Wouldn’t it be nice if all you needed for a great ride was an electric bicycle and a smile on your face?
While those two things are often enough for me, there’s some excellent gear out there that can make e-bike rides even better, whether you ride for pleasure or commuting.
As an electric bicycle enthusiast and journalist, I get to put my hands (and other body parts) on more gear than the average rider.
Sometimes I buy gear after carefully reading pages and pages of reviews and reactions. Sometimes companies send out new gear for me to test out, sight unseen and going in fresh.
Either way, inevitably, some of it turns out to be awesome stuff, while the rest is left in the junk pile. In this article, I’ve listed only the best gear I’ve tested this summer. All of the stuff that didn’t seem useful or worth the price to me didn’t make the cut.
Note: For the gear below, unless I say I bought it, then assume it was a media sample provided for evaluation.
Out of all the gear I use, a helmet is the only thing I consistently use 100% of the time. Over my more than decade of riding motorized bicycles, I’ve inadvertently crash-tested more helmets than I can count on one hand. I was grateful for each one, and every crash reinforced my desire to never ride an e-bike without a helmet.
Bern Brentwood 2.0
I love Bern’s Brentwood 2.0 helmet for a few reasons. Instead of the uncomfortable plastic ratchet that most helmets use in the back to adjust the size, Bern’s has a stretchy elastic band at the back of your head. Not only does that make it more comfortable, but it means that I don’t have to keep readjusting it after my wife steals my helmet. And she steals it a lot — we both love it and I probably need to just get a second one for her.
I also really like the soft visor. It’s effective for keeping the sun out of your eyes at any decent angle, yet isn’t rigid and thus breakable like the visor on many other helmets. It’s also great for tossing in a bag because it takes up less space.
Triple 8 skateboarding helmet
Look, I’m going to be honest here. I bought Triple 8’s skateboard helmet almost purely for the look.
I needed a helmet for my review videos that didn’t look too big or too bulky or too nerdy or too anything. Basically, I needed a helmet that did its job but didn’t get in the way or stand out.
I’ve been using it for over a year, and despite buying it purely on looks, I’ve found it to be a great helmet as well. I worry it doesn’t have the same protection as the Bern Brentwood 2.0 helmet above, but it’s also nearly half the price, and so it’s good for anyone on a budget. If you’re looking for a helmet with a classic skate look but that doesn’t come with a bulbous profile, this is a great option.
See the Triple 8 helmet in action in one of my review videos below.
Sena R1 Bluetooth intercom helmet
The last helmet I’ll recommend is the Sena R1 Bluetooth intercom helmet. I first used this one on a group ride testing out the Yamaha Wabash electric gravel bike. We were around seven or eight journalists, and the Bluetooth intercom system meant we could all keep in touch during the ride.
While we mostly used it for cracking jokes about one another, it was actually handy for logistics. When someone would be too far off for shouting or even on the other side of a hill, we could still keep in touch. The microphone is built into the forehead area, and there are two speakers over the ears.
You can even pair it to your phone to listen to GPS directions or music. In fact, that’s what I use it for the most now. While it’s super helpful for group rides, I’m usually riding by myself anyways. With the Sena R1 helmet, I can keep my phone in my pocket, yet still get GPS turn-by-turn directions delivered straight to my ears.
In fact, I loved the Sena R1 bicycle helmet so much that I went back to Sena for intercom systems for motorcycle helmets for my wife and me. We’re currently testing out the Sena 30K and the Sena 10C Pro, both of which are turning out to be awesome Bluetooth communication devices for motorcycling. I’ll have more on those in the motorcycle gear article, coming soon to an Electrek homepage near you.
If you want to see some action shots of the Sena R1 helmet, check it out in my Yamaha Wabash e-bike review below.
Terrano XT Cycling Bluetooth Headset
If you want to be able to communicate with your riding partner but don’t want to be locked into a specific helmet, the Terrano XT is what you want. This little sucker is magical. I got one for my wife and me for our rides, and it’s awesome to not have to shout. Especially since my wife has this fun little habit of not wanting to ride directly next to me because she thinks I’m going to take her out in an accident.
Basically, you slap this sucker on the side of any helmet, then plug in the two speaker units that connect to the inside of the helmet but hang outside the helmet so they don’t get in your way. Then you just pair it to your phone, and you’re off. When I’m riding alone I will mostly use it for GPS directions from my phone so that I don’t have to put my phone on my handlebars. It’s also great for listening to music or taking phone calls while riding.
