Waking Your Ebike From Its Winter Slumber
March 12, 2021
As winter wanes and the days get longer and warmer more and more ebikes are making their way out of hibernation, and you’re probably ready to pull yours out of storage too!
Around the corner lie days of cruising bike paths and many short -but still fun- runs to the post office, your favorite restaurant’s patio, the grocery store, and a wide expanse of other places in your vicinity that you can easily and leisurely access with your ebike.
Late last year we discussed how to properly store your ebike during the winter, but what do you need to do to wake your ebike from its winter slumber and ensure it is ready to begin a summer packed with activity?
LOOK AT Tire Pressure and Condition
Your tires are of the utmost importance to your ebike and, each time you take your ebike out, you should check your tire pressure to ensure that they’re properly pumped and ready for whatever adventure awaits. When you bring your ebike out of storage you need to check your tire pressures, because it is likely that they have lost some pressure during storage, and then you should pump your tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure; handily marked on the tire wall for you.
Next, check your treads. You should have a consistent level of tread around the whole of the tire. Each type of tire is different, with different tread patterns and depths depending on the type of tire, but if it looks slick and well worn it might be time to treat your ebike to a new set of tires.
If your tires’ tread is good then check them over for cracks in the tread and bulges in the sidewall. Cracks are a sign of dry or old tires, which more than likely need replacing. Bulges are a sign of wear and tear and can pop at any moment; making them a severe safety hazard. If you have bulges on either of your tires have them replaced immediately to prevent an undesirable outcome.
CHECK THE Brakes
It goes without saying that brakes are the most important safety feature on an ebike. There are two different types of brake to be found on ebikes: Hydraulic and Mechanical.
Mechanical brakes are operated by a cable i.e. when you pull the brake lever it puts tension on a cable which clamps the brake. Hydraulic brakes use hydraulic pressure, created when you pull the brake lever, to clamp the brake. You can uncover which ones you have by looking for the cable. If you can’t see a cable attached to the brake calipers or the lever then you have hydraulic brakes. Follow the information point below relating to whichever style of brakes your ebike has to check your brakes before you ride.
If you store your ebike in a hanging position it is even more important that you check them when you remove your ebike from storage. Storing your ebike like this can sometimes force hydraulic fluid to the lever and create bubbles in the brake caliper. You’ll be able to feel this when you pull the lever. You’ll feel a lack of fluid motion as you pull back on the lever and it will feel “soft”.
This can often be resolved by pumping the brake lever a few times. You should feel the motion of the lever return to its normal, fluid state. If the feel of the lever doesn’t change and remains “soft” then take your ebike to your local ebike service shop and ask for a “routine hydraulic brake bleed”.
The cables in mechanical brakes can stretch over long periods of storage and the result of this is that a brake will feel “soft”. This usually only requires a minor adjustment to be made to the cable’s tension, but we still recommend that you take it to your local ebike service shop to have this issue resolved.
TEST THE Rear Derailleur
The rear derailleur on your ebike functions in the same way that mechanical brakes do and, exactly like with mechanical brakes, the cable which controls the derailleur can also slacken over prolonged periods of storage.
Test this by changing your bike through the gears as you ride it around the block. The changes between each gear should be smooth and pretty much silent. If the changes are a little rough and clanky then the tension on your rear derailleur needs to be adjusted. Again, we recommend that you take your ebike to your local ebike service shop for this adjustment.
INSPECT THE Chain
As the power link between you and your ebike it is imperative that your chain is in good condition. Firstly, your chain should run smoothly. If it doesn’t you may have some stiff links which will require some chain oil to get them back to full working order. Apply oil your chain like you would for your pre-ride check, detailed in our Ultimate Ebike Maintenance Schedule & Guide article.
Besides checking for running order you should also check your chain for rust. If it has rusted at all during storage it is probably best to get it replaced. Your local ebike service shop will be able to do this for you with ease.
Give Your Ebike a Once Over
After being in storage for a while everything will gather dust. You cleaned your ebike before putting it away for the winter, but it’s also a good idea to wipe off the cobwebs before taking it out. Use a clean, dry rag for this and, as you’re doing it, check your ebike for any rust. The chance of rust is unlikely but if it is present you should take it to your local ebike repair shop so they can give it an inspection and ensure that the problem isn’t anything more than aesthetic.
Whilst it might not be entirely necessary there is no harm in giving your ebike a good, thorough clean before you hit the bike path for the first time that year. If your memory is a bit fuzzy on the dos and don’ts of cleaning an ebike then we refer you to our comprehensive and easy to follow How to Clean an Electric Bike guide that we released last year.
Finally, if you have lights on your ebike check that they’re still working. Ideally you’re going to have taken the batteries out of your lights before you put your ebike in storage, and filling them with new ones is the best way to make sure that they’ll continue working and stay bright all season! If the batteries were left in the lights then you should check them for corrosion and, if there’s no corrosion, test that they’re up to working standard. We would recommend putting in new batteries instead of continuing to use old ones so that you can ride with complete confidence and without feeling like you have to rush when it is getting close to those dusky hours.
Quick Release Clamps and Bolts
Your ebike is equipped with numerous quick release clamps and bolts that hold everything together and ensure that the parts that need to be easily adjusted, such as your saddle height, can be easily adjusted.
Quick Release Clamps
Over time quick release clamps can loosen slightly. When you take your ebike out of storage, loosen the seat post’s quick release clamp and make sure that it closes firmly again; sit on your seat whilst supporting yourself with a wall to test it and ensure you don’t get surprised whilst you're out on the trail.
The main bolt you’re going to want to inspect is your headset bolt. The headset bolt is the one connecting your front fork to the frame. If you’re sitting in the saddle it is the one right under your nose, connecting the fork beneath to the frame of your ebike. Here you want to check for any signs of rust and any play between the fork column and the frame. Do not try tightening or loosening it, as these are quite finely tuned pieces of an ebike. If you do find rust or a sign of play between these components then take your ebike to your local ebike service shop for them to inspect and fix for you.
Another bolt to check is the stem bolt. This is the piece which connects the handlebars to the fork and frame of your ebike. To test this. and make sure that everything in the stem is tight, stand in front of your ebike with your front wheel held between your legs and grip the handlebars. Turn the handlebars and the wheel between your legs should turn with them. If the handlebars turn independently of the wheel then your stem bolt needs tightening. As before, your local ebike service shop can easily sort this for you.
"WAKE UP" Battery
Your battery is what puts the E in ebike! After a battery has been sitting idle for a prolonged period of time -like a winter- it can sometimes seem like it doesn’t want to come back to life. But don’t fear! This probably isn’t as bad as it seems and this is a very normal way for batteries to behave. There is a procedure for waking a battery from its slumber and this is a simple process, requiring minimal effort and just one night of charging. Here’s the process for properly waking your battery:
- Put the battery on the bike
- Plug the charging tip into the battery
- Plug the charger into the wall
- Tap the power button on the battery once to turn it on
- Press and hold the “M” on the controls to turn on the display
- Leave the battery on the bike to charge overnight
The next day you can remove the charger and test your bike and battery to make sure everything is performing as it should.
A Final Word
Whilst this list might seem extensive the tasks on here are easy to complete and will give you peace of mind for your safety throughout the sunny riding season that is just around the corner. Alternatively, you can take your ebike down to your local ebike service shop and have them perform these checks and maintenance tasks for you. Don’t forget to keep up on your maintenance throughout the riding season and enjoy using your ebike, wherever it may take you!