Electric bike maintenance: how to keep your e-bike running like a dream

Maintaining an electrical bike is not tough, however there are some essential issues to know if you are going to maintain it in high situation and get the very best efficiency each time you head out on a trip.

To discover out precisely what that you must know to maintain your e-bike in good form, TechRadar spoke to Julian Thrasher, Head of Training at Shimano. Buy your Shimano merchandise and help native bike retailers at www.freewheel.co.uk.

What checks do you have to do earlier than driving?

Before heading out in your electrical bike, just a few fast checks will assist be sure you’re getting the very best, most secure trip doable.

“Mechanical and electrical checks are the key thing,” says Thrasher, “so from a mechanical point of view, tire pressures and if you’ve got any mountain bike suspension settings as well. Mainly because if you’re riding an e-bike with deflated tires then you may not get the range out of the bike that you want.”

You’d usually discover in case you’re driving a motorbike with deflated tires or worn gears – you will need to work tougher than normal – however an e-bike will compensate, successfully masking the issue and draining the battery sooner than mandatory,

“It’s also really important that your brakes are working properly because the e-bikes are slightly heavier,” says Thrasher. “I’d have a check of the brakes and gears before you go on a ride. Just a spin around the car park or just down the side of your house, just to make sure everything’s operating mechanically as it should. 

Before you head out, check your tire pressure; the motor can mask the effect of deflated tires, but the battery will drain faster as a result (Image credit: Shutterstock)

“From {an electrical} standpoint, ensuring that the battery’s acquired a full state of cost,” he says. “You’d ideally do that with sufficient time to just be sure you can put cost into it. There’s nothing worse than rocking as much as a trip and discovering that you simply’ve acquired one bar of battery. It’ll both be a really tough trip, or the trip received’t occur. 

“And a quick check of the cables as well. Speaking from a Shimano Steps point of view, the cables are quite delicate and they carry all the data through the system, so if they’re slightly damaged or you’ve managed to hook it on a car when you’re taking the bike off a rack, they can get damaged and that can cause an error to occur. So it’s definitely worthwhile checking.”

You also needs to examine that the cables are appropriately plugged in. Shimano has a particular wire instrument (catchily named the TL-EW02), which makes certain that you simply’re pushing on the proper a part of the wire and never damaging it.

Also check out the magnet for the pace sensor. “It’s a bit like the old school cycle computers that you had where the magnet went round and it told you how fast you were going,” Thrasher explains. “The e-bike has a drive unit that knows how much pressure you’re putting through the pedals – there’s an in-built power meter – but it also has a speed sensor to work out how fast you’re going. With those two metrics it can work out the right amount of power delivery, but if the magnet gets knocked then it can’t see that, and then the drive unit won’t work.”

It’s fairly frequent for that magnet to get knocked misplaced, both in transit or being out on the paths. Just ensure that the magnet is according to the sensor, with the proper distance between it.”

Make sure your electric bike’s battery is secure in its mounting before heading out (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your bike has a Shimano Steps drive system, also watch out for an error code called WA13. Thrasher explains that this is a torque sensor error, and is easily fixed.

“This occurs when somebody hops on the bike, they begin pedalling it off down the highway or down the path, after which they suppose ‘Oh no, I haven’t turned it on!’ So they flip it on, after which the system sees that there’s stress going by means of it, which it doesn’t count on. What it then does is say ‘Well, that must be a problem’. So then it beeps and comes up with a WA13 error code.

“The easiest way to clear this is to stop the bike, get off the bike, turn the battery off, ideally if it’s a downtube-mounted battery remove it – that clears everything from the system – put the battery back in, turn the system on again without any pressure on the pedals. Nine times out of 10, that clears the WA13 error code.”

Finally, ensure that the battery is safe in its mounting. That’s not straightforward to do for an inside battery, however for an exterior one, ensure that there isn’t any play between the battery and its mount. Any motion may cause intermittent faults.

How are you able to make the battery last more?

There are plenty of methods to eke higher mileage out of your e-bike’s battery, a few of that are extra apparent than others. “We always think about marginal gains in cycling, but they’re all things you can do to improve the life of the battery, and certainly the range of the battery,” says Thrasher.

