Electric bikes are great but depending on your budget, intended use and environment the bike alone may not completely serve your needs. That’s where accessories come in! But before we dig in, I want to stress that if you live in a rainy environment and intend on commuting to work or ride frequently in the dark it might be worth paying more up front to get integrated fenders and lights. These will look nicer, rattle less, be more difficult to steal and won’t require stand alone batteries… which can run out unexpectedly or simply slow you down with the need for frequent recharging. I meet a lot of people out there during my travels who settled for a “bargain” ebike but end up spending way more after purchase trying to get their setup perfect. This process can be fun and result in something very special but conversely, sometimes waiting a bit longer to choose a product that fully suits your needs can result in greater fulfillment and utility.
Just below is a gallery with one image for each of the ten categories listed below. I chose these pictures based on the products I have tried and like and I link to them (and other great options) in the full list:
Indeed, there are some amazing electric bicycles out there today like the Moustache Lundi 26 that comes standard with a suspension seat post in addition to tubular fenders and integrated lights. Bikes like the BULLS Lacuba EVO E8 that are easy to mount with deep step-thru frames available in multiple sizes with features like an adjustable stem, quiet belt drive and streamline suspension fork. Some of these features cannot be added easily post-purchase. And so, regardless of the e-bike you choose, here’s a list of what I consider to be essential accessories. Keep in mind, shops and rental outfits frequently report that ebikes are ridden further and more frequently than pedal powered models. I also tend to think that they ride more consistently at higher speed and all of this adds up to more stresses and strains on your body. Comfort and safety are key here.
- Helmets are extremely important, regardless of speed or riding condition, and these days you can get them with integrated lights for added safety like the Torch Apparel helmet here. I recently purchased the Specialized Centro LED helmet for myself and appreciate how sleek and light weight it is. The alternative approach is adding a stand alone LED light to your existing helmet.
- Water is probably the next most important accessory and it relates back to safety in a way, nobody wants to get heat stroke… and if you’re mountain biking on an ebike and end up with a flat far from civilization, water could save your life. Unfortunately, many electric bikes have tighter frames so squeezing a bottle in can be tricky. I recommend the side-load cages for this. But if your bike doesn’t have bottle cage bosses at all then consider adding an adapter to your saddle rails or a clamp on your seat post or on the handle bars. A couple of alternative ideas are trunk bags with bottle holsters that can easily be added to a rear rack (if your bike has one) or stand-alone hydration packs that are worn as light weight backpacks, allowing you to drink through a flexible straw conveniently as you you ride. I recently purchased the Osprey Syncro 10 and did a review here, this pack has a light weight but rigid frame inside with mesh cooling layer so it stays off your back, the straw connects magnetically and the water reservoir inside is very easy to remove and clean… it also has reflective fabric woven throughout and a light clip on the back so it actually improves safety (and keeps your back clean if you don’t have a rear fender!)
- Lights are important for both safety and utility… some are designed to help you be seen while others illuminate your path and help you to see. My favorite lights tend to be those that are pre-installed and run off the main ebike battery like this Supernova set on the Stromer ST2 S or this Spanninga set on the e-Joe Gadis. Not all ebikes offer this kind of integration but a handful of shops can tap into the battery and add them aftermarket for you if you pay a bit more. For everyone else, there’s a whole wide world of aftermarket bike lights. Most use LEDs because they draw very little electricity and are long lasting. My favorite are the rechargeable models and I try to get two from the same company that use the same charging standard so I can use the same cables. Other ways to increase your visual footprint are to choose light colored bike frames (like white or silver) and get reflective tires and clothing with reflective striping or patterns. For those who want some advice on lights that actually help you see the trail, I have had good luck with the Cygolite series which comes in a range of strengths. Here’s a Cygolite review article I wrote a while back with some video footage of the smaller Dart and larger Metro lights side by side.
