Washing an electric bike might seem like a daunting task. With its high powered battery and motor, along with cables and display, there are plenty of sensitive electrical components in an e-bike and, as we know, electricity and water don’t mix well.
But bicycles are naturally prone to get grubby and, as with any bike, you’ll want to keep your electric bike clean to keep it looking and performing at its best, which means you’ll need to wash it regularly, particularly if you’re riding in wet weather.
Electric bikes are designed to cope with wet conditions though and, in general, electric and electronic parts are well sealed against the elements. So treat your electric bike with respect and there’s no reason why washing it should be any more arduous than cleaning a normal bike.
Here’s how to wash your electric bike and particular points to pay attention to.
1. Don’t use a pressure washer
Let’s start off with how not to wash your electric bike. Pressure washers are bad for bikes in general unless used with great care. A standard pressure washer has enough force for water to penetrate bearings and seals, leading to damage and premature wear.
This is doubly a problem when washing an electric bike, as you can also push cleaning water into the electric and electronic components, potentially leading to corrosion and damage.
You can buy lower pressure washers designed for bikes, like the Muc-Off pressure washer, but even so it’s a good idea to use a pressure washer from a distance and not to point it at your electric bike’s bearings, seals for parts like a removable battery or any cables or controls.
Rather than a pressure washer, a garden hose or a plain old bucket and brush are better options.
2. Turn off the power
Before you get started, turn the e-bike’s system off. It’s back to that water and electricity thing.
Bosch recommends removing or covering its controllers with a cloth or plastic and also taking out the battery before starting, while other e-bike brands state that your e-bike systems are sealed well enough to cope with a wash. Liv says clean your bike with the battery in place, then remove and dry it once the bike is clean.
If you have a work stand, this makes it easier to get at the parts of your electric bike that tend to get most dirty like the underside of the down tube. Don’t turn your electric bike upside down.
3. Wash off loose dirt
First, you want to wash off any loose surface dirt. A hose, again without too much pressure, should be fine for this, although a soft brush and water may be more effective.
It’s worth having a range of brushes for different parts of your bike, making sure that you don’t use greasy brushes on your frame or brake rotors. Don’t use frame cleaning brushes on your drivetrain either, so that they stay lube-free
4. Use a bike cleaner
Your e-bike is now ready for a deeper clean, for which you should use a specialist bike cleaning product. Some brands suggest that washing up liquid is fine, although as when cleaning any bike we’d counsel against this, due to the harsher chemicals included.
Instructions for bike cleaners usually say spray on, leave for a period, then wash off with clean water. Your bike cleaner should remove the majority of the more persistent grime. Use a brush to remove dirt from places such as behind the bottom bracket that can be hard to get to.
5. Clean your drivetrain
You should now clean your drivetrain, using a degreaser. Again, this should be standard practice for any bike. But with an electric bike with a mid-mounted motor it’s particularly important as there’s a lot more force transmitted through the chain and gears, which can increase wear.
Removing the abrasive paste that can develop on a chain and gears is a sure-fire way to prolong their life.
Keep the degreaser away from your brakes and braking surfaces, whether your electric bike has disc brakes or rim brakes. If your brakes do need a clean, there are specialist products designed for this.
6. Dry everything off
Now wipe your electric bike down with a soft towel to remove as much water as possible or even use a blower to dry it off. Bumping it up and down on its tyres can shake off a lot of water.
Wipe the chain down, then apply a new layer of specialist bike chain lube to stop it rusting. Wipe off any excess lube, as this can attract dirt.
If you want, you can now use a bike protection spray to help keep your frame cleaner. This will lower your workload next time you need to clean your e-bike, and also help to keep water out of electrical contacts.
Make sure the bike is completely dry before replacing the battery and controller.
7. Keep the electrical contacts clean
We’ve mentioned corrosion of electric parts as a particular issue to avoid when riding an electric bike. There are specialist electric bike contact cleaners and water repellent sprays available, but a general-purpose water displacing spray like GT85 is also effective.
How often should I wash my electric bike?
The trite answer is, whenever it’s dirty. Several brands recommend a quick rinse down after every ride, which can save you money in the long-run, although this might not always be practicable.
You certainly need to wash it down and relube everything after a wet ride, not least because many bike lubes are easily washed off and rust can quickly set in on your chain and non-electric components.
In winter, salt from the road is corrosive. The same is true if you ride near or in the sea, so you need to rinse it off your e-bike as soon as possible.
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