E-bikes are one of the hottest new trends in transportation on the market, and whether you’re already the proud owner or doing a bit of research before purchasing, keeping your e-bike in tip-top shape is essential.
When you make an e-bike purchase, you’re making an investment, and you want to make sure that that investment lasts as long as possible. Fortunately, maintenance is much easier than you might think, and won’t always involve taking it to a bike shop.
To help you keep costs down, there are some simple, at-home tasks that you can do to make sure that your e-bike stays in the best condition for the long term.
DIY Maintenance for your E-Bike
You don’t need a ton of tools or a degree in mechanical engineering to take care of your e-bike properly. In fact, following these simple steps, you’ll be able to make sure that you’re riding further and longer, and keep your bike out of the shop and your wallet safe.
The absolute most important thing you can do to ensure your e-bike has a long life is to clean it properly. Ideally, you’d want to make sure that you do this after each time you ride it, but we understand that, based on your lifestyle and how often you use your e-bike, that it might not be possible to keep that kind of cleaning schedule.
A good rule of thumb, then, is if you ride more than two or three times per week, you should set aside time to clean your bike at least once per week.
Keeping your bike clean isn’t as difficult as you might think, and by following a few rules, you can ensure that you’re not causing any undue damage:
Don’t powerwash it
Steer clear from using aggressive water sprays or power jets. These can cause damage to your bike and bend important parts without your knowledge. Plus, you should keep water off the battery pack as much as you can.
Keep it dry
Immediately after cleaning, make sure you dry your e-bike completely. This ensures that water doesn’t get in and rust the parts. You should also make sure that if you get caught in the rain, you dry your bike off when you get back home.
Store in a dry, shaded area
Never leave your bike out in the rain or snow. The elements can cause an immense amount of damage to the gears and body of your bike. Instead, store your e-bike somewhere dry and, preferably, out of direct sunlight. Keeping your bike in direct sunlight can cause you massive issues if your battery overheats!
Never open up the casings, chargers, etc.
This is pretty straight forward. Unless you’re an e-bike mechanic, you shouldn’t ever open up the chambers holding the electronic pieces of your bike.
Not only is this dangerous to you, but you can inadvertently break something that will cost you quite a bit of money to get fixed professionally. Remember, the idea of keeping your bike clean and in top condition is to keep it out of the shop!
As with a regular bike, making sure that all the moving parts are lubricated will ensure that your e-bike continues to work at maximum efficiency. Apply lube to all the major moving parts, like the chain, to ensure that it continues to work smoothly. Friction can build up without lubricant, and it can cause your bike to seize-up and feel like it’s getting stuck.
Applying lubricant to your bike is easy.
Use a specialized cleaning solution to clean off the chain. This ensures the build-up and grime are removed, and that you’re starting with a clean, debris-free surface.
Apply the lubricant to the different moving parts liberally. Make sure you really get it in there, and everything is nicely coated.
Let the lubricant sit for a few minutes to seep into the crevices and openings, so that everything gets coated well, and then wipe off any excess with a clean rag.
Depending on how often you use, your e-bike will dictate how often you should reapply and lubricate your gears and chains. Ideally, if you’re a power user and your e-bike is the main form of transportation, you’ll want to perform a lubricant maintenance process like the above at least once per week.
As you’re well aware, e-bikes are much heavier than a traditional bike. Between the motor, battery, and stronger frame to support those components, there is a lot more strain on your e-bike tires than the conventional bike.
Each time you prepare to ride your e-bike, part of your departure checklist should include checking the psi levels. If you notice that they’re a little low, make sure to fill them up before you take off. Not only will this help ensure that you don’t unexpectedly encounter a flat on your ride, but your e-bike will perform more efficiently.
Speaking of flats, make sure that you know how to fix one! Depending on where your motor is stored, the process could be simple or complex. Mid-drive motor e-bikes have the same tire repair process as a traditional bike, which makes things a bit easier.
However, if you have a hub-drive motor, you’re looking at a more complicated process for changing out a tire. Be sure to understand your specific e-bike and the proper way to change out a tire for it!
It’s also an excellent practice to make sure you have replacement tires, just in case. Walking out in the morning late for work to find a flat isn’t the best start to your day.
But if you have a replacement as back-up, you’ll be good to go. Brands such as Continental, Michelin, Schwalbe, and Kenda have produced “e-tires” for years, and are good options for you to check-out.
You have an e-bike for a reason, and as you’re well aware, the most critical electrical piece of that is the battery. Without the battery, it’s just a traditional bike, so ensuring you know how to take care of your battery is essential to caring for your e-bike.
Since each battery is different, we recommend you read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to properly maintain your battery. If you don’t have access to the manufacturer’s advice, ask your dealer for instructions.
One important aspect you should make sure you’re aware of is about charging your battery. If you don’t charge your battery correctly, it can end up damaged or wear out much quicker than it should.
Unlike computers and cellphones, most Lithium cells work better when you keep the battery topped off, rather than depleting it entirely before charging. So, even if you’re going for a short ride, you’re better off charging the battery as soon as you get home, rather than waiting it out.
Battery replacements are expensive, so you want to avoid having to make that purchase as long as possible. Therefore, knowing how to care for your battery at home properly will save you a massive headache and a matching bill.
As with any motorized or electric mode of transportation, you need to always make sure that your brakes are in working condition before you ride. In fact, each time you get on your e-bike, make sure you always test out your brakes to make sure they’re working. This is especially important if you haven’t ridden your bike in a while.
For maintenance, check your brake pads at least once per month to see how worn they are. If there’s a lot of wear, you should replace them immediately before they become a problem.
Fortunately, this is a process that’s not only easy for you to complete yourself but much cheaper than taking it to a maintenance shop, so don’t worry about spending the money. If you’re unsure about how to do it, or it’s your first time, and you feel more comfortable with a professional, you can take it to an e-bike shop.
But ask them to show you how they do it so that you’re aware of the process for future pad issues. The more you can understand and feel confident about how to take care of your bike correctly, the more empowered you’ll feel, and the longer your e-bike will last.
As Uncle Ben warned Peter Parker in "Spiderman", “With great power comes great responsibility.” Taking care of your e-bike is vital to your safety and essential to avoiding costly repairs and replacements down the road.
By following a few simple at-home maintenance tips that are easy to do yourself, your e-bike will last well into the future. If you’re a responsible e-bike owner, and your e-bike will be good to you!