Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Igor Karni
We know, cleaning an electric bike sounds like a boring chore, and most of the time it is, we are not going to lie. But it is a very important process that needs to be taken seriously, otherwise, you could permanently damage, your electric bike.
How to clean an electric bike? It is necessary to clean your electric bike periodically. The frequency of cleaning depends on the usage of the e-bike. You will need a bucket full of water or a hose, soap or bike cleaner, sponge and brushes, disc brake cleaner, bike degreaser, chain lube, e-bike’s user manual, poly-film.
To wash it correctly, you don’t need more than time, enough space, patience, your favorite playlist, and some cleaning utensils.
It’s not just about riding a clean e-bike, it’s a safety matter because too much dirt gathered in the brakes or the battery compartment could lead to a serious accident.
So to unveil the mystery of how to clean an electric bike, keep reading because we have a step-by-step guide and a video to make things easier.
How often do I have to clean an electric bike?
This a popular question, people don’t wash their e-bikes as much as they should, probably because they don’t use them that often or only use them in the city, which certainly makes them look cleaner than mountain e-bikes that are used every weekend.
But the story with electric bikes is much different since you are dealing with electric circuits and mechanisms, you have to clean it periodically to extend the battery’s life and to keep the e-bike working as it should.
There is no exact answer for a question like how often you should clean an electric bike, it depends mostly on how much do you use it during the week, the type of terrain you drive on, and the season you are currently living in.
For example, an electric bike won’t get that dirty when being used in the city twice a day, but if you have to drive it through mud, rain, snow, or sand… then, my friend, you will have to clean it at least once a week.
Now, if you give it a light user, you can clean it once a month, and if you really want to procrastinate, clean it once every two months, but do not extend that limit. Mud, dirt, and other particles tend to stick to the e-bike’s chain and it will get harder to pedal.
Also, the battery’s compartment gathers dust, saltpeter, and other substances that slowly interfere with the battery’s performance.
Washing an electric bike every weekend sounds boring and tedious, but when we think about the benefits, well… let’s say that bucket and that sponge seem like our best friends.
What do I need to wash an e-bike?
The first thing you need is patience, really. Especially if it’s the first time you do this. After that, to clean an electric bike, you will need space.
It could be the backyard, your garage, garden, front yard… anywhere you can place the e-bike and still have enough space to move around comfortably and without making a mess.
Once that’s settled, you will need the following items:
- A bucket full of water or a hose
- Soap or bike cleaner
- Sponge and brushes
- Disc brake cleaner
- Bike degreaser
- Chain lube
- Your e-bike’s user manual
How do I clean an electric bike?
Here’s how you start, once you have all the items and enough space, press play on your favorite playlist to make this chore more entertaining.
Preparing your e-bike for cleaning
- Check your e-bike’s user manual to see how much water it can resist. Usually, it will be shown in the first pages of the manual with the letters “IP”, the higher the number, the more waterproof it is. However, if you have a low number (let’s say, 38 or less), better leave the hose behind because too much water pressure could damage something inside.
- Take down the display (if you have one). If you can’t take it because it’s fixed to the wheel, cover it with poly-film to protect it from the water.
- Remove the battery. Manuals usually say that you can leave it there because it is protected enough not to cause a short circuit. After all, electric bikes need to endure tough weather conditions like rain and snow, but just to avoid small complications, we advise you to remove it.
- For better support, you can turn the e-bike upside down, to make it rest on the handlebar and the seat. You can also cover both parts with poly-film to protect them from the water. We do this so we can turn the wheels more comfortably without destabilizing the e-bike, but if your crank arm is good enough, just ignore this step.
Cleaning the e-bike
- Start washing the e-bike with water, use a small glass to catch water from the bucket or use a garden hose.
- Then you can scrub it with a small cloth or a brush to remove the dirt from tricky places like the pedals, between the tires and brakes.
- Don’t worry if some water gets in the battery compartment because they are designed with small intern drains. Plugs are covered with a special material that protects them from water, corrosion, and general damage.
- Use the bike degreaser to clean the drivetrain (chain, chainrings, cassette, derailleurs). Let it settle for 5 minutes and then clean it with a wet cloth or thick paper, but do it slowly to reach the sneaky places.
- Now get to the brakes, clean them with a disc brake cleaner. Scrub them slowly and try not to use home-made cleaners. They usually end up limiting the brake’s functionality.
After cleaning the e-bike
- With a dried cloth remove the rests of water on the e-bike. Do this with patience because leaving small traces of water or humidity will make your e-bike dirtier in a shorter time.
- Pay special attention to the battery compartment. It needs to be completely dry before installing back the battery.
Do’s and Don’ts for cleaning an e-bike
From our experience with electric bikes, we have gathered some knowledge and tips for new users, especially those who want to wash their e-bikes without much trouble.
E-bike cleaning do’s
- Use shine products that are approved for electric bikes if you want your e-bike to look like a brand new one.
- Instead of liquid lubes, try to get ones that come in a spray. They are easier to apply and help avoid sticky surfaces.
- Protect all electronic displays. There’s never too much poly-film to be used.
- Check at the end of the week how’s your e-bike in terms of cleaning. Periodically check the chain to lubricate it when it’s necessary. Never wait for it to be completely dried out.
- Use a garden hose to rinse the e-bike faster if you don’t have much time.
E-bike cleaning don’ts
- Use a pressure hose or a jet power washer. This could move the dirt to sensitive areas of the e-bike.
- Apply bike degreaser on the brake calipers or pads. This will contaminate them and they won’t be able to function as brakes anymore.
- Pass 6 months without washing your e-bike or without checking the chain. These are part of your responsibility as a rider. Even though you don’t use the e-bike that often, making sure there’s no dirt or mud that could interfere with its functionality. Making sure that you are safe while riding is certainly very important.
Now that you know how to clean an electric bike, there are no excuses! All it takes is a little bit of patience and items you can find at home or the nearest hardware store. So go out there and take care of your e-bike, you will not regret it.
Read also: Selection of our favorite e-bike accessories to help you find the right gear for your needs.
Can I use motorcycle oil on my e-bike’s chain after washing it? No, never use something on your e-bike’s chain that is not designed specifically for electric bikes. Motorcycle chain lube is thicker than motorcycle engine oil. It is not recommended for electric bicycles. In the long term, it will accumulate a lot of dirt and the chain won’t work as it used to.
What happens if water falls directly on the battery compartment? Nothing should happen, even if the e-bike is being used because they are made to endure different weather.
However, it is strongly recommended to remove the battery before washing the e-bike and cleaning the compartment with a dried cloth after it. Also, once you have finished the cleaning process, make sure to test all the functions before going on for a ride to avoid possible malfunctions. Although such malfunctions are a rare scenario.
Do I have to lubricate the chain every time I wash the e-bike? Not really, you can see before washing the e-bike if the chain needs some oil or not. If it doesn’t, avoid getting the chain washed. This is why using a bucket instead of a hose is also recommended.
Some of the recent e-bike models, such as Cowboy, for example, use a belt rather than a chain. Belt transmissions do not require any oil at all.
Should I use warm water? It’s not necessary unless it’s too cold outside and it would feel better for you to use warm water to wash an e-bike. Do not use hot water to preserve the paint and other features.
Can I leave the e-bike in the sun to dry after washing it? It makes sense only if it really is a sunny day. Honestly, grabbing a small cloth to dry your e-bike won’t take that much. It guarantees that the e-bike will be shiny and clean, while there’s a chance it could end up sticky and with dirty corners.
Here is a quick “How-To” video explaining how to wash your electric mountain bike by using different methods: