• Cycling
  • Off-road cycling

Bikepacking on an e-bike

By Phillipa Cherryson

Published on 6 min read


Plan a multi-day adventure on an electric bike

OS Champion, Phillipa Cherryson, shares her newfound love for e-biking and offers some great advice on bikepacking on an electric bike.

I was one of the thousands of people who bought an e-bike during the pandemic. I’d been put off cycling as a teenager when I had to ride my three-speed Raleigh Shopper to college every day. I swore I’d never get back in the saddle again after that. My partner David finally persuaded me to give an e-bike a go and I ended up getting an e-hardtail for my 50th birthday.

Phillipa e-bike at Glan Fedwen

Phillipa at Glan Fedwen

I’ve loved it! I get to enjoy the fun of cycling again, but with that helping hand on the steepest hills. We’ve cycled around the woodlands of South Wales and some of the easier mountains of the Brecon Beacons, but we’ve never taken our e-bikes away on a “bikepacking” trip. Here’s what I learnt from my first bikepacking trip on my e-bike in the Elan Valley, Wales.

Why choose an e-bike for bikepacking?

I’d never fancied bikepacking before. I’ve seen cyclists pushing their heavily laden bikes up the hills around the Brecon Beacons where I live, and it looks exhausting! However, an e-bike really does make a difference. But, and it’s a big but, you need to watch your battery levels and don’t expect to keep your bike on turbo the whole way or you’ll run out of battery with miles to go.

E-biking near Claerwen Reservoi

E-biking near Claerwen Reservoir

Where are you allowed to ride an e-bike?

Ensure that your bike abides by the U.K.’s electric bicycle laws. In the U.K., e-bikes are known as electrically assisted pedal cycles (or, EAPCs). No license or registration is needed and although you don’t legally need insurance, it’s a good idea to have third party insurance as a minimum in case of an accident. 

Your e-bike must also meet the following requirements:

• Must be fitted with pedals that can propel it.
• Have a maximum continuous rated power of the electric motor must not exceed 250 Watts.
• The electrical assistance must cut-off when the vehicle reaches 15.5 mph

If an electric bicycle meets the EAPC requirements, it is classed as a normal pedal bike, which means cyclists can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else that traditional pedal bikes are allowed.
More information can be found here at Gov.uk.

E-bike at Hafod Estate viewpoint

E-bike at Hafod Estate viewpoint

How to make the most from your bike battery

Do a bit of training before your trip to get used to the bike and its capabilities. Find out the lowest settings you can get away with to extend battery life and save the turbo for when you really need it. Keep an eye on the screen display that shows how much battery you’re using at any moment. By going a few mph slower, the drain on the battery is so much less. The battery is probably the biggest downside of e-bike packing, as you’ll be constantly battery watching, but the benefits outweigh this negative.



The battery charger is heavy and bulky. I found a triangular waterproof frame bag was perfect for mine and meant it didn’t affect my bike’s centre of gravity. Others take a spare battery or a battery extender to give themselves more freedom about how far they can go and where to stay. Some cafes, accommodation and information centres will let you charge your bike on route but please check before you set off.

Admiring the view at Esgair Perfedd

Stopping to admire the view at Esgair Perfedd

What to bring bikepacking?

I used a handlebar bag, frame bag and saddle bag and then carried my water, food and waterproof in a rucksack on my back and I definitely noticed it. Next time I’ll take a bigger saddle bag so I can carry as little as possible on my back – my shoulders really felt it especially on rough ground.

I loved the freedom of being able to stop where we wanted. We took a bike lock with us and it meant we could lock the bikes up and go off exploring at The Hafod Estate and Strata Florida. There aren’t many places to stop for food and drink in the Elan Valley, so we had to carry what we needed. Check whether you can pick up food and drink (and charge) on route before you set off. Many trails, like the South Downs Way, have plenty of places to pick up supplies.

Planning a bikepacking route

We made the mistake of using a boggy bridleway in our trip, which I edited out of our OS Maps route. That is one of the biggest downsides of an e-bike. They are so heavy that if you find yourself having to lift or pull your bike through bog or difficult terrain it’s really hard work. Mine must have weighed more than 30 kilos with the luggage on it and at times I was fighting back the tears.

E-biking at Garreg Ddu Reservoir 

E-biking at Garreg Ddu Reservoir

Do your research into what it will be like under foot (or wheels in this case). Has anyone done the route before? Is it likely to be muddy? How steep is the terrain? There are plenty of on and off-road cycling routes in OS Maps, or you can create your own, but do a little research before you start plotting.

Bike kitOvernightBike clothingTechFuel
Multi toolTopHelmetPhone1.5l water
Missing links for chainTrousersGlassesGo Pro & spare batteryCoffee flask
InnertubeUnderwearWaterproofsPhone chargerFolding cup
Tubeless repair kitLight sandals/flipflopsWindproof giletBike charging cableSandwiches
Disposable glovesToothbrush/toothpasteWarm layerTorchSweets
Wet wipesMini make upPadded jacketSnacks
Foil blanketMoisturiserCycling trousers
Lip balmHairbrushSocks

Bikepacking kit list

E-bikes allow those of us who aren’t super fit and would never consider bikepacking, a chance to enjoy this type of adventure by benefitting from a motor. I loved my first weekend away on the e-bikes and we’ve got some more weekend bikepacking trips planned. Read this beginner’s guide to bikepacking for more information and find out more about my trip to the Elan Valley.

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By Phillipa Cherryson


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