Rain, snow, dirty roads, road salt … an e-bike is exposed to many adverse influences. To make sure that it does not get damaged as a result, a bike wash is necessary from time to time. It is a good idea to do one in autumn, after a long tour, after the winter break or before the start of the cycling season. And don’t worry, cleaning and maintaining an e-bike is not complicated. All you need are the right care tools and a bit of time. We will show you step by step how to care for your bike properly.
Preparation – what you need for e-bike care
As already mentioned: To clean your e-bike, you don’t need an arsenal of expensive cleaning products, pages of instructions or an evening course at an adult education centre.
The following tools are sufficient.
It doesn’t work without water. However, how water is used makes a difference. Sometimes sand settles in water buckets, causing scratches to your bike. A garden hose or a gentle pressure sprayer is better. A high-pressure hose or washer, on the other hand, is a no-go. We will come back to that later.
Soft and hard brushes
To remove the dirt in the sprockets of the bike chain, we recommend a smaller and harder brush, such as a toothbrush. But for the bike frame, it is better to use a softer brush, so that you don’t damage the paint. In case you don’t have a set of brushes at home already, it is worth buying one for cleaning your bike. You can get a set of hard and soft brushes for bike cleaning at a relatively low price. And then you will be well-prepared and can leave the toothbrush in the bathroom.
Water alone is not enough to remove stubborn dirt from your e-bike. You will also need a bike cleaner or a bike-specific degreaser and a chain cleaning tool or even chain cleaning device from your local bike shop. If possible, try to buy cleaning products that are biodegradable. And with special care products for bikes, you can prevent dirt from building up again quickly after cleaning. Similar to brushes, you can buy cleaning and care products individually or in sets.
Important note: A decisive feature of good cleaning products for the care of pedelecs is that they are not too aggressive and do not “attack” seals, for example. For this reason, it is advisable not to experiment with “foreign” alternatives.
Because cleaning and maintenance go together, you should get a good chain lube. From time to time, it is also worthwhile to grease other components of an e-bike, such as nuts and screws. But make sure beforehand, what a certain bike lube (dry or wet lube) is or isn’t suitable for. One lube for all is not a good idea in this case.
You should prepare different cloths and clean rags before you wash your bike.
Why is one clean rag not enough?
The answer is simple: If you use the same cloth or dry rag for the chain and the frame, you will get excess lube where it doesn’t belong.
Microfibre cloths are especially good for the chain. Other parts of your bike can be cleaned with discarded clothing such as old T-shirts – as long as they are not too rough.
Thorough clean and maintenance might involve removing or disassembling components or tightening a screw. With the right tools, you will be prepared for that. And again, you won’t need much. Allen key and screwdriver are sufficient for many tasks of an e-bike maintenance. And to service the tyres, you will need a pump.
You may also want to invest in an assembly bike stand, which is quite practical. But it’s not a must.
Is that it? Yes, that’s it! The preparation is done and you are ready to go.
Caring for an e-bike properly – a guide
1. Removing the battery and protecting the electronics
While you can start cleaning a regular bike straight away, you need to take a few precautions with an e-bike or pedelec before using soapy water and care products. After all, an e-bike has an expensive motor.
- As part of the first step, remove the battery.
- Then do the same with other electronic components, such as a bike computer. Permanently mounted displays can be protected with a foil while you clean your e-bike.
- You should also tape connectors to keep them dry.
Generally, electronic components of e-bikes are protected against splash water. However, cleaning your bike with a high pressure hose is not the same as riding through the rain. So it’s better to be safe than sorry and protect all the electronics of your e-bike properly. Because if the battery “short-circuits”, you will have to replace it. And then cleaning your bike will turn into an expensive pastime activity.
2. Removing coarse dirt
Once you have disconnected or taped off all electronics, you can remove coarse dirt using water and bike cleaner.
You should proceed as follows:
- Spray your e-bike with special cleaner. Wipe the wheels from the hub towards the rim. If you use a brush and/or a clean sponge, you can also reach more dirt in hard-to-reach places. However, avoid spraying the cleaner on the rim brakes. To be on the safe side, you can remove the wheel first and clean it separately.
- Leave the cleaner on for a minute or two.
- Remove water and dirt with a cloth, brush or sponge. You can also use a gentle pressure sprayer. But don’t overdo it. Your e-bike will appreciate gentle water pressure. Also make sure that not too much water gets into the battery compartment. If you have taped everything off, this step will not harm your e-bike. However, rubbing your e-bike dry as the next step is more time-consuming.
It is best to use a clean and soft microfibre cloth to dry the bike frame and the like. This will prevent damage and water stains, which would appear if you left the frame to dry outside on a sunny day.
You should pay special attention to the battery compartment so that there is no short circuit when inserting the battery again. And take your time before putting the electronics back in.
4. Caring for the chain
Finally, it’s the turn of your e-bike chain:
- First apply a chain cleaner to the chain and chain rings and let it soak in. Then pull the chain through a cloth to remove dirt. Possibly, you can even use a chain cleaning device.
- Once you have a clean chain, apply a suitable chain lube (wet lube or dry lube). You can simply apply the lube to the e-bike chain and run the chain over the sprockets a few times.
Again, avoid getting excess lube on the disc brakes or rim brakes.
