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Electric bikes aren’t that different to regular bikes when it comes to maintenance, but there are a few extra things you need to do to keep them working effectively.
Proper maintenance could save you money in the long run, too, by keeping the battery in good working order and avoiding costly repairs.
So whether you’re commuting everyday or exploring the wilderness at the weekend, here are three essential tips to keep your e-bike running smoothly and safely.
E-bike maintenance – go straight to the full guide
1. Look after the battery
The main difference between standard bike and e-bike maintenance is looking after the battery.
The motor is housed in a sealed unit, and tampering with it could void any warranty you have on your e-bike, so there’s nothing you can or should need to do to maintain the motor.
However, not caring for the battery could see its capacity decrease much faster than it should, which could significantly reduce the range you get on a single charge.
It’s one of the most expensive parts, too, so careful handling should mean you won’t have to fork out for a replacement sooner than anticipated.
Most e-bikes use lithium-ion batteries, which inevitably deteriorate over time and lose their ability to hold charge, but one that’s well looked after will last longer.
How to make your e-bike battery last:
- Don’t let it drain completely Lithium-ion batteries don’t like to be in a discharged state, so if you let your e-bike run out of juice – and leave it that way for a few days – you’ll be significantly reducing its life. It’s good practice to charge the battery after every ride, even after short excursions.
- Charge indoors E-bike batteries don’t charge or perform optimally in extremes of hot or cold. So while charging the battery outside, if you have the means, may seem more convenient, you’re exposing the battery to larger changes in temperature and putting it under unnecessary strain. Bring it inside to charge if you can, where the temperature is more consistent.
- Don’t max out the assistance It’s tempting to whack the assistance to max all the time, but this will drain your battery quicker, leading to deeper discharging of the battery. It may seem counter-intuitive, but lowering the assistance when you don’t need it, such as cycling on flats or downhill, will help the battery last longer and you to go further.
- Charge even when you’re not not using it much If you’re not going to be cycling for an extended period of time (such as during the winter) make sure you still charge the battery once a month. This is because batteries naturally discharge, even when not in use, so giving it a quick top up will stop your battery going flat, which can reduce its lifespan.
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2. Take extra care when cleaning the frame and chain
Water and electrics don’t mix – so far, so obvious. But sometimes it’s easy to overlook the simple things, and it’s important to avoid getting the electrical components wet when cleaning your e-bike.
Here’s how to protect your e-bike’s electrical components during its scrub down:
- If you can, remove the battery and display before cleaning the bike, and cover the battery holder, motor and any exposed electrical connections with cloths or film to prevent water reaching them.
- Don’t use a pressure washer to clean your e-bike. Even though the casing is water resistant, steam and high-pressure water could still penetrate into the motor. Use a hose pipe, and avoid targeting water at the battery or motor.
- Use a specialist e-bike degreaser on your chain and gears, such as the Muc-Off dry chain cleaner. These don’t require you to add water to them to work, further protecting the electrics.
- When finished, dry your e-bike off with a clean cloth. This stops any excess water dripping on to electrical components and from sitting on the bike frame making it rust.
- Leave your e-bike a few hours to dry completely before reattaching the display and battery. Double check the contact points in the battery holder are dry – as inserting the battery while these are wet could damage the contacts and cause the motor to intermittently cut out due to a poor connection.
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3. Keep tabs on your tyre pressure
Keeping tyres at the correct pressure makes your ride smoother and reduces the chances of getting a puncture, so checking they’re pumped up on any bike is time well spent.
But it’s even more important on your e-bike, as low-pressure tyres will dramatically reduce the range it can achieve. This is because the motor has to use more power to propel a squishy tyre forwards.
It’s harder to spot flat tyres on an e-bike as the motor will compensate for them to a degree, so it’s important to make this check part of your routine.
How to check tyre pressure:
Before setting off give your tyres a quick press. If there’s a lot of give, use a pump to get your tyres to the correct pressure.
We recommend using a pump with a pressure gauge. Manufacturers put the details of the correct pressure range on the walls of the tyre, as seen in the image below.
Maintenance guide – get the full lowdown on how to look after your e-bike
Consider a regular service
Like a car needs a MOT, getting your e-bike serviced is a good way to make sure it keeps performing at its best – especially if you’re less confident at tackling maintenance and repair jobs yourself.
Electric bikes don’t need servicing any more or less frequently than a non-electric model. The main thing that affects how often you should get your e-bike checked over is how regularly you use it.
It’s recommended you get your bike serviced once a year, but if you use the bike regularly – ie, for commuting to work – you may want to get it checked more frequently.
You can compare servicing prices and what’s on offer at different UK bike retailers in our full maintenance guide.
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Why use an e-bike?
Despite the extra maintenance steps and cost, electric bikes make even the steepest hills easier – while still elevating your heart rate and giving you a workout.
So if you’re older, less fit or have a health condition that makes cycling on a regular bike difficult, an e-bike can be your entry to the sport – although bear in mind that they can be much heavier to carry than a standard bike.
Find out more in our video interview with ex-pro cyclist Sean Yates: