All bicycles can get flat tires - including eBikes. While the repair process is very close to identical, fixing a puncture on an electric bicycle might have an extra step or two - depending on your specific model.
Many flats can also be prevented in the first place, so we'll also take a look at some strategies that can help.
Repairing flat tires on hub motor eBikes
The process to repair a flat tire on a hub motor eBike is identical to that used on "acoustic", or traditional bicycles, with one extra step - we need to disconnect the electrical cable connecting the hub motor to the rest of the system first.
- Always power down your eBike before starting work.
- Locate the cable coming from the hub motor, and follow it to the first connector.
- Pull to disconnect the connector.
- The remaining steps are identical to any other bike:
- Remove the tire from the rim
- Check for and remove the debris that caused the puncture
- Install a new inner tube (or patch the existing tube)
- Inflate and test
- Re-install the wheel
- Re-connect the hub motor cable, and test functionality.
Repairing flat tires on mid-drive motor eBikes
Mid-drive eBikes don't have cables connecting to hub motors, so the repair process is largely identical compared with non-eBikes.
Preventing flat tires on eBikes
Methods to prevent flat tires on eBikes fall into 4 areas - avoidance, maintenance, physical barriers, and sealants.
The first - avoidance - is free! When riding, be aware of road and trail debris, and whenever possible, don't ride in those areas. Some terrain is much more likely to have glass, thorns, and other debris than others.
Maintain proper tire pressure
Maintaining proper tire pressure is another easy method to prevent flat tires. All bicycle tires bleed some air over time - that means they need to be topped off on a regular basis. Check your tire sidewall for the recommended PSI, and inflate regularly to stay in that range. If you allow the tire pressure to become too low, pinch flats ("snakebite type") become much more common. This type of puncture occurs when an obstacle, like a pothole or curb, pinches the inner tube between the tire and rim. Avoid it by maintaining the proper tire pressure at all times.
Install a physical barrier
Physical barriers are installed inside the tire, in between the tire's tread and the inner tube. Mr. Tuffy is probably the most popular brand of this type of barrier. If a sharp object like glass or a nail does penetrate the tire tread, the strip provides an extra barrier to prevent it from reaching the inner tube.
To install this type of rim strip, the tire and wheel must be removed from the eBike - essentially the same process used to change the inner tube when repairing a flat.
Using a tire sealant
Tire sealants can be used, both as a preventative, and as a repair method. The most popular brand of liquid tire sealant for bicycles is Slime. To install a tire sealant, the valve core of the inner tube is removed, allowing the sealant to be installed through the valve. Re-install the valve core and inflate the tube.
Under presssure, the sealant is forced through the puncture hole, where it coagulates and becomes airtight. Tire sealant can repair many small punctures but not larger holes.