“We spoke before about the tires being correctly inflated and things like your brakes rubbing. You notice all these if you’re a human being pedalling a bicycle, but with an e-bike they’re quite good at masking those little things.”

Taking your bike for a blast on its high energy setting means you will not go practically as far, however it’s numerous run (Image credit score: Shutterstock)

Also take into consideration which of your bike’s modes you are going to be utilizing. Most e-bikes have a set of various choices that give various levels of help. “On Steps we have three modes – we have Eco, Trail and Boost modes – and there are two factory preset modes for these of Dynamic and Explore, but you can also customize it, Thrasher explains. “We have an app on the cellphone referred to as E-Tube, and thru this E-Tube app you’ll be able to customise Eco, Trail and Boost from a low, medium and excessive setting.

“So if you went out on your bike and you wanted the best life out of the battery then you’d ride it in Eco with Eco set to low, because you’re just going to receive a small amount of power through the system. So you’re not going to go as fast as going up a hill in Boost, but you are going to get a lot of life out of the battery, or range out of the battery.”

Your e-bike’s app might will let you customise its energy settings so you’ll be able to tailor its energy output to fit your trip (Image credit score: Shutterstock)

There’s actually no substitute for realizing your route. If you are planning a complete day trip with plenty of good hills, do not hit all of them in Boost mode otherwise you’ll find yourself driving with none help on the finish.

If you simply wish to go for a blast in Boost mode, you will not have the ability to go practically as far, however it’ll be numerous enjoyable.

“The last thing I’d add to that is that lithium-ion batteries do like to be charged, so don’t let your battery run all the way out and then leave it run out,” Thrasher says. “The battery can enter a sort of hibernation mode, and then it can be very difficult to wake that battery. What we recommend is that even if you’ve just used a bar of battery, put it on charge. It likes that. You’ll increase the life of it if you charge it often.

What if your bike has an electrical fault?

If your bike has an electrical fault, never try to disassemble your bike’s battery or drive system. You might void your warranty, cause more damage, or even give yourself a bad electric shock.

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“The very first thing I’d say is go to an expert bike store, or we want a Shimano Service Center,” says Thrasher. “They’ve acquired a instrument referred to as an SM-PCE02, and this can be a linkage machine that checks {the electrical} internals of every element that’s on the bike. So the motor, the show and so forth, and that’s one thing that’s very tough to do at dwelling.”

A bike shop or service center can look at error codes on your e-bike’s display and work out the solution (Image credit: Shutterstock)

You might occasionally see error codes on your e-bike’s display, which an expert at a bike shop or service center can interpret into a solution. “So to present you an instance, we’ll have an E010 error code, which is able to seem on the show together with an E013, says Thrasher.

“What the first error code means is a general system error code. The second error code is a torque sensor error code. So from a bike shop’s point of view, you look at both of those and you go ‘I’m pretty sure I know where that problem is.’

“And additionally they want to take a look at properly, has that been brought about by means of a mechanical subject, they usually’re significantly better outfitted to try this. They take a look at your bike as a complete after which give you an answer, whereas once you’re at dwelling, you’ll be able to actually solely make the issue worse.”

Are there every other belongings you should not do?

“Definitely don’t disassemble the battery or the drive unit since you’ll give your self a giant shock,” Thrasher says. “The different factor is don’t poke issues into the terminals of the battery, as a result of that would additionally offer you an enormous shock.”

Poking and prodding is a bad idea, but you should make sure that the male terminals on the battery are nice and clean. “Those are effective when you’ve acquired the battery out and off the bike it’s not going to harm you, so you’ll be able to clear the opposite components.”

Thrasher gives the example of one of Shimano’s sponsored riders who was having an error code in his bike. It turned out the problem was down to the dust he’d been riding in; once he cleaned out the dusk, the error code went away.

