As part of our mega guide to the best bikes on the market, we give you the rundown on what to look for when buying an e-bike.
WHAT SORT OF MAINTENANCE DOES AN E-BIKE NEED?
E-bike motors produce high torque, which accelerates wear on consumable parts like tyres and chains. Keep an eye on them. Good-quality e-bikes bikes are built with heavy-duty components such as tyres with thicker tread, stronger rims, and larger brakes to handle the added force and weight, so be sure to purchase appropriate replacements.
What you can’t do: Work on the motor, replace individual battery cells, or fix the controller electronics (at least, not without voiding the warranty). For issues with the power system itself, take it to the dealer, who has been trained in how to service it. (Fun fact: Most e-bikes today use the same diagnostic system as cars.)
That said, you probably won’t need to do anything to the motor system. Small electric motors don’t need oil changes or regular maintenance. The systems are largely waterproof; you can wash an e-bike as long as you avoid spraying water directly at the motor, battery housing, or controller - pick the garden hose and bucket and leave the high-pressure washer in the garage.
Terms to Know
ASSIST MODES: Allow the rider to control the level of motor assist, which also helps to manage battery life and range.
CENTRE-DRIVE: An e-bike with the motor mounted to the frame at the bottom bracket.
PEDELEC: Another name for e-bike - a contraction of "pedal-assist electric bicycle”.
RANGE: The number of kilometres an e-bike system can go while assisting the rider (affected by mode, wind, weight, tyres etc).
TORQUE: A measure of force on a rotational axis. More torque means a more acceleration when the motor assist kicks in.
WATTS: A measure of the motor's power. In Australia, pedal-assist e-bikes can legally provide up to 250W of power assistance before the motor cuts out and then you’re on your own.
WATT-HOURS: A measure of a battery's capacity. A 200Wh battery can produce 200W of power for one hour.