Professional Advice for Maintaining an Electric Bike

(bell dings) – I am here at Myron's Extreme Machines, home of the Electric Bicycle
Center, here with Sam. How's it going, Sam? – Good, good. – [Court] Well, we wanted to, you know, look around the shop today and talk about maintenance on electric
bikes, because, you know, so many people get one of these, and it works initially,
and everything is great. But, you know, you might have
the chain start squeaking, or maybe you get a flat
tire, or things like that. And I wanted to pick your brains, 'cause you've been doing
this for, I mean how long have you been doing electric bikes? – Like full-time, probably a
little over a dozen years now.

– [Court] Dozen years, geez,
that's like the very beginning of when this started in the
US, as far as I've seen, so you're pretty knowledgeable. Why don't we just dive into it, like where should we start? – You know, when we sell an electric bike, we tell the customer to bring it back for a free tuneup, and then
they ask, "Well, when is that? "How do I know when to
bring it in for a tuneup?" Some people come back
within the first month some people I don't see for a year. It really depends on how
much you ride your bike. And how do I know when
I need to do my tuneup, you'll know because the
derailleur's out of adjustment, it's not shifting gears as smoothly, the cables stretch, maybe,
and the brakes need adjusting.

And something we learned a few years ago, with a product that had
a big 500 watt motor was, when the big guys, over 280 to 320 pounds, are riding them, they would
actually stretch the spokes. And within the first month,
they needed to bring it back in, is what we tell 'em, to lace
it up and true the rear wheel, and get those loosened spokes
tightened back up again. Without doing that, we
started to see a pattern of about seven, eight, nine
customers busting spokes. And once you have three
or four broken spokes, it's all downhill from there.
– [Court] Okay, good to know. Okay, so that's one of those,
again, like a finer point. It depends on how you ride,
your body type, all that. So, I don't know, wanna start off with the drivetrain on this, since
that's something everyone– – So, let's start with this.

What can I do at home,
is what most people ask. – Perfect.
– What's the maintenance that I should do on the bike? So, there's two things I tell customers. Of course, keep your battery maintained, charge your battery. Duh, that's a no-brainer. The second most important thing, in my opinion, on an electric bike, and I've literally had a
lady drive an hour and a half to come to my store, who swore up and down her battery was defective, it was bad, you can't even go 100 yards
and my bike shuts down. She showed up with her bike
with 18 psi in her tires. You've gotta keep your
tire pressure maintained, and bicycles lose tire
pressure very quickly.

I cannot stress that enough. – [Court] That's true, and
with changing temperature, I think that can kind of
deflate the tire over time. You say psi, pounds per square inch? – Yeah, so–
– All right. – You know, make sure that
you read in your manual, or even on the side of the tire, how much tire pressure
you should have in there. And I would say every two
weeks, maybe even three weeks, a minimum once a month, you
gotta check your pressure. Or it'll start to affect the range, it'll start to affect the performance, and the handling, everything else. Can't stress it enough.
– Can even get a pinch flat, right, where like you
hit a curb or something and it kinda pops your tire.
– Absolutely, but even more so, I've
literally had people come in, and they're like, "Hey, my
bike used to go 20 miles, "now it's only going 12
miles, what's wrong?" It's you've got low
pressure in your tires.

– [Court] Okay, that's a good
one, thank you, thank you. – Absolutely. – [Court] Maybe while
we're on that subject, did you have like, this
is called a Presta valve– – Correct.
– Right here, right? So it's a little bit
skinnier, and it's usually got this sort of locking twist nut here. To inflate this, you actually have to unscrew it a little bit, like that, right? And you can even take
that all the way out.

– Well, this one you just back off, and you can release air pressure. And then to put air pressure in, some of the hand pumps, you
can put directly on here. Or, if your more conventional tire pump has a Schrader valve, you put this adapter on
there, screw that on. Now make sure that you loosen this first. If it's tightened down
and you put this on there and you can't put air in
there, you're calling me up, going, "Why can't I put air in my tire?" (Court laughs)
You gotta loosen that little cap up first.
– Loosen it a little bit, okay, okay.
– And then put this on there, and then tighten this down,
and then you can pump it up.

