Many people ask what service and maintenance is required to run an Electric bike (eBike). Here is some basic information and general tips to keep your eBike running like a dream!
Just like any regular cycle, your eBike is going to need routine maintenance; however don't be put off by the electrical part of this as generally it will require little maintenance.
Many non-eBikers believe electric bikes are riddled with maintenance issues, but this is simply not true. If you, the user, take the basic steps to keep your bike running it will not require much more than a normal bike. After all if you treat your eBike well it will treat you well in return.
Most dealers will provide a full set up on the bike, which is important as the eBike needs to be set up correctly in the first place to function well. Some dealers also offer another free service once the eBike has bedded in. This is useful and well worth taking advantage of as it can take a few miles for new bolts to bed in, cables to stretch etc.
By taking it back after the bedding in period you can have it all re-tightened, and the brakes and gears checked etc. This is also a good time to change that awfully uncomfortable saddle, position the bars slightly differently and make any other small changes to provide a more comfortable ride.
To get the longest life possible out of your eBike you can take some simple steps to maintain it yourself, without regular trips to the dealer. Here are some general cycle tips to help you along –
Keep your eBike clean. If possible clean it after each ride with bike specific cleaners. Don't use a jet wash or alike as this can drive out grease lubricating the bearings, it will also compress water into the internals which in turn will corrode essential components. If using a high powered hose be careful to not jet water in too close to the hubs, bottom bracket, headset or anywhere else that is normally greased throughout.
Some bike shine products can leave a layer of protection over the paintwork, helping keep your eBike looking like new for longer. Be careful not to get this stuff close to any braking surfaces though!
Use a decent chain oil to keep the chain lubricated after cleaning, make sure it isn't left dry. Wet lube in the winter and dry lube in the summer. (Wet lube stays wet, dry lube dries). You can lube the cables with light spray oil, preferably one that dries and leaves a PTFE layer. If using lubricant that stays wet, on your next outing dust can stick to this causing more problems and can cause cable to seize. (With PTFE it will dry but leave a lubricating layer).
When the bike is not in use try to keep it in a dry place out of the elements. - Keep the tyres properly inflated. This will prevent uneven tyre wear. It will also make your life easier as the bike will roll with less resistance. In turn the motor is working less and the range is extended. This can make more of a difference than you may think. (Tyre pressures are always printed on the side of your tyre).
Motor & Battery Maintenance
Most motors these days are either sealed or not serviceable, therefore if it did go wrong it would be replaced rather than repaired, so little maintenance here. It’s the same with the batteries; however you can take steps to extend the life of your battery.
For example keeping it topped up, not leaving it to discharge for extended periods of time, not leaving it in the blazing hot sun for long periods and also not leaving it out in the freezing cold for many months if it is not being used. Most battery problems I come across are where people have neglected their batteries, or have left them for years and years before coming back to them expecting them to work as they did when new!
With most modern Lithium cells it is better to keep the battery topped up. So even if you only go for a relatively short ten mile cycle down the road, it is healthier for the battery to be topped up after that ride as opposed to letting it run right out and charging it right back up. If the battery seems to be deteriorating, the capacity can be checked by a good dedicated eBike shop.
Say for example the battery gets very cold or you leave it in the shed for an extended amount of time, it can benefit from a full conditioning cycle. To do this run the battery completely flat and charge it right back up. This should condition the battery back to state. It may be worth doing it twice to be sure.
Battery packs can be made up of many cells and sometimes these cells become unbalanced. Many modern batteries keep themselves balanced correctly, with an on board BMS, (Battery Management System) however it is possible to charge the individual cells to balance them all. This should be done by a decent eBike shop correctly.
Electrical Problems, what to do?
If you do experience any electrical faults with your eBike you should contact the dealer you purchased the bike from. They should be experienced to help you. If you are not experienced, do not take any of the electrics apart. Do not remove any plastic covers as you could damage the internals and also invalidate warranties; this should be done by an eBike technician.
If you do decide to ‘fiddle’ make sure to have a magnetic tray or some way of containing bolts etc. as bits may drop out as you open the case. It’s always good to lay parts out in the order you removed them; this way you will have a rough idea of how it all goes back together.
Before returning to the dealer you may want to check the electrical connectors: it could be a really simple problem. Say you hit a hard bump in the road and the power cuts off, check the battery is securely in place as it may have moved slightly on the connector causing a momentary loss of connection. You can also make sure all contacts are clean and corrosion free.
Many modern eBikes have on board diagnostics to tell the dealer what’s going on in the event of a problem. Some more simple systems are a case of subtraction, where each component is tested until the faulty component is diagnosed. Sometimes it’s as simple as turning the eBike off and back on. Doing this will reset the controller and could get you going again.
Be wary however, that by resetting, it implies there was a problem and you should still have it checked out by an eBike technician. Some eBikes are more reliable than others and sometimes you just get unlucky; do what you can to look after your pride and joy, and you will enjoy many years of happy eBiking. Simply put: An eBike really shouldn't require any more maintenance than a normal push bike, just as long as you treat it correctly.