It’s no surprise why the world calls the greater Los Angeles area “sunny southern California.” The lack of rain (about 1.25 inches average rainfall per year in Los Angeles) and dry heat provide beautiful outdoor scenery and picturesque cityscapes. But the pleasant weather also leads to dusty road conditions and hard-packed trails. Despite the nice weather, Los Angeles electric mountain bikers (eMTB) and eBike commuters need to pay closer attention to maintenance of their bikes in order to ride further on their electric investments.
Whether you commute to work, roll to the grocery store, ride hard on technical terrain or shred through mountain trails, every bicycle needs periodic maintenance. This is especially true for eBikes due to the added weight from the battery and motor. There are a few things you can do at home before taking your eBike to a mechanic. Checking your chain every 250-500 miles with an inexpensive chain checker will help you prevent drivetrain issues associated with a worn out chain. I use Park Tool’s CC-3.2 at home to check my chain once every 10 rides, or 250 miles. It’s good to degrease your drivetrain and lube your chain at least every other ride. It’s dry in LA for the most part so I recommend a bike specific dry lubricant for your chain.
Before every ride, inspect your brake pads and feel the tension on your brake levers. If there’s uneven tension between levers and you have hydraulic rotor brakes, you may need to replace your brake pads. If you have mechanical rotor or rim brakes, you may be able to simply tighten the tension on the brake cable to restore a tight brake feel. Checking your brakes to make sure they have plenty of padding will help you prevent more expensive rotor and pad replacement. Brake pad life truly depends on how hard you’re riding, and braking, but you should consider replacing your pads after every 500 miles of mountain biking.
For your safely, a simple tire inspection should be done before every ride. No bike tube is perfectly sealed, so make sure your tires are inflated to the tire’s pressure specifications before every ride. I weigh in at 180 lbs / 82 kgs and if I’m riding mountain trails on my tubeless tire setup, I’ll inflate the tires to 30 psi / 2 bar. If I’m riding road, I’ll inflate it closer to 110 psi / 7.5 bar. If you notice a lot of flat spots, wide cuts or deep slits on the tread, then consider replacing your tire before a sudden flat occurs on your next ride.
So how often should you get your electric bicycle serviced? For weekend riders or low-mile commuters, it is recommended to take your bike to an eBike certified service shop once a year. There, the service tech will run preventative diagnostics on the motor and battery, inspect critical frame joints and bearings, and measure drivetrain wear and tear. With the dry and warm Los Angeles weather, along with possible sweat accumulation, drivetrain systems and bearings need closer attention as grease can dehydrate and become gummy and lubricants can quickly become grime magnets. As the chain dries and dust accumulates on the cogs, premature wear will occur and can lead to frequent and expensive parts replacement.
Comprehensive maintenance procedures are recommended for daily commuters, eMTB riders and higher mileage eBikes at least once a year. If you tend to leave your bike outside or hardly wash your bike after rigorous riding, you may need to return to the shop every 6 to 9 months. Deep cleaning, full lubrication of primary components and full wheel truing is typically added to a basic maintenance service package to older and hard-ridden bikes. Safety inspection, tire inspection and brake adjustments are also included in most service packages.
When you look for a bike shop, make sure they are certified and give them a call to make sure they carry the motor system you have on your bike. A lot of bike shops carry hub-motor bikes but lack the accreditation and software needed to run diagnostics on bikes equipped with mid-drive motors. Mid-drive motor, or center-drive motor manufacturers, like Bosch, require technician certification to work on their system. You won’t be able to run diagnostics unless the service tech and shop are Bosch certified. Other motor manufacturers, like Yamaha, Brose, TranzX and Shimano recommend you return to the shop you purchased the bike or the closest certified eBike shop for service.
Regardless of your riding style, having your eBike serviced at least once a year will keep you on the road and trails longer. As with most things in life, preventative measures are less expensive and less time consuming than having to purchase new parts. Making sure your tires, drivetrain, motor, and brake systems are in tip-top shape are the most important aspects of eBike maintenance for southern California cyclists. The weather, although typically beautiful, plays a big role in electric bicycle maintenance. Having a certified technician help you take care of your bike will bring you joy for thousands of miles.
Looking for a certified eBike technician in the LA area? Click here to schedule a service appointment.