Congratulations! You just plopped down your hard-earned money on a new eBike, and you’re putting it together to see the beauty that you shelled out so much money for. As you’re assembling the bike, you keep looking at all of these strange, small parts that you don’t understand and thinking, “Do I have to learn how to maintain this stuff?”
No you don't - but your eBike experience will certainly be improved if you do learn some basic maintenance tips. While eBikes are made to be sturdy and long-lasting, it’s important to know that every bike is going to need regular maintenance, and to make a plan on how to get that maintenance done. There are many different ways to keep your bike in good condition, but eBikes have some unique needs around maintenance that need to be thought of and planned for in advance, so you don’t end up with buyers remorse on an expensive bike that's stuck in the garage.
Here are some tips on how to get service, and common pitfalls to avoid if you want to make sure that your eBIke will be in the best shape possible for years to come.
1: You Can Do It!
Although you may be relatively inexperienced when it comes to cycling, allow me to give you some comfort: you, with practice and proper teaching, can do at least some of the basic maintenance on your eBike, and you should! While there will come a time that you will need professional help, you can keep your bike out of the shop for longer periods of time by following a simple maintenance routines.
The basics are relatively simple, and can be learned with an experienced friend or YouTube as your guide:
- Clean your chain and lubricate it with a good chain oil. If you don't do anything else, just this one task can help extend the life of your drivetrain above all others. Don't allow gunk to build up on the chain.
- Spray some cleaner on your eBike (not the brakes!) and wipe it down to make sure that it’s clean, and that gunk isn’t getting into places where you don’t want it. You can use a bicycle-specific solvent and polish, or heavily diluted Simple Green (cut it with plain water) works too.
- Make sure that your tires are properly inflated, as too high or too low tire pressure will increase the chance of issues with your tires and wheels. You should keep a floor pump in the garage and regularly top off your tires. Tire pressure in all bicycle tires declines over time, even if you don't have a puncture.
- Get comfortable with an Allen wrench (hex keys) and check all the bolts on your bike to ensure that they are snug fit. While you may need to get familiar with the nuances of torque, everyone can at least tighten a bolt that’s rattling around and loosening key components.
For the most part it’s relatively easy to keep your bike in generally good condition. The issues that will end with you seeking outside help are more wear and tear issues, or catastrophic failures, which will mean you need to…
2. Call your local bike store
When your personal knowledge of bike mechanics reaches an end, call in the professionals.
Consulting and availing of the services of your local bike shop is an important part of your cycling journey: unless you’re an expert mechanic yourself, you’re going to need some help along the way. Make sure that you know that the bike that you’re buying is serviceable! In my experience working at an eBike shop, we had to turn away many eBikes because they used non-standard parts, or had a motor system we didn’t recognize. Some bike shops will not take your bikes unless they have assembled them themselves, as the bike shop becomes liable for any failures after the fact if they inspect the bike and see that there are assembly issues.
Therefore, it’s a very good idea to take advantage of a set up like Bike.com’s eBike assembly partnership program. With Bike.com’s assembly partnership, Bike.com will match you with a participating local bike shop in your area to assemble your bike at a professional grade.
Using the eBike assembly partnership, you can ensure that you're connected with a local shop that is familiar with your make and model. This will give you some peace of mind and ensure that you form a relationship with your local bike shop, a powerful connection that every cyclist should have!
3. Mobile repair options for eBikes
Sometimes, as much as we love our eBikes, it proves to be very difficult to make the time to get them the service and care they deserve. Loading a heavy eBike into the trunk of your car to transport it can be tough. If you find yourself chronically in a time-crunch, or need the convenience of locational flexibility, you can make use of mobile repair services like Velofix or Velotooler.
These bicycle mechanic services will come to your home or office, and either repair the bike on site or take it with them to be fixed. You can arrange pick up and drop off, and communicate any issues that are going on over the phone.
While having the pros come to you certainly provides a large degree of convenience, it certainly comes at a premium as well. You will find yourself spending more to fix your bike than you would going to a local bike shop. Still, it is truly a joy to have your bike repaired without having to lift a finger.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that these services can be used in an emergency as well! If you’re not carrying a flat kit and you run over the wrong piece of glass, having mobile support for your bike can make or break your cycling adventure. While repairing a flat on the road would fall under maintenance you can do yourself, you need to make sure you have the parts and know-how to do it. If you aren’t 100% certain, make sure you have the professionals on-call before you take your next large trip.
An Ounce of Prevention…
It’s important that you think about the maintenance that you’re going to need for your eBike before you buy it. Many people have been burned by bike brands that aren’t able to properly support their riders after they buy, or surprised at the amount of maintenance that their bike needs. Double check that your preferred brand has service parts available before you buy.
It’s important to understand that purchasing an eBike is a long-term arrangement, much like buying a car. If you’re buying "bad bones", you’ll constantly be sinking money into repairs, and dealing with the hassles of finding parts and a person to fix your bike. Doing your research and choosing a reputable eBike will save you some sorrow down the line.
Although the selling process for bikes has started to move online, there’s no replacement for forming a relationship with a local bike shop. If you don’t have a shop in your area that can service your dream bike when it won’t run, you should dream a different dream! The best bike in the world will still need work on it from time to time, and knowing you’ve got a mechanic in your corner will give you peace of mind as you embark on your electrified cycling journey.
If you take the time to understand what you’re getting into, you’ll be better able to take care of the bike yourself, pass it off to the appropriate experts, and keep yourself on two wheels. If you don’t, you may end up letting thousands of dollars of bike sit in your garage, unused and collecting dust.