If you're already part of the revolution building up on our roads – that's fantastic! E-bikes are a wonderful new product that is growing in popularity every year as they offer the benefits of the traditional bike plus a motor which can assist you to go further than you could pedal on your own.
You may already own an electric bike and wonder how to best care for it. Or you could be thinking about buying one but worry that maintenance may be too tricky. Having a battery and a motor means paying attention to your tires and bolts like with a usual bike, but also to the extra bits that a traditional bicycle doesn't have. This guide is here to take you through some basic steps of e-bike maintenance and show you it isn't that hard.
Here are our essential tips for e-bike maintenance.
1. Clean Your Bike Regularly
Keeping your bike clean is important to the long life of your e-bike. It may sound like a silly tip because it is so simple, but trust us, wiping away dirt and tiny debris that get stuck, especially in bad weather, can go a long way. All the mud, sticks and little peddles clog bike parts and can start damaging the paint, the electronics and everything else that is a moving part due to the friction.
Begin by using a gentle detergent, warm water, and a soft brush or sponge to remove accumulated dirt and grime. It is best to remove the battery before you begin. Pay extra attention to critical areas like the drivetrain, motor, and electrical components. However, avoid using high-pressure water, as it can force water into sensitive areas, potentially causing damage – so, no pressure washers and aggressive cleaning agents. They would clean the dirt, but they would also clean the grease away from the places where you actually want it to be.
After you're done, wipe your e-bike well with a dry cloth, wait for the water to dry properly and put your battery back on.
2. Grease and lube
Again, this tip applies to regular bikes as much as electric cycles – you need to reduce friction where your moving parts are rubbing together all the time. As you ride through the streets, dirt and debris will inevitably get in there and cause even more resistance and friction, so your parts will start wearing down quickly. Once your bike is clean, you need to make sure it's also well-oiled.
Proper lubrication of moving parts is essential for smooth operation and to prevent premature wear. Apply a suitable lubricant to the chain, derailleur pulleys, and other moving components. After applying, wipe off any excess lubricant to prevent it from attracting even more dirt. You can look at our Bike Maintenance 101 Guide for a more detailed explanation.
3. Tire Checks
All types of bikes have tires, so tire checks are essential. Ideally, you should do these before every ride, as this will save you some nasty surprises on the road.
So, regularly inspect your tires for wear and tear. Measure the tread depth to ensure it's within safe limits. If the treads are approaching the minimum depth, it's time to consider replacing the tires. Also, maintaining proper tire pressure, as the manufacturer specifies, is crucial for optimal performance and efficiency. It also makes for a more smooth and comfortable ride.
Some workplaces are becoming increasingly bike-friendly and may have one of these Public Bike Pump and Repair Stations, but they're not everywhere, so it is always a good idea to invest in a small repair kit that is always on you when you're riding your bike. These kits usually come with a small hand pump. Also, consider learning to change a flat tire – it happens more often than you think.
4. Take Care of Your Battery
We'd start this by saying that you should always read your manufacturer's instructions as a general rule of thumb. However, most batteries require similar care, so here are a few tips on extending your battery's life and optimal performance.
Be careful with temperature. Batteries can be fickle regarding temperature, so the best advice here is to charge your bike at home if possible, as opposed to a cold garage or outside. Extreme temperatures on either side of the thermometer – too hot or too cold, impact the battery negatively, so try keeping it somewhere not too cold. After riding, remove the battery and take it with you indoors.
Reduce the number of charges. This is important – you need to both charge regularly, avoid overcharging and avoid full discharge. Sounds confusing? Don't worry, we will explain, but as a good rule, try to stick to keeping your battery around 50-60% charged at all times, even if you are just storing your bike for a while and not using it. When your bike is fully charged, it is a good idea to unplug and not leave it plugged in, as that unnecessarily stresses the battery. Additionally, when your battery is down to 20-30% charge, plug it in – this can help prolong the battery's lifespan and don't let it fall beneath that and get to 0% and do a full discharge.
Use your legs more. We know that one of the benefits of an electric bike is obviously the assisted movement. However, using the assisted pedal less is the best way to keep your e-bike alive and well with an optimal working battery. On a road, you don't need the extra push – stick to your legs and human power as you probably don't need the extra help. When the hills get steep and or the road long, and you're feeling too tired, only then switch to assisted pedalling. This will help extend your battery's life in the long run.
Note: Please remember that even though we say "battery maintenance", we don't mean you need to do any work on the battery itself. In fact, never attempt to do that – batteries contain dangerous substances and can be harmful to handle if you're not a professional.
5. Motor Care
You may worry that because an electric bike has a motor, you need to do any special maintenance here, but that isn't the case. Motors are usually in a separate unit, and there's rarely a need for anything to be done to them. If the need arises, it is always best not to attempt a fix yourself but rather contact the manufacturer or a professional repair person.
You should, however, make sure that the encasing of the motor is always clean like the rest of your bike. You should do an occasional visual check to see if anything looks off, and if there is any wear and tear, you might need a trained pair of eyes to look at.
Lastly, if your bike has software, like any other device you use, you will need to ensure it is regularly updated. This will take care of any bugs and fixes that manufacturers periodically do, and it could improve your bike's performance.
And lastly, make sure your e-bike is safe – no point in maintaining a bike that just gets stolen. Make sure you always leave it somewhere secure, like a bike rack or shelter, and invest in a good lock.