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E-Bike Travel

Intro

In urban centers across Norway, e-bikes are reshaping the way individuals navigate their surroundings. The post-pandemic period has witnessed a surge in e-bike sales, attributed to the convenience they offer for commuting and running errands compared to traditional cars. However, when venturing beyond the urban landscape into the expansive open roads, the realm of e-bike bikepacking/touring is currently in an interim phase. This mode of travel presents a distinct set of challenges, with the prevalent concern of ‘range anxiety’ for those contemplating long-distance journeys on e-bikes.

The good news is that with some planning, you will find Norway to be a great country to explore by e-bike. There is already a backbone of tourist facilities that e-bikers can use and with a bit of knowledge, planning and executing an e-bike adventure should not be a problem. Below, we’ll try to answer as many of the concerns you have and look at the practicality of using such a bike in different environments. 

Getting your Bike
to Norway

Flying with a bike: Most European airlines won’t allow you to take an e-bike as luggage. And the ones that do, by law, won’t allow you to take the battery onboard. The current law states lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of over 160-watt hours (Wh) cannot be carried on a passenger aircraft (most batteries are usually 400Wh to 500Wh).

The alternative options to get your bike to Norway are both costly and logistically difficult. For example, you could:

  • Book with an airline that allows e-bikes as luggage (Air France is one example) and ship the battery separately as hazardous goods, which is both complicated and expensive.
  • Buy battery on arrival in Norway. You will need to leave, sell or ship the battery back home afterwards.
  • Try to rent a battery in Norway. See the rental bike page and contact companies. This service is not commonly offered, as businesses typically opt for renting out complete e-bikes. 
  • Ship your whole bike separately – again, this will be complicated and very expensive. 
If you plan to stay in Norway for a month or more and are travelling from another continent, perhaps one of these options is considerable. If you plan to visit Norway several times in the coming years, buying a spare battery in Norway and leaving it with a friend could also be an option worth considering. If you live in Northerm Europe consider traveling by train or ferry to Norway with your E-bike. Otherwise, as far as I can see renting an e-bike is probably the best and only option to consider. 
 
Update from member: on batteries, bikes and airlines. Delta, as will other airlines, allow you to carry up to 2 each of a 160Wh battery as long as it’s properly packaged (not a big deal). New bikes from Trek, and I also believe Specialized, support “range extender” batteries of 160Wh which I am sure were sized to meet airline regulations.
In Trek’s case and I also believe in Specilaized’s case, the down tube battery of around 360Wh is easily removed and the bike can be powered by the range extender battery. So two of the range extender batteries is about the same as the bigger internal battery. Delta states those sizes directly. Their partner KLM has a similar policy, but you get permission after you book. It’s worth reading the fine print on the airline website. Using this method, you could travel with an e-bike at no additional cost than transporting a traditional bike – John Sievert (member)

E-bikes are more complicated to fix and service and not all workshops will service them.

Modern e-bikes are getting lighter and more practical for bikepacking.

E-bike adventures in the Arctic in February. The battery lasted about 70km on eco mode due to extreme cold temperatures,

Overcoming Range Anxiety

First things first: Your e-bike should be up to the task of tackling Norway. A city e-bike is not going to do the job. Most modern road, gravel or MTB e-bikes will have a range of over 200km on the low setting. However, factors such as the wind, temperature, elevation, and road surface will strongly impact the battery life. I used an Ebike on a winter Arctic ride in 2022. The battery stated 220km on eco mode, but I was lucky to get 70km due to the extreme cold. 

Test Ride: it’s good to do an overnighter in your area before you leave and test the battery on different settings. The bike should weigh the same as what you plan to ride in Norway (loaded pannier bags, etc). Try and find some hills to climb and see how much it impacts your battery life. It’s essential before you head off on a long trip to understand both your bike and battery and to get a feel for it’s capcity in different conditions. A rule of thumb suggests your luggage usually reduces your battery by 10% during the day. 

Invest in a Spare Battey?:  A spare battery will add two or three kilograms to your bike set-up. Most people I know who have cycled Norway on an e-bike all agree it’s worth the extra weight for the peace of mind and longer distance you can go before finding a place to charge the battery. 

Fast Charger?:  They tend to be a bit heavier and more expensive than the regular one, but worth it according to those that use them. You can fully recharge a battery in about two hours. If your travelling the coastal route and using a few ferries that day you’ll probably be able to keep your battery fully charged for most of the day. Furthermore, stopping for lunch or a rain break will give you time to fully charge without too much time taken from your days ride.

