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Keep Your E-Bike In Tip-Top Shape

Tip Top Shape Featured
It can be frustrating to lose a ride to poor upkeep. Here's our e-bike maintenance roadmap to ensure your e-bike delivers optimal performance and stands the test of time.
robb dorr
Written by Robb Dorr

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:

Drivetrain Maintenance

Close up of cleaning a front shock
If you have suspension forks, wipe off the stanchions after every ride. Grit can scar the stanchions or the seals and end your fork’s useful life prematurely.

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.

Close up of cleaning a rear shock
If you have a full-suspension bike, also clean the rear shock shaft.

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.

Close up of a saddle on a post being cleaned
The same idea applies to a dropper seatpost. Clean it after every ride to ensure long life.

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.

Close up of a front shock
Close up of a dirty front suspension fork
While you’re at it, inspect the seals on your fork and shock.

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.

Suspension Maintenance

Tightening a rear suspension with an allen key
It’s a good idea to check all bolts to make sure they’re snug. Many have their torque ratings listed on or near the bolt. If you have a torque wrench, you can set each one perfectly. If not, you’ll have to go by feel. Don’t over-tighten them or you’ll strip the threads or break the part.

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.

Close up of a rear suspension
Note that some suspension setups have multiple places to check tightness and bearings.
Close up of chain on a cassette
Inspect your chain after every ride. If your chain starts to wear, it will wear down the cassette, and those are far more expensive to replace than your chain.

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.

Dirty chains can wear your bike's parts down fast
If you don’t maintain your chain, it can leave you high and dry and in for a long walk back, like this one did.
Oil your chain regularly
One of our editors suggests lubricating your chain with a good, semi-dry or dry lube before every ride, and cleaning, degreasing and re-lubing it every week. If that seems like too much, then once a month at least if you don’t ride daily.

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.

Better understand your e-bike with our guide to riding an electric bike safely in the rain and explore the accessories that can enhance your e-bike.

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About Our Editorial Team

robb dorr
Written by Robb Dorr
Robb is a massive cycling enthusiast who has more than 20 years of non-motorized cycling experience. He started to lower the barrier of entry to cycling and reduce the intimidation people can experience when getting into the cycling world.

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