bike
Make sure that your bike has been serviced and that any upgrades and/ or equipment have been well tested before you head out bush.
Preparation of Self
For longer tours (eg. week-long or more), there’s no need to be Olympian-fit, but you should be reasonably fit. After a week of riding you'll be as fit as you'll need to be and will only get fitter if out for longer.
Being prepared also means your body is comfortable with your riding setup. Become friends with your saddle! Do those core exercises and stretching to prepare and look after your back.
Quick Read: Long-Distance Bike Riding Tips for Beginners
Equipment Checking and Packing
The biggest mistake is packing too much. See more on this in the Bike Packing section below.
Here's a great tip from Tim If you’re a serial over-packer...
"Plan your route so there is a post office along the way fairly early in your trip. Just send home whatever stuff you’ve brought along but don’t really need."
It’s great to have a pre-determined route to make the most out of your time and to work out where you should be by when. Always keep an open mind though for the surprise adventures that come along the way. Quite often these can be the gems that will make your trip extra special.
Read on for tips for navigation below.
Winter in outback Queensland is ideal! For example, a great time to plan to do the BVRT, easy rides west of Toowoomba, the Kingaroy to Murgon trail and onwards to Kilkivan.
Spring brings swooping magpies, but it’s a beautiful season to go just about anywhere in Australia. (See Tim's tip for deterring magpies here.
Autumn is always good too.
Summer in Queensland and NSW can be taxing—Tim suggests Tasmania or NZ instead 😂 - or have extra battery capacity for turbo riding for your own air conditioning!
Pro Tips on Navigation
If you’re planning to do a long day through multiple towns (or a day trip), start from the smallest town. By lunchtime, you’re most probably going to be in the bigger towns that offer more options for food and refreshments.
There are a good number of apps out there that can help you plan your ride. Crowd favourites include Komoot for navigation and Rain Alarm and Windy for checking on the weather. Don’t underestimate how big of an effect headwind can have on your push.
Check out more of our recommended apps for navigation and safety: Best Cycling Apps | Electric Bikes Brisbane
Bike Packing (Literally) – Weight and What Matters
How you pack your bike with regards to weight, weight distribution and what you’ll actually be packing will make a big difference in rideability when the trail gets tough. A heavier bike also demands more from the battery.
- “I have found that the best thing is to lay it all out on the floor or bed and have good think about your stuff. Group them into ‘must take’ and ‘want to take.’ Every gram counts in this game, and you realise this when you’re grunting your way up a hill. Less is best, while there are things that are essential: a change of clothes, something to sleep in and an extra pair of cycling shorts and top. And remember that you can always wash them.” – Stephen Brown
- “Take the loaded bike for a ride to see how it feels. Then take out everything non-essential until it feels just about right. Heavy stuff goes in the back, and the lighter stuff low in the front. If the weights are distributed in the right places, the bike will be more balanced and easier to handle.” – John Price
Even though we are riding electric bikes if they are loaded too heavily or packed poorly, steep hills and rough terrain can just be as difficult to ride through.
EBike Battery Management - It's More Fun with the 'E'
Your battery is an incredibly important part of your journey if you are using an electric bike. No charge = no power and suddenly pedalling it becomes very hard work.
With plenty of charge at your disposal though you will breeze up most hills and laugh into headwinds.
Here are our pro tips:
Make sure you have enough capacity for the distances you plan to ride between charges. Is your battery capacity big enough?
Plan where your next charge will come from. Be on the constant lookout for power points and be prepared to ask café owners, shop owners, etc. when you stop for lunch or a rest during the day. A fuller battery means you can be more prepared if things don't go to plan for the rest of the day.
Also be aware that riding on gravel and asphalt are two different worlds. Biking for a kilometre on asphalt feels like a kilometre, but the same distance on gravel will feel like you’ve pushed for a kilometre and a half and will generally require more power.
Bosch Power Mode Tips
Setting your bike to ECO mode will work best to prolong your battery’s juice but will provide minimal pedalling assistance. Easy riding while on TOUR mode will squeeze out just enough power from your battery to aid your push. Also, it will ensure that you have enough battery power to switch to SPORT mode for steeper climbs and an easier ride home.