– Okay, great, great. A lotta bicycle pumps these days have, they're sort of adaptable, so you can have a Schrader valve or a
Presta valve work with it, but that's worth calling out. – If you go to a gas station though, that's not gonna be the case. – [Court] No, they only,
'cause that's for cars, right? – Right.
– And cars use Schrader valves.
– So you need the little adapter, we give
that for free to anybody that buys a bike that has
that type of stem on it. – [Court] That's nice. – Make sure you put
your cap back on there, tighten down the cap all the way. And also make sure that this
is tight, too, right here. Get that nice and tight
against the rim as well. – [Court] Okay, great. – That's that. Next probably would be your chain. And a lotta people can
maintain their chain at home. You wanna keep your chain clean, and you wanna keep your chain lubricated. I've had customers come in the shop, and the bike still looks
brand new six months later, and I'm just totally impressed,
you know, I'm like, wow.

And that's an A personality
guy that's really, you know, if you invest three grand in your bike, or even $1,000 in your
bike, you wanna maintain it. Some people don't do any
maintenance whatsoever though, and they come in and they're dirty. You've gotta clean the chain, and then you've gotta lube the chain. And when lubing the chain,
a lot of leftover lube will end up on the sprocket and in the derailleur back here as well. – [Court] Okay, so what is lubricant? You know, what are– – So, a lotta people
are thinking, you know, I've got some WD-40 over here. If you use WD-40 in a spray aerosol, that is not a lubricant. That'll actually dry your chain out. That's a penetrant. So don't get that confused. You have to use something
that's a lubricant-based. I sometimes will use Tri-Flow. And then WD-40 does make a product made specifically for lubing the chain. There it is, and look for
it saying chain lubricant, not penetrant. You can use a penetrating
oil to clean the chain, and then follow that up with a lubricant.

– [Court] Okay, excellent.
– That's it. 'Nother common problem on
disc brakes is they squeak. Oh my gosh, it's driving me nuts. My bikes are squeaking like crazy. – [Court] People say that,
yeah. Hear that a lot. – Take your caliper
off, take the pads out, spray 'em down with a disc brake silencer, something that'll keep 'em from squeaking. That sometimes will do it. Nine times outta 10 though,
it's just an adjustment. And to adjust the brake, you can actually do a visual down it. And a lotta times there's
adjustment on each brake pad, from the back side or the front side. And you wanna align that so
that the wheel spins freely and it's not dragging. – [Court] That's awesome, and
I definitely heard it before, where it's like ka-ching,
ka-ching, ka-ching. – And if you have a slightly
bent disc, it's difficult, because once you get the squeak out, then the brake's adjusted so
loosely, you're not gonna stop. At that point, it's time to
either straighten the disc or replace the rotor,
is what they call 'em.

– [Court] Okay, you got the
rotors, you got the brake pads. Eventually, are they meant
to squeak, to let you know, like, hey, you need new
brake pads, like in cars? – No, not really. No, I mean, if you get it all the way down to the point where it's metal on metal, but I rarely ever see that. Most people are gonna come in
and we're gonna point it out to 'em before it's to that point. And the brake pads last
pretty long on bicycles. I have bikes that have gone 4,000 miles, and they're still on the
same original brake pads that came from the manufacturer. – [Court] They call those
guys adrenaline junkies. No brakes, they're just
floorin' it the whole way. Sam, while we were talking
about the chain earlier, I wanted to reiterate that yeah, you know, you use the proper lubricant, but you're not supposed to
have this thing be, like, wet to the touch, right? You like wanna wipe that
off afterwards, right? – Yeah, but on the other
end of that, the other end of the spectrum of what
you just mentioned, Court, I have people come in,
if I can grab your chain and my hand doesn't come back
with some kind of lube on it, it's totally dry to the touch, bad news.

You've got it way too dried out, and it's time to put some lubricant on it. You can have it too dry,
or you can have it too wet. I like to actually see a chain a little bit on the wetter
side than the dryer side, 'cause it's keeping it all lubricated. – [Court] Then what does that do? Like, it just keeps it
from rusting, or, you know? – Not only does it keep it from rusting, but it keeps a little bit of
cushion between metal on metal. I mean, this is a metal
chain, a metal sprocket. You're going through your
derailleur down here. You wanna keep it lubricated, definitely. – [Court] Okay, okay, that's good to know. Any other tips on the drivetrain? Like what happens when
someone starts to hear, like, kinda the crunching and
it's not shifting correctly? – Your derailleurs are slightly off. And nine times outta 10,
it's just an adjustment on the cable that you can do.

