The electric assisted bike offers many new possibilities, especially for those who find the hills getting bigger as the years roll on. It also opens opportunities for exploring places you would not go with a regular bike. Ebike owners need to be aware that the new technology exerts greater force on mechanical parts than regular bikes, so basic maintenance can really extend an ebike’s life. The following non-technical tips will help to care for yours.
Cleanliness, lubrication, and tightening
Dirt particles can increase wear and tear on chains and gears, so it is important that you keep the bike clean and regularly check nuts, bolts, and screws to ensure correct tightening. The brake rotor can quickly build up grime and adversely affect brake performance, so a simple dab of pure alcohol on a microfibre cloth will keep the rotor shiny and clean. An old toothbrush will work wonders on the chain, as will a few drops of dry lubrication.
Your ebike’s electrical components are mostly sealed units and require no user maintenance. However, the parts that need regular inspections are the brakes, chain and gears.
The addition of a motor and battery make ebikes heavier, so they require more braking power. This results in more wear and tear on brake pads and rotor. How do you know when to replace brake parts?
There are two signs that attention is needed: one is audible the other tactile. If your brakes begin to squeak or if your brake lever travel is excessive, it’s time to ask your bike retailer to check the pads. The pad chamber is a small dark place better suited to younger eyes, but it only takes a few seconds to diagnose if:
1 your brake lever needs adjusting
2 your brake pads need replacing
3 your brake rotor needs replacing
4 your hydraulic fluid needs replenishing
How long do brake components usually last? It depends entirely on how and where you ride. If you ride on flat paths and do not need constant or strong braking, your brakes may last 2,000kms. On the other hand, if you ride on variable terrain and use brakes often, they should be inspected each 1,000kms. The rotor typically lasts 2-3 brake pad changes.
As a ball-park indicator, my last brake service had new front and rear pads (about $70) and a new rotor (about $80), plus an hour’s labour charge.
Electric assistance generates more torque on the bike chain and the gear rings, so these parts will wear out sooner than on regular bikes.
There are two signals to watch for that might indicate a service is needed:
1 If your chain jumps between gears or it is difficult to select a gear, then an adjustment may be needed.
2 If your chain slips over the same gear ring while riding, then the chain or gear cassette may be worn and need replacing. A loose fit between chain and gear ring can also suggest worn parts.
Generally, the gear cassette and chain wear at the same rate, so they need to be changed at the same time. I had both of mine changed recently for around $200.
Apart from regularly checking your tyre pressures, it is not difficult to maintain a healthy ebike. Most require a short service/system check after the first 500kms and again after the first year.
If you experience a malfunction, contact your ebike retailer. Alternatively, you can contact ebike specialists like Sydney Electric Bikes with stores in Pyrmont, Engadine, and Hornsby. If you are on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the Bike Factory Brookvale is a centrally located and friendly drop-in bike hub.