What to wear when riding your ebike
More riders are jumping on ebikes than ever, so the questions keep coming up:
- What’s the best clothing for riding an ebike?
- Should I wear cycling shorts to ride an ebike?
- Do I need a special helmet for riding an ebike?
- Can I find a more comfortable seat than the one that came on my ebike?
If you’re new to riding an ebike and are wondering how to choose clothing and accessories, we’ve got some answers for you.
Of course, ebike riders are just about as infinitely varied as regular bike riders, so there’s lots of room for different approaches, goals, styles. What feels best for one rider might not work at all for someone else.
What’s the best clothing for riding an ebike?
The first big decision point comes when considering the kind of riding you will be doing.
Are you on an ebike as a way to extend your enjoyment of cycling?
If this is you, electric assist lets you ride further and faster, but the kind of riding, and your exertion, aren’t that different from what you are already used to on your 100% leg-powered bike.
The best clothing and equipment choices will mirror what you already use, cycling-specific gear that emphasizes moisture transport, breathability, temperature control, visibility and aerodynamics.
You’ll be riding faster on an ebike, so safety is even more of a concern. Making yourself easily visible to other road users, and wearing a properly fitted bike helmet are both important priorities.
Are you looking for the best clothing for riding an ebike on a group tour?
Many participants in group cycling tours are now opting for ebikes. They enjoy everything about the experience just the same as on a regular bike, with the wonderful advantage of electric assist toward the end of a long day. They get all the pleasure and camaraderie, without struggling to keep up when exhausted by a challenging route.
If this is you, you will want to opt for cycling specific clothes that prioritize comfort and durability for long rides and multi-day riding, have good sun protection, and are quick drying.
On the other hand, many new ebike riders have not been regular cyclists, and are not interested in performance. They just want to enjoy riding and make it easy to integrate into their lives.
Did you choose an ebike to replace a car or public transit, at least some of the time?
Or, did you buy an ebike to enjoy the good bits of cycling for exercise and fun, without getting sweaty and grinding up hills?
If either of these cases apply to you, this article is really geared to help you choose the best clothing for riding an ebike, based on your needs and preferences (see what I did there?).
First, electric assist means never having to grunt and sweat to get from A to B (unless you want to).
That means you are less likely to overheat, less likely to get clammy on a climb and then chilled on the descent.
A lot of cycling specific clothing is designed with moisture transport, breathability, ventilation and adjustability in mind, but on an ebike those concerns are reduced.
Second, as an ebike rider, you are more likely to go from biking to other activities seamlessly.
You have less need for cycling specific clothing, and may want to avoid looking like a cyclist. You may be perfectly comfortable in regular street clothes, or casual activewear, but if you will go on longer ebike rides, or more often, you will find some cycling-friendly features will really help you enjoy it more.
You would still benefit from breathable clothing that can be layered, and you will still need good visibility, especially if you will ride in traffic.
So, what you’re looking for is clothing with good sun protection, good wind resistance, versatility for different activities, and high visibility. It might be a big plus if your cycling gear also looks at home in a store, restaurant, or workplace.
For female ebike riders, a great place to start looking is our lifestyle apparel section. Here we feature a curated selection of fashionable clothing that is also bike friendly. We look for pieces that are comfortable and convenient to ride in, and which can transition into any other venue your life includes.
Our Soleil line of cycling tops for women includes a lot of options that are bright for visibility, with excellent sun protection. They don’t look like skin-tight bike gear, feel great, and fit a wide range of body shapes – highly recommended as an option for your best clothing for riding an ebike.
Another way to solve the visibility puzzle is to use lights, and a hi-viz reflective vest, which can clip over the top of whatever you’re wearing and be stowed away easily when you jump off the bike. Read more about visibility strategies in this post: A-B-C for Cycling Safety.
Should I wear cycling shorts to ride an ebike?
Yes, bike shorts will help you enjoy your ebike more if you ride more than about half an hour at a time.
Cycling specific shorts usually feature a chamois pad (pronounced shammy). This can feel a little awkward for walking around at first, but the extra comfort while riding makes it well worth it.
The original chamois was actually a piece of chamois leather, sewn into bike shorts, and typically used with chamois cream, a lubricant with antibiotic properties. There wasn’t much padding at all, if any.
The modern chamois has evolved into a multi-density foam pad, which transports moisture, resists microbial action, and provides cushioning in just the right places. Ours also feature an edge profile that minimizes bulk and chafing on the side of the saddle.
Read all about our chamois options in our Chamois Guide.
Riding in bike shorts doesn’t mean you need to rock the lycra look! There are lots of great padded options in loose fit bike shorts, and shorts that don’t look anything like bike shorts.
In addition, we offer many choices in liner bike shorts that will give you the benefits of padded comfort, moisture transport and hygiene, while wearing just about any other clothing you like.
Don’t forget the versatility of cycling skorts – a great way to sport a more casual, feminine look, without sacrificing comfort for long ebike rides.
For more helpful info about choosing bike shorts, visit our main shorts page. Scroll all the way down for a guide to bike shorts features and frequently asked questions (including such pressing issues as “Should I wear undies?”).
Do I need a special helmet for riding an ebike?
We strongly recommend a properly fitted helmet for anyone riding any kind of bike. When you consider that you’ll be riding faster and probably longer on an ebike, it makes even more sense to protect yourself and your children.
People often ask though:
“Am I legally required to wear a helmet on my ebike?”
There are at least two cases where you will be required to wear an approved helmet when riding an ebike:
- Local laws in your area require helmet use. You will need to check in the area where you are riding.
- You ride a class III ebike. Ebikes are classified legally based on the speeds they are capable of. Class I and II are slower, Class III is fast enough – over 20mph – to create higher safety risks. Helmets are required in most jurisdictions. Again, check local regulations where you are riding.
Another frequent question:
“Do I need a different helmet for riding an ebike than for a regular bike?”
There is no special standard for ebike helmets, as there is for motorcycle helmets, so it’s okay to use a regular bike helmet.
However, because of the higher speeds, it’s a good idea to invest in the best helmet technology you can. The newer MIPS helmets are designed to reduce the risk of concussion in a crash, so they are highly recommended for ebike riders.
Whatever type of helmet you use, as long as it’s an approved model, it’s actually more important that it is properly fitted, and particularly important to make sure your kids’ helmets are securely fitted. A superior helmet cannot protect you if it is not well fitted – it could simply pop off your head when you need the protection most.
Can I find a more comfortable seat than the one that came on my ebike?
Most ebikes are outfitted with good all round saddles, but bike seats are a very personal preference: one that’s great for one rider may be really uncomfortable for another. If your ebike seat leaves you squirming after a while, we have lots of resources to help you find a better match.
We offer the world’s most comfortable saddles, a claim we make with confidence thanks to expert design by dedicated cyclists, and decades of experience matching riders with the right saddle for their needs.
Riding position for most ebike riders tends to be more upright. With electric assist, there’s no need for an aero position to achieve and maintain speed, and the whole goal is a more relaxed experience. In an upright or slightly forward position, more of your weight is on your sitbones, and thicker padding is helpful.
Our Liberator and Cite models are optimized for a slightly forward or more upright riding position, with plenty of padding in the right places, and the support and control you need at speed. They offer a great upgrade path for ebikes.
Don’t be tempted by squishier, softer-padded saddles. Some oversized saddles look like they would be softer on the derriere, but a pillow-like bike seat can become excruciating after just a few minutes. This is because it doesn’t support you properly under your sitbones, and the pressure from your weight is applied everywhere, including where you don’t want it.
For more help choosing an ebike seat, take a look a these posts, and visit our Saddle Selector.