In many senses, electric bike maintenance is no different to that of a conventional bike. However, some components, and particularly the drivetrain (cranks, chain and sprockets), are subject to greater forces and increased wear.
First things first, a clean bike is a happy bike. Dirt and mud increase wear on components and, when mixed with water and grease, can form a paste that will, at best, decrease the efficiency of your bike and, at worst, quickly wear through consumable parts.
The smoother your electric bike runs, the more efficient it will be, and the longer your key components will last.
Keep the drivetrain clean and running well: battery life and power output are irrelevant if your gears are grinding and skipping all over the place. Riding a bike with a clean, efficient drivetrain, along with correctly adjusted gears, is ultimately a more pleasurable experience and will help you get the most from the bike in the long run.
How to wash an electric bike
We’ve already covered the importance of keeping your bike clean to improve its efficiency and lifespan, but let’s take a closer look at how to wash an electric bike.
Ebike batteries and motors are sealed units and, therefore, shouldn’t let in any water, but you should avoid washing any bicycle – electric or not – with a powerful jet wash because the power of the water could force its way through the bike’s numerous seals.
Wash your ebike with water from a bucket or low-pressure hose, a brush and (optionally) or a bike-specific cleaning product to quickly cut through dirt and grime.
Ensure that all connections remain sealed by leaving the battery in its housing, but turn the ebike system off before washing it (and ensure it’s not charging).
Charging ports can accumulate dirt, so check inside and brush out any mud with a dry cloth or brush. Keep the port closed when washing the bike.
After washing the bike, dry it off with a clean cloth, making sure to avoid the disc brakes (you don’t want to accidentally contaminate them with any oil or other cleaning products used elsewhere on the bike).
Every now and then you might want to give the battery contacts a clean. You can do this with a soft, dry brush, a cloth and (optionally) switch lubricant.
Your ebike may have a speed sensor magnet on its wheel. Clean this with a soft cloth to avoid any problems.
Waterproofing and repairs
As mentioned above, the battery and motor of an ebike are well sealed to prevent any water damage. That doesn’t mean it’s absolutely impossible for water to get in, but with a certain level of common sense and care, you won’t need to worry.
Things to avoid with an electric bike include using a jet wash and fully submerging the bike. No lake jumps then, sorry!
The motor itself is in a factory-sealed unit and you should never attempt to take it apart for maintenance or to try and fix a problem.
If it seems like there is something wrong with the motor or system, give us a call or take the bike to a reputable dealer.
Battery charging and storage
It may seem impossible to care for a sealed battery, but there are numerous ways to keep your ebike battery in tip-top condition.
All lithium-ion batteries gradually deteriorate and lose capacity over time. This might only amount to around 5 per cent of maximum charge per year, but is to be expected. Taking good care of the battery, storing it correctly and keeping it charged will help ensure a long life.
Ebike battery cleaning
If you disconnect your battery regularly, take the opportunity to clean it with a damp cloth and brush any dirt off the connections with a dry brush.
Clean and lightly grease the battery contacts occasionally, too. Never clean the battery with a high-pressure jet wash or high-pressure hose.
Charging and storing an ebike battery
Charge the battery at room temperature in a dry location. To improve the lifespan of your battery, avoid leaving the battery fully charged or fully discharged for long periods of time.
When the bike is out of use for an extended period, you can disconnect the battery. It will gradually lose charge, so still top it up every now and again.
As we’ve already said, avoid storing the bike for long periods of time with no charge – maintaining 30 to 60 per cent charge is ideal for long-term storage, according to ebike systems manufacturer Bosch.
Extreme heat and cold are the enemies of electric bike batteries. Store your ebike battery in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
During winter, and particularly if the temperature is below 0°C, charge and store the battery at room temperature, and re-insert the battery into the bike immediately before riding.
Use the correct charger
While some battery chargers may seem compatible with several bikes, you should only use the charger specific to yours. Batteries don’t always charge in the same way, so using an incorrect charger could damage your ebike battery.
Electric bike maintenance basics
Like any bike, looking after your electric bike will help you get the most enjoyment out of your machine, and can potentially increase the lifespan of key components.
By keeping on top of some basic maintenance, your ebike will keep you grinning from ear to ear. So, to wrap things up, here’s a recap of the basics of ebike maintenance:
- Keep your bike clean, the drivetrain well lubricated and the tyres properly inflated
- Regularly check for loose bolts, spokes and broken parts
- Keep the battery partially charged and store it in a cool, dry place
- Avoid storing the battery with a flat battery
- Charge the battery only with the correct charger
- Check regularly for software updates
- Visit a dealership if there is a fault. Never try to disassemble or fix the motor or battery yourself
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