- Locks ensure that your investment will last… or at least they increase the chances that a thief will overlook your bike and move along to something a bit easier. Electric bicycles tend to cost way more than standard bikes but the interesting thing is that they aren’t as easy to sell as used without all of the included parts. That means the charger and a key to get the battery pack off. An unwitting second-hand buyer might actually be completely locked out through software and some models now offer GPS theft recovery. Still, if you can avoid the hassle by not getting your bike lifted in the first place that’s probably preferable. I like the rubberized coating on Blackburn’s U-Locks because it will protect your frame, this lock also comes in several lengths to accommodate fatter tubing and both sides lock so it takes twice the effort to cut through. Here’s a quick guide I wrote covering the proper way to use a ulock with a cable (to secure the wheelset). Blackburn also offers a Kevlar cable for use with their locks and a combo pack which includes both items. These days you can get accessories like the Boomerang CycloTrac that sound an alarm based on bike motion, send you a text alert and even track the bike using GPS so you can chase down a would-be thief. Another layer of protection is bicycle insurance which not only covers your investment but might help cover injuries in the event of an accident.
- Flat Protection and air are especially critical on ebikes because they tend to ride further and weigh more than unpowered bicycles. Whether you pump Slime liquid sealant into your tubes, buy pre-Slimed tubes, opt for a tubeless setup with flat protection sealant or upgrade to puncture protection Kevlar-lined tires (also called GreenGuard from Schwalbe, GatorSkin DuraSkin from Continental, K-Guard from Schwalbe and Armadillo from Specialized) you’ll need some air to keep the bike running until you get home. This is where portable pumps and CO2 cartridges come in. Prevention is huge but walking a 50 lb electric bike home is a lot less fun than hopping off and pumping every mile or two. Note that on all of my reviews here the valve stem type is listed (Schrader is the fat old-fashioned style and Presta is the new skinny one). You need to get a pump or adapter that fits your tube or tire type and I’ve had great luck with the new mini-pumps that have a flexible stem that screws on to the tube valve. CO2 cartridges are fast and light weight but once they are spent, that’s it, and you can’t tell the pressure as easily… I love the portable hand pump with the pressure gauge so I can be sure not to over-inflate. Note that there are now solid bicycle tires that do not require air. Even Specialized is getting into the game but currently only uses them for urban bicycles. Solid bike tires tend to offer less comfort and can even bend rims and break spokes if you hit a hard angle at higher speeds. Air has the flexibility of being adjustable so you can dial it in based on your own weight and ride environment… typically lower PSI for soft terrain and higher for smooth hard pavement.
- Glasses keep your eyes focused by reducing dryness due to wind, squinting due to the sun or harsh lights and physical contact with particulates and bugs. While this isn’t exactly a “bicycle accessory” per say, it is very important and oft-overlooked. I frequently ride with clear lenses at night because there are times when bugs get thick or the wind picks up and dust gets blown around. Surprisingly, cycling specific glasses can be very inexpensive these days but the world of biking has lots of fancy options too, some frames that even offer swappable lenses so you can go from clear to dark tinted. I think they key is to find some that are comfortable with your helmet (they shouldn’t collide with the front of the helmet and they should be too tight on your temples). Note that some people put the glasses arms under their helmet straps while others go over (I go over). Some people opt for goggles and I’ve heard others who use anti-fog products with their glasses during the winter as they often ride with scarfs around their necks… that’s another great accessory there, a gator or face mask, even a pollution filtering face mask if you live in a busy city. As someone with light asthma, I’ve tried these masks and felt better about the air being inhaled during heavy workouts. Note again that with electric bicycles you tend to ride further and faster (especially with speed pedalecs) so the value of glasses cannot be overstated.
- Gloves are another important accessory that many people overlook. This is one of three contact points that your body makes with the bike… your feet, sit bones and hands. I type frequently and have smaller more sensitive hands and wrists. For me, it’s not just about protection in the event of a fall or staying warm when riding, padded gloves take a lot of the jar out of bumpy ride conditions. Just like glasses, you can spend a fortune on gloves or opt for inexpensive ones. I usually look for a color that matches my gear or my bike and then narrow down by the season: longer thicker gloves for winter and thinner fingerless for summer. You can now get special touch-screen cycling gloves with silver threaded finger tips to make it easier to use your phone without taking gloves off. I’ve had mixed experience with these but even when you have to tap the screen a couple of times, it’s way easier and warmer than completely removing a glove when it’s freezing cold out. Many gloves now have easy-off finger loops on the palm and soft fabric on the inner portion of the thumb area designed for cleaning your glasses. Note that I was recently told by a bike fit expert that you want more padding for road biking and less for mountain because mountain bikes have suspension and you need to lift and toss the bike around while handling vs. resting hands. Apparently the vibration of road cycling calls for thicker padding… this was counter intuitive to what I had thought and I welcome input here from other informed cyclists.
