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How do I maintain my electric bike?

By April 22, 2018 Repair Tips, Shop No Comments

What are the components of an E-bike?


E-bikes have a system of components that work together to take the stored potential energy in your battery and translate that to kinetic energy moving you forward.  The main components of an e-bike are the battery to store energy, the motor to propel you forward, a controller or “brain” of the system, a user interface to communicate with you the rider, and a network of sensors and wires to connect it all together. The most common sensor is the is a wheel speed sensor which simply counts the number of times per second that a magnet on the spokes passed by.  With this information the controller can determine how fast the bike is moving and the appropriate level of power to put into the motor. To comply with local regulations the controller can also cut-off power to the motor at a particular speed. E-bikes with a pedal assist option will have a sensor mounted on the cranks to measure when and how fast they are turning to determine the appropriate input to the motor.  A safety feature that many e-bikes have is brake sensors that cut-off the motor when the brakes are applied to avoid burning either of them out. Bicycles with front or rear derailleurs may also include shift sensors to momentarily reduce the power to the motor to allow the derailleurs to change gears smoothly. More powerful e-bikes may have additional sensors to help monitor the battery or batteries attached to the system.


As the batteries approach the end of their lifespan their performance will be reduced at which point they can be replaced or rebuilt by a number of aftermarket suppliers.  Typically the motors are designed to last a long time with very minimal maintenance, however you must defer to the owner’s manual for the recommended service intervals on your system.  A controller is the last key component in your e-bike. This allows the battery to supply the motor with power, determines how much power to deliver to the motor, and can communicate a wealth of information about the system to the rider.  Most common information available in the user interface is current speed, motor assist level, battery level, trip distance, and overall odometer. More advanced models will synchronize with your smartphone or tablet and provide you with even more data about your e-bike.


What do I need to do to take care of my “E-bike”?


E-bikes require the same periodic tune-ups just like a regular bicycle.  Wear and tear items such as tires, brake pads, chains, shift cables, etc are all there just like a regular bike and must be replaced accordingly.  Additionally e-bikes have a battery which will need to be charged regularly between frequent bicycle rides and periodically when the bicycle is being stored for long periods of time.  Each battery has a limited number of charge cycles in its lifespan and different length times to reach full charge. Following the manufacturer recommended charging practices will help you get the most mileage out of your e-bike.  Before riding our bicycles we should always perform a safety check of the brakes, tires, air pressure, chain lubrication, and for loose bolts or components. An e-bike adds a few more items to this pre-ride checklist. First is to make sure your battery is free of any large dents or cracks, is at room temperature, and is fully charged.  E-bike batteries store a substantial amount of energy in them and can catch fire if they are damaged excessively. Many batteries have an indicator light/button to approximate how much charge is left but you can always double check by placing it on the charger for a couple minutes. Next you will want to check the connections on each of the sensors on your bike as well as the battery, motor, controller, and display unit.  Afterward you will want to power on the system and check the function of each components at the start of your ride. It might be easiest to hop on the bike now and ride slowly to test the individual components.


To sum things up, e-bikes do not add very much to the maintenance schedule of your bicycle and much of it can be performed at home by even the most casual of riders.  The bicycle is one of the latest everyday items to get a battery upgrade. It will not be long before healthy charging and storing habits become a regular part of everyday life.  Similar to hybrid vehicles, these human & electric powered bicycles come in many shapes, sizes, and flavors, so know that there is one out there for you. Whether you like to just get on your bike and ride or you prefer to get into the nitty gritty and customize your bike, there is no reason to be afraid of riding an e-bike.  

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