But the real magic is using it like an intercom when your partner or buddies have a unit of their own. The transmission is crystal clear as long as you don’t have a large land mass between you two. But if someone goes over a hill and down the other side, the transmission can get spotty. Basically, keep it in line of sight and you’ll be golden. If your buddy is a half mile away, you’d probably do better to just call him on the phone. But a few hundred yards away? It will feel like he’s right next to you.
The little unit weighs almost nothing and doesn’t get in the way. It’s waterproof so you don’t have to worry about a quick rain shower. And it’s got a quick release, so you don’t always have to leave it on your helmet. If you just want to let your helmet hang on your handlebars while you run inside, simply pop it off and stick the little unit in your pocket. It’s like two inches long and barely noticeable.
I definitely recommend a cycling Bluetooth headset if you frequently get annoyed at not being able to communicate with your riding partner, especially when you’re in the back and want your voice heard up front. It’s a game changer to stop relying on hand signals or pedaling like mad to catch up and yell.
If helmets are my most important gear on an e-bike, good locks might just be second most important, in my opinion. And because no single lock is 100% theft-proof, I usually use two different styles of locks together. So check out the different types of locks I’ve been impressed with this summer.
I’ve been testing two different U-locks from Abus: the Ultra Mini 410 (green) and the U-lock 440 Alarm (red). The Ultra Mini 410 is a cute little 5.5-inch U-lock that packs away small yet still inspires confidence in me. It’s got a 12 mm shackle and so it should stand up to a spirited attack for a decent amount of time.
Of course this isn’t a lock to use by itself in a tough neighborhood, but for a lightweight second lock, it’s a great addition. And at just $35 for a German-made lock, it sure beats buying some cheap imported junk lock.
The Abus 440 Alarm also has a 12 mm shackle, so it’s not going to last any longer against an attack, but it will make a heck of a lot more noise. It also has a longer shackle, which means you can lock more of the bike to more things. With the Ultra Mini 410, I was usually just locking a wheel to the frame or a wheel to a parking meter if I could get the perfect angle. But with the 440’s larger 9-inch-long shackle, I could lock larger frame sections or the wheel and frame together. And that alarm? It’s really freakin‘ loud. If someone is trying to get away with a quiet attack like a car jack, they’ll have a rude awakening.
Lightweight Ottolock Hexband bicycle lock
I love lightweight locks, especially since I like to use more than one lock at once. And the Ottolock Hexband is the epitome of a lightweight lock.
It’s made from a steel band reinforced with Kevlar, weighing in at only 250g, or about a half pound. That’s for the 30-inch model, which I have. But there’s a longer 60-inch model that still weighs less than a pound.
It uses a three-digit combination, which I guess someone could crack with enough time, but again, this shouldn’t be your only lock, except for short duration stops.
The Ottolock Hexband also rolls up into a tight package and has a little silicone holder on it to keep it tightly spooled. I just can’t believe how light it is while still feeling fairly robust.
Can you cut through it with a big pair of bolt cutters? Probably. But it’d take a while, and those Kevlar fibers are going to be super annoying to get through, even if the steel won’t put up as much of a fight.
So this one definitely goes on my list of great e-bike locks, especially as a lightweight secondary lock.
OnGuard Mastiff 6 foot chain
You know how sometimes you just want a big effin chunk of steel between thieves and your bike? Yeah, me too. That’s why I bought the OnGuard Mastiff Quad Chain Lock. At around 10 lbs (4.5 kg), it’s not lightweight. And it sure isn’t easily portable. But it’s going to take a good long while to get through that massive chain.
I basically use this one as my home-base lock. When I need to leave one of my bikes outside overnight, this is the main lock that goes on.
Plus, it’s sturdy enough that I also use it for my electric scooters and motorcycles, in a pinch. When you’re borrowing a five-figure electric motorcycle from the company for a review, you really don’t want it walking away on your watch.
Storage and cargo
If you’re like me and you use electric bicycles as car replacements, then cargo space suddenly becomes very important. From groceries to hardware-store runs, I carry just about everything on my e-bikes. And so the following pieces of gear have proven to be super useful to me.
Ortlieb Bikepacking gear
Bikepacking gear is meant for people who want to go on long rides, perhaps multi-day camping trips, and need to carry everything on their bikes while they do it.
I’ve found that it works equally well in the city, too, where I use bikepacking gear to carry necessities both big and small.