In this case, there's no adjuster here, it would be probably up on the handle bar. – [Court] So that's like up here where kinda the shifters are?
– Yeah, and see that big knob right there? You can sometimes just
turn it one direction or the other direction to get
rid of that crunching sound. And you're just lining up
the derailleur back there. You can actually do a visual, if you come back here and you
look directly behind the bike, if you look at the chain
and you look at the gear, it should be pretty well lined up. And if it's pointing a
little left or the right, you just have to make that
adjustment to line it up. Another thing you'll see sometimes is, somebody'll load their bike in a car, or they'll drop their bike,
and they'll bend the derailleur or the hanger here, and that
needs to be straightened out.

And sometimes I literally
just grab it with my hand, give it a little, straightens out, it's– – [Court] (laughs) Pretty big guy, though. – As crazy as that sounds–
– That's awesome. – It's just getting it lined up, you know? – [Court] Okay, okay great. – Common sense there. Let's
move forward onto the bike, I wanna show you something else. Especially when you're prepping your bike and you're getting it outta the box, on certain manufacturers,
your bottom bracket and your crankset, these
bolts are not tight.

And you've gotta check
those with an Allen wrench and make sure they're
tightened up on there. I'd say on a yearly basis, we have somewhere between 15 to 20 bikes that an actual customer
will take a brand new bike, and the whole pedal crank
will fall off on 'im. And I'm like, "Wait a minute, you know, "on this particular brand of bike, "we gotta start
double-checking this stuff." And we've gotten that
number much lower now, by prepping the bike and checking to make sure those are tight. And you as the owner of the bike should be checking that
as well, once in a while. – [Court] Thanks for that heads up. I've heard something about certain models, some with bottom bracket
motors, like mid-drives, and others with hub motors,
where things weren't tight and it kinda spun and
it rips the power cable. Do you know what I'm talking about? – Yeah, actually, on the bottom bracket, this particular bike as well has a cadence sensitive sensor, I believe, and the wire comes in right
from the bottom down there.

And if that bottom bracket's not tight, it'll twist, and that can cause damage, and then we have to replace
that and get it taken care of. Other things that happen is
once a crank arm comes loose, especially on square taper, it ruins it. And people try to tighten
it and tighten it. Ain't gonna work. It's time to replace the bottom bracket and the crankset both.
– Interesting, okay. – Which isn't difficult to do
if you have the proper tools, and any bike shop should
be able to do that. You don't have to take
it to electric bike shop, any bike shop should be able to replace a bottom bracket and the crankset. – [Court] Okay, that's good. – Okay, now, another thing
a lot of people ask me when they come into the
shop is, "Is it waterproof, "can I get my bike wet?"
(Court laughs) "I'm afraid to even go through a puddle." You know what, I would say
95% of all electric bikes today that are on the
market are water resistant, but they're not waterproof.

pexels photo 3671151

The motor, not problem. Your display, your throttle, no problem. You can put direct water on
it, I wash the bikes down. With a sponge, I'm wiping this all down. In order for you to ruin an electric bike, you would have to take a pressure
washer and hold it right, I'd say the most vulnerable
part on an electric bike would be the controller, right? Now, in order to get
the controller to fail, you'd have to submerge it in water. So it'd be like your
bike accidentally falls into the swimming pool, uh-oh, bad news, that could possibly–
– And don't turn it on, right? It's like your phone, like let it dry off or something like that?
– Yeah. (chuckles) Throw your controller
in a bag of rice, right? – [Court] (laughs) Right,
right, that's something. And just so, this one, the
controller's so integrated, you can't even see it, but we
had another e-bike over here, you can see this little
control box back here.

Here's the battery,
there's the controller box. I don't know if there're any others that– – Oh, there's lots of
'em that I can show you. – [Court] They're always
in different places. – Yeah, like on a Motiv
here, it's underneath, this is a very common place
that the controller is, is battery's here, all
the wiring for the bike comes into this box down here where the controller's located. And they're like, "Oh my gosh, "that's the lowest point of the bike." I've had customers ride these
Motiv bikes on rainy days, and have literally had
that practically submerged, and it doesn't fill
that box up with water. You might have a little bit of water on the bottom area
there, and it'll dry out. Not enough to ruin the bike, not enough to kill the
controller, by any means. – [Court] I've had some
really nice road bikes, and I was always just
pretty careful about, when I cleaned it, I used
something like that WD-40 stuff, and they have eco-friendly cleaners.