Take care not to get lubricant in your bike’s wire ports (Image credit: Shutterstock)

“Don’t spray any lubricant into the wire ports – that’s actually a no-no – and deal with the cables with care,” Thrasher adds. “If at any level you don’t suppose it’s getting in, don’t use extra pressure as a result of that usually finally ends up with one thing breaking. Don’t pressure them into the parts, and in case you can, do use the wire instrument that I spoke about.

“Don’t try to get into the motor or the battery, but you should ensure that the bolts that are mounted to the frame are tight, and there’s generally only six bolts that do that, and there’ll generally be a torque setting from the manufacturer. That’s really good because that can lead to creaks coming from the bike, but they’re quite easy to solve. Do make sure those bolts are tight.

“If you’re cleansing the e-bike, don’t level a high-pressure hose instantly on the electrical parts – they don’t actually like that – however do maintain it clear. We say use a clear material after which a clear T-shirt afterwards simply to dry it down.”

How should you store your e-bike after a ride?

When storing your electric bike, the most important thing is to keep it clean, dry, and fully charged. “Really one of the best ways is to verify the e-bike’s prepared for the following trip,” says Thrasher. “Make certain it’s prepared once you get again from the final trip. Keep it clear, examine it for harm.

“These are all things that are really stressful when you’re about to go out for a ride, but actually if you spend five minutes just looking over the bike when you get back, it’s nice to know that you’ve put that bike away in a state that you can just pick it up, turn it on and go for a blast on it on the next ride. It relieves some of the stress.”

Take care of your bike after every trip and you will not want to fret subsequent time you wish to head out (Image credit score: Shutterstock)

You do not need to take the battery off the bike once you’re storing it, Thrasher explains. “A lot of people to take the battery off the bike to charge it, which is fine, you can do that, but some e-bikes have remote on switches on the top tube, and they also have a cell inside them that needs a little bit of the power of the battery to make them operable. So we say every four times, just put the battery into the bike to charge it on the bike. They do benefit from that.”

Storing your e-bike someplace damp or humid may trigger corrosion of {the electrical} components, which may trigger points down the road,

“Don’t hang your oily rags over the charger or the battery because they get warm and that can lead to fire,” Thrasher provides. “Definitely don’t cover anything up – don’t cover the charger up, don’t cover the battery up. Make sure you’ve got lots of free space around where you’re charging the bike.”

Finally, do not let the battery run out of cost fully and go away it that approach.

How usually does your e-bike want servicing?

Getting an abnormal bike serviced a few times a 12 months helps nip any potential issues within the bud and maintain it operating easily. It’s very related for an electrical bike, and offered you take care of it correctly, as described above, taking to the professionals each six to 12 months is ok.

“A lot of the things you need to consider are like a regular bike,” says Julian Thrasher. “We’re lucky in that Shimano Steps is a pretty robust e-bike system, so if you do take care of the bike in terms of keeping the chain oiled, keeping the pads replaced, the need to take it in for a professional service isn’t all that often.”

Your bike will likely be totally examined for mechanical points, however for an e-bike it is also your alternative to get any new firmware updates. Thrasher explains that i’s very very similar to updating your cellphone, however can solely be accomplished professionally.

Getting your e-bike serviced a few times a 12 months will help nip potential issues within the bud (Image credit score: Shutterstock)

“This is something that you would need to visit a professional bike shop or a Shimano service centre for,” he says. “They ensure that any bugs in the system that [the developers] have found are taken out, that all the components speak effectively together, and sometimes there can be little upgrades. “Basically there’ll be options that come out that the brand new firmware accommodates. So it’s a very good digital improve.”

“People don’t must be scared that that you must be taking the bike in each 5 days to be checked out,” he says. “They’re fairly strong, so the principle factor is the firmware, to take it in and to simply get it checked over to verify there’s nothing that you could be not have seen {that a} skilled bike store may see.”

Fix Your Bike scheme

If you reside within the UK, you’ll be able to apply for a £50 voucher in the direction of sustaining your e-bike by means of the federal government’s new Fix Your Bike scheme. Vouchers cowl important repairs and companies, and can be found by means of retailer together with Halfords and Evans Cycles, plus smaller bike retailers.

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This post was last modified on August 1, 2020 5:11 pm

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