Carefully maintaining your e-bike will optimise its performance and maximise its durability, says bike expert Mark Bailey…
Buying an electric bike is a significant investment, so it’s well worth looking after it. A well-maintained e-bike can last many years and help you ride thousands of kilometres. E-bikes are easy to look after, but there are a few specific jobs every e-bike owner should add to their to-do list.
How do I maintain my e-bike?
E-bikes are the same as traditional bikes; they just have a motor to provide assisted power as you ride. So looking after your e-bike is pretty similar too. “Electric bikes, like regular bikes, are very simple to maintain on a day-to-day basis,” insists Julian Scriven, Managing Director of Brompton Bike Hire. “The basics remain the same, so you should regularly check your tyre pressure, your lights and your brake wear for a safe and comfortable journey.”
Also check your chain and cassette performance, your brake cable tension and your gear shifters. And add lube or grease to metallic parts like your chain, cassettes, bearings and bottom bracket to boost performance and reduce rust.
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But remember that the extra weight and power of e-bikes can lead to enhanced wearing of brake pads, tyres and chains. And with the extra forces involved, it’s also worth regularly checking that all bolts are tight. Fortunately, many e-bikes now feature toughened components specifically designed for the extra loads.
Bear in mind that under-inflated tyres will sap your power output and battery performance. And although e-bikes are robust, potholes can damage electrical parts, like fragile battery prongs, so avoid unnecessarily stressing your bike.
How do I clean my e-bike?
You can clean your e-bike just like a normal bike, but doin so is even more important. “Cleaning your e-bike after each ride will prevent dirt from interfering with the electronics and components,” explains Justin Stevenson, Head of Cycling Design at Halfords in the UK.
But be cautious in your choice of cleaning products. “Most electric bikes are water-resistant, but we’d advise you to remove the battery before you start, and only use cleaning products that are recommended for bikes,” says Stevenson. Don’t use a pressure washer, as it can force water even into sealed electrical parts, and strip grease from wheel bearings. Just use a bucket, sponge and hose instead. “Dry everything off with a towel, then leave your e-bike for a while before reconnecting the battery to make sure no residual water meets the battery contact points or other sensitive areas,” adds Stevenson.
How do I look after my e-bike motor?
Although e-bike motors are marvels of technology, they don’t need specialist attention. “The motor needs little looking after as, unlike their petrol cousins, they have minimal moving parts,” explains Scriven. “But I would recommend a good annual service by a professional.”
An e-bike motor can last 16,000km, which is about five full editions of the Tour de France. “Keep the motor housing clean and look for wear and tear,” adds Stevenson. “But if any issue does arise, it’s best to take it to a trained technician.”
How do I look after my e-bike battery?
Just like with the phone on your battery or tablet, it’s best to let your e-bike battery wear down before charging, in order to improve its longevity and performance. Each discharge and recharge of a battery is known as a ‘cycle’ and the more cycles your battery goes through, the less effective it will be. “Batteries have a limited number of ‘cycles’ before the capacity starts to diminish,” explains Scriven. “You should therefore ideally not constantly top up the battery, but instead let it run close to empty and then recharge. If you suspect the battery has a problem, never dismantle it. This should be done by a battery specialist.”
E-bike batteries are typically lithium-ion, which can be negatively affected by heat and cold, so avoid storing your bike in extreme conditions, and keep your bike battery indoors if you can.
How do I maintain my e-bike controller?
“The small controller on your handlebars that controls how much assistance you get from the battery and motor also needs a bit of TLC,” says Stevenson. Keep any screens, electrical connections and components clean and dry. Also use a soft cloth or cotton wool bud to clean delicate parts if they get dirty. “As with any computer, the software will need to be updated,” adds Stevenson. “Keep an eye out for messages telling you the device needs to be updated and regularly check the manufacturer’s website to see if a new version is available to download.”