New electric bikes are so much fun to ride, but what happens when the chain starts to squeak or you get a flat tire? We always encourage our customers to get regular tune-ups, just like you would a conventional bike. How often you need perform regular maintenance will largely depend on how much you ride your ebike - the more frequently you ride, the more frequently you will need to perform routine maintenance.
How will you know when you need to perform regular maintenance?
Common issues are, for example, when the derailleur is out of adjustment because the gears aren’t switching smoothly; the brake cable stretch and adjusting; and sometimes with heavier riders, the spokes can get stretched and need to be tightened up and trued.
What Can You Do At Home?
There are two things we tell our customers. First, keep your battery maintained by charging it on a regular basis.Second, you must keep your tire pressure maintained as indicated on the side walls and in the user manual. All bicycle tires can lose pressure within a few days or a week, especially in areas where the temperature changes on a daily basis. Low tire pressure can affect range, ride performance and handling, among other factors.
Tire Inflation and Types of Valves
Bicycle tires come with one of two types of valve stems. The small diameter of the Presta valve, and the larger diameter Schrader valve (the latter being the type found on car tires). The Presta valve has a locking twist nut at its base, which needs to be kept tight against the rim of the wheel.
To inflate the Presta valve you need to unscrew and loosen the tip (to free the stem) and either use a pump with a Presta locking mechanism, or screw on a Schrader valve adapter, which would allow you to fill the tires with air at a gas station or by use of a more conventional tire pump.
Most bike pumps these days are adaptable and can be used with either a Schrader or Presta valve. After filling tires to the right pressure, make sure to put on the stem caps.
Maintain Your Chain
Most people can maintain their bike chain at home by keeping it both clean and lubricated. This would not be required for a belt drive, however, which is an alternative transmission system found on many newer ebikes.
First, we do not recommend using standard WD40 alone, because it is a penetrant, not a lubricant, and will dry out the chain. Instead, can clean your chain with standard WD40, but you should use a product like Tri-Flow, or the WD40 chain lubricant afterwards, to make sure the chain is properly lubed.
A properly lubed chain should not be dry to the touch, but instead should a greasy residue on your fingers; however, don’t over-lubricate the chain to the point where it is dripping lube. A properly lubricated chain will prevent rust and facilitate the movement of metal-on-metal parts.
If the derailleur is making noises, then the cable used to shift gears may require an adjustment, which, depending on the type of setup you have, may either be made at the derailleur or at the gear shifter at the handlebar mount.
How often should you clean and lube your bike? It really depends on how you use it, and how often you use it. For example, if you’re going off road and mountain biking, every time you return would be a good time to fully wipe down your bike, and clean and lube the chain.
Likewise, if you are taking your ebikes camping, every time you come home, the bikes should get a good cleaning and lubrication. If you are just staying on paved roads, it would probably be ok to clean and lube the chain every couple of hundred miles.
Disc Brake Squeaking
A common complaint with disc brakes, which are commonly found on many ebike models, is that they begin to squeak. To fix this problem, first check to see if the pads are properly aligned with the rotor, and not brushing up against it when the wheel rotates; if they are not, make the necessary adjustments by loosening the caliper tightening bolt, grasping the brake (which has the effect of centering the brake pads around the rotor) then re-tightening the caliper bolt.
If the squeaking continues, you will need to take the caliper off, take the pads out, spray the disk with a disk brake silencer (like SwissStop). If this doesn’t remedy the squeaking, it could be an indication that the rotor is bent, which will require further alignment or replacement.
Bottom Bracket and Crankset
When you first take your new ebike out of the box, make sure the bolts at the crankset and bottom bracket are properly tightened with the correctly sized Allen wrench. This is particularly important with mid-drive motors which are integrated into the bottom bracket - otherwise there is a risk of damage to the cadence sensors and connector cables.
Are Electric Bikes Waterproof?
Most ebikes on the market today are water resistant, and will not be damaged if they get a little wet when you splash through a puddle; however, these bikes are not waterproof, and it is always a best practice to wipe down your bike after each ride. Getting water on the water, the display and the throttle should not be a problem.
The most sensitive part of an electric bike is the controller, which is often located in the battery case. If this part were to become submerged in water (for example, if the bike fell of the dock when you were getting on your boat), then this could cause some real problems.
Flat Tire Freakout
What happens if you out on a trail or far from home, and you get a flat tire? First, we do not recommend that you take the wheel and tire off the bike and try to change out a tube. Instead, we recommend that you carry a patch kit, because 9 times out of 10 the flat is a result of a puncture and not a blow out. If you bring a simple pair of tire irons with you (and a patch kit) they can be used to remove the bead of the tire (the part the tucks into the rim) from one side, try to find where the puncture is located. Listen for a hissing sound, look for the puncture point, wet the tire to look for bubbling where the air is escaping, or even put the tire close to your face to feel where air is escaping. Then you will need to deflate the tire, put the patch in place, then re-inflate the tire.