If you’ve bought or are thinking of buying an electric bike, you’re probably wondering if it’s any different to a regular bike in terms of maintenance and servicing. In truth, there are very few things which differ, but there are some key points to note, specifically about the battery and electronics.
Electric bike battery care
- Keep it warm
- Don’t leave it discharged
The battery is one of, if not the most expensive component on the bike. Replacements usually cost several hundred pounds or dollars and you can prolong the life of your battery by looking after it well.
Batteries don’t like living out in the cold, or to left discharged. Most battery manufacturers recommend keeping them in your home, not outside in the shed.
That means you’ll do well to choose an electric bike whose battery is easy to remove, such as the Carrera Vengeance E and Fiido D11. Some bikes have batteries which either can’t be removed at all or are time-consuming to remove. If you own one of those, you might end up having to keep the whole bike indoors.
Like any battery, its total capacity will diminish over time as it goes through more and more charge-discharge cycles. There’s little you can do about this, but avoid leaving the battery completely discharged for long periods and aim to store it with around 50% charge if you won’t use the bike for a few weeks, or longer.
Washing an electric bike
- Don’t use a pressure washer
Since they’re designed to be used outdoors, almost every electric bike has water-resistant electronics. Some are better than others, but while you can safely ride an electric bike in the rain, when cleaning it after a ride, don’t use a pressure washer as water under this much pressure could breach the gaskets used to keep rain and splashes out.
If you’re going to use one anyway, avoid the motor and control panel on the handlebars, but we recommend you go with the time-honoured bucket-and-sponge method with a low-pressure hose to rinse muck off.
Fixing a puncture on an e-bike
Unless you have a crank motor, the hub in the front or rear wheel will contain the motor. This will have a fairly thick cable running to it, which can cause problems when you need to take the wheel off for any reason, whether repairing a puncture, replacing the tyre or so you can fit the bike into the back of your car.
Some bikes have a handy connector near the wheel, such as the Gtech Sport (above), which needs to be unplugged, but others – typically cheaper models – may not have a connector at all and so the wheel cannot be moved very far from the bike.
The cable might be held to the frame with cable ties, as we’ve seen plenty of bikes where at least one or two need to be cut in order to remove the wheel, so a pair of cutters are an extra tool you’ll want in your electric bike maintenance kit.
Electric bike motor maintenance
Though it might be a potential worry, motors are usually sealed units. Sealed in the sense that they’re not user-serviceable. As long as you’re not abusing it by using hacks to run it above its rated power, then it should last the lifetime of the bike.
That said, it is a good idea to keep it clean and keep it stored somewhere where it isn’t regularly getting drenched by the rain.
Also check for any damage to wires when you’re cleaning the bike, and check any connectors are still tightly attached.
Regular electric bike maintenance
Beyond this, just about everything is the same as a regular bike. You’ll need to adjust brake and gear cable tensions from time to time, replace worn brake pads (they don’t tend to wear any quicker than a normal bike as you’re not travelling any faster).
Chains and cassettes will wear more slowly if you keep them clean and lubricated, and it’s worth choosing a bike with a belt drive rather than a chain if you have that option. They’re maintenance-free and should – like a motor – last as long as the bike itself if kept clean.
The only downside of a belt drive is that you can’t change gears like you can with a chain, so most belt-drive electric bikes are single speed.
It’s also more involved to remove the rear wheel as you’ll have to first remove a piece of the rear triangle in the frame because the belt has to go through the frame. Plus, in the unlikely event it does snap, there’s no way to fix it: you’d have to carry a spare, and they’re more expensive than chains at around £70/$80.
Here's why now is the ideal time to buy an electric bike.