How to Make Your E-Bike Last Longer
Some e-bikes, regardless of the motor, have a separate, typically twist throttle on a handle, as you’d find on a motorcycle. That enables you to move without pedaling. This is handy for a quick takeoff, but it uses a lot more battery, which limits the range of your motor and the amount of exercise you get.
Nate Bosscher, a senior engineer on the e-bikes team at Trek, says the motor on a mid-drive e-bike is “upstream of the gears and the chain, and that certainly puts more strain on the drivetrain than a non-e-bike.” You can reduce the wear and tear on the drivetrain by regular cleaning and lubrication, he says.
Shift your gears before
Whether you’re riding a mid- or hub-drive e-bike, you should downshift to an easier gear ahead of a traffic light. That’s so you can resume pedaling without having to “mash” or stand on the pedals to make the bike move, Bosscher says.
You also don’t want to stand on the pedals with maximum force while trying to shift, which is especially hard on the bike’s transmission, Bosscher adds. This is true whether you’re shifting at a slower speed or flying down the road. And it’s always best to lighten your pedaling as you shift gears to reduce wear on the cluster and chain.
Bosscher notes that hub-drive motors are less sensitive to strain than mid-drives.
Marco Sonderegger, a senior product manager at Specialized, says that the best pedaling speed on the company’s mid-drive bikes is 70 to 90 rpm, which means your legs are moving like a fast jog. That typically puts less stress on the chain because you’re not putting a lot of torque on the system with each pedal stroke.
The moderate pedal speed also optimizes your range and eases the load on the motor because “the faster the internal electrical engine can spin, the higher the efficiency.”
Trek’s Bosscher says most e-bike manufacturers gear their motors for pedaling speeds of at least 60 rpm. For this reason, Sonderegger believes spinning at 70 to 90 rpm will increase your range roughly 10 to 12 percent compared with mashing at 50 rpm or slower.
That speed is also physically easier, Sonderegger says, because repeatedly pushing very hard and slowly is like doing heavy leg presses.
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