If you’re already enjoying the wonders of assisted pedalling, or are thinking of investing in an electric bike, then you’ve probably started to thing about the implications of having a battery, motor and other components to look after alongside the bike itself. How long will an electric bike battery last? how long does an electric bike motor last? How much is it going to cost me to replace these, and when will I need to do it?
The truth is, with a bit of TLC and PPM (planned, preventative maintenance), you can make your e-bike’s battery and motor last much longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation. Just like a normal bike, knowing what to look out for and carrying out a few basic fixes can help you to avoid serious bills further down the line.
Here are our top electric bike maintenance tips to make sure your electric bike and its components will keep on going for as long as possible.
Keep it clean
One of the simplest bike maintenance tips in the book, scrubbing your after each ride will stop muck and dirt from interfering with not just any electronics, but also the bike itself. Most electric bikes are water resistant, so you can go ahead and clean them like you would a normal bike, but we’d advise removing the battery before you start, and only using cleaning products that are recommended for use with bikes.
Take care not to use a pressure washer, as this can cause water to enter sensitive areas or strip grease away from places it’s needed, like around your wheel bearings and bottom bracket. The garden hose is fine for a quick rinse, then give it a good scrub with a sponge or cloth and your preferred bike cleaning products. Dry everything off with a towel and leave your e-bike for a little while before reconnecting the battery to make sure no residual water comes into contact with battery contact points or other sensitive areas.
To make life easier, grab a Muc-Off 8-in-1 Bike Cleaning Kit. It has all of the brushes and tools you’ll need, plus a nano tech bike cleaner and bike spray for protection once you’re done cleaning.
Use lube and grease
The secret to make electric bikes last longer is all down to reducing the amount of resistance at key points on your bike. Friction between the moving parts on your bike and damage from dirt and rust are some of the main causes for components wearing out, so make sure your chain, wheels and brakes have sufficient lubrication to avoid surfaces from coming into contact too often.
Use a wet lube if you’re going to be cycling in wet conditions or a dry lube if you’re cycling in summer on your chainset and re-apply any grease to your bearings and bottom bracket regularly, especially in the wet or if you wash your bike regularly.
Depending on the weather, Muc-Off Dry or Wet Lube will go a long way to making your chain and chainset last much longer, but a bit of additional lube or some M094 spray on other moving parts won’t hurt.
Bike grease is your other secret weapon when it comes to prolonging your e-bike’s life – make sure your bearings and bottom bracket are suitably greased to reduce wear and tear. Just take care get lubes or sprays anywhere near battery contact points or other sensitive areas on your e-bike.
Teach yourself basic bike maintenance
Even though your electric bike is packed with loads of technical kit, the bike itself probably going to be the same as any other in terms of materials and components. From repairing punctures to learning how to replace brake cables, knowing how to do some of the more fiddly jobs will not only allow your to get your electric bike back on the road, but also spot some problems before they happen.
Our Cycling Help and Advice Centre is a great starting point for novice bike mechanics who want to be able to keep their e-bike in good condition. With plenty of videos and step-by-step advice, you can pick up the basics and start to lengthen your e-bike’s lifespan.
If you don’t fancy having to maintain your own electric bike, or don’t have the tools or time, then let Halfords do the hard work for you. By choosing our specific E-Bike CycleCare service, we’ll make sure your electric bike stays in top condition and carry out a full service to make sure everything is working as it should.
Electric bike battery care
Electric bike batteries don’t have any moving parts that need to be taken care of, so ‘maintenance’ in the traditional sense isn’t really necessary, but you can take measures to make sure your battery life lasts as long as possible.
If you’ve ever had a mobile phone for more than a year or two, you’ve probably experienced the pain of your battery dying way sooner that it did when you first got it. Over time, Lithium-ion batteries (the type you’ll find on the majority of electric bikes) start to deteriorate thanks to the endless cycle of charging and discharging.
Then there’s the effect that heat and cold have on battery performance. The chemical reaction that takes place inside your electric bike battery can be affected by the external environment, so charging and operation in extreme cold or heat can see a drop in performance.
This problems are certainly common for e-bike batteries that see use in all weathers and often constant use if they are used commuting or leisure rides, so a bit of extra care can go some way to mitigating the effects of cycling and temperatures.
Electric bike battery tips
Always charge and store your battery in the house
As mentioned, li-ion batteries can be temperamental in certain temperatures, so a cold shed or garage can have a negative effect on charging and performance.
After each ride, remove the battery first and store it somewhere temperature neutral, rather than leaving it for months on end in a location with fluctuating temperatures. A cupboard will do!
Try to reduce the number of charges
The process of fully discharging a battery then recharging it back to full capacity is known as a ‘cycle’. The more cycles your battery goes through, the less effective it will be. The trick with making battery lifespans last way longer than the manufacturer’s recommendation is to simply charge them less. Which can be achieved by:
Use your own power as much as possible
Although you’ll want to be using your electric bikes motor at every opportunity, the best battery lifespan we can give is to use the e-bike’s battery less. While it seems counter-intuitive, using assisted pedalling less, and therefore charging your battery less, means it will last much longer. Instead of using assisted cycling on a section where you probably don’t need it, use pedal power then switch to assisted mode when the real hills appear.
Important safety note: Never attempt to dismantle an electric bike battery. Batteries can contain harmful substances and even electric shocks, so always leave any battery repairs to the professionals.
When you reconnect your electric bike battery, take care to make sure it is fastened securely in place. Loose connection points can damage the battery, plus you’ll probably notice that your e-bike isn’t performing as it should.
Electric bike motor maintenance
In all honesty, electric bike motors tend to look after themselves. They are usually housed in a self-contained unit, so there isn’t really ever any need to take them apart, and if something does go wrong, it’s always best to get the manufacturer to sort it out. The only real thing that electric bike owners can do is keep the motor housing clean and keep an eye out for any wear and tear.
Electric bike controller maintenance
The small controller on your handlebars that controls how much assistance you get from the battery and motor also needs a bit of TLC every now and again, but not essentially from a mechanical perspective. Controllers are essentially mini computers that tell the battery and motor what to do, but some may have additional features such as performance measurement.
As with any computer, the software will need to be updated as and when new updates come out, so keep an eye for messages telling you to plug in and update or check the manufacturer’s website to see if a new version is available to download.
Top e-bike controller tip: TIO, TIBOA
If your electric bike controller refuses to do as it is told or freezes up, then this classic bit of tech advice could do the trick: turn it off, then turn it back on again! From memory errors to overheating, this old IT service desk trick can get your electric bike controller back to full working order.
If the problem persists however, or it consistently freezes, then it’s going to be a trip back to the manufacturer or shop. In reality however, e-bike controllers are fairly simple bits of kit, so you’ve got to be pretty unlucky to encounter any problems.
By following these top tips, your electric bike should break down less and last much longer, especially when it comes to the battery. Remember that if you don’t think your e-bike isn’t performing as it should, or you think there may be something wrong with the frame, wheels, chain or brakes, then remember you can always visit your local Halfords for unlimited free safety checks.