Having shelled out big bucks on an electric bike, the last thing you want is for it to rapidly lose performance and suffer errors while you’re out and about. To avoid that, it’s vital to understand how ongoing maintenance keeps your e-bike fresh and performs to the same standard after 100 rides as it did on your first ride.
The Importance Of E-Bike Maintenance
Your e-bike is a mostly mechanical and partly electronic machine built to keep you going. Looking after those mechanical and electronic parts will deliver years of great service, maximize your e-bike’s range, and ensure you have as much fun as possible riding the bike.
Keeping your bike clean in general, using a microfiber cloth, a little water, and maybe some soap occasionally, not only makes your bike look better, but you’ll spot problems as soon as they arise. Outside of general cleanliness, there are a couple of areas we’ll go deeper into:
The part that drives the bike gets most of the wear, so keeping an eye on the drivetrain and ensuring it runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible is important. And if you’ve ever had to replace an entire drivetrain, you know just how expensive and time-consuming that can be.
First, regularly lubricate your chain: once every 2-3 rides at least, depending on conditions. If you ride in dusty places, you can lube the chain every ride with dry or semi-dry chain lube. Ask your bike shop which type of lube is best for your bike and the conditions you ride in, as there are different recommendations if you live in a hot, dry, dusty, or rainy area.
Start with the bike parked, either with the kickstand down or leaning against a wall. Rotate the crankarms backward and lubricate the chain by putting some at the top of the chain and slowly moving the cranks to rotate the chain, allowing the lube to penetrate to the lower part, wiping off excess with a rag.
We recommend cleaning and degreasing, then re-lubing the chain once a week. If that seems too much, try to do it at least once a month and check your chain for signs of excessive wear. If your chain is worn, it will wear out your rear cassette, which can be very expensive to replace, while chains are cheap. Also, if your bike has a mid-drive, you’re putting more stress on the chain, so you want to be extra vigilant. It can be a long walk back to the car with a broken chain and a 50-plus-pound bike — and we can say that from experience. So when it starts looking worn, replace it.
If you have a bike with a suspension fork or full suspension, you’ll want to keep the entire system clean. Make sure you wipe down the stanchions on the fork and the shaft on the rear suspension with a soft cloth, preferably microfiber. This keeps dust from being pulled into the fork and shock, which will scar the surfaces and seals and cause them to fail over time. The same advice goes for a dropper seatpost.
Check the manufacturer’s recommendation on how often to service the seals and oil. Some recommend that it be replaced every 50 hours of riding or so.
On a full-suspension bike, check the pivot bolts to ensure they’re snug. Many have a recommended torque setting, and if you’re serious about it, you should pick up a torque wrench to always tighten bolts the correct amount. If you over-tighten bolts, you can strip the threads or cause the entire part to fail. This goes for all the bolts on your bike, not just the pivot. Twice a year, take apart the linkage and clean dirt and grit out of the bearing contacts — and do this more frequently if you live in a wetter area or ride in adverse conditions.
Familiarize Yourself With E-Bike Maintenance
Regular maintenance is crucial to keeping your e-bike looking good and performing to the optimal standard. That said, if some of the bigger jobs are beyond your comfort zone and you don’t have more experienced friends to help, your local bike shop has mechanics trained for this. Don’t take risks with your e-bike, as it could cause further damage if you don’t know what you’re doing. After all, a little time and money spent maintaining your bike will keep you on the road for years, maybe even decades.