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The popularity of electric bikes shows no signs of slowing down, as more of us experience the joys of electric-powered pedalling. E-bikes come fitted with an electric motor and battery pack for power, but the rest of the bike is reassuringly familiar – which is why they’re relatively easy to maintain and repair.
Keep your e-bike clean!
Electric bikes, like all bikes, get dirty – but if left, this dirt, dust and grime can affect the crucial components on your bike, which can lead to breakdowns. You should give your electric bike a wipe down after every ride, taking care to remove any excess mud and muck from the motor and battery.
Every few weeks you should give the bike a proper clean with a dedicated bike cleaner and degreaser. While the motors and batteries fitted to electric bike are water-resistant – essential in our climate – you should remove the battery before you wash the bike. Use a bucket and bike cleaning tools and leave your pressure washer for your car or decking, as high-pressure water can find its way into important areas of your bike, like the bearings.
Wipe the bike down with a towel or cloth to remove any residual moisture, taking special care to ensure no water comes into contact with the battery or terminals. Use special bike lube and apply it to the moving parts of your bike, such as the chain, front and rear mechs.
Electric bikes use motors and batteries, but at their core, they’re good old fashioned pedal cycles, which makes them simple to work on. We explore the more complicated area of batteries and motors below, but learning a bit of basic bike maintenance is a must.
Before every ride you should give your electric bike a once over, checking the tyres are inflated, the gears index properly, and the whole thing runs smoothly and without a squeak. Electric bikes are deceptively quick with the battery powered motor adding an impressive kick to each pedal stroke, so always check your front and rear brakes are working, providing progressive stopping power – which means the more you pull, the harder they brake.
Electric bike battery charging
Without a charge in your battery, your bike is going nowhere. Keeping your e-bike battery topped up isn’t just about having power when you need it, it’s about maintaining the condition of the battery – and extending its lifespan. The first complete charge of your battery will take around 24 hours, with subsequent top-ups taking between 3 – 8 hours.
Only ever use the charger that came with your bike, or an approved replacement. Cheap chargers can be dangerous, and using the wrong charger for your battery could cause severe damage to the battery and increase the risk of fire.
You should remove the battery from your bike and charge it indoors. Regularly exhausting lithium-ion batteries can speed up their deterioration. Instead of using your battery up each time, recharge it after every use, and it will stay healthier for longer. We recommend that you ensure your battery charge doesn’t fall below 25% before it’s recharged. If you’re cycling to work or are heading out for a longer ride, pack the charger in your bag or leave a spare at your desk.
It’s important that you leave your bike battery for at least 15 minutes after charging before fitting it back on to your bike.
Electric bike battery care
Electric bike batteries are sealed units, which means they need no special care and attention – aside from regular charging. The lithium-ion batteries used to provide e-bike power are safe and can last for many hundreds of charges, but they are vulnerable to some issues that all e-bike owners must be aware of.
Over time, the capacity of your battery will reduce, meaning it won’t last as long as it did when it was new. Lithium-ion batteries are also susceptible to extremes of temperatures, both hot and cold. If you use your battery in freezing cold temperatures or during scorching days, performance can be impaired. For this reason, if possible, you should store your bike (or at least its battery) inside where the temperature remains more stable than a garage or shed.
This reduction in available power can pose a risk if you are cycling for long distances and rely on battery power to get you home. Our tips below on how to maximise your battery range can help, but you may want to consider replacing your battery or even carrying a spare if it consistently fails to hold a charge.
Maximise your electric bike battery range
It’s true that the larger the battery in your e-bike, the longer it will last, but careful use and care can see you eke out extra performance from your battery and motor, maximising your cycling range.
The first thing to be aware of is the mode that you’re using. Most battery-powered bikes have a variety of modes, including turbo, tour and eco modes. Turbo – as the name suggests – will get you there as quickly as possible, but will use the most energy. Eco mode provides less support but uses less power.
The heavier the load, the harder the motor will have to work and the more power it will use up– so to maximise your bikes range cut down on the non-essentials. Under-inflated tyres can create drag on the road, which is inefficient, taking more effort from the rider and the motor to make progress. A well maintained, properly lubricated and efficiently set up bike will be most efficient.
If you’re considering an e-bike, check out the electric bike buyers guide, which is packed full of information and advice to help you select the right one.