E-bikes are one of, if not THE, fastest growing sectors within bike sales in many parts of the world. There's lots of reasons for this. Whereas before we had large, clunky motors that provided modest power that perhaps didn't offset the weight penalty. In addition to this they necessitated design changes in the bikes to acccomodate them.
The technology has now come on leaps and bounds in recent years with ever smaller, lighter and more powerful motors that provide e-support or 'pedal assist' when riding. The power units themselves have also come down to a more attainable price point making them accessible to the larger market.
But e-bikes themselves cannot easily be considered a single category as within this there are a wide variety of use cases and different types of e-bike to fulfil those varying needs.
So, lets take a look at some of the most common sub-categories of e-bikes:
E road bike
E mountain bikes
E town / commuter bikes
E cargo bikes
The benefits of a bike fit for most road cyclists are well known: improved comfort, performance, and reduced risk of picking up injuries. However, with the rise of e-bikes people have been asking me if the same is true in e-bike applications. The short answer is Yes, for the long answer, read on.
I tend to split e-bikers into two more broad categories; those who have an e-bike for 'sporting' use or intentions and those who are using them as a mode of transport.
I have met riders who are just starting out with cycling and wanting to build fitness gradually with less strain; those looking to keep up with friends on longer or harder rides; those who have had covid-related heart and lung issues but want to continue riding; those that can't quite do the rides they used to enjoy due to injury or other issues but still want to be able to do so. The list goes on but e-bikes are a fantastic tool in aiding people to get out and enjoy riding a bike.
On the other side there are those that have shunned cars for an e-bike for economic, environmental or health reasons and again they are an excellent solution here too.
In each case the effect of the motor is not solely confined to propelling the bike forwards. By producing this force the motor also alters the way the rider is able to balance and distribute their weight across the bike. In nearly all cases, once any e-assist mode is used the rider will place less of their weight through the pedals and thus more on the saddle and/or their hands. The greater the amount of e-assist used, the more pronounced this effect is.
As a result there is a greater risk of developing saddle pressure, discomfort or evening tingling and numbness in the genitalia. The same can be said for developing problems in the wrists and hands with sensitive nerves passing throught the wrist around the point where we grip the bars. None of these problems should ever be ignored as 'just part of riding a bike'. They are signs that your bike fit may need to be addressed.
These problems can manifest even over shorter riding distances such as a work commute or trip to the shops and will tend to increase in those using e-assist modes to ride longer distances. Check out the image below courtesy of Gebiomized who have carried out reasearch using saddle pressure mapping to demonstrate the effect that e-assist modes can have. In the first image (far left) we can see that with 'no pedal support' the max pressure is 478 millibars but when the maximum support 'turbo mode' is used (far right) this max pressure nearly doubles to 919 millibars. The gives a very clear visual example of what is going on when e-assist is added to riding your bike, a dramatic increase in saddle pressure and one that is likely to lead to discomfort.
All of these problems, pains or changes can be considered and modified during a bike fit to ensure that the effect of the e-assist on your riding is positive rather than creating new problems.
So, if you have recently started to use an e-bike or have been riding one for some time and have issues with saddle discomfort, hand and wrist pain then don't hesitate to get in touch to discuss your issues and see if we can help you with a bike fit session.
You can get in touch via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or head straight to the online booking page to get your session booked in now on the link below.