Take your time to enjoy your ride. The sweet spot for both speed and battery consumption sits at 15kph. This Bosch ebike range calculator can be handy for visualising your trip. Occasional stops will also help conserve your battery and your own energy. Take this opportunity for photo opportunities, snacking, or chatting with locals and other bikers.
You don’t have to constantly push yourself throughout the entire ride. Even at 15kph for 3 hours in the morning and another 15kph for 3 hours in the afternoon you will be covering 90km. You can even take a break within those 3 hours to give your legs and butt some rest.
Learn more about keeping your battery healthy: How to keep your ebike battery healthy - Electric Bikes Brisbane
Accessories and Apparel
Everybody generally has their own preferred setup. Panniers. Frame bags. Trailers. There are lots of options to choose from and it will generally depend on the ride you are planning on doing and what you find easier to manage. A must though is to have bags that are waterproof.
Here are a few extra ideas from our pros on what to take or have:
A handlebar bag will be your best friend. It’s such a convenient way to have easy access for your phone, wallet, snacks, and other light gear.
Cycling gloves help. Prolonged riding can cause calluses or blisters to develop. If they tear unexpectedly this has potential to disrupt your tour.
It’s also good to invest in a rear-view mirror. Most cyclists tend to veer into the road when looking over their shoulder.
Light, breezy, long-sleeved shirts (fishing shirts are great) will protect you from the sun and wind—and don’t skimp on the sunscreen.
A cycling buff is also a good idea for protecting your face and not accidentally swallowing any insects mid-ride.
- Two things that work well particularly if you might be picking up groceries or extras along the way is to pack a cargo net / webbing net and one or two wine bottle bags. The netting is great if you want to quickly stow things and need some extra room. The wine bags fit neatly in or between panniers and can carry (you guessed it 😊) wine or cool drinks, and sensitive groceries on the way to camp. [Thanks to Mark W for this extra tip].
And a tip that’s becoming a firm favourite with our EBB riders, the Da Brim detachable helmet brim. Great for sun protection and swooping magpies!
Smell the Roses – Take your Time and Enjoy
A beautiful quote from Tim that pretty much sums touring up! A sentiment that is echoed by all of our pros.
Thank You to Our Contributors
Our sincere thanks to our four contributors for their wisdom, wit and insight.
Tim has ridden all over the world, and lives in the beautiful Tweed Valley which offers some spectacular riding (as you will see with some of our other contributors). Tim’s bike of choice is the Riese & Muller Delite.
Stephen, a keen bike tourer and rail trail advocate for many years, also lives in the Tweed Valley in Murwillumbah. Steve is author of Adventure Cycling Murwillumbah and a local guide / expert for visitors to the area.
Stephen shares one of his favourite day rides with us in this article, a ride that will take you from country to coast and back again: EBike ride: Murwillumbah to Kingscliff Loop
Andrew, well known by many of you and EBB’s manager, has done some amazing trips, some of which we have published on EBB’s website. If you want a 2-day adventure close to home see his Stradbroke Island trip notes, or if you fancy a longer further afield trip then see his 5-day Mt Warning camping trip.
Full details of trip 1 are here: Stradbroke Island: 2-Days Bikepacking by eBike - Electric Bikes Brisbane
More info on trip 2 can be found here: 5-Day Mt Warning Camping Trip
John has also ridden all over the world and lives just outside of Brisbane close to the BVRT. John was also one of our first electric bike customers when we opened up all those years ago. He first rode an Ezee Torq, one of the first touring-spec ebikes available in Australia, and now also rides a Riese & Muller Delite.
Thank you all!
Ready for Adventure?
Queensland is full of explorations for the ebike rider. From coastal scenes to bushlands and quaint little towns, the possibilities are endless.
You might want to check out our recommended Rail Trail Rides Close to Brisbane for your first ride. You’ll find detailed information for start and end points, as well as what to expect along the way.
If you’re looking to ride with a group, make sure to check out our Ebike Rides & Tours page for more information on our Owners Club rides.
And if you are looking for a tour-appropriate electric bike then see what ebikes we have to offer in our Adventure & Touring Bikes category. If you are looking for one now, check out what's In Stock as well.