Although they don’t have as many components as motor vehicles, e-bikes are still very complex machines. And just like motor vehicles, e-bikes require maintenance if you want them to operate at peak efficiency.
Although the maintenance work on an e-bike isn’t too dissimilar to a regular bike, you need to remember that the e-bike’s components endure a lot more stress. The motor produces a lot more force than your feet ever could. This is why periodic maintenance is a must.
In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about electric bike maintenance - from how often you should service your e-bike to how to do it.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of maintaining an e-bike properly, let’s discuss how often you should do it.
E-bikes are similar to cars. After a certain amount of miles, you need to do some servicing to ensure everything is running smoothly.
There’s a good rule of thumb you should follow regarding e-bike maintenance. You should service your e-bike at least once every six months. Or, to be more precise, after every 1000 miles of riding.
With that said, this is just a general rule of thumb. Your maintenance intervals may vary depending on how much and hard you ride your e-bike.
But before I get into detail about servicing routines, let’s see what a basic bike shop service appointment entails.
A basic service appointment at an e-bike shop usually involves an inspection and tune-up of derailleurs, chains, hubs, wheels, rims, tires, and brakes. Keep in mind that if any of the parts are worn out and need replacing, the shop will charge you extra for the service.
In most cases, a basic service appointment is pretty affordable, and if you haven’t had one - I recommend you schedule one. The mechanics there will give you advice on how to keep your bike in top shape best.
Now that the general info is out of the way - let’s get more specific. Here’s how often you should service your bike based on how often you ride it.
Intense Daily Riding
If you’re using your e-bike for everything from going to work to running errands with heavy pedal assist, you should often service your bike.
Even a budget e-bike can handle quite a lot of riding. However, the parts will eventually wear down. And in case of intense daily use, they’ll wear down pretty quickly.
This is why I recommend you thoroughly inspect your bike every 100 miles, a basic service after 300 miles, and a full overhaul after 1000 miles.
You don’t need to adhere to this rule completely. At the very least, you should service your bike at least once every six months.
If you’re using your e-bike for running errands after work with some cargo, moderate pedal assist, with intense weekend rides splashed around - your e-bike is still enduring quite a bit of wear and tear.
While you won’t have to service your e-bike as often as an intense rider - you will still have to do it fairly often.
I recommend you inspect the e-bike every 150 miles, service it every 300 miles and do a full overhaul after 1200 miles.
If you’re using your e-bike for short riders every couple of days, your e-bike isn’t enduring much wear and tear. This means you won’t have to service it as often.
For semi-regular riders, I recommend an e-bike inspection every 200 miles, a service every 300 miles, and a full overhaul after 1500 miles.
If you’re not a daily user, I recommend you just take your e-bike to a shop once a year so they can tune up everything. It will save you a lot of time, but it’s pretty inexpensive.
How To Properly Maintain Your E-Bike
Now that you know how often you should service your bike. It’s time to learn how you can do it properly.
Sure, you can just take your e-bike to a shop and have them do it, but you can easily do the service work yourself. E-bikes are pretty simple to maintain, and you don’t need any special tools. In most cases, everything you need is a set of screwdrivers and a bike wrench.
Let’s start with the most simple task, washing the bike, and move on to more complex stuff from there.
How To Properly Wash Your E-Bike
If you want your e-bike to operate at peak efficiency, you need to keep it clean at all times.
Unfortunately, most e-bike newbies think that washing an e-bike might damage the electrical components. However, this can’t be further from the truth. If that were the case, then you couldn’t ride an e-bike when it’s raining outside.
E-bike motors and batteries are completely sealed - this means no water will get into them. With that said, I don’t recommend you clean your e-bike with a powerful pressure washer since it could force the water through the seals.
To clean an e-bike, all you need is a bucket or a garden hose and some soap. If you want to get rid of dirt and grime more quickly, you can use a bike-specific cleaning product.
Before you start cleaning the e-bike, make sure all connections are sealed. Leave the battery on the bike, but turn off the system. And, of course, unplug the charger if you don’t want to cause a short.
Next, check the charging port for any dirt or grime and brush it out with a dry cloth or brush. Close the port after you’re done and move on to washing.
To wash the bike, simply hose it down with water and use a mildly-soapy sponge or cloth to get rid of any dirt and grime from joints and holes.
Next, hose the bike again to get rid of any soap and wipe it down with a dry cloth.
Once every couple of months, give the battery contacts a clean. To do this, remove the battery and brush down the contacts.
