EBikes are heavier and travel faster than traditional bikes - that means they need powerful, reliable brakes to stop from higher speeds. For many riders, their eBikes use hydraulic disc brakes - instead of a brake lever pulling a steel mechanical cable, hydraulic fluid is pushed to the caliper, squeezing the brake pads onto the rotor. No cables to fray or corrode!
Properly cared for, hydraulic disc brakes will last the lifetime of the eBike for most riders, but maintenance is occasionally needed. Here are some tips for keeping your hydraulic disc brakes in tip-top shape.
Don't contaminate the pads or rotors
Brake pads and rotors need to be dry to work properly, so it's important to avoid containing them with oil or lubricant. You should even avoid handling the surfaces of brake pads and rotors with your fingers - use the edges instead.
Take special care when lubricating your chain. Angle the bike to ensure that lubricant doesn't drip where it isn't wanted. If you use an aerosol lubricant, make certain to keep it away from the brake pads and rotors.
Keep them clean
Pro mechanics often use isopropyl alcohol on disc brake rotors. You can use a pump spray bottle to apply it just where it's needed. It evaporates quickly, leaving a clean surface.
Don't squeeze the levers if the wheels aren't installed
When you remove the wheel(s) from an eBike, the disc brake rotors come with it. That means there's nothing in between the brake pads. If you then pull the brake lever, the brake pads can travel too far, and then not retract all the way - stopping you from re-installing the wheel.
If you're transporting an eBike in the trunk of a car, for example, take care to ensure the lever isn't pulled accidentally.
If your find that this has happened to your bike, you'll need to push the pads back into position manually. Bike shops have a special tool for this, or you can use soft plastic tire levers (carefully) in a pinch.