Remember the challenges of maintaining your first bicycle as a kid? Well, electric bike maintenance is a step above this. They’re made of several sensitive components housed over many moving parts; all put together through careful engineering.
With a little care, a little love and a bit of regular maintenance, you can prolong the lifespan of your electric bike. Here are 6 solid tips to keep your eBike in good shape.
1. Electric Bike Brakes – Tight and Strong
eBikes carry a lot of weight for their modest frames, which puts a lot of pressure on the brakes and so it’s important to ensure they retain their responsiveness and stopping power. Because it’s never enough to just stop; you’ve also got to stop in time.
A simple check before you ride can save you from crashing into someone’s rear-end. Try this: Get off the bike, grab your brakes, and try pushing the bike back and forth. Did it move? If it did, then it probably won’t stop you fast enough while you’re on the road.
A quick tightening of the brake pads can usually do the trick. But if you find yourself doing it too often, or if you’ve got a complicated brake system that you shouldn’t tinker with, your next best option is to walk it up to a good mechanic.
Once there, you can get them to adjust how tough or easy it is to apply them. Tight brakes mean the wheel stops faster, but you may not be strong enough to squeeze them in the heat of the moment. Loose brakes will let you squeeze them right to the handlebars but won’t stop the bike fast enough. As with all things, find a balance.
2. Tyre Treads – Tough and Thick
A tread is basically the surface of your tyre that makes contact with the ground, often leaving pretty patterns in the mud or snow. The thickness of these treads is crucial to the grip and control you get on the road.
Rough, thick treads equal great traction and control. But a smooth tyre with worn-out treads is an accident waiting to happen.
Check your treads before you use your eBike. Good tyre treads are roughly 6/32 inches deep. This sounds too subtle to notice, but the health of your treads is often easily distinguishable with your eyes.
Do the treads look smooth in places, like the worn-out soles of an old pair of running shoes? If yes, talk to a mechanic and change your tires. Putting it off would only increase your chances of skidding or wiping out.
3. Tyre Inflation – Full and Ready
Use a handheld pressure gauge to check your pressure every time you ride. You can also try this: Squeeze the rubber of your tyre with your index finger and thumb. Did it compress too easily? If it did, chances are you’re riding with low pressure.
Doing this check every day is the surest way to know when the pressure is off and protect your tires from a nasty puncture. Remember, going overboard with the pressure can feel nice but is also harmful to the health of your tyres. Always study the manual, and maintain the approved PSI.
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4. Electric Bike Battery – Charged and Secure
Sometimes you forget to plug in your electric bike battery to recharge it. It happens. But what you cannot allow is setting off on a long ride without checking your battery. This is why you need a daily charge routine.
You don’t have to be too rigid about it; just decide on a time frame (like plugin after tea around 4-6 pm and unplug before bed between 10-11 pm). Doing so will help you keep track of your battery levels, and you’ll maintain a healthy charge and discharge schedule (also known as a ‘charge cycle’).
You will also get used to your battery’s maximum capacity and spot the first signs of trouble, which could be the perfect prompt to get a timely battery replacement.
Additionally, you must pay attention to the mounting frames that secure your battery to the bike. Try this: Grab the battery through the mount if you can, and try to nudge it. Did it move? If it did, it’s probably not secured well enough.
Don’t overthink it. Every bike can have a safe amount of wiggle room for the battery after it is snug and secure. But you must continue to check often because if it ever wiggles half an inch extra, you’ll know.
5. Electric Bike Chains – Slick and Clean
Here’s where people scrunch up their noses. Dealing with a dirty, slimy chain isn’t what normally crosses people’s minds when it comes to taking care of an eBike. Chains are durable, but they won’t take of themselves. And you don’t need to run to the mechanic for the basic maintenance that you can do at home.
It’s quite simple, really. All you have to do is wipe the chains with a rag and apply some good cycling lube. Try this: you can lightly grip one section of your dirty chain using a rag in one hand and then use your other hand to rotate the pedals and move the chain through.
Avoid using rags that have strings of thread sticking out of them, chances are that one of them will snag on the chain and drag the whole cloth along with it. A good cloth and a light grip will be perfect.
To apply the lube, just aim the nozzle at one section of the chain, and use your other hand to rotate the pedals through, as you did before. Don’t overapply the grease; doing so would invite all the grime, dirt, and gravel off the road to stick on your chain. And a dirty, crusty chain is a great way to wear out the shiny, sharp cogs on your wheel.
6. Wiring – Safe and Plugged
Your eBike is likely to have a couple of cables housed neatly along with the frame for the most part. But you may have some sections where the wire pokes out of the frame and attaches to sensitive components, like the handlebar, the display, the battery, or the electric bike motor.
Wires may slacken or taut despite normal use, or you may unplug the screen or battery from time to time. Whatever you do, make sure that the right cables are plugged into the right sockets.
Checking that the movement of the handlebars and shock absorbers are not hindered by any wiring or that no cables are liable to come loose while pedalling is another good way to monitor cable health.
This will also help you spot uneven tension on brake cables, rust on any exposed end of wires, or chipping of insulated material on other sensitive cables.
Going to the Mechanic
There are some things that only a bike mechanic can do. Then there are some things that only a mechanic should do. Leave the intricate work to the pros and don’t go off tweaking the nuts on your brake callipers just because the cool guy next door handed you a wrench.
Regular visits to a good mechanic or an authorised service centre are almost half the secret to maintaining an eBike. The mechanics usually know what to look for, but here are some areas you can focus their attention on:
- Firmware Updates: Check with the authorised service centres to see if the latest updates have been installed successfully on your eBike.
- Wheel Truing: Ask the mechanic to check if either wheel needs truing. They may then see if the metal rims or spokes of your wheels have deviated from their ideal alignment.
- Chain Health: Ask the mechanic to see if the chain is perfectly taut and in line with the teeth of the cogs. They may spot early signs of misshapen cogs that could increase the slack of your chain with time.
Keeping your Electric Bike in good shape is a marathon. You take small, sure steps every day and draw out the best performance for the longest time. Knowing the difference between your responsibilities and your mechanics is a great way to treat your bike to both. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and avoid common beginner injuries.
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