You can spray on, you use a paper towel. I tended not to use my
sprayer, 'cause people said, "Oh, sometimes water can
get into your," you know, your head tube or different
places, and kinda rust it, or– – Yeah, another area would be cables. Like if you get water into this area here, you probably wanna shoot some lubricant back in there afterwards. Tri-Flow works great. And some people actually
just use grease in this area, where your cables are. I'm really not concerned with, anywhere that there's a cable, you wanna try to keep it lubricated. Over time, that can cause issues, and your cable could fray
or actually fail on you. But just keep it lubed,
and you're good to go. – [Court] Okay, okay, sweet. Well, we've talked about
a lotta different parts on this bike, and I guess we
touched on brakes earlier, but I wanted to reiterate
that in addition to this sort of finger adjuster
for trigger shifters, a lotta times brakes have that as well, and you can kind of unscrew the far point, and then tighten the inner point.

And see what that does
is it like stretches the, I don't know, sleeve?
– Yeah. – [Court] And then it means the
cable has to travel further. So over time as the cables stretch and you pull on the brake
lever all the way back and it starts to almost come
in contact with the lever, well that's when you can loosen this up. – And, you know what, as a shop, I leave that adjustment for the customer. I always make the adjustment down below. And if you do need to make
that quick adjustment, this is the simple area
for the customer to do. And that's, like you said, it's just extending the
length of the housing, which is shortening the
length of the cable, which'll bring the arm up down below, and bring the caliper more in
contact with the brake pad. – [Court] Okay. Any timing, you know, as far
as, like every 50, 100 miles, get the chain kinda lubed up, and– – You know, it depends on the
kinda riding you're doing.

If you're going off-road
and you're mountain biking, every time, I recommend. But if you're riding on a road bike, I was commuting 40 miles a day, and I could go a couple
hundred miles before I, I think 50 mile interval is way too soon. You can go a couple hundred miles before you have to really, like, check your bike and lube it, you know? Like you don't have to
be that diligent on it, unless you're going off-road and you're getting it really dirty. Every time you go camping,
the bikes come home, they get washed, they get
lubed, and then they get put back out here as demos
on the showroom floor. 'Cause we like to ride our
bikes and know, you know, the specifics on 'em.
– And know what's goin' on, yeah, have a good idea.
– Yeah, exactly right.

– [Court] Oh, and when
you're lubing it, I think, don't you, you kinda switch
through the gears a little bit, so that it gets on the front cogs. – Absolutely, I run 'em up and down. And let's talk about one last thing I think that's really important. Probably one of the biggest, scariest part of owning an electric bike is, I'm out on the trail, I got a flat tire. Oo my God, what do I do? I do not recommend you try
to remove the whole wheel and, you know, change out a tube. I recommend carrying a patch kit. Nine times outta 10, it's a
puncture, it's not a blowout. And you can change and fix the tube without removing the rear wheel. What I mean by that is, just take a pair of really
simple tire irons with you, that'll remove the bead on the tire, okay? – [Court] And the bead, bead
is like, that's the tight, firm part–
– That's the edge right here.

– [Court] Yeah, that tucks into the rim. – Right, so you're
gonna pull that bead off on one side of the tire,
and you're gonna try to find where that puncture is, you know? – [Court] And I think,
yeah, you kinda listen? Like if you hear it (makes hissing sound)? – You can look and see, and if you got a little hand
pump, you're pumpin' it up, you're looking for where that hole is. Nine times outta 10, too,
you'll find the puncture point, because the thorn will still be in there, the staple will be in there, the piece of wire will be
in there, and you're like, "Obvious, okay, that's where I wanna look, "from this point where the stem is." I'm looking for it, you pull
the bead off, you find it.

And you're gonna patch it. – [Court] Okay. I just wanna throw in here, this is my own personal brand of advice. Sometimes, if the thorn
isn't there, and you're kinda listening for it, and you're
hearing (makes hissing sound), but you're not sure where it is, like, kinda lick, you know, or spit on the tire, and then you see it, like,
bubbling right where it is. – I'll put it up really close to my face. And your face is more
sensitive, you're gonna feel– – [Court] With that clean
shave, it's like. (both laugh) – Where that air is hitting you. And then you've gotta deflate it, put your patch on there way, put the bead, and nine times outta 10 you
can put the bead back on without even using a tire
iron, with a bicycle tire.