- Padded Pants aren’t completely necessary for every type of rider, you might have a soft saddle with a suspension seat post keeping you comfortable. But in my years of cycling to work and for fun, I’ve found that a good pair of padded cycling shorts, capris or pants can make a surprising difference in ride comfort. There are men’s and women’s specific cycling pants and they usually have a detachable inner liner with the pads and an external style-oriented cover that has pockets. Not all of them are the tight spandex or polyester style that you see on road bikers. Look around and consider dropping in to your local sporting goods store or bike shop for this. Depending on where and when I’m riding I’ll also carry along some mace (now there are bike specific mace accessories) as well as a good bell or horn. I bring chap stick, my government issued identification and insurance card (in case of an accident) and it’s just nice to have pockets on the pants or a jersey, jacket or backpack where I can store the stuff.
- Storage was left until later in this list because I wanted to demonstrate how much stuff there is to bring along. You might have an extra bottle cage attachment where you could mount what they call a storage pod, you might have a rear rack with pannier blockers which would be perfect for the side hanging bags called panniers or a top mounted trunk bag and you might even have room on the fork for a second pair of panniers or a basket up by the handle bars. I usually wear a small hydration pack as mentioned earlier because it’s easy to take along. For me, this is a great place to store a tool, first aid, water, a spare tire, my cell phone, money and keys and the ebike charger so I can extend my ride if plans change. Most electric bicycle chargers are light weight and compact (under 2 lbs) and can fill your battery within hours (batteries tend to charger faster from empty than later on when they are nearly full due to load balancing). A backpack comes along with you and is easy to set next to your desk or hang on the coat rack and you can find them pretty cheap.
- Suspension is my favorite “accessory” so I saved it for last. My back, arms and neck get tired on long rides and especially off-road… but I love adventuring! This is why I purchased a full suspension electric mountain bike. While there are plenty of in-town bikes with just a front suspension, some are stiffer than others and there are ways you can improve the ride through suspension accessories. The first option is a suspension seat post! On every ebike review posted to EBR I list the seat post diameter of the bike so you can find an aftermarket post that will fit properly. there are lots of options to choose from but I love Thudbuster by Cane Creek, the NCX by SunTour and BodyFloat by Cirrus Cycles. For the more budget-minded cyclists, check out this long list of suspension posts on amazon. Note that there are now alternative “suspension” posts like the Specialized COBL GOBL-r (CG‑R) that simply dampen vibration and balance comfort with weight and simplicity. Also, all of these suspension posts are going to raise the minimum seat height of your bike, so if you’re already struggling to mount up and are on tippie toes a lot, this might be an area to avoid. The other less-common area to modify with suspension is your stem. Now this is less common because it can impact steering… Still, Specialized has jumped into the game along with ShockStop from Red Shift Sports. Note also that there are a bunch of saddles with rubber elastomers and springs that help to take the edge off and smooth out your ride. This is another area that’s worth exploring with your local bike shop so you can actually try things out before buying.
The following video was shot with the help of a master tech named Erik at Peloton Cycles in Fort Collins, CO. we mainly covered safety gear and didn’t get quite as deep or detailed as this written guide. If you’d like to learn how to make your helmet fit properly or get some ideas for bottles and pumps be sure to check it out and if you’re ever in Fort Collins swing by and visit one of their shops!
I hope this list of accessories helps guide you towards a comfortable and safe electric bike riding experience. Whether you already chose a bike, have found a used model at your local shop, from a friend or on Craigslist or are still planning, knowing how you intend to ride can help inform where you allocate money. I personally ride a full suspension mountain bike but use it for commuting purposes… For me, comfort with a splash of fun and off-road capability is more important than the fenders or lights but of course, I’ve added some after-market and am left with the hassle of charging separately and perhaps getting more dirty when I commute. Feel free to chime in with your own choice accessories and stories about how you use your bike. Whether it’s neighborhood riding, mountain trails or urban landscapes you seek, I hope you have fun and ride safe :)