Lastly, if your ebike has a speed sensor magnet on the wheel, you should clean it with a soft cloth. This will ensure it reads your speed correctly.
How To Properly Maintain Your E-Bike’s Tires
The tires are an essential part of your e-bike. They have to work twice as hard as tires on a regular bike because they’re carrying a motor, battery, and a beefy frame. This is why it’s essential you take care of them properly.
The first step in tire maintenance is ensuring they’re properly inflated. If you’re a daily rider, I recommend you check the tire pressure level before each ride. Underinflated tires don’t roll pretty well, which will reduce your range.
You should also know how to fix a flat. If you have a bike with a mid-drive motor, fixing a flat is the same as on a regular bike. But, if you have a rear-hub motor, you will have to disconnect and reconnect the motor from the rest of the bike. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, you can always take your e-bike to the service shop and have their mechanics do it for you.
I also recommend you get tires that are specially made for e-bikes. E-bike tires have durable sidewalls, provide excellent traction, and are usually puncture-resistant.
How To Properly Maintain Your E-Bike’s Chain
Just like the tires, the chain on your e-bike endures twice as much wear and tear as a chain on a regular bike. Thankfully, the chain on an e-bike is much more durable than regular chains.
Still, that doesn't mean you don’t need to keep a close eye on your e-bike’s chain. This is why you should regularly clean and lubricate the chain.
An overly greasy chain will collect quite a lot of dirt and grime, but there's a trick to it. All you need to lube up is the inside of the chain. So lube up the part of the chain that’s in contact with the gears. Once you’re done, use a dry cloth to collect any excess lubricant, and you’re done!
You should also inspect your chain every once in a while for wear and tear. If a link is starting to give way, you should immediately replace it. The best way to do this is with a chain wear indicator tool.
How To Properly Maintain Your E-Bike’s Brakes
E-bikes are pretty fast and just as heavy. This is why they need quite a lot of stopping power. Moreover, they play a crucial role in your safety. Being able to stop in time might even save your life.
Before each ride, check and adjust your brakes. Look for issues like loose components or rotor/pad wear. I recommend you also give your brakes a stop test.
If the bike isn’t stopping as quickly as it should, you will have to tighten the brakes. You can always send your bike to a shop so they can do that for you if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself.
I also recommend you regularly replace the brake pads and rotors. Most rotor brakes have wear indicators that will show you when it’s time to have them replaced.
How To Properly Maintain Your E-bike’s Battery
Although it’s sealed and loses its efficiency over time - there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your e-bike’s battery remains efficient longer.
Taking care of the battery is pretty simple and includes doing three things:
Keep the battery topped off whenever you can
Use the eco mode as often as possible
Don’t ride your bike upwind
Let’s go a bit more in-depth on these three things.
E-bike batteries are made so they can be recharged tens of thousands of times. Even with intense daily use, you will have to replace the battery after multiple years of use. Feel free to keep the battery topped off as often as you can. If you have two chargers, you can carry one with you at all times so you can charge the bike while you’re at work or doing other errands.
If you’re going to store the battery for a longer period of time, It’s best you store it with 30 to 60% charge. Keep in mind that cold temperatures will drain the battery so keep it somewhere reasonably warm.
If you want to preserve the battery as much as possible, you ride your e-bike on the first level of pedal assist. While you won’t be able to reach the top speed that quickly, your battery won’t have to drain as fast.
Even on a calm sunny day, you can encounter wind resistance, usually simply from your forward motion.
The effect of wind resistance is roughly exponential. This means if you speed up from 10 MPH to 15 MPH, the wind resistance will increase by 50%. The more wind resistance, the harder the motor has to work, which will drain the battery more quickly.
If you want to preserve your battery, just ride slower.
Pay Attention While You Ride
Now that you’re familiar with the ins and outs of proper e-bike maintenance, here is some parting advice.
I highly recommend you pay attention to how your bike performs during each ride.
When riding, keep an ear out for any strange sounds, such as rattling or squealing.
A properly maintained e-bike shouldn’t produce much noise. Some noise from the motor is pretty normal; other sounds should raise concern.
Listen for clunky gear changes, skipping or slipping gears, or grinding noise. If your e-bike produces strange sounds, that means something is wrong with it.
Pay close attention to the thru-axles. Make sure they’re tightly fastened. If you don’t, the wheel will develop a wobble that will affect your brake rotors and pads.