The weather is finally starting to warm up, which means that fair weather bicyclists around the country are gearing up for their first ride of the year. But for those who own electric bikes, such as one of the many popular Pedego models, it’s important to give your e-bike a onceover before taking it for a spin.
Here are a few things to check on to make sure that your bike stays in tip-top condition.
E-Bike Battery Maintenance
The battery powering your electric bike, like any rechargeable battery, slowly discharges over time. Before you head out on the trail for the first time, you’ll want to charge it up so that you don’t end up having to make the long ride back home unassisted.
Also, lithium batteries are rather sensitive. If allowed to discharge fully, the battery’s capacity can be significantly diminished, or may cease to work entirely. So, before you put your e-bike back into storage at the end of the warm season, make sure to fully charge the battery, and recharge it every two months.
This will maximize the lifespan of your bike’s battery, ensuring many years of happy riding.
Cleaning and Lubricating the Drivetrain
Like any chain-driven bicycle, your electric bike has a drivetrain, which consists of the pedals, cranks, chainrings, chain, cogs, and derailleur. The drivetrain transforms your pedaling into forward motion. This produces significant friction between the many moving parts, which need to be kept well-lubricated to prevent wear and tear.
Unfortunately, lubricant attracts dirt and dust. After a few months of storage, your bike’s drivetrain will likely be quite grimy, especially if you didn’t clean it before putting it into storage.
When it comes time for some spring cleaning, don’t just hose it off. Water causes rust that will significantly reduce the lifespan of the drivetrain. Water can also come into contact with delicate electrical components.
To properly clean the drivetrain, prop your bike upside down to make the job easier. Get an old toothbrush or a specially made soft bristled brush, a clean cloth, and a bottle of drivetrain degreaser. Gently scrub the length of the chain with the brush, being sure to remove accumulations of debris. Pouring some degreaser into a clean cloth and running the chain through it can expedite this process. Then use the brush to remove grime from the gears and other parts of the drivetrain.
Once the drivetrain has been cleaned, apply a modest amount of lubricant to the chain, gears, etc. Do not use a general lubricant, such as WD-40. Purchase a lubricant specially designed for use on e-bikes—we can help you find an appropriate choice. Use another clean cloth to remove any excess lube to avoid grime buildup.
Proper Tire Pressure
Chances are that your tires have lost pressure after sitting for several months. They may not be flat, or even visibly under-inflated, but riding on underpressurized tires will wear them out prematurely and can cause damage to the rims. Starting or stopping can cause the tire to “slip” on the rim, putting the inflation stem at an angle, which will cause a leak where the stem enters the tube. We replace a lot of tubes because this has happened!
To check for your tires’ proper pressure, look at the sides of your tires to find the recommended PSI. If you still have your stock tires, your e-bike’s manual will also give the proper PSI.
Check to make sure that the tires are in good condition by examining the bike tread. If the tread is worn down or the sidewalls are cracking, then it’s time for new tires.
If you do have a flat tire, watch the video below to see how to replace your tire (details may vary from bike to bike).
Checking the Brakes
For obvious reasons, brakes are critical to the safe operation of your bike. Take some time to check your brakes out and make sure that they have proper stopping power.
Pull the levers—they should engage the brakes with about a half inch gap between the lever and grip. If the lever touches the grip, the brake either needs adjustment or a part needs to be replaced, such as the pads. If the brake pads look like they’re wearing down, now is a good time to replace them.
Your bike may feature rim brakes, mechanical disc brakes, or hydraulic disc brakes, so proper maintenance will vary. Check your e-bike’s manual to see how to service your brakes. If you aren’t comfortable working on your bike, have an expert service the brakes.
But for those who know their way around a toolbox, servicing the brakes isn’t difficult. And if you own a Pedego bicycle, we made a video explaining how to replace pads and adjust the disc brakes, which can be seen below.
Lastly, tighten all fasteners. Check them all. Philips and hex head screws, nuts, and bolts should all be checked for tightness.
By following the guidelines above and giving your bike some occasional TLC, you will be sure to enjoy many joy-filled years riding your electric bicycle.