My electric bicycle is not working, now what?

By July 8, 2018 Repair Tips, Shop No Comments

What happens when my E-Bike is not working?

 

If your e-bike does not power-on or lights up but does not accelerate then there is a fault somewhere in the system.  E-bike systems only work when all of the components are functioning so there is no quick & easy evaluation. The first step is to review the pre-ride checklist we referred to earlier.  Often the fault is caused by a loose connection and power can be restore by disconnecting and reconnecting each point. If the system still does not work then there is a problem with one of the components of your e-bike.  To repair the system we must perform a detailed diagnostic to determine which of the components needs to be replaced. The cost is $80 for a system diagnosis, where we will disassemble the portions necessary to test all aspects of the electrical system, motor, controller, battery, charger, connections, sensors, and keys(if applicable).  After completing the test we will consult with the product manufacturer to confirm diagnosis of the problem and check pricing/availability of the necessary replacement parts. Once completed we will send a report (via email) of our findings. If additional parts and labor are required to solve the problem we will send you a separate estimate with the costs to do so.  Remember to bring your keys and charger with you when dropping your bike off for a diagnosis. We will want to test the charger to make sure it is putting out the correct voltage to charge your battery.

 

What are some of the common repairs on E-bikes?

 

The most common source of e-bike problems is caused by failure of a sensor.  In this instance, the battery charges and indicates it is at full capacity, the lights and/or display all work, but the throttle has no effect nor does the pedal assist.  For safety reasons most e-bikes are equipped with a cut-off switch that disengages the motor when the brakes are actuated to protect motor. Mid-drive motors will often have an additional cut-off switch linked to the shifters to protect the drivetrain from damage that could be caused by changing gears under full power.  An initial test/inspection you can perform at home is to unplug these sensors and see if your motor regains power. If so adjustment or replacement of the sensor, lever, or shifter would be the repair option. If there is no change to the system, we then move on to investigating the rest of the bike.

 

The controller is the next most vital component in your e-bike system.  The controller is the “brain” of your e-bike. It takes input signals from the controls and sensors, interprets them and decides how to best transfer the energy stored in your battery to forward motion through the motor.  These are often proprietary and must match the specifications of the bike manufacturer. Some of them can be removed and independently tested, but more often than not the rest of the system must be tested to confirm that the problem is in the controller.  Those that can be removed and tested typically use a generic controller that is found in a variety of electric motor applications. For the aspiring electrical engineer this a great time to break out the digital voltmeter and soldering iron to test each element inside the controller and replace any of the ones that are out of spec.  This method of repair will only require a few inexpensive parts, but it will be very time consuming and has little guarantee of long-term success. The most time efficient method of repair is to replace the entire unit.

 

If the range of your e-bike has been diminishing rapidly there could be a problem with your battery or charger.  Each battery has a limited lifespan whose length is determined by a combination of age, number of charge cycles, and storage/charging habits.  There are a couple of key habits when it comes to maintaining your battery. One is to charge it before is completely before using it and again before it is mostly drained.  Completely discharging modern batteries will shorten their usable lifespan. Storing and charging the battery at room temperature is another important habit. Here in San Diego you will want to avoid leaving the battery inside a hot car during the warm weather.  Elsewhere in the country you may want to look into insulation for your battery when riding outside in the winter. If you know you will not be riding your e-bike for several months, discharging the battery to about 30% of its life is recommended. If your battery has reached the end of its life-cycle, it may be possible to rebuild your battery with new cells and sometimes upgrade it to a higher capacity or more exotic materials.  Upgrading a NiMh battery to Lithium Ion will require replacing the charger too but you will be rewarded with a lighter battery that last much longer.

 

In conclusion, e-bike’s are no more complicated than any other bicycles out there, just a different system of components working together to keep you riding.  Most of the electrical components are subject to very little wear and tear and do not need to be serviced or replaced anywhere near as frequently as the traditional bicycle components like chains, tires, and brake pads.  Older e-bikes may have some difficulty sourcing the appropriate replacement parts, meaning the entire system may need to be upgraded, but the industry as a whole has been moving towards more reliable universal components with more companies joining the mix everyday.  Whatever the problem may be, Anywhere Bicycle Repair is equipped to restore the function of your electric bicycle.

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