Electric bikes: Cleaning, Maintenance, and Taking Care of the Battery


Easy E-Biking - Orbea electric bike, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Orbea e-bikes

Electrically assisted bicycles require a little attention: battery, cleaning, checking the transmission, and brakes. Here’s a look at the things to avoid to protect your bike.

Of course, it’s a bike, but not like any other. Although it has handlebars, a saddle, wheels, and brakes, the e-bike has a few specific features that you should be aware of to maximize the life of your machine, even more so when you consider that the average selling price of an electric bike is around 2000-3000 dollars or euros. 

At this price, the investment is significant for many customers, whether they are bicycle enthusiasts or sportsmen. So it’s a good idea to get into the proper habits from the start!

Read also: How to maintain your e-bike when you know nothing about it – in this article and this article. And, How to store your electric bike – in this article.

Cleaning

One of the best ways to quickly degrade the condition of an electric bike is to use high pressure when cleaning. However, what follows is valid for any bike! 

The cleaner developing several tens or even hundreds of bars is convenient to remove mud effortlessly, greasy residues on the transmission, and dirt in general, but it is the worst enemy of bearings. 

Easy E-Biking - mountain e-bike Bosch motor, helping to make electric biking practical and fun

On a bike, they are mostly sealed, which means that a seal seals the balls on both sides, which are embedded in the grease. So, theoretically, they are water and moisture-proof, but the seals are not designed to withstand high pressure. 

In the long term, they allow water to pass through, and the bearings deteriorate rapidly (oxidation, loss of fluidity). A bearing that is too oxidized can even end up being “welded” on its bearing surface: the replacement operation becomes much more delicate, and the bill becomes much heavier…

Read also: How to clean your electric bike (and not mess up)? – in this article. And, How to prepare your e-bike for winter? – in this article.

On electric bicycles, there is, of course, the risk of wear and tear on the engine’s electrical contacts. So even if it is designed to resist water (an e-bike is intended to be able to ride in the rain without any problem), the engine must be cleaned with care.

  • Our advice: to wash an e-bike, remove the electronic meter (or protect it with a cloth if it cannot be dismantled) and the battery (if it is removable). The empty battery compartment usually has drainage holes for water, so you can water without too much fear. 
  • You should use a standard water jet and a product with low degreasing power (soap or dishwashing liquid that is not too aggressive). The rest is a matter of elbow grease! 
  • The battery can be cleaned separately, without water, by rubbing the dirty parts with a wet cloth and avoiding the electrical contacts, which are fortunately treated against corrosion.
  • Do not direct a strong jet of water directly at the bearings of your bike (wheel axles, steering, shock absorber pivots, crankset…).

The battery

On most electric bikes (at least those with battery/engine combinations from major brands such as Shimano, Bosch, Yamaha, Brose, Impulse, Mahle, etc.), battery energy management is designed to maximize its life. However, that does not prevent you from having some good reflexes.

Easy E-Biking - KBO e-bike battery, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit KBO e-bikes
  • Our advice: for a lithium battery with cells, the advice is the same as for a smartphone, a laptop, and even an electric car: avoid the 0-20% charge zone when it is not necessary, as well as the 80-100% zone. 
  • In addition, when you come back from a ride during which you have put a lot of strain on the battery, it is worth waiting a little while and not charging it immediately for heating reasons. 
  • In addition, the storage of the battery is crucial: during the winter, if you are not riding for a long time, most manufacturers recommend storing the battery with an SoC (state of charge) of between 30 and 60% and avoiding cold and damp rooms. 
  • Suppose the battery is fully integrated into your bike and not removable. In that case, this is trickier as it requires storing the whole bike.
  • Don’t: splash water on the battery, and keep it too long in cold and damp places.

Read also: What is the difference between e-bike batteries? – in this article. And, How to solve most common e-bike battery problems? – in this article.

Transmission, brakes

Here again, the advice is valid for both classic bikes and e-bikes, even if the latter tend to “consume” much more brakes and transmission: this is due to their heavy weight and high torque at the wheel, which wears out the chain, sprockets, and chainrings more quickly. 

It’s the same as in cars: a big, heavy SUV will wear out its brakes and tires faster than a lighter vehicle. Therefore, keeping an eye on your pads or disc brakes is necessary. 

Read also: What is the difference between e-bike batteries? – in this article. And, How far can e-bikes go? What is the e-bike range? – in this article.

For the former, a simple glance at the thickness of your pads is enough. For the latter, it is sometimes necessary to remove the pads to check their wear. Their operation is very similar to that of a car. Whether hydraulic or mechanical, disc brakes consist of front and rear pads and a pair of discs.

Easy E-Biking - Gogobest GF600 e-bike brakes, helping to make electric biking practical and fun
Photo credit Gogobest e-bikes
  • Our advice: for the transmission part, regular cleaning is essential, especially if you ride in wet conditions, on paths, or on rough roads. Sand, mud, and all the impurities that stick to the sprockets and chain, along with the oil, increase wear. 
  • And at a time when every single mechanical component is becoming more and more expensive, it’s better to take care of these essential components! To make your life easier, there are handy little chain-cleaning tools like the one pictured above. 
  • They have internal cleaning brushes and can be filled with cleaning fluid (soap or washing-up liquid and hot water). Then, all you have to do is clip it onto the chain and turn it: it will be degreased automatically as it passes through the cleaner. 
  • A brush with washing-up liquid and hot water on the rear sprockets, the derailleur rollers (if there is one), and the front chainring(s), a small rinse of the whole, then a re-greasing of the chain, and the trick is done! 
  • Of course, those with a belt-driven electric bike are lucky ones who hardly have any maintenance to do… One last practical tip: many bicycle websites sell a tool that allows you to measure the wear of the chain effortlessly. 
  • A “must have” for a handful of dollars or euros will tell you when to replace the first element of wear in the transmission. Be aware that a too-tired chain will accelerate the wear of the other components (cassette, chainrings…). So it’s best to change it before it’s too late and the expenses pile up!
  • Don’t: spray grease or oil on the brake discs when re-greasing the chain.

Read also: Front, mid-drive, or rear e-bike motor. Which one to choose? – in this article. What are the differences between rotation and torque sensors? – in this article.

Riding, testing, and writing about e-bikes since 2017.

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