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Ready to Ride (after Winter): How to Maintain Your eBike
Many ebikers would agree that nothing beats those first rides in warm weather, especially after a chilly winter. As you gear up for post-winter riding, you want to ensure that your ebike is well-serviced and in tip-top shape.
In this guide, we share helpful tips on looking after your electric bike, cleaning the bike, checking mechanical components, lubrication, and battery maintenance.
Cleaning the eBike After Winter
Long term effects from winter elements such as snow, moisture, and precipitation can potentially hamper the performance of your ebike. If you have ridden through extreme winter conditions, use the tips below to clean your bike:
- Use a damp cloth to remove any surface dirt or dust and a brush for harder to remove debris, including dried mud, cake dirt, and sand. This guarantees the ebike is not exposed to too much moisture that can damage the components and hardware.
- Always clean your chain before you grease it. Use a clean tool or toothbrush to scrub a solvent over your chain or soak the whole chain in a solvent. Use Q-tips to get rid of stubborn clumps of grease and dirt out of holes and corners.
- Charging ports usually accommodate dirt. Check inside and brush out mud and dirt with a brush or dry cloth. Keep the port tightly closed when washing your ebike.
- Avoiding exposure to water is best in general, but in those extreme cases, it is best to wash the bike with water from a bucket or low-pressure hose. Ideally, bikes and motors are sealed units and should not let in any water. Ensure all units and connections, including batteries, remain sealed before washing the bike with water.
- Don’t use pressurized water or air when cleaning your ebike. High-pressure water or air can cause water access into areas that should not get damp.
- After washing the bike, dry it off with a clean cloth. Give special attention to battery charging ports and electric and motor components. Take care not to contaminate the disc brakes with oil or cleaning products.
Checking Mechanical Components
The following are some vital mechanical components that you should routinely maintain.
Derailleur and gear indexing: Get a professional to routinely tune-up your shifting mechanisms. Achieving a smooth shift on every gear is crucial for the lifespan of the cassette, chain, and derailleur. Ignoring these components will likely result in premature wear on components.
Brakes: It is essential to have your brakes dialed to achieve optimal performance. This also ensures that no braking components are rubbing to wear down rotors and pads. When dialing the brakes, ensure you don’t touch the rotors with your fingers.
Tires: Check the front and rear tire pressure daily as tires may lose pressure after 4 to 5 days of sitting. A good practice is to pump each tire at least once a week or before every ride if you don’t go out much.
Spokes: Ensure your spoke doesn’t break. Spoke tension is crucial for electric bikes that come with hub motors. If the spoke tension is off, the immense tension from the bubs may result in broken spokes. Check all your spokes regularly, especially when new. Some seating and mating of the connection points may loosen the spokes.
Chain: Check your chain regularly. Lubricate the chain to reduce the amount of metal contact and extend the life of your drivetrain. A well-lubricated chain makes your pedaling smoother while guaranteeing smoother chain glide-up and gear movement. Clean the chain periodically using the right cleaning tool and apply fresh lubricant. Wipe off any excess lube that may attract dirt.
Usually, the key components of an ebike come lubricated from the factory. However, adding additional lubrication in some crucial areas can extend the bike’s lifespan and enhance its performance. The following are some of the areas to lubricate:
- Pedal threads on the crankset
- Some select headset components & both bearings
- Bottom bracket spindle before installing crankarm
- The inside of the seat tube before installing the Seatpost
- Front quick-release skewer or axle.
Ensure you use waterproof grease at all times. Greases, such as the PM-600 military grease, guarantee higher resistance to water ingress. Use the following tips to lubricate the bike during assembly:
- Apply a liberal amount of grease to the inside of the crankarm before installing the pedal
- Apply a liberal amount of lubricant to the inside of the seat tube before installing the seat post
- Before crankarm installation, grease all four sides of the spindle
- Apply a heavy layer of grease on the upper and lower races
- Lightly grease the threads and skewer shaft
With time factory-applied lubricant on the chains breaks down, and you will need to reapply it more routinely, depending on use and riding conditions. If you are using your bike more frequently, use Finish Line Wet Lube. This lube is especially ideal for riders living in the coastal areas and those riding in adverse weather conditions. If you are a casual rider, use finish line dry lube. This lube forms a wax film covering the chain to provide additional protection. Use the following steps to lubricate the chains:
- Shake the lubricant well.