5. Applying care products
To keep your e-bike clean for a longer time and to prevent new dirt from settling easily, you should apply an e-bike care product to the frame at the end of your cleaning session. These products also help to get a nice “bike shine”.
After that, inspect your bike again from all sides, dispose of dirty cloths and dirty water, and you’re done – at least with the cleaning.
Tips for maintaining your e-bike
In case you are not totally exhausted after the cleaning session, we recommend that you take some time to maintain your bike as well. It’s not rocket science and it is crucial for avoiding breakdowns and accidents.
The most important thing is to check these specific components of your bike:
- Bremsen kontrollieren: Check the brakes and braking surfaces: At the top of the “maintenance list” are the brakes and braking surfaces as it can lead to serious consequences if they do not function properly. In addition, brakes and brake pads on e-bikes wear out faster than those on other bikes because the motor and battery make the bike heavier. Therefore, take a close look at them. If the brake pads are badly damaged, have them replaced. And if you are unsure, ask a specialist.
- Check the screws and connections: Is everything tight? Are all the screws tight enough? Is the spoke tension sufficient or does it need to be reworked?
- Check the gears: Because the Bowden cable of many gears stretches over time, it is sometimes necessary to increase its tension. This can be done with a separate adjustment screw on the rear derailleur. The problem of not being able to shift into the highest or lowest gear can usually be solved with two additional screws on the rear derailleur. This adjusts the stop of the largest and smallest sprocket.
- Check the air pressure of the tyres and suspension fork: Check whether there is enough air in your tyres. If your e-bike has a suspension fork, do the same here. However, you will need a suspension fork pump for that.
Important note: If you are not sure whether your brake pads are still in good condition or why your gears don’t work like they used to, contact a bike mechanic. After all, not everything can be learned by watching YouTube tutorials.
Checking the theft protection – a few tips
Before starting the new cycling season, you should check whether your e-bike is properly protected against theft:
- Do you have a good bike lock and is it fully functional? You can read about how to find a good lock for your e-bike in our article “Best bike lock with GPS – how to protect your e-bike”.
- Is a digital anti-theft device, such as a GPS tracker, connected to the corresponding app?
- Are valuable components (such as the seat post) secured separately, for example with a Hexlox component lock?
If you use the BikeTrax GPS tracker with the PowUnity app, you should pay attention to the following things:
- If necessary, renew your subscription.
- Check whether your Bike Pass is completely filled out.
- To be on the safe side, set off a test alarm.
Important note: Even the best bike lock does not protect an expensive e-bike from professional thieves. However, the situation is different with the GPS tracker from PowUnity. The multi-award-winning anti-theft protection with seamless real-time tracking ensures that you are alerted immediately in the event of a theft attempt. And it can also help you to get your e-bike back if it has already been stolen. Decide now for real security and get the BikeTrax GPS tracker.
Professional service – How often should you visit a bike service?
From time to time, you should take your e-bike to the bike service and have it thoroughly checked. Bike mechanics will inspect all sensitive components on your bike, from the drive to the brakes. They can also install software updates and fix bugs that you might be overwhelmed with.
How often you should have your e-bike serviced depends on how intensively you use it. If you often go on longer tours through deep mud, your e-bike will need more attention than if you bike regularly to work or to the nearest supermarket.
PowUnity visited the dealer Zweirad Loitz in Vorarlberg and asked him: What is the best way to maintain your e-bike? He reveals his expert tips in this video:
The don’ts of e-bike maintenance
Finally, we would like to point out some common mistakes in the care and maintenance of e-bikes. Even though an e-bike is quite robust, small things can sometimes be enough to cause major damage.
- Finger weg vom Hochdruckreiniger: Hands off the high-pressure washer: It is tempting to leave the garden hose in the corner and reach for the pressure washer. Unfortunately, common types of pressure washers have too much power for an e-bike. This allows water to get inside the engine or other places where it doesn’t belong and where it can cause serious damage. Although some gentler pressure washers are now available, it is best not to use them and rather invest a few extra minutes in the bike cleaning.
- Do not use washing-up liquid: We don’t recommend using a washing-up liquid as it is often fat-dissolving and, therefore, not a good choice for the chain or wheel bearings. Apart from that, the price difference between proper bike cleaner and a dish soap is not that significant.
- Remove the battery carefully: Be careful when removing the battery from your e-bike. Before you remove the battery for the first time, read the instructions carefully.
E-bike battery care – how to make it last longer
With the following tips, you can extend the life of your e-bike battery:
- Ideally, an e-bike battery should rarely fall below 30 percent storage capacity or be discharged. It is best to charge it after every long ride. Don’t worry, with modern lithium-ion batteries this has no negative effect on the storage capacity.
- Batteries prefer a temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. Of course, you have little influence on this during an e-bike tour. However, if possible, avoid exposing the battery to direct sunlight when parking. If you are not going to ride your e-bike for a longer period of time, store the battery in a dry place at room temperature.
- For charging, only use an original power supply unit from the manufacturer. Third-party models can damage the battery and increase the risk of an accident.
It’s worth the effort
Maybe you are one of the many people who hate spending their time cleaning up. If so, it’s still worth “conquering your weaker self” from time to time and reaching for the bike cleaner.
Cleaning and maintaining an e-bike only takes a short time, costs little and has many advantages: it can prevent accidents and wear and tear and ensure that your expensive bike stays in good condition for a long time. And the fact that a clean bike also looks better is an additional advantage.