Like many e-bikers, you probably rejoice as winter begins to melt away, closely followed by spring and summer. The return of warmer weather signals the coming of that time of year when e-bike usage is often at is highest level.
Sure, you can ride almost any time of year, but there’s something about summer that appeals to most cyclists. Blue skies, warm temperatures, and dry trails make for some of the best riding conditions. Before you embark on this long-awaited season of extra time on your e-bike, consider preparing for the season of heavier usage.
Preparation for Summer Cycling
It is surmised that John Wesley originated the saying “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Regardless, it is certainly true that a frequently cleaned bike is a longer-lasting, more efficient, and safer bike.
Getting it Clean
If you store your battery on your e-bike (usually not a good idea), remove it before cleaning. Use a soft brush to remove any dust an light grime that may have accumulated. Then take a slightly damp cloth and wipe it off thoroughly. Never apply running water or spray liquids directly on your battery.
While cleaning your battery, take a close look for any tell-tale signs of corrosion on the electrical contacts (terminals). If you see corrosion, usually green, use a stiff toothbrush to remove as much as possible. Now check the charge level and, if needed, recharge your battery. During charging, check to ensure that the battery gets only warm too the touch, not hot. If hot, consider whether it may be time to replace your battery.
After cleaning the battery, you can tend to your e-bike while the battery gets a fresh charge.
- Tires — Wipe the grime off your sidewalls, and check for excessive tread wear or cracking sidewalls. If you find either condition, it is time to replace your tires. Otherwise, let them dry and then apply a good tire protectant. While your at it, be sure to bring the air pressure up to your preference, within recommended parameters for you riding conditions.
- Rotors — Use a soft rag dipped in isopropyl alcohol to clean your disc brake rotors. This will give you the best braking performance and will not leave any residue on your rotors.
- Chain — Wipe any grime or excess lubricant from your chain, using a dry cloth. Then lubricate the chain using a good quality chain lubricant. Again, wipe off any excess lubricant so that your chain does not become a dirt magnet.
- Frame, pedals, components — Use a soft brush, followed by a damp soft rag, to clean the various components and frame. Never use running water or spray liquids to assist with your cleaning. You don’t want to risk getting dampness into places where it will not be welcome.
Making it Tight
Check every screw, nut, bolt, etc. and ensure that all are tightened properly. Consult your owner’s manual for torque specifications, and use a torque wrench to avoid risking over or under tightening…this is important!
Err on the Side of Safety
In the process of inspecting and cleaning your e-bike, it is possible that you may discover problems. If you encounter anything that you cannot confidently handle yourself, it’s time to visit your local bike shop. Don’t take any chances — make sure your e-bike is safe to ride, and prepared to last for many more years.
Precautions for Summer Riding
No matter where you live, one or more of the following precautions will apply to you.
- Avoid Unusual Outdoor Heat — You may live in a climate that sometimes produces heat in the extreme. If the weather forecast calls for temperatures in excess of 102 degrees F, wait for a cooler day. Excessive heat is hard on your battery and motor, and other electronics. It’s hard on your body, as well, so use an abundance of caution. Be aware that your e-bike may be equipped with a heat sensor, designed to shut down if damaging temperatures are detected. If this happens to you, don’t be alarmed. Just find a shady spot and allow your e-bike to cool. When it has cooled sufficiently, it should be ready to ride again.
- Take Care of Your Battery — Regardless of its age, batteries are not fond of high heat. It is best to never expose it to direct sunlight in warm weather for more than an hour. After an hour of hot exposure, give it a rest. Also, your battery needs to cool before you begin another charging cycle. The best practice is to allow an hour of indoor cooling before you connect to your charger.
- Traveling with Your E-bike
Summer is a great time for travel, whether visiting friends and loved ones, camping, or sightseeing. And of course, most e-bike enthusiasts love to bring along their favorite ride, adding a healthy activity to the pleasure of the trip. If using a bike rack, plan to remove your battery while traveling. This will make your e-bike lighter and easier to load, and keep your battery better protected while traveling. Using a battery bag is also a good idea — see a good protective bag here.
- Cruising the Beaches — If you are fortunate to live near the beaches, or within convenient traveling distance, beach cruising is great fun. The downside is that it brings on some extra maintenance. Salt water inevitably is carried via the air, and some of it will be deposited on your e-bike. Not only is salt a great electrical conductor, but it also is a highly corrosive substance. Definitely it cannot be permitted to stay on your e-bike! Every time you ride the beaches, it is necessary to repeat the general cleaning instructions given above for the battery, frame, chain, and components.
Have a great summer, and ride safely, and take good care of your beautiful e-bike!