By Lori Straus
Electric bikes are the perfect vehicle for those who want to use their car less but either feel unsafe cycling in traffic under their own power or don’t want to sweat as they run a few errands. Electric bikes can legally reach speeds of up to 32 km/h, making them faster than most people can ride a conventional bike. In addition, batteries usually last between 30 and 80 km, depending on numerous conditions. But if you travel somewhere, how can you best transport your e-bike so you can enjoy the conveniences of having one while you’re away?
Using Racks Designed for Conventional Bikes
One of the major differences between conventional bicycles and electric bicycles is weight: I can lift my conventional bicycle with one arm, but I certainly can’t lift an e-bike with one arm. In fact, e-bikes usually weigh between 17 and 32 kg (38 and 70 lbs). Conventional bikes typically hover around 12 kg, depending on how they’re equipped and what metals are used in the frame.
However, unlike regular bikes, where the lighter the bike the better, the general rule of thumb for e-bikes is the heavier the better. The larger a battery, the more charge it can carry, and therefore the heavier it is. Although this characteristic of e-bike batteries will likely reverse (think of laptop computers), it hasn’t gotten there just yet.
All this weight, though, means that regular bike racks won’t work for transporting e-bikes. Not only is it difficult to lift e-bikes on top of your car for transportation, conventional bike racks aren’t strong enough to support the extra weight.
So, what kind of bike rack do you need for your electric bike?
Platform Bike Racks for E-Bikes
The best bike rack for your electric bike is a platform bike rack that attaches to your hitch. Not only is it easier to lift these heavy bikes on and off such a low bike rack, it’s also the best way to transport your bikes without risking them getting damaged in the trunk of your car or the bed of your pickup. Some platform bikes even include a ramp so you can roll your bike onto the rack, no lifting needed at all!
In addition, some brands, such as Hollywood and Thule, make e-bike racks that fold: they fold up when not in use and they fold out—bikes attached—so you can easily reach your cargo.
There is one other option. Depending on your destination, you could look into e-bike rentals. It would allow you the convenience and joy of riding an e-bike without worrying about transporting your own. However, you will still need to wear a helmet, which the rental company may supply, and all e-bike riders must be 16 years of age or older, as required by the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario.