Electric mountain bikes make climbing trails easier with pedal assist. But they have more electronics that need special care compared to regular mountain bikes. An e-bike battery that dies on a long backcountry ride will leave you stranded! This article shares tips from a longtime biker to help your e-bike last through many miles of adventure.
It covers the basics of battery charging, avoiding electrical damage, spotting issues, and getting ready for winter riding. Even experienced riders should learn how to properly maintain an e-bike’s unique parts. These handy tips will help stop problems before they ruin your favorite trail ride. Follow this guide to keep your electric mountain bike going all season long.
Caring For Your Electric Mountain Bike
Charging Your Battery
Keeping your electric mountain bike’s battery properly charged is crucial to ensure it lasts a long time. Most e-bike batteries are lithium-ion. Fully charge new batteries before the first ride. Plug them into the charger after every ride, even if the battery isn’t empty.
Store batteries around room temperature when not in use. Don’t leave them plugged into the charger for more than a day after they’re fully charged. Completely draining lithum-ion batteries can damage them. Stop riding when you hit the manufacturer’s recommended minimum voltage. Check the battery and charger manual for specifics.
Every few months, do a full discharge and recharge cycle. This helps calibrate the battery meter and ensure all battery cells get exercised. Unplug the battery after reaching full charge each time to avoid overcharging. Expect batteries to slowly lose capacity over time after 300-500 charge cycles.
Protecting From Water
Water and electronics don’t mix well! Use caution when riding in wet conditions. Most e-bike electrical components have decent water resistance ratings, but submerging them completely can still cause issues.
Avoid puddles deeper than the bottom bracket or motor hub. If the bike does get dunked, gently rinse water away from the battery, controller, and motor connectors with low pressure from a hose or spray bottle. Thoroughly dry all components before riding again.
Water getting inside connectors can eventually lead to corrosion and loss of power. Apply dielectric grease or corrosion inhibitor spray inside connectors a few times per year to protect their pins from moisture and oxidation.
E-bikes have vulnerable electrical parts mounted in risky spots. The battery, cabling, motor, and display are prone to crash damage. Avoid impacts to these areas when possible.
Consider getting a bag, case, or custom bash guard to shield battery packs and displays. Route cables internally through the frame whenever you can. Apply protective tape over connectors and zip tie loose cables to prevent snags.
If you do take a tumble, thoroughly inspect electronics afterward. Ticket crashes can loosen connectors and cause “ghosts in the machine.” Any issues like error codes, power loss, or odd behavior after an impact means it’s time for a shop visit. Technicians can assess and repair damage.
Tuning Mechanical Parts
While crucial, e-bike electronics aren’t the only components needing TLC. Tires, brakes, drivetrains, suspensions, and frames require regular tune-ups too.
Follow standard mountain bike maintenance schedules for adjusting, cleaning, lubricating, and replacing wear items when they reach end of life. Things like sag settings, bearing preloads, brake pad depth, chain stretch, and tire tread condition all impact ride quality and should be checked routinely.
Properly maintaining mechanical parts reduces breakdowns on the trail. Bonus perk – fresh drivetrain lube also helps minimize noise from the motor and gears when climbing!
Diagnosing Electrical Issues
Many e-bike components use diagnostic error codes. Controllers, motors, batteries, and displays will flash coded LED light patterns or show numeric codes when detecting problems. Check your equipment’s manuals – they often include specific error code decryption charts.
Write down any codes that appear and look them up online. This gives clues to pinpoint fault locations. Error codes for fault voltages, controller communication failures, motor errors, battery faults and more can reveal exactly which part needs attention.
Intermittent Power Loss
Random power cutouts while riding are very frustrating! This usually stems from faulty connections rather than actual part failures. The constant vibration and shocks of off-road riding can loosen plugs and wires over time.
Methodically wiggle and tug on every connector while watching for power dropouts. Ensure they lock positively when reconnected and consider adding dielectric grease. Check battery mount bolts and make sure all wiring contacts are clean too. Consider soldering or replacing suspect connectors if issues continue.
E-bike motors normally make some noise, but loud grinding or rattling sounds are cause for concern. This often indicates damaged motor bearings or internal debris. Sticking brake calipers can also cause increased resistance and noise when the wheel spins.
Check brake pads for proper retraction after pulling the lever. Try gently prying the caliper open to reset piston positions as needed. If the noise continues at speed with brakes released, it’s likely a failing motor bearing. Replacements bearings or motors are required in that case.
Winter Riding Preparation
Lithium batteries suffer severe performance loss in cold temperatures. Range can decrease dramatically at freezing and below. The battery insulation helps mitigate heat loss in winter.
Some e-bikes come equipped with insulated battery cases. For those that don’t, consider adding an aftermarket case, neoprene sleeve, or even simple bubble wrap around the battery. The key is preventing airflow around the battery to help maintain core temperature.
Store batteries inside your home until just before riding to keep them from getting stone cold. Even rolling them up under multiple layers in your jacket during a ride helps them retain heat and voltage!
Moisture is the mortal enemy of e-bike electronics. Cold winter air lacks the ability to hold water vapor, so condensation readily forms on and inside components. This moisture seepage leads to corrosion over time.
Apply dielectric grease or corrosion blocking spray liberally inside all electrical connectors in fall to seal out moisture for the winter riding season. This also prevents ice and dirt buildup inside.
Waterproof panniers help keep gear dry on sloppy slush days too. Stash an extra tube of grease in case connectors need reapplication after exposure to wet weather while prepping or riding.
Preventing Frozen Brakes
Disc brakes and bitter cold make for a tricky combo. Hydraulic fluid easily absorbs ambient moisture, which leads to ice expansion and brake lock up when temperatures swing below freezing.
Pump brakes periodically during rides to heat the rotors above freezing. Carry an emergency brake line insulation sleeve to recover from lock ups. Bleed brakes yearly and only use non-petroleum based fluid.
Installing sintered pads handles ice better than organics too. Frequent rotor cleaning also prevents pad contamination and uneven buildup during winter riding. Stay safe when cold weather sets in!