Ortlieb’s bikepacking gear has been super useful in the city so far, where I’ve been using it for most of my everyday utility tasks. I currently have the Accessory Pack Handlebar Bag, Frame-Pack TopTube, Saddle Bag, E-Mate Pannier for e-bikes, and the Cockpit Pack.
Out of all of the bags, the E-Mate Pannier is by far the largest. It also has a space for an e-bike battery built right into it, which is great for carrying a spare. But because I don’t always have a spare battery with me, the ability for the battery compartment to fold flat is awesome. That way I can still stuff it full of groceries when I need to.
The Handlebar Bag and Frame-Pack TopTube are both great for medium-sized items. The TopTube pack actually fits more than it would appear, and I’m always surprised when I can keep stuffing more into it. Also, just look at that zipper. You could tow a truck with that zipper.
The Saddle Bag and the Cockpit Pack are both on the small side, but they are just as high quality as the rest. So if you need a smaller bag but don’t want to just find the cheapest thing on Amazon, these are both great quality options.
Apidura Bikepacking gear
I’ve got the Expedition Handlebar Pack (14L), Expedition Saddle Pack (14L), and the Expedition Top Tube Pack (0.5 L) from Apidura. The quality is phenomenal and the gear is beyond useful, it’s a lifesaver sometimes when I need to shove more stuff on my bike than my backpack will fit.
That little half liter top tube pack might not sound like much space, but it’s convenient for stashing little things like sunglasses, keys, wallet, some fruit or other snacks, etc.
The saddle pack and handlebar pack are much bigger and fit my groceries or other large objects. I’ve taken packages to the post office with them and generally hauled all sorts of weird stuff. And because the handlebar bag actually opens at both ends, you can get away with carrying some odd-shaped or bulky items that don’t even fit inside the pack. I’m not sure you’re supposed to be riding around with an umbrella or 2-by-4 hanging out of there, but I won’t tell if you won’t.
The Expedition series is fully welded and uses a proprietary material from Apidura that keeps it nice and waterproof. This kind of storage has been super helpful when using e-bikes as a main source of transportation.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to add some extra hauling ability to an e-bike is simply tossing on a backpack.
evoc FR Trail E-Ride 20L backpack
I think it’s so cool that there are electric bicycle-centric products coming out these days that are designed specifically for electric bike riders like us.
The evoc FR Trail E-Ride backpack is designed with a spare battery compartment. Just like the Ortlieb pannier above, the spare battery compartment collapses down when not in use, which means you’ve still got all of the available space in the bag for stashing other things. But because you might not want a big, heavy battery smacking you in the back throughout your ride, the FR Trail E-Ride also includes a LITESHIELD back protector. It absorbs shock from normal use and also keeps that battery out of your shoulder blades.
The bag is really well ventilated, comes with a helmet holder, and has a pile of different-sized pockets. It even has specific pockets labeled for e-bike parts like a removable display. Everything I want in an e-bike backpack, and nothing I don’t!
CamelBak H.A.W.G. LR 20 100 ounce Hydration Pack
The thing I love about CamelBak backpacks is that you don’t just get a hydration back, you usually get a really good bag as well. The bags aren’t too big, but they offer enough space for daily use, especially considering you’ve got a huge 3L water reservoir in there.
The new design of the CamelBak reservoir in the H.A.W.G LR 20 100 ounce hydration pack puts it down in the small of your back, not up on your shoulder blades like my older CamelBaks that I bought years ago. Not only is the new design more comfortable, but it means the bag gives you even more storage for the rest of your gear.
The double-cinching waist belt compresses the pack to reduce fatigue from weight hanging too far out from your bag and gets the weight down onto your hips.
This one has been such a winner in my book that I find myself taking it on much more than bike rides now. It’s my new go-to day hike bag as well.
By the way, I should also mention that I’ve also enjoyed another piece of CamelBak gear, the Podium Dirt Series water bottle. Sometimes I don’t need a huge 3L CamelBak reservoir, and so just having the bottle is a nice change, especially on those in-between rides that are too long to not bring water but too short to fill up the CamelBak reservoir. It’s rugged and I don’t feel like the cap is going to break off, which is how I’ve destroyed a number of other bottles that I accidentally drop while e-biking.
Clothes make the man, right? While I’ll often hop on my e-bike in whatever I happen to have on, the right clothes can make the difference for certain rides.
Cycorld biking shorts
Alright, it’s time to fess up again. I originally bought these because I was doing an early media ride, didn’t have a pair of biking shorts, and they were a combination of cheapest-on-Amazon and didn’t-make-me-look-like-one-of-those-lycra-spandex-dudes. So basically, they checked both of my boxes.
