Electric bikes: How to Clean Them
Ebikes can, and will, get dirty at any time of the year. In contrast, during the colder, wetter, and more dreary months of the year, your ebike is likely to get a lot dirtier than usual. During this time, you may be looking at your ebike and thinking: "You need a good cleaning.". But can you wash an electric bike, and if so, how often?
Even without this extra, seasonal dirt, it is always a good idea to keep your ebike clean. By keeping your ebike clean, you'll not only look good wherever you go, but you'll also ensure the longevity of its working components, which are free of dirt and debris, and you'll also ensure your own safety.
So make sure you stay on top of the cleanliness of your ebike by following our foolproof guide for how to clean an electric bike correctly.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY EBIKE?
learning how to clean an electric bike and maintaining its cleanliness is a necessary component of proper ebike ownership. Quite obviously the frequency of ebike cleaning depends upon usage. Do you use it everyday? Then you’re probably going to want to clean your ebike every week. If you just ride your ebike on the weekends then you’ll only really want to clean it once a month.
How often you clean your ebike does not only depend on its usage but also the prevailing conditions when you do use it. If, for instance, you just spent a weekend afternoon on a trail which was rather muddy and perforated with puddles then you may want to consider cleaning your ebike really soon. However, a week later, you could ride that trail all weekend and your ebike would still look brand new. It all depends on the prevailing conditions.
In the end, the weather and condition of the trails you’re riding on will dictate how frequently you should reach for that bottle of degreaser. Whether you’re taking your ebike up a long mountain path or simply hopping on for five minutes to enjoy a ride down a city road, both will impact how often and how thoroughly you need to perform general cleaning and maintenance. When you follow a maintenance and cleaning schedule, it will help ensure that your ebike will give you top performance on every ride.
Regardless of how often you go about washing an ebike, you should always give it a good wipe down after every ride. Doing this stops the dirt from building up, helps to prolong the life of the ebike and its moving parts, and makes it easier for you to clean when you do sit down to clean it properly.
SETUP AND SUPPLIES
A small side note before we get into the nitty gritty: It is best not to clean your ebike directly after use, especially if your trip was a wet or muddy one. Whilst you may want to clean the dirt off your ebike as soon as you get home you’re actually better off waiting for the bike and the dirt to dry before cleaning your ebike. Leaving the dirt and dirty water to dry makes them easier to remove, yes it does sound a little contradictory to the general washing and cleaning advice we’ve all received in the past, but it’s true!
First things first, you should leave your battery in whilst you’re cleaning your ebike.If you have a stand that you use when you work on your ebike you can also use this to facilitate easier cleaning of your ebike; just make sure you have ample space to move around it and work.
If you don’t have a stand you should lean your ebike against a wall or a fence, where you have enough space to work around it. You can also just have the kickstand down if this works best for you. It goes without saying that this should be done outside in a space you can make a mess in.
From here, you will want to inspect your bike to ensure that everything is securely in place. Take care to check components such as the drivetrain and batteries to ensure they're seated and affixed properly.
Soap is not necessary for cleaning your ebike but if you do want to use it you can use a light amount of dish soap in your water; just ensure that it is not a heavy degreasing soap such as car wash soap.
For cleaning supplies you’re going to want a sponge or rag (for wiping down the frame), a soft bristled brush (for cleaning the tires), and a dry cloth for wiping everything down afterward. If you’re deliberating between using a sponge or a rag for cleaning, a rag is much more nimble than a sponge.
As far as it goes for water you’re going to want to use either a pair of buckets, one with lightly soapy water for cleaning and one with plain water for rinsing, or, if you wish, you can use a garden hose, but only use it on the shower or sprinkle setting so that the water pressure is very light.
Finally you’re going to need some chain lube so that you can lubricate your chain to help prevent rusting once you’ve finished cleaning down your ebike.
SUPPLIES NOT TO USE
Do not use a pressure washer to clean your ebike. Ebikes are not built to withstand high pressure water jets. Using a pressure washer at full power as this has the potential to damage parts and can force excess water, dirt, and debris into places it shouldn’t be in and wreak havoc on the workings of your ebike.
You should also not use special car cleaner and soaps on an ebike as most car soaps have wax in them that is not suitable for ebikes.
COMPONENTS & PARTS NOT TO CLEAN DOWN
Before we describe what to clean and how to clean your ebike we first need to discuss what shouldn’t be cleaned with water because, after all, there’s some sensitive equipment on an ebike. Typically, the best way to wash ebike accessories is to wipe them down with a dry rag. You should avoid getting any water or soap on the following parts:
- The hub bearing (that’s the center of the wheel)
- The bottom bracket (where the pedals connect together through the frame)
- The headset bearing (where the handlebars connect to the frame)
- Seat post (where the seat connects into the frame)
- The brake pads and rotor, or discs
- Chains and gears
These areas of your ebike are to be avoided when cleaning your ebike with water so as to avoid getting any water in the motor or the frame of your ebike. You’ll want to avoid the brake pads and rotors so that any soap you may use doesn’t mess with their functionality, contaminate them and make them squeak! Staying away from the aforementioned regions of the frame will mean that these joins won’t creak in the future and that no water will get into the frame.
CLEANING YOUR EBIKE
The first step when it comes down to how to wash an ebike is that you want to use your brush to clean the dirt from what are probably the dirtiest parts of your ebike, the rims and tires of your bicycles. As these are the parts that come closest to the surfaces on which you ride these are going to be the ones which can get really dirty really quickly. Here you want to be careful to avoid the hub bearing and the brake pads and rotors. You’re also going to want to scrub the pedals here too.
After that you’re going to take your wet rag or sponge and wipe down the frame of your ebike. Make sure you get to the underside of the frame where dirt is most likely to gather. Here you’re going to make sure that you avoid wiping down the bottom bracket, the headset bearing and the seat post.
Once your ebike has been thoroughly cleaned you’re going to want to rinse off all the dirty soap and water. For this you can either take a garden hose, set on a light sprinkler setting, or a wet rag. Once the dirty, soapy residue has been cleaned from the ebike you can use your clean, dry rag to wipe the bike dry. When doing so, start at the top, paying good attention to the headset bearing and the seat post (it is almost inevitable that these may have gotten wet so making sure we dry them is a good practice). Do the rims last as these may still have some particles of dirt hanging out on them which your dry rag will get rid of.
Once you’ve wiped the bike dry you’re going to want to lube the chain to prevent it from rusting. To do this you’re going to want to take your chain and run it through a clean dry rag to wipe off any water that managed to get on it. Next take your chain lube and apply a slow but steady stream to the inside of the chain as you rotate the cranks until you’ve touched the whole chain.
Last but not least, you'll need to take out the battery and, using a fresh dry rag, clean the contacts on the battery and the frame, the space within which the battery sits, and the bottom of the battery that makes contact with the frame. Your ebike's parts should be relatively clean, but it's always a good idea to give them a once-over. Water should not be used on these parts of your ebike.
You are now ready to store your ebike, and it is all clean and ready to go!
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