What is the electric bike cockpit?
Cockpits aren't for pilots anymore! They're also for e-bike riders. The cockpit includes all the contact points between the rider and the bike: handlebars, saddle, and pedals.
You may get on a perfectly sized electric bike but may still feel uncomfortable. That may be because the cockpit is not set up correctly. It's important to set up your cockpit so that you can avoid injuries. Specifically, wrist injuries or even finger injuries. Having to reach too far forward for that brake lever or having your thumb too cramped up to that shifter may cause discomfort which can lead to further injury or a less efficient ride.
Plus, on an e-bike your cockpit can be more cramped because of the remote and display.
What to do first to set up the eBike cockpit
First, I like to sit on the bike as if I’m going to be riding. I lean up against a wall so that I don't fall over.
- With this I can see where my wrists are going to be almost as if I'm doing a bench press. You don't want to have your wrist bending forward or backwards – just a straight line from your elbow to your wrist without locking out your elbows.
- Have a little bit of give in your elbows because you also want to use your elbows as suspension while you're riding on the trails or on the road.
You want to set up your handlebars so that the flat part of the bar is parallel to the ground. On totally flat bars, it'll be a lot easier to see that, but on riser bars you may need to take a step back so you can see that the flattest section or the parts where the grips are attached are flat towards the ground.
- On this minimal riser bar (see video) it is already set up pretty flat at the ends, but let me show you how to adjust it just in case your handlebars aren't.
- You want to grab the correct hex wrench. In this case it's a four millimeter wrench. Loosen the front faceplate. You don't need to remove all four bolts, you just need to get them loose enough so that you can turn the handlebar.
- Now that we found the handlebar grips pretty flat compared to the ground we'll go ahead and tighten those bolts.
Setting up your brake levers to the proper position
Next, I reach the brake levers with my finger. I like to brake with just one finger so I can have the most palm surface area possible on the grips for controlling when going down rowdy terrain.
- After finding your ideal grip position, pull back on the lever making sure you don't overreach for the brake or under reach where the lever actually hits your hand when you pull back on it.
- If your brake lever is too far out and you feel like you're reaching too far, most new brakes have an adjustment so you can bring that in using a small nut, and, same goes if it's too close, you can loosen that nut and pull that lever out more.
- This Shimano brake lever has a tiny little set nut right below the brake lever.
- Remember, it's all about comfort. You can also adjust the brake levers position on the handlebar, whether it's too far in or too far out.
- Keep in mind that you might have other parts like the remote or a dropper post that also need to be loosened so that you can move the brake lever.
Since I know I've got my left brake lever set up, I try to mimic that with the brake lever on the right-hand side.
- You can get an accurate placement of your brake lever to your right lever by measuring the distance between the grip and the clamp of the brake lever.
- Sometimes you'll get lucky and the handlebar will come with ruler lines so you know exactly what position they are on both sides of the handlebar.
- If you're picky like me, you can use a ruler or a micrometer to get that exact same spot on the opposite side. Once I have a symmetrical left and right handlebar brake lever, I tighten down that pinch bolt.
Final Adjustments to the eBike cockpit
Next, I want to adjust the electric bike remote. In this case, it's the Shimano e7000 remote. In its current position, the remote is currently fitted a little too far down for my liking, so I want to bring it up.
- First, loosen up the bolt that's pinching it to the handlebar.
- Then, lift it up to the position where you’d like to move it.
- Then I can lock it in place.
- Keep in mind you can move this left and right as well moving over to the dropper lever.
- I like to position these types of dropper levers right underneath the remote so it's seamless, and I don't have to move my thumb in or out like with the other components.
- Find the appropriate hex wrench to loosen up those pinch bolts, and, just like the other components, you can also adjust this in or out and up and down.
Quick note: some of these components like the Magura brake lever will require T25 Torx wrenches.
Next up, I want to move over to the shifter. In this particular lever, the shifter can't move too much farther to the left or to the right. Most manufacturers do understand that you want to have that flexibility, so this is a rare occasion where we don't have that much flexibility on the handlebar.
Remember, these are delicate and expensive components, so do not over torque these bolts!
- It's a good idea to use a torque wrench.
- If you're out in the boonies and don't have a torque wrench, just go hand tight until the component does not spin on the handlebar.
Finally, we'll set up the display. I like to set it up as closely centered as possible. Sometimes at the stem or right next to the stem, but always in a position that if I were to fall down that the display won't get damaged too badly.
- Hopefully at this point you can find that adjustment pinch bolt on your display and adjust the display if you need to.
- The position of this Shimano e7000 display is just perfect, so I'm not even going to mess with it, but if you need to adjust its position on your bike, it’s easy!
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