When I got them they even came with a pair of padded undies, which was a nice addition.
My favorite thing about these shorts is that they give you lots of space for your stuff in four different pockets, yet hold it all in tight to your legs so it doesn’t bounce around while riding. Yes, they are a bit stretchy, but they certainly aren’t normal lycra bike shorts. And they are long enough that I can wear them casually and not feel silly. If anything, they’re a bit too long since they hang below my knees when I’m not riding. But that’s my single gripe about them.
(Oh and in case you were wondering about those blue gloves, they didn’t make the cut. We don’t talk about those.)
Sherpa Adventure Gear pants and rain jacket
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean I can be in a tank top and shorts all the time. I still need pants that are comfortable to ride in during the cool nights, especially when I’m letting the e-bike’s motor do most of the work. If I’m not generating my own muscle heat, things can get chilly. And the Sherpa Gurkhali pants have been great for that.
They’re made of Dyneema to keep them strong, yet they feel as comfortable as pajama pants. They’re loose enough that I can pedal freely yet tight enough to still look nice. My wife even lets me wear them when we go out on dates, so that should tell you something right there.
Somehow they give me all of the practicality of jeans, with reinforced stitching and five-pocket design, yet they just feel so light and comfy. Again, this is another piece of my e-bike gear that I routinely take on other outdoor trips like hikes.
Speaking of light, Sherpa’s Assar 2.5 layer waterproof jacket falls into the same category. I don’t know how it can be this light, but I almost feel like the thing is going to float away. And yet it’s totally waterproof, which is perfect for unexpected summer showers. It stuffs down into one of its front pockets and takes up almost no space when I’m not using it, yet unfolds in seconds into a lightweight, waterproof jacket. It’s crazy that I can carry my rain jacket in my front pocket, but I’m loving it!
And if I could digress for a second here to talk about the social responsibility of the company without getting too hippy dippy… please spare me a minute. Sherpa Adventure Gear was founded by a Sherpa as a form of living memorial for those that work on Mount Everest. Their goal is to provide economic and social stability to the people of Nepal through steady employment, quality working conditions, and educational opportunities for future generations. And I think that’s pretty cool, if you ask me.
SAXX performance underwear
This one gets a bit personal, but hang in there with me.
Look, men have all been there. Long rides can get a bit, errr, uncomfortable down there.
It happens. It’s anatomy.
But I found some underwear that makes it a lot better.
SAXX boxers have what they call their trademarked “Ballpark Pouch,” which induced the vomit emoji in a friend of mine when I jokingly sent her a picture of the box of my new drawers.
I’m not going to model these for you, I’ll let you go to the site and check them out yourself. Suffice it to say that this is the most I would ever spend on underwear, but it’s totally worth it if your boys are in need of some extra comfort on a long ride. OK, enough said.
Adidas Wandertag lightweight jacket
The Adidas Wandertag jacket is the other lightweight summer jacket I’ve been testing. It’s not quite as lightweight as the Sherpa jacket above, but that actually makes it a bit better suited for cooler evenings.
The Wandertag jacket is a bit more substantial. That means I will probably be able to get more use out of it into the fall as well. And while I’m in Tel Aviv over the winter, it will probably even be enough for the occasional rainstorms, since the weather doesn’t get that cold.
And if I’m being honest, I also like that the branding isn’t too heavy. I don’t really want a 14-inch Adidas logo across the chest of my jacket. Sorry, Adidas.
But the company managed to restrain themselves and just put a small logo on the shoulder, which I can live with.
DU/ER Midweight Denim jeans (straight cut)
I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, and this might be a bit personal, but I tend to wear out the crotch of jeans. I don’t know how, but I always seem to end up wearing a hole right in the crotch where the stitching comes together. I suspect it’s from my bike saddle, as I can’t explain it otherwise. And while I normally wouldn’t care, my wife hates it.
So that’s why I want to recommend the DU/ER Midweight Denim jeans. As I’ve found in my testing, these are the best jeans I’ve ever had for e-bike riding because they are so robust. I’ve worn them waaaay too much this summer, and they show absolutely zero signs of wear.
And most importantly for me, the crotch is reinforced with an extra gusset of fabric, as you can see in the photos. Instead of coming together in a single weak spot at the bottom, an extra triangle of material is added to spread out the high stress joint at the bottom into two lower stress locations.
