Electric bike and battery maintenance tips

lithium battery for electric bike

  1. Electric Bike Battery Maintenance: electric bikes have a similar type (Lithium Ion) battery that is in your cell phone or laptop – just much bigger. The battery is made up of cells as illustrated by the picture. Each of these cells has about 1000 charge cycles, depending on the quality of the cells, that means 1000 full charges and drains before they start to die, like all batteries eventually will. The battery also has a BMS, a battery management system, that controls the charging and output of the cells. As each cells are used, the battery moves onto the next ones in the series.  So if you go for a ride and use only the first 10 cells in your battery, then fully recharge, then go for another ride and use only the first 10 cells again, then recharge, YOU HAVE ONLY USED THE FIRST 10 CELLS IN YOUR BATTERY. That means the remaining cells are still "BRAND NEW" and you have not used any of their 1000 charge cycles. Our recommendation to get the most life from your electric bike battery is to {charge your battery after every ride} to keep as many cells as possible in new and unused condition. This will assure that you get a long and happy life from your electric bike battery.

 Drive Train Maintenance – An electric bike is also a fully mechanical bike and must be maintained as all other bicycles. The drivetrain needs to be kept lubed and clean in order to perform properly and to prevent rust and wear. 

To clean the chain while it is on your bike:

  • Use an old toothbrush with warm water to clean out all the links.
  • After they are clean and dry (use an old cloth,) use bicycle lubricant to lube up the clean links.
  • Only use special bike lube, like Tri-Flow, for this purpose. DO NOT use WD-40 or other oils!
  • Using a CLEAN dry rag or paper towel, wipe off any excess lube. Too much lube can attract new dirt.

The derailleurs will have to be adjusted and tightened about every year or so. We recommend bringing your bike to your local bike shop to be done properly, if you don’t know how to do it yourself. There are plenty of tutorials online if you would like to get good at doing this yourself. The goal should be a clean direct shift without any grating or slipping on your electric bike.

Tire & Inner Tube Maintenance – If your tires on your electric bike are not fully inflated, your electric bike will not run as well or as fast, and you will use more human and electrical energy to move. Always make sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI, which is usually marked on the side of the tire. Always make sure your tires are in good condition and the treads are not worn down. Worn out treads can lead to reduced traction and make it easier for something sharp to cause a flat. You should replace your tires every 2000 miles or so depending on road and riding conditions. Some regular bike shops may give you problems about changing a tire on your electric bike when the rear wheel contains an electric motor.

Brake Maintenance – Your brakes on your electric bike may be the most important part of your electric bike. They are necessary for your safety and you rely on them to slow down and stop. Do not neglect your brakes. Take care of them and and they will take care of you. There are different types of brakes on different electric bikes and they require slightly different maintenance:

Rim Brakes - These are common bike brakes found on most mechanical bikes and lower end electric bikes. They work when you pull the lever, the lever pulls a cable, which pulls the brake pad against the rim of the wheel, slowing you down. The items which wear out here, as with most brakes, is the brake cable and the pads. Over time, the metal cables can stretch, leading to reduced “bite” or grip on the brakes. Also, eventually the pads will wear down which also leads to the brakes not working as well as they should. It is important to get a brakes adjustment and tighten your cables every year or so. Also, it is important to replace your brake pads as needed, again, usually about every year or so.

Mechanical Disc Brakes - These work a little differently, the brake is over a rotor that is attached to the wheel. The brake again contains pads which are pulled against the rotor by the cable when you pull on the handle. The basics here are the same: Keep your cables tight and your brake pads fresh by getting your brakes tuned up about every year or so.

Hydraulic Disc Brakes - These are a little different in that they use a sealed tube with a hydraulic brake fluid to apply pressure to the pads and rotors, but they provide an amazing bite and stopping power when tuned properly and are the same type of brakes used in motorcycles. Again, you want to keep your brake pads fresh by replacing them every year or so, but also you may need to “bleed” your brakes and replace the fluid every couple of years to assure they continue to bite. This is an advanced job that we recommend you bring to an electric bikes shop to have done correctly, but there are tutorials on Youtube if you want to buy the bleed kit, fluid and try to do yourself. Also, always keep your rotors clean.

Gearless Hub Motors – These are contained in the hub of (usually) the rear wheel. They contain electromagnets that are activated by the throttle or pedal assist systems that will turn the wheel. As it is magnets that are doing the turning, there is very little friction and these require the least amount of maintenance of any electric bike motor.

Geared Hub Motors – These are extremely similar to gearless hub motors but the magnets turn (usually) nylon gears within the motor. This allows for greater torque and a smaller motor sizes, but the gears can wear out if not used properly. Don’t abuse a geared motor. If you try to lug 500 lbs of weight up a hill on a geared motor, you will wear out the gears, which will then have to be replaced. Also, you must always make sure your wheels are trued and aligned. If your wheels come out of true, the wobble of the wheel can eventually throw the gear off and cause it to chew itself up. Keep your wheels trued and don’t try to make the motor do more than it can, and it should provide many happy years of riding your new electric bike.

Mid Drive Motors – These are the most advanced electric bike motors. They turn your chainring, which activates the bikes own chain and drive system, to turn the wheels just like when you are pedaling. The maintenance required here is extra cautionary drivetrain maintenance as detailed above. Because your drivetrain is being utilized by a motor which has much more power than normal human legs, there is a lot more strain on the chain and derailleur. If used improperly or not maintained the motor can rip teeth clean off your chainring and derailleur. Be sure to keep your drivetrain clean and your gears tuned finely and you should be fine. Also, always use the shifters to start at a lower gear and work your way up to a higher gear. A mid drive motor likes to run fast. If you start out at a strong gear, you will use up your battery more than you need to. Start at a low gear and work up. Follow these tips and you will have many happy safe years of riding and enjoying your electric bike.

Sealed lead acid batteries - (SLA) Sealed lead acid batteries cost less, but are a lot more heavier and have less charge cycles. Electric Bikes that have lithium ion batteries also known as Lifepo cost more because the battery lasts longer, and is extremely lighter in weight.