One of the great joys of riding a bike is getting a little something special for it, and electric bikes aren’t any different. You’ve got yourself a fancy new e-bike, it’s beautiful and it’s everything you always wanted, but now it’s time to make it truly yours. In this guide to the best e-bike upgrades, we’ll jump into all the little things that make a bike unique. Ways to upgrade your electric bike so that it stays yours, fits you better, rides more comfortably, and better matches your riding style.
It doesn’t matter if your bike is a stripped-down entry-level affair or a top-shelf no-expense-spared model. Nothing comes from the factory perfect for you and that’s part of the joy. So keep reading for a few fun and useful ways to upgrade your electric bike experience.
1. A second battery
Every electric bike deals with batteries a little bit differently. Some are non-removable and totally integrated. In that case there might be an add-on battery you can buy that will fit into one of the bottle cages. Others are as easy to swap as batteries on a toy. Along with the difference in design there is also a vastly different set of needs depending on what kind of electric bike you have. Despite all the differences, an extra battery will always be transformative.
Most people overestimate the range they actually need. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a need for an extra battery though. Range anxiety is real even if the likelihood of bumping up against max range is lower than imagined. It comes down just feeling more secure knowing that you’ve got things covered if you forget to charge your main battery or if you want to ride farther.
It’s also worth considering the brand you are buying from and long-term availability. Extra batteries are often unique to specific models. If you are buying an electric bike from a smaller brand or one with a proprietary drive system, they might not have a battery available years down the road when yours wears out. Grab an extra one while the model is current and if you need it, you’ve got it.
2. GPS Tracking
Electric bikes can be very expensive. The last thing you want to do is lose it to theft. With that in mind, a good peace-of-mind upgrade is a GPS tracker, so at least if you lose the bike, you’ve got a chance to get it back.
There are some electric bikes that have tracking built into them. VanMoof does a good job getting the word out about their tracking with multiple YouTube videos of bikes getting recovered – it’s a great pick-me-up to spend some time watching people get their bikes back. They aren’t alone though. Even if your electric bike has a little lower profile, it might have tracking built-in. If there is tracking on your bike make sure you activate it and go through any setup that’s necessary.
For those without built-in tracking, it’s a relatively easy addition. Technology moves fast so there are always new options available, but we do have an article covering some of the best bike GPS trackers. In that same article, you can find some suggestions for other ways to secure your bike to prevent theft in the first place.
3. New tyres
When it comes to transforming the feel of a bike there are very few things that match the effects of new tyres. For many bikes, the only real suspension comes from the tyres absorbing impact. Beyond the suspension effect, you can completely transform the capabilities of a bike with the right tyres.
Most commuter-oriented electric bikes tend to come with tyres designed for puncture protection above all else. No one wants a flat tyre so that’s a good thing but a tough tyre is going to be a stiff tyre. Spend some time looking to see if there is anything out there that has a better balance between performance and flat protection.
When it comes to performance-oriented electric bikes the equation changes a little. You still want to avoid punctures but you are more likely to be adapting the bike to a new need. Got an electric gravel bike that you want to take on a road ride? Swap out the stock gravel tyres for some of the best road bike tyres and you will experience a smoother ride, and also extend the battery life a bit.
Even if you have a great set of tyres for your needs, consider lowering the pressure. Most people run entirely too much pressure and almost all tyres come overinflated. There’s no better hack than reducing the pressure so it reflects modern recommendations. It’s free and it will make a bike much more comfortable. It also helps with flat protection by allowing a little bit of give before puncture.
4. New saddle
A new saddle is another way to completely transform a bike. It’s different from new tyres though; instead of transforming the way the bike rides, a new saddle can transform your connection to the bike. Saddles are very personal and putting the saddle that works for you on your electric bike makes it uniquely your bike.
Even if the bike you got came with a great saddle it might not be the right saddle for you. A good bike saddle for you should match the width of your sit bones. It should be wide enough to provide the support you need without being so wide that it gets in the way of pedalling.
The type of bike it’s going on will also make a difference in how wide it should be. Some bikes lean you forward and you don’t have much weight on the back of the saddle. Other bikes sit you upright and that puts more weight on the saddle and a greater need for a wide surface.
Once you’ve figured out a width that makes sense it’s time to consider a cut-out, or not. Cut-out designs try to solve blood flow issues around the perineum. Some people love the design, but for others, it can actually be worse. There’s no right answer so go with what works for you.
Even if you like the saddle that came with your electric bike do you have it adjusted correctly? Consider it another hack to get the height, angle, and fore/aft positioning correct. There are entire articles dedicated to fit and it’s impossible to cover it in a paragraph. What’s important to know is that subtle changes make a big deal and it deserves your attention.
Yes, electric bikes can still get out in the rain. Whether that means you are commuting to work or taking your electric gravel bike out on the fire roads, mudguards are hugely beneficial. They help keep you dry and they help keep the bike in its best condition.
If you’ve got the right clothing for riding in the rain it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, unless of course, you are riding without mudguards. Riding in the rain without mudguards means you spend the entire time with the equivalent of a hose pointed at your lower body. No matter how good your gear is, nothing will stand up to that for long. A front mudguard will also keep road grime from spraying you in the face.
The other big advantage to mudguards is keeping your bike in the best condition possible. Your clothing won’t stand up to a constant spray of water and road grime, and your bike won’t do any better. Instead of gently falling water you end up with a somewhat pressurised stream off your front wheel directly into the drive unit or bottom bracket area. The dirt and water will eventually work themselves into every nook, cranny, and bearing. Save the hassle of repairing the bike by adding mudguards.
