Once you own an electric bike, you want to keep it rolling smoothly and in tip-top condition for as long as possible. That generally means perpetually taking good care of it, cleaning it on a regular basis, wiping it dry after riding in wet conditions, and also taking it to a local bike shop once a year for a routine tune-up -- much like you would do for a regular bike.
Performing that regular electric bike maintenance is easy, as long as you’re consistent about checking it before you take it out for a ride. Which items can you monitor?
First -- and well before you take it out -- charge the battery all the way. Nothing’s worse than jumping on a bike, only to discover you may not have enough juice in the battery for the ride length you were about to go on. And during winter, remove the battery and store it indoors -- to prevent damage or degradation.
Next, gauge the tire pressure. If it’s down in either tire, you’ll lose distance range. Low tire pressure can also let a tube rub against the rim and get pinched flat. So strive to have each tire inflated to within its recommended pressure range.
Also inspect them for wear and damage -- and clean out any embedded glass, stones or other debris. If you see any cracks or worn-out tread, spring for a fresh tire. It may save you from an accidental blow-out, and it will smooth the ride.
And if you suspect the tube is leaking but cannot find the culprit hole, either take it in for repair or remove the tube, pump it with air, sponge soapy water over it, and watch for bubbles. If you see a bubble, that’s where the hole is.
If your chain makes noise while you pedal or is dirty, quickly clean it off and then re-grease it. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace the chain. To clean, mix a spot of dish soap with water in a bucket, grab a toothbrush, and carefully clean away.
Afterwards, gently rinse it with water and towel-dry it. Then drip some bicycle chain lubricant over the chain top while turning the pedals backwards, assuming you have the bike simply standing on its kickstand.
After the entire chain is greased, spin the pedals a few more times to help the lube sink deeper into the chain. Then wipe off any excess grease with a dry towel. Whenever you ride on dirt, clean the chain as soon as you get back. Otherwise, lubricate the chain every 200 miles or so.
Brakes and Brake Pads
Next, ensure that your disc brakes work properly -- after all, an e-bike is heavier than a pedal-powered model so it requires more stopping power. Ride your e-bike for 20 yards to make sure everything is smooth and quiet -- and operating normally. Do a quick cable check, too. If they’re even slightly damaged, replace them.
Also make sure they’re correctly connected. Make sure the brake levers are functioning properly, and closing the pads to grab the rim. If there’s any work to be performed, eliminate the doubt by immediately taking the bike to a shop and getting it done professionally.
Other items will need care from time to time, including electrical components, electric parts, cables, speed sensor magnet, motor, any moving parts, addressing error codes on the display, etc. Plus there’s a chance that the bike’s software may need updating, too.
Experts add that if your bike ever has an electrical issue, don’t try to disassemble the electric bike battery or drive system. You may void your warranty, cause more damage, or even give yourself a bad electric shock.
Without a doubt, regular inspection and routine maintenance on your part will reduce many potential problems down the road. But if you’re the average rider who doesn’t feel comfortable dismantling the e-bike, then by all means take it in for an annual tune-up. Leave those items to the experts. You’ll get so much more life out of the bike.