Whilst there are a lot of similarities between e-bikes and their more traditionally powered siblings, there are some key differences worth considering to ensure the longevity of your e-bike, including its drive systems and the components on board.
With the help of Ross Wilkinson, Technical Associate at Bosch e-bike systems Asia Pacific, we’ve compiled this handy list of tips sure to aid you in looking after your e-bike.
- Related Reading: Ultimate E-Bike Buyers Guide
Keep It Clean
We all know that a clean bike rides better, however, in the case of an e-bike, it’ll make for a better performing bike too. Not only will regular cleaning extend the life of your drivetrain components, but it’ll also lead to a longer service life.
As for e-bike specifics, Ross says that “Prior to cleaning, remove the battery and display, and cover the control unit with a cloth. Clean with a garden hose and brush and use bike care products from specialist retailers or mild soap/detergent.” Bike specific degreasers and cleaners are kind to the environment, do not attack plastics or rubber seals and are efficient in shifting road grime and debris from your bike's drivetrain.
It’s also recommended that you do not use a jet wash to clean your e-bike as this can drive out factory grease in the bearings, as well as force water into the e-bike drive system electronics.
Whilst it may seem like common sense to some, ensuring that your tires are in good shape before each ride will ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your e-bike.
Checking your tires can be simple as a quick inspection of the tread surface itself, this will aid you in locating any road debris such as thorns, glass etc that may be embedded in the tread itself.
Whilst you’re inspecting your tires, it also pays to ensure that your tires are inflated to a suitable pressure. Not only will this make for a more comfortable ride, but it will also prolong the life of your e-bike battery, providing “more smiles for more miles” as Ross says.
Not too mechanically minded? Fear not, we’ve got you covered with our in-depth article on how to pump up a tire.
Prolonging the Life of your Battery
Acting as the fuel tank for your e-bike drive system is the battery. The total range of your e-bike will be dictated by a number of factors, chief among which is the total capacity of the battery your bike comes equipped with. However, how you ride and care for your e-bike will also have a large impact on its total range.
E-bikes work best when used with a cadence (pedal revolutions per minute) of 90. This not only means that you’re managing the load on the drive system, but you’re also ensuring you don’t prematurely wear out your drivetrain components by sitting in the one gear the whole time (more on this below).
Ross states that “storing the battery in a dry environment and protecting it from direct sunlight at a room temperature of around 15° to 20°C” will go a long way to ensuring the longevity of a battery system. He also adds that “the recommended charging level for storing (long-term) a battery is between 30% and 60%”. Additionally, the battery should be recharged at room temperature to avoid potentially damaging the cells inside the batteries themselves.
Drive System Maintenance
Just like a regular bike, e-bikes will require basic maintenance every now and then. Whilst you may be electronically minded, for drive system maintenance, please leave this with the mechanics and authorised service representatives at your local bike store. Not only will this ensure your bike is serviced and updated to manufacturer standards, but it will also keep your warranty intact.
If you’re a little more up to date on your DIY bike mechanical skills, some simple checks you can yourself include ensuring all bolts and lock rings for the chain wheel are correctly torqued and sufficiently tightened during the service interval. With your e-bikes companion app, it’s also good to check that firmware of system is up to date.
As previously mentioned, cycling at an efficient cadence of between 85-95 rpm will go a long way to prolonging the life of your e-bike’s drivetrain components. As systems typically output torque in the region of 50-80 Nm, this additional force can cause premature wear and tear on your drivetrain components if you’re not using the gears of your e-bike correctly.
In addition to ensuring you’re changing gears, a clean drivetrain will increase the longevity of your components. Simply degreasing and lubing your chain at regular intervals (once a month if you’re cycling regularly) could save you lots of money in the long run.
Do be sure to check for chain wear after the first 2000km (or 1,000km if the bike is used off-road). Chains are one of the most common items to wear on a regular bike, and that rate of wear only increases with the assistance of a motor.
Brake Component Considerations
As e-bikes are typically on the hefty side, disc brakes are the preferred stopping option. Whilst they will provide most riders with many years of reliable service, disc brakes do require specific care and maintenance.
Always ensure that correct lubricants and cleaners are used near disc brakes. Oils, such as those present in degreasers, chain lube, bike cleaners, or even your fingertips are enough to compromise the braking performance of your disc brakes. Pure Isopropyl alcohol is a commonly recommended cleaning agent for safely shifting both grime and oil from disc brake systems.
With enough use, disc brakes may require an oil change (hydraulic) or a cable change (mechanical). If your brakes aren’t feeling as positive or smooth as they did when new, it may be time to have them looked at. Likewise, sudden noise or loss of power is worth addressing immediately.
Transporting an E-Bike
Typically weighing in excess of 20-25 kilograms, eBikes are somewhat heavier and their frames are often larger than normal bike frames. Whilst it may seem like common sense, Ross suggests that “If [an] eBike is being transported with a bike rack, remove the battery first and place it in a safe location inside the car. The same applies to removable onboard computers”. This helps to avoid damage to the components. Regarding the Drive Unit, it is recommended to add waterproof protective covers for the trip in case it rains.
When it comes to the rack itself, Ross stresses that due to the weight limitations of the racks, and the weight of the bikes themselves, a rear mounted [bike rack] is the best solution and that “Roof carrier systems should not be used.”
If you’re looking to travel interstate or internationally with your assisted stallion, there are a couple of things to know before you set off. The air transportation organisation IATA has forbidden the transportation of eBike batteries on passenger planes. As a result, Ross says that “If you still want to have your pedelec after a flight to your destination, you can send it by cargo aircraft”, do be warned, this can come with considerable cost. Ross states that the best solution is to “leave your battery at home, fly with your bike like normal and research battery hire options at the destination you are travelling to.”
For more information on travelling with your e-bike, keep your eyes on the BikeExchange Blog for an in-depth feature in the coming weeks.
Outfitted with some of the most powerful e-bikes drive systems available, e-MTB’s make accessing a vast trail network in a single day a breeze, however, if you’re hitting the trails regularly on your e-bike there’s a couple of things to consider that will prolong the life of your e-bike and its components.
It’s important to understand that riding off road is much more demanding on your bike’s componentry and thus requires more attention. However, in regard to the e-bike system, the same rules apply for e-MTB and commuting. Ross states that “servicing intervals are dependent on how the bike is used”, for example, an eMTB would have to be serviced more regularly due to the punishment they are subjected to. A specialist service centre will be able to run diagnostic software on your e-bike and check that the system is running to its full potential and will also ensure it's running the latest software for the specific system.
As e-MTB’s typically feature strengthened frames and suspension to cope with the increased weight, they’re likely to be more durable than their non-powered mountain bike cousins. It’s still important to ensure that suspension and braking components are checked before every ride. Additionally, it also pays to ensure you wash down your e-MTB after every off-road excursion. This not only stops debris and mud from becoming baked on to your components, but it also reduces the risk of dust and mud causing issues with the contact points for the battery and display.
Check out our mini-feature for more on the differences an e-MTB will make to your trail riding.
Thanks to Bosch for providing the insight and advice for this article
Looking for more information on e-bikes? Check out our ultimate e-bike buyers guide for all you need to know.