With the rise in popularity of e-bikes more and more Australian cyclists are taking the plunge and delving into the world of assisted commuting or leisure riding. Whilst there are a lot of similarities between e-bikes and their more analog, traditionally powered siblings, there are some key differences worth taking into consideration to ensure the longevity of your e-bike, its drive systems and the components on board.
1. Keep It Clean
We all know that a clean bike rides better, however, in the case of an e-bike it’ll also make for a better performing bike too. Not only will regular cleaning of your e-bike extend the life of your drivetrain components, it’ll also lead to a longer service life.
When it comes to washing an e-bike, it’s important to remove the battery before washing, reducing the chance of any water contamination of the battery itself. Other than that, Brian says “You can wash your E-bike as you would with a conventional bike.” Bike specific degreasers and cleaners are recommended as they 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.
2. Tyre Tips
Whilst it may seem like common sense to some, ensuring that your tyres are in good shape before each ride will ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your e-bike.
Checking your tyres 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 tyres, it also pays to ensure that your tyres are inflated to a suitable pressure. Not only will this make for a more comfortable ride, it will also prolong the life of your e-bike battery, win-win!
Not too mechanically minded? Fear not, we’ve got you covered with our in-depth article on how to pump up a tyre.
3. 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 the total range of your e-bike.
Brian says that “For a pedal assist type e-bike, use the gears accordingly to the level of terrain you are riding at. Select the best suitable assist mode based on your riding ability.” 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, 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)
Another tip that Brian had for prolonging the life of your battery is by simply “following the instructions for charging and long-term storage for the battery”. This means ensuring your battery is kept within the correct operation temperature (typically between 0 and 40 degrees) and removing the battery from the bike altogether if you don’t plan on riding your e-bike for long periods of time.
4. Drive System Maintenance
Just like a regular bike, e-bikes will require basic maintenance on its drive system every now and then. Whilst you may be electronically minded, Brian urges that “For drive system maintenance, please leave this with the mechanic at store.” Not only will this ensure your bike is serviced and updated to manufacturer standards, it will 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.
5. Drivetrain Considerations
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.
This will allow you to use all of the bike’s potential. In addition to ensuring you’re changing gears, a clean drivetrain will also ensure the longevity and quality of your components. Simply degreasing and lubing your chain at regular intervals (once a month if you’re cycling regularly) should be all that is required.
6. Brake Component Considerations
As e-bikes are typically on the hefty side with regards to weight, disc brakes are the preferred stopping option due to the increase braking power and control they provide. Whilst they will provide most riders with many years of reliable service, disc brakes require a little bit of additional care and maintenance over their rim brake counterparts.
Depending on the type of braking system your bike is fitted with, this will either mean a cable change or an oil change (brake bleed) once or twice a year. These are relatively low-cost procedures, costing anywhere from $20 for DIY kits.
When performing maintenance on your disc brakes, always ensure that correct lubricants and cleaners are used. 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.
7. General Bike Maintenance Tips
There are a number of small maintenance tasks that are specific to e-bikes that differ from the maintenance schedule of a traditional bike. The most important of these is ensuring that the contact points for where the information screens and/or batteries are cleaned intermittently. These can be cleaned by simply spraying the connector pins with electrical cleaner and wiping the excess away with a cotton wool bud.
Additionally, Brian advises that consumers should “avoid leaving the bike or battery out under direct sunlight for extended periods, and ensure that the battery is charged to the recommended level”.
8. Transporting an E-Bike
E-bikes by their very nature are robustly built and therefore are a little heavier than a traditional bike, typically weighing in excess of 20-25 kilograms. Therefore, it’s important to double check the carrying capacity of the rack system you’re using on your vehicle and if possible, mount your e-bike to the back of the vehicle for easier loading and unloading.
When transporting your e-bike on the roof, or back of a car, it’s worth removing the battery before you set off to protect against any water ingress that may occur if you’re traveling in inclement weather.
9. E-Bikes and Aeroplanes
Looking to travel interstate or internationally with your e-bike via aeroplane? It’s worth noting that as per aviation laws, e-bike batteries cannot be transported as carry-on, or checked baggage when you fly as they are declared as dangerous goods. So it’s best to be prepared and either send your battery over to your destination ahead of time or hire/purchase a replacement battery at your destination.
10. e-MTB Considerations
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.
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, it reduces the risk of dust and mud from 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 Shimano Australia 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.