Once you start looking for mudguards you will find a few different types. The mounts your bike has will dictate what’s available. If your bike has mudguard mounts then look for a bolt-on solution. The more coverage the better and metal will last longer than plastic. If your bike came with mudguards, you might still consider replacing them with something of higher quality. If your electric bike doesn’t have any mudguard mounts on the frame then you are going to be looking for some kind of clever clip-on solution. Whatever you need there are tons of options.
6. A quality lock
Your electric bike might have an integrated wheel lock, but even so, you still need a quality lock to anchor it to a fixed point. Integrated wheel locks and after the fact tracking won’t stop you from walking home if your bike gets stolen. A recovered bike is a huge hassle and it might mean damage. Get a quality lock and always use it.
A cable lock, while good for deterring opportunist thieves, is rarely enough to use on its own, so is best used as a backup to a primary lock. Whatever you choose to use, one big consideration should be the visual presence. Given enough time, thieves can defeat any lock out there. The point is not to make your bike theft-proof, that’s not possible, the point is to make it not worth the hassle. Thieves can defeat cable locks in seconds with no noise, so opt for a lock that is visible, and strong enough to require enough time and noise to defeat that another bike becomes the target.
There are a lot of choices. Look for something with a visual presence but also convenience. If it’s not easy to use, or carry, you might find yourself taking unnecessary risks. There are U-locks, folding locks, and chain locks that will work so just decide what you like and make sure you always use it. You can read more about what’s out there in our article about the best bike locks. As well as what lock to get, check out our article covering how to lock your bike.
7. The right clothes
Most people understand that there are specific clothes for road cyclists. It’s a big part of the sport both in terms of identity and performance. There are aerodynamic options, endurance options, and clothing for essentially every situation you might find yourself in. It’s well and fully integrated into popular culture and people agree, or don’t, but at the very least they understand it exists.
The truth is though that no matter what kind of electric bike you have there are clothes designed for that purpose. Gravel bikes can lean towards road bike clothing or towards mountain bike clothing. More and more there are options geared specifically for gravel cyclists. There are also tons of clothing options for commuting and city cycling.
The reason all these different types of clothing exist is because they make the experience of riding a bike better. The reasons for each type of clothing are as varied as the options for clothing but there is always a reason. That doesn’t mean you can’t just ride in whatever clothes but if you want an upgrade for your electric bike a big one is to upgrade the clothes you wear. Why not enjoy the most comfortable experience possible?
8. Suspension seatpost
Tyres are a huge part of the suspension that makes an electric bike comfortable. It’s pretty simple to drop the pressure and enjoy a more comfortable ride. Combine the right tyre pressure with the right saddle and you will have a pretty comfortable bike. If you are still looking for a more comfortable ride, a suspension seatpost is another easy solution.
A seatpost is an often overlooked component when it comes to ride quality. For a lot of people, the seatpost is completely forgettable. When it comes to bike design though, the seatpost is never overlooked. One of the most common endurance road bike features is a thin, flexible, seatpost, and just going that far makes a lot of sense when weight matters. However, it’s a little bit different for an electric bike.
With an electric bike, there is less of a need to count every gram. Arguably that’s true on most bikes but when you’ve got a motor to help you up the hills the weight really disappears. With no weight consideration, a suspension seat post becomes a real no-brainer. It’s easy to fit and makes for exceptional ride quality. Gravel bikes might seem like the most obvious place for a suspension seat post but city bikes are a good candidate too. You can practically float over poorly maintained roads with a suspension seat post.
9. New gearing
Did you know you aren’t stuck with whatever gearing your electric bike came with? You might want to change gearing if you live in an area with more hills, for instance. In some situations, it might also make sense to change things up if you only ride in flat areas. Having the right gearing makes pedalling more comfortable and with electric bikes it can extend the battery range.
High-end electric bikes tend to have gearing that makes more sense for the intended use. When it’s time to upgrade, the path is often more obvious too. More expensive bikes use components that come from higher up the range where there are more options for gearing. Even if you have something that uses unbranded or lower market components, it’s likely you can still make a change.
Gearing for a bike happens in two places. The cranks, near the pedals, and the rear hub. Most of the time the easiest thing to change is the rear gearing. If you’ve got a cassette, it’s simple for any bike shop to swap to something with different gearing. Some electric bikes will have a rear freewheel instead of a hub and cassette. This is just as simple to change but there are fewer options out there. The rear derailleur has a maximum size it can take though and you may be at the limit already.
If you are at the limit, you could change the derailleur or look at the gearing on the crank. A crank change can be a little bit of a bigger challenge but as long as there exists a compatible chainring or a whole new crank that works, it’s possible. Heed the advice of your local bike shop to make things as easy as possible.
The good news is that the most challenging bikes to make changes to are those with low-end parts. Cranks are often unbranded and the derailleur is a 7- or 8-speed model paired with a freewheel. Those same low model parts are very inexpensive. New parts won’t cost much even if you have to make relatively big changes to get what you want.
10. Heavy duty bike rack
If you are getting rid of your car and changing to an electric bike then this isn’t going to be of interest. For a lot of people though, an electric bike is an alternative mode of transportation or even just for recreation. If that’s you then you might want to take your electric bike somewhere.
A lot of people would consider a 25lb road bike on the heavy side. Meanwhile, when you start to talk about racks, 25lbs isn’t an issue at all. Often road bikes are under 20lbs and you really don’t have to worry about the weight on a bike rack. If you want your rack on the roof of the car it’s no problem to lift a lightweight bike up. However electric bikes are a different beast altogether.
The weight of electric bikes means a rethink of a lot of accessories but bike racks are a big one. If you want to take a couple of electric bikes on a trip, or even one, you need to make sure your rack can handle the weight. Check out our list of the best bike racks to find one that can handle your electric bike.