Where to Charge

I have noticed free e-bike chargers on popular cycling routes in European countries such as France and Switzerland. Unfortunately, at present Norway has no real intention of following other european countries. The fact that there isn’t an e-bike charger at the tourist centre on Trollstigen is beyond my belief, considering how popular the road is for cyclists. Nevertheless, Norway is a country of hydro electricity that has provided reasinably priced power to Norwegians for decades. There are scores of tourist or local facilities offering opportunities to power up your battery for free. 

Information about Norway supplier voltage and plug type

Gas Stations: most stations have a seating area with power plugs under the table or nearby. Don’t try to use the car electric charging stations to charge your battery; they are not compatible.

Ferries: Main ferry terminals and over 95% of all ferries in Norway will have power outlets in the seating area. Most ferries that cross fjords will take between 15-45 minutes. It’s one of the best times to charge your battery quickly. Some ferries along the EuroVelo 1 coastal route take a few hours to cross islands and thus with a fast charger, you will be on 100% by the time you get off.

Campsites and cabins: you will find many small campsites and basic cabins limited for charging options. Some cabins on campsite are not eletricfied and should check before booking one. I find communal kitchens and toilets will have plug outlets, and it’s not uncommon to see e-bike batteries left charging overnight in one. Campsites in Norway are generally very safe and e-bike batteries are not items that are appealing to steal. Nevertheless, always use your common sense, and if you’re unsure, ask at the reception where the safest place is to charge when left unattended. 

Hotels & Airbnbs: Obviously, this a great option to charge overnight where power is guaranteed

Tourist Facilities: In popular places you will have tourist cafes, mountain cabins and roadside stops with oppertunties to charge. For examople, many of the Norwegian Scenic Routes have some places to along their roads to charge. Along Sognefjellet is a mountain cabin, Trollstigen has a tourist cafe, and Valdres has a cafe at the highest point (open summer only). 

Restaurants and Cafe: Sit down for a meal/snack and find a wall socket to charge from. Note pubs and bars outside of large population areas are very incommon. People who might be used to stopping at a village pub in countries such as the UK or Ireland will not have that opportunity in Norway.

Rural Supermarkets: In small towns and villages it won’t be unpolite to kindly ask if there is a plug you could charge your battery for a short period. 

Use Google Maps: E-bikers that I’ve spoken to tended to spend a lot of time on Google Maps and marking all the places where they could charge their battery. In general, like most developed European countries, you shouldn’t need to spend too much time planning in advance. If you stick to popular routes such as the Eurovelo 1, you’ll find charging opportunities every 50km or less (with the exception of some mountain passes). The real exceptions are the Far North and remote gravel roads on the eastern side of Norway. 

Wild Camping

Be organised & have the tools: A lot people may presume that e-bikes and wild camping don’t match as charging will predominently be done at night at a place with power. Nevertheless, as mentioned, above with the right tools (fast charger and/or an extra battery) there is no reason why many nights under the stars is not possible. 

Cold Nights: The nights can get very cold in Norway and it might be advisable to but your battery(s) inside your sleeping bag to prevent unnecessary battery drain.

Don’t camp too remote: Ensure where ever you decide to camp that you’re not too far from civilisation and the opportunity to charge in an emergance. In the far north this can be more difficult and you should use google maps to be aware of all the opportunities to charge before you head out into Europe least populated area. 

 

Mountain cafe are popular on famous roads and a great place to charge.

An extra battery may be essential in remote places

You must take your battery to your seat when travelling by train.

Which routes are suitable

E-bikes, being heavier and more challenging to carry, aren’t the best choice for single trails and tough terrains during bikepacking or touring. If you’re new to cycling in Norway, it’s wise to stick to tried-and-true established routes. Some lesser-known gravel paths listed on this site might not be e-bike-friendly, with limited facilities and sections requiring you to hike-a-bike. My recommendation is to opt for well-established road and gravel routes with known facilities for charging along the way. If you’re planning a cycling adventure in the far North, consider carrying a spare battery and plan ahead for charging spots. If you’re unsure about suitable locations, join our membership and share your concerns in our forum. We’ll address them individually, giving you peace of mind for your journey.

How to save battery usage

Eco Mode: Try to stay in this mode for 90% of your daily designated hours. Set 10% aside for when your struggling and need a morale boost. 