So, that makes it easier,
and you don't have this daunting process of,
"Oh my gosh, what do I do, "how do I get my rear wheel off, "I'm dealing with the wiring harness now." Let the bike shop take
care of that for you. – [Court] It's funny
you say that too, 'cause we were talking about the disc
brake being lined up before. I've had it where everything was perfect, and then I took off like the front wheel, and I put it back on, tightened it up, and then this brake was
rubbing, and it's like, trying to line those things up, especially on the trail,
and get it spinning freely, it's a little more difficult. – Flip your bike upside down, use your seat and your handlebars. When you drop your wheel in, make sure that it's all the
way down on the dropouts. If it's still rubbing, what
you do, Court, is this. Check it out. There's two bolts right here and here, on every brake caliper.

These two bolts, when you loosen them up, free up the brake caliper
where it floats around. – Oh, cool!
– Then you pull the brake lever, and as
you pull the brake lever, that's gonna center it. – [Court] It centers it, that's brilliant! – Then tighten the other
two bolts down, release, and again, nine times outta
10, it'll be lined up, and it'll spin freely for ya. – [Court] Perfect, perfect,
I love it, I love it. – All right, couple little
tips here at Myron's. Also, head stay, sometimes your headset will get a little bit loose. Make sure it's tightened
down and clamped down here. – [Court] 'Cause, yeah, I've
seen it before where, like, you could, you know, squeeze
the tire between your legs and pull on the handle and twist it, if that's not tight enough. – It's not tight enough, then
it needs to be tightened up.

– [Court] What are some tools
that maybe you carry here, you can point out, that you recommend always taking with you? You want a helmet, right? That's not a tool, but. – Well in a way, I guess it is, you know? It's protecting your most important valuable asset up there, your brain. Allen wrench set, tire irons– – Yeah, those things.
– Patch kit. Yeah, all you need is two tire irons. Allen wrenches, and what size
Allen wrenches should I take? Three, four, five, and six pretty much does everything
on most modern bikes. You might wanna take a 10 and an eight, but rarely do you even
need to use those tools. I personally carry those
type of tools with me every time I go on a bike ride, and I haven't been stranded yet. – [Court] Mini-pump thing? Do you feel like you take a pump, or? – Absolutely, a mini-pump, or CO2. I prefer a mini-pump myself.

That way I can adjust tire
pressure on the trail. And I think one of the
most important tools you can carry around
with you is a cell phone. Not a bad idea to remember
to have one of those. That's the emergency backup, last resort, pull out the cell phone
and call your buddy up, and say, "Come pick me up." – [Court] You can text NASA with pictures and be like, "What do I do, I'm stranded?" And the mission control
will help you with the– – I've actually had people
call me, and I'm working, and I literally will go
out and pick them up, if they're within the
vicinity of my store– – Wow, you're nice.
– And get 'em taken care of. – [Court] That's so great. I should say, again,
thank you so much for, Sam let's me review all the bikes and stuff that he has here. He's got one of the biggest
shops that I've seen.

He always gets new stuff,
very experimental that way. And you try it out, like you were saying, you go camping, you go to the desert here. We're in Fullerton,
California, so it's near LA. We're kinda near LA. – Yeah, we were camping
out at Canyon RV Park, about 20 miles away, and
we stayed two weeks there. That's a 40 mile commute,
and every single day, we'd come into work and
grab a different bike, and go back out.
– That's fun. – And so we got a lotta bikes
with a lot of impressions, from a 250 watt 24 volt folding bike, to bikes that hit 30 miles an hour. And it was interesting on
the Santa Ana River Trail with the various people, and
the various looks that I got, and the various comments,
but mostly positive. – [Court] Well, and you're a big guy. I mean, you know, your
significant other, Konica, she's a little bit shorter,
she's a little bit lighter. And so you're getting kinda
the his and her perspectives.

– We're at opposite ends of the spectrum, so at 100 pounds and 260 pounds, that gives you a good, you
know, range of body styles and sizes, as to how the
bike's gonna perform. And we would try different
levels of pedal assist, and in some cases my wife
would go there and back and not even pedal the bike. Just to see what kind of
range the battery had. – [Court] Yeah, well fun. Any last thoughts on
maintenance and all that? – If you have a question
and you're not sure, call your local bike shop, call your local electric bike shop, and most people are gonna have
the answer to your question.

Don't be afraid to give us a call, we're more than happy to
inform you, educate you, and get you down the road
so that smile comes on and you're having fun like a kid again, riding your electric bike. – Thanks Sam.
– All right man..

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