- Hold the lubricant above the chain and apply like beads of lubricant starting from the top of the chain while pedaling gently backward.
- Use a rag to hold the chain before pedaling backward to wipe off excess lube. Any lubricant appearing on the chain is extra and should be removed. Wiping off the extra lubricant helps maintain the optimal health of the chain and the bike.
Lubricating the hub and motor
Although most ebike motors are entirely maintenance-free, a little lubrication can deliver a smoother and quieter ride. Ensure you don’t over-apply the rear hub with lubricant, which may damage the electrical components. Remove the stator unit to lubricate the rear hub properly. Use the following tips to lubricate the hub and motor:
- Remove the stator unit and lightly grease the nylon gears.
- Don’t grease any other parts of the hub. Remember over lubing may result in hub failure.
- Use a dry cloth to wipe off any extra lube.
eBike battery care is essential. Battery health has a massive impact on the performance of an ebike. Replacing the battery is also relatively expensive, underlining the value of proper maintenance for an extended lifespan. The following are some of the good habits when it comes to ebike battery maintenance:
- Follow manufacturer instructions: The user manual offers crucial information regarding the battery of your bike and how best you can maintain it. Always read the accompanying documentation to maximize the health of your battery.
- Store battery at room temperature: Store your ebike battery at room temperature, preferably between 10 and 20 degrees. Avoid very high or very low temperatures as this can significantly shorten the life of your battery. If you are cycling regularly in the cold, consider using thermal protective covers to protect the battery from frigid temperatures. In the winter, you should only place your battery in your ebike shortly before departure.
- Avoid full or empty battery: Avoid a long-term full or empty battery. If you are not using your ebike for an extended period, charge the battery between 30% and 70%. Remember that a completely full or empty battery wears out the hardest. It is also advisable to check the status of the battery once a month to see if it is below 30%.
- Use the right charger: Use the charger that comes with your battery for charging. This guarantees that the battery is charged correctly.
- Clean the battery carefully: Always remove the ebike battery from your bike for cleaning it. Ensure you protect electrical components from water and don’t place a direct water jet on them. Clean the plug routinely using a damp cloth. You can also grease it lightly.
- Remove the battery for transport: Always remove your battery to ensure safety whenever you transport your electric bike.
- Don’t repair a damaged battery: Aside from replacing easy to access fuses, avoid involved repairs on battery cells or integrated battery components. Always have a certified professional or service near you to check the battery. These professionals have the right diagnostic tools to repair damaged batteries.
- Recycle the battery: An ebike battery doesn’t have eternal life. All batteries begin to die as soon as they are installed. If the battery is at the end of its life, hand it over to the right service for recycling.
What Is Battery Voltage Sag?
A voltage sag or voltage dip is a drop in your battery voltage when applying a large load. The voltage drops from the initial resting voltage to a certain level. Typically an ebike battery has a limited capacity and limited output power grid. When the battery is being used, it gets drained, generates heat, and with less capacity, a sag occurs near the end.
What Is the Expected Battery Lifespan?
An ebike battery usually lasts for between 3 and 5 years if it is well maintained. However, each battery type has a lifespan of its own. Nickel batteries deliver 500 cycles, lead batteries around 300 cycles, and lithium batteries may hold about 1000 charge cycles.
How Do I Charge My Battery?
The following are a few tips to help you charge your battery:
- Use the provided OEM charger.
- Always close the charger port cover once you disconnect your charger to avoid damage to your battery and safety risks.
- Ensure there is no moisture on the charging port as this can damage the battery.
- Avoid excessive weight in the charging tip from the charger’s black box or wire when inserting the charger tip into the charging port.
- Avoid wiggling the charger tip once inside the port.
- Start by plugging the charger into a grounded outlet before you connect it to the battery.