Low temperatures: will significantly affect the battery life. Don’t leave you battery outside during the night and on cold days try to cycle during the warmer parts of the day (10-16). 

Bike Weight: Question every item you plan to take and don’t carry too much food & drink – only what you need. See our food and drink page for more information. But the bottom line is that supermarkets and water refill opportunities are widely available on many routes (48 hours should be the maximum amount of food required at any one time).  

 

National Parks and other off road areas

All types of cyclists can ride on roads and tracks on uncultivated land in lowland countryside and without any restrictions in mountainous upland areas. You can also cycle on roads and designated tracks across cultivated land in order to gain access to uncultivated land, but this entitlement does not apply to organised outings such as cycle races.

The rules for electric bicycles are the same as for pushbikes unless the landowner has imposed a specific ban on e-bikes. Some wildlife areas, recreational areas and nature conservation areas may be subject to a cycling ban or other restrictions affecting pushbikes and/or e-bikes. Please check whether special rules apply in your area or if there are specially designated cycle routes.

If you are cycling in remote off-road areas, please make sure to:

  • Remember that mountainous upland areas are particularly vulnerable to wear, and that you should refrain from cycling in vulnerable terrain (marshland, craggy outcrops etc.)
  • Keep in mind that not all tracks are suitable for cycling – stick to robust tracks that can take the load of a bicycle.
  • Never intrude on game or livestock. Close all gates behind you. 
  • Cycle at an appropriate speed that will not cause inconvenience to walkers
  • Cycle on lesser-used hiking trails to avoid conflict with walkers
  • Use established sites for picnicking and camping wherever possible

Maintenance and repair

First Rule: Before you leave, get your bike fully serviced at your local dealer, who has the experience and knowledge to check everything is in working condition. You will find 90% of the time, this will ensure you don’t have any major mechanical problems.  

Learn as much as you can: E-bikes can be more complicated to fix than a pushbike. You bike may require unique tools to remove or fix parts of it. Take any specific tools that you know won’t be commonly found and are essential to fixing your bike. Ask you local bike mechanic about the essetials to know and understand when fixing your bike. Ensure you know the basics like changing a tire or fixing the chain, etc.

Local dealerships: Search online for local dealers in Norway that can service your e-bike. For example if you own a Trek e-bike see if there are any Trek dealerships in Norway. Make a note of their contact info and perhabs even call them to see what they suggest if you have any major mechanical problems 

Don’t expect every Mechanic will touch your bike: Many bike mechanics don’t want to work with e-bikes or don’t even have the tools to fix them. I know one e-biker who had a major mechanical problem on Rallarvegen (a famous mountain gravel route). None of the local mechanics in the area could fix it. He had to take a train to Bergen (200km away), where the expertise was available.  

Tips for buying an e-bike

  1. It might be temping to buy a e-bike online where prices are lowest. But in the long run buying a bike from a local dealer who can also service your bike before your tours could save you a lot of furture headachs.
  2. Choose a bike with a long battery range. It should have a range of well over 200km on the low setting.
  3. Get a fast charger and an additional battery if you plan to wildcamp or cycling over the high mountains and remote forests. 
  4. Ensure the battery is easily removable so you can charge it in restaurants, cafes, etc. It will also help you protect the battery from cold when the bike is outside for the night.
  5. Ensure the bike has eyelets for installing a pannier rack.
  6. Consider puncture-proof tyres. They will be slightly heavier than normal tyres but the peace of mind they bring to a full loaded bike is worth the extra weight. 

Is it worth it?

Thinking about using an e-bike for touring raises questions about how much help you get from the battery, whether planning routes for recharging is practical, and how you deal with the added weight. And if you’re traveling from abroad, things get even trickier with airlines saying no to e-bikes on planes. On land, challenges pop up due to their weight when dealing with stairs, obstacles, and loading them onto public transport.

With that said, cycling for consecutive days on flat or mountainous terrain is tiring and challenging even for the fittest of people. An e-bike is a game-changing for many older or less active people. I once saw a couple in their 70s cycling up Dalsnibba (one of Norway’s longest and highest climbs). Before e-bikes, they would have only accomplished this journey in a car. There is no better sight than seeing people use this technology to enhance their experiences on the road. 

Overall, I think the perks outweigh the downsides for those not keen on bikepacking/touring on a regular bike for days, weeks, or months. If you’re organized and have the right gear to deal with range anxiety, there’s no reason not to consider e-bike travel in Norway. One thing’s for sure – it’s only going to get more popular!

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