These have pretty much turned into my cycling AND work jeans, since they seem to stand up to everything. I’d say I’ll absolutely buy another pair when these wear out, but I honestly don’t see them needing to be replaced for many years to come.
UnderArmour Getaway Polarized sunglasses
I went through multiple pairs of sunglasses this summer, ultimately landing on just two that I could truly recommend.
I love these UA Getaway Polarized sunglasses. I’m not an elite athlete and don’t need crazy, aerodynamic sports glasses. I just wanted something that’s going to keep the sun out of my eyes, and bonus points if it makes me look like a badass.
These UA specs give me that Tom Cruise in Top Gun look and actually work well, too. Plus, they’re comfortable. What more can I ask for in a pair of sunglasses?
Julbo Arise sunglasses with Reactiv lenses
As I mentioned, I only found two pairs of sunglasses that I would put my name behind. These Julbo Arise sunglasses with Reactiv lenses are the second pair.
Unlike the aviator-style UA sunglasses above, these Julbo Arise sunglasses are definitely more sport-oriented. I take these in two cases: 1) when I’m doing a more intense ride, and 2) when I’m out anytime around dusk or dawn.
The reason for the second case is that these sunglasses have the absolutely coolest lenses I’ve ever tried. The Reactiv lenses change darkness depending on the ambient light. They are dark in the middle of the day, just like you’d want. Then they lighten as the sun starts to set. That lets the proper amount of light in and preserves your eye protection even when there’s less light.
It’s approaching dusk here and the lenses are already lightening.
When I’m riding fast e-bikes, the last thing I want is a bug or dust in my eye. But when the sun starts going down, I used to lose my sunglass/eye protection. Not anymore, thanks to these bad boys!
I definitely recommend these for outdoors folks that do a lot day-into-night activities. I even use them for running now and love it.
Here’s all of the rest of the odds and ends that I’ve made use of over the summer and found to be high-enough quality to recommend.
SILCA Tredici bike multi-tool
Technically referred to as the SILCA Tredici Italian army knife, this bike multi-tool is seriously tough and doesn’t break the bank.
I’ve had so many cheap bike multi-tools that come with various e-bikes or in grab bags, and they always seem to fail me when I need them most.
So finally I decided I wanted a bit better of a tool that I can rely on. The SILCA Tredici is exactly that. It’s a hardcore bike multi-tool that you can crank on without feeling like it’s going to break apart.
The one thing I’d change is to perhaps make the hex wrenches a tad longer, but the shortness is actually a design feature that increases the strength by reducing the lever arm.
Knog Cobber and pwr commuter LED lights
These have been my favorite lights that I’ve tested so far. The Knog Cobber is a great set for anyone that wants to finally buy their last set of bike lights.
For the longest time I was buying a couple sets of cheap bike lights per season as they would inevitably break. Add in all the battery swaps, and the damn things cost me a fortune in both money and aggravation. That has made the Knog Cobber bike set a godsend. They have a really wide beam angle and are USB rechargeable (no more freakin’ AAAs). I wish the battery lasted longer, as I usually get about four to six hours out of them before they need to be recharged. But that’s often a week, depending on my riding schedule, so I consider that pretty good for rechargeable lights that are this bright.
Speaking of brightness, we’re talking 320 lumens up front and 170 in the back. That’s plenty to be seen and actually does a decent job of lighting up the road in areas where street lights are sparse.
I’ve also been testing out the pwr commuter, which is a combination front bike light and USB power bank charger. At 450 lumens, this one is incredibly bright and has a nice spread-out beam in an elliptical pattern. I’ve used the power-bank part of it in a pinch to charge up my phone on long rides when GPS has worn down my battery. Don’t expect to get a full phone charge out of it most of the time, but it’s great in a pinch!
Knog Oi bell
While I’m on the subject of Knog, you’ll definitely want to check out the Knog Oi bell. I’ve been testing the Luxe model in silver finish, though all of the models come in a few sizes to fit different bar sizes.
There are two things I love about it: 1) It has a slim profile so it takes up almost no room on the bars, and 2) it sounds beautiful. (Alright, there are technically three things, because I also like the way it looks.) In fact, it looks so good that I’m almost worried it’s going to get jacked. But again, it’s small enough that I think most people won’t even see it tucked into a busy handlebar set.
So there you have it. It’s been many, many hours of testing to get to this point, but these have been my favorite pieces of gear I’ve used this summer for all of my e-biking trips.
There’s surely some awesome stuff out there that I don’t know about yet, though, so please let me know what I should pick up to test out next in the comments below!
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