- Ensure the charge port and battery is sufficiently dry before charging the battery. If you were riding in wet conditions, eliminate all moisture or debris from the charging port and charger tip.
- Don’t charge a battery that is below freezing point. Doing so can damage the battery and pose safety issues. If the battery was exposed to some cold, take it to an area between 50 and 77 degrees and give it time to warm up before charging it.
- Ensure the LED in the charger is red when charging the battery.
Battery Charging Time
Battery charging duration may vary from 2 hours to 6 hours. Never store a battery that is still plugged into the charger. It is highly advisable that you closely monitor the battery while it is charging to avoid the battery from overcharging. Importantly, keep the battery at between 30 to 80 % charge level.
Get the Most out of Your Battery Health: Dos and Don’ts
- Keep the battery at between 30% and 80 %: If possible, charge the battery to 80%. Don’t leave your battery until it is completely drained off, and when you charge, don’t fill it up to a level it can’t charge anymore.
- Check the battery level consistently: Forgetting to charge your battery is the quickest way to destroy it. Leaving the battery to drain off when in storage quickens the Li-ion cell degradation process.
- Store properly: If you are storing the battery for more extended periods, ensure it is stored at a minimum of 40% and a max of 80% charge. The ideal storage temperatures are 50F – 77F. When in storage, check the battery once a month. If the level has dropped to below 20%, charge it up to between 40-80%.
- Never leave your battery on the charger: Once the battery is fully charged, remove it from the charger. Leaving the battery on the charger for extended periods quickens the cell degradation translating to a reduced battery lifespan.
- Don’t drain the battery completely: If your battery is nearly dead, don’t drain it any further. Doing so can harm the battery and reduce its lifespan over time.
- Don’t expose the battery to extreme temperatures: Extremely cold or hot temperatures can negatively impact the battery’s performance. The recommended operating temperatures of batteries are 40f- 80f.
- Don’t leave the charge port open after charge: Failure to close the charge port after charging exposes water exposure to your battery.
- Don’t charge the battery before confirming the charge port is dry: If you have been riding in wet conditions, remove all moisture and debris on the charger tip or charging port before charging the bike. Plugging in the battery while it is still wet can damage the battery and lead to risks of fire or injury.
- Don’t charge to 100%: Avoid charging the battery to 100% as this can lead to unnecessary stress. If the full charge is not needed, charge the battery to 80%.
eBike Maintenance: FAQs
How do I keep my battery warm during winter?
Cold weather can shorten the life of your battery and motor or damage them permanently. It is advisable not to ride an electric bike in subzero temperatures. The following are a few tips to keep your bike battery warm from cold:
- Wrap thermal covers around the battery when riding.
- Wrap the battery with chemical heat packs.
- Store the battery in ambient temperatures.
- Keep the battery inside where temperatures are comfortable for you.
- Ensure your battery is warm before riding. Charge the battery inside or in a place where it’s warmer than 32°F.
Can I ride an ebike in winter?
There is no problem riding the bike in below-freezing conditions. However, ensure you warm up the battery slowly before riding. If you notice a drop in power and range when riding in cold weather, don’t worry. This is normal.
How often should I charge my ebike?
It is advisable to charge the battery after every ride. This ensures the bike is always ready for your next ride.
How many hours does an ebike battery last?
The length of time ebike batteries last depends on the load. Usually, a battery with a load of 250W lasts 2 hours, 500W lasts one hour, and 1000W lasts 30 minutes.
Should I leave the battery on or off when charging?
Always turn off the motor and battery before recharging the ebike. The constant draining and recharging can cause battery damage or faulty charging. Besides, it will likely take longer to recharge your battery if the motor is left running.
In a nutshell, an electric bike needs regular maintenance, especially in adverse weather conditions. Winter exposes your ebike to extreme weather elements such as humidity, snow, and rain, meaning your ebike will get dirty faster than in other seasons. After winter, cleaning and taking care of your bike is an effective way to keep it running smoothly, efficiently, and safely to guarantee a longer lifespan for the battery and motor. If you have further questions about maintaining your ebike, be sure to visit our maintenance articles.
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