How to Win An E-Bike Race
So you're going to Apple Valley for the Super73 race, and you want to win! Or at least, not finish dead last. In a stock race, the officials should not be allowing big motors and 72 volt batteries. So what can you do to prepare and give your bike an edge? Here are some tips on how to coax more speed out of your e-bike and make that stock bike perform!
Tip #1: CHARGE IT UP FRESH AND FULL! This is the number one tip. If you have played with remote control battery vehicles, you know that fresh batteries and fresh charges improve speed and performance. A battery that is at a higher state of charge has a higher voltage. The speed of a DC motor is entirely voltage dependent. So higher voltages = higher speeds. By keeping your battery at a higher state of charge, you’ll go faster. If you are lucky enough to start with a brand new battery, you are ahead of the pack.
Chi Battery Fast Chargers are your friend here! They will charge your stock battery faster than the stock charger. The S-2/R/RX charger will pump you up from 0 to 95% in about 2.5 hours. That means on race day, you can top off that lithium tank just before the starting gun!
Tip #2: Lose Weight.
Weight and drag and friction are the things slowing your bike down. Its just physics. Since the days that cafe racers did the ton, motorized bikes have been shedding parts to lose weight. You don't need a headlight on race day. Or brake lights. Or fenders. Or a molle rack. Unhitch that dead weight and your bike is able to go a little faster. Also, try losing a couple pounds from the biggest weight on your bike- you! Get into fighting shape! Train those leg muscles while you are at it. Competitive runners know that there is a direct correlation between their body weight and performance.
Tip #3: Pump up your tires
Other than your fat, uh, pants - the other thing slowing your bike down is friction. Literally where the rubber meets the road. One easy way to reduce rolling resistance is to use higher tire pressure. Keep your tires pumped up to their max pressure rating on race day to boost your speed.
The trade off is you will feel the road a bit more - but you want that when you're racing!
Tip #4: Trade Knobbies for Slicks
Word is the official rules for Apple Valley permit you to use slicks. If you can find some Vee Apache slicks before the race, you should. Knobby tires are good for grip, bad for speed. Smooth tires with less rolling resistance can actually add an extra 1 mph to your speed - and that's not nuthin.
Tip #5: True and Dish Your Wheels
Did you even know that the big wheels on your bike can be trued? They can! take it to a shop and they will have your wheels running in a straight line! Wheels that are not true are inefficient. It's a long discussion beyond this short list. Just get the bike to a shop - you'll be glad you did!
Tip #6: Check Your Brakes
Make sure your brake discs are not rubbing against the caliper. If you take your bike into a shop to be tuned, ask them to check this out. If a disc is bent, replace it. I mention this because a quick "field fix" can be done to a brake by bending the disc back into "good enough" shape by hand. You don't want "ok enough" - you want perfection! Poorly tuned brakes can rob speed from your e-bike by adding unnecessary friction from brake rub. Also - you want your brakes working on race day!
Tip #7: Keep the Battery Cool
A cool battery has less voltage sag, which is when the voltage drops under load. And as we already learned, lower voltage equals lower speed. When you are charging that battery up, don't do it in the sun. Maybe wrap that bad boy in one of those ice-pack thingies until the last moment. Just, you know, don't freeze it...
Tip #8: Clean and Lube the Chain
To the extent that you use your crank, you can reduce friction and improve the leg muscle to bike experience all around with a little chain lube. Use a tooth brush and degreaser to wash all the little bits of grime and dirt from the chain before adding a little lube. Graphite is good, but there are differences of opinion on that.
Tip #9: Study and Practice!
Study the track. Map it on paper. Know where the turns are. Set up cones in a parking lot and practice the race. If you can, mock up the sections of the track with cones and chalk. It may not be exact, but it is a great way to get a feel for the turns. On your practice track, you should practice basic cornering, braking ad safety and try to learn just how fast you can take a turn. Practice is the place and time to overshoot the turns - not on the race day track. Study up on cornering and do some drills. Note that there is a lot of information about racing, cornering, and braking skills on Youtube meant for motorcycles, motocross, road cycling and mountain bikes. Not all of that applies to e-bikes, but some of it does and you can practice those techniques before race day. You will feel a lot more confident during the race if you have had some mock dry runs and worked on basic skills.
Tip #10: Pre-Race Checks
Ok - not a "go faster" tip, but an obvious thing to do: check and tighten bolts. Especially on Super73 bikes that are ridden a lot, bolts tend to wiggle loose. You don't want this on race day. Loctite from your local hardware store will keep troublesome bolts in tight. Going over your bike with a pre-race checks and tightening will boost your confidence at the starting gate!
Be Safe out there and Have Fun!