LOOK AFTER YOUR BIKE, AND IT WILL LOOK AFTER YOU! HERE IS SOME KEY ADVICE TO GETTING THE MAXIMUM ENJOYMENT (AND MAXIMUM LIFE!) FROM YOUR ELECTRIC BIKE.
If it’s been a while since you last took your bike out for a spin – or even if it was just this morning – here is a handful of vital checks to tick off before every ride:
Check your tyre pressure.
If you don’t already have one, invest in a quality track pump with a wide base to stand on, and a good-sized pressure gauge that’s easy to read. Stick to the tyre manufacturer's recommended pressure level (written on the tyre sidewall) and remember that it’s normal for them to lose a little pressure over time.
Inspect your brakes.
Give the levers a squeeze, and take a look at the pads. The last thing you want is to reach the furthest point on your ride and find that you’ve run out of brake pad. Rim brake pads have wear indicators – replace them once these are no longer visible – and disc brake pads should be replaced at 1mm remaining. If your brake levers are pulling closer to the bar than normal, but the pads are good, you will either need to adjust the cable or (for hydraulics) bleed the system. Cable brakes can be adjusted by winding the barrel adjuster out (anticlockwise) to tighten things up.
Check your cables.
Have a look at the full length of your brake and gear cables or hoses. If there is any fraying, or particularly if the cable outer is damaged, replace the cable.
Give those wheels a spin.
Check your wheels are spinning true and pluck the spokes to identify any that may have worked loose. If you find a loose spoke, tighten the nipple with a spoke key and if necessary book in with us to have the wheel trued. This is also a good opportunity to inspect the tyre tread and sidewall for damage. Check for any bits of glass or flint that may be lodged in there, and remove them carefully.
Lube your chain. If the rollers between your chain links are looking dry, add a drop of bicycle chain lubricant to each one. Spin the cranks a few revolutions, and give the chain a wipe with a rag or paper towel to remove any excess – it’s only going to pick up unwanted dirt and road grime. Fresh chain lube is best applied to a clean chain.
Double check your emergency repair kit.
At the end of a mechanical-stricken ride, it’s all too easy to put the bike away and forget about the parts and tools you used up that day. Before you head out again, be sure that you still have the right tools and spares to fix a flat tyre, tighten a slipping seatpost clamp, or repair a broken chain.
To keep your electric bicycle running as efficiently as possible, for as long as possible, it’s well worth setting aside some regular time for maintenance. Here are a few pointers:
Give it a wash! It may sound obvious, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. A clean machine will always function better, and the longer dirt and dust hangs around the more likely it is to work its way into bearings and other moving parts. A bike-specific wash such as Pedro’s Green Fizz will get the job done while being kind to your components, and while a sponge or rag works for most areas there is a good range of brushes available to get into the nooks and crannies. Remember to remove batteries wherever possible beforehand, and keep soap and oily cleaners away from disc brakes and rotors.
Degrease your chain and cassette. This area generally requires a little extra attention, as chain lube will, over time, gather road dirt and store it in hard to reach places like between the cassette sprockets. Removing this grime before relubricating the chain will ensure that your drivetrain parts last longer. A powerful degreaser such as this one from Oxford often comes in handy here.
Check your drivetrain for wear. Either use a chain wear indicator tool, or if you don’t have one shift the bike into the highest gear. Now, try to lift the chain away from the chainring teeth towards the front wheel. If the chain lifts away from the chainring easily, the chain is worn and should be replaced along with the cassette. Chainring wear is a little easier to see: once the teeth start to resemble shark fins, it’s time for a new set!
Examine bearings for play. Give your crank arms a jiggle and check that there’s no unwanted movement in the bottom bracket bearing. Likewise, the wheels. It’s easy enough to do this with the wheels fitted, just hold the tyre and gently push from side to side. Check the headset bearings by pulling the front brake and rocking the bike forward – any feeling of movement and the headset should be adjusted. Give us a call for additional advice if you’re not comfortable with these checks.
Clean your braking surfaces. An aerosol disc brake cleaner works wonders on both disc brake rotors and the braking surfaces of rims. Simply spray on, and wipe away with a clean cloth.
- Wipe down your battery. If your e-bike features a removable battery then keeping it, and it’s connections, clean is key to good performance. Take it out of the housing, and wipe the exterior with a damp cloth. The plug poles should be clean, and lightly greased.
Nobody wants to wind up walking home from a ride, and while it’s not reasonable to carry a workshop around with you there are some essential tools and spares that we would recommend you take with you on every ride.
- Multitool (ideally including a chain tool)
- Hand pump – this will get you home, but be sure to use a track pump once you’re back to set your tyres to optimum pressure.
- Puncture repair kit or tubeless repair system
- Spare inner tube
- Tyre levers
- Super glue
- Zip ties – you never know what you’ll fix with one next
- Gorilla tape – a pro tip is to wrap a little around your hand pump handle, as an emergency tyre boot
If you’re keen to cover most maintenance tasks yourself at home, these are the tools you will need.
- Bike stand – if you have the space, this will really help!
- Allen key set – 1.5-8mm will cover the vast majority of bolts and fixings on your e-bike
- Spanner or socket set – you won’t find too many hex nuts on a modern bicycle, but these are useful for using some of the bike-specific tools coming up
- Cassette lockring tool and chain whip
- Bottom bracket tool – double-check which bottom bracket your bike uses
- Chain wear indicator
- Chain tool – a standalone example will be more user-friendly than one featured on a multitool
- Cable cutters
- Chain lubricant, degreaser, anti-seize compound and bearing grease