While electric bikes may seem like a wondrously modern way to travel, no mode of transportation escapes the occasional issue.
Those who choose to purchase an e-bike will want to prepare themselves for a few particularly common problems.
Components such as the controller, battery, motor, throttle, wheels, and cut-off switch may all stop working as intended from time to time. Moreover, connections between the motor and chainstay or another electrical wiring may become loose or disconnected entirely.
Here are the 8 common problems with the electric bikes:
- E-Bike Controller Malfunctions
- Problems with Battery Life
- The Motor is Giving Out
- Chainstay Installed Incorrectly
- Loose Electrical Wiring
- Electric Bikes Without Throttles
- Wheels Starting to Lock Up
- Overly Sensitive Cut-Off Switch
Fortunately, there are solutions to every single one of these issues. E-bike owners must simply learn to diagnose and address them properly.
1. E-Bike Controller Malfunctions
An electric bike’s battery and motor cannot function properly without a working controller. For this reason, the controller should be one of the first parts checked when an e-bike’s other components stop working properly. A faulty controller may lead to a variety of issues. For instance:
- The bike may begin making strange noises.
- The motor may cut out unexpectedly.
- Machinery may begin to overheat.
- Speed may become more difficult to control.
When encountering these issues, first check how hot the machine is running. E-bike controllers are incredibly heat-sensitive, and the signs of overheating are evident to the touch.
If the controller becomes too damaged, it may require replacement. Testing the bike with a spare controller will help determine if the current one is no longer useful.
However, sometimes a controller’s connections simply become loose. Be sure to check if any wire connections need tightening. It would be a shame to throw out a perfectly good controller because a simple solution was overlooked.
Furthermore, always check connections to the battery and motor. While controllers can cause issues in these parts, the reverse is also true.
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2. Problems with Battery Life
Some e-bike batteries will occasionally begin to lose charge more quickly than they should, or even fail to hold a charge at all.
Furthermore, extreme temperatures or excessive wear and tear may lead to damaged batteries or swelling of the battery pack. In extreme cases, e-bike batteries may even catch fire.
As with the controller, begin by checking all connections. Also, check the battery’s fuse to ensure it is still in working condition. Barring any external issues, the problem may be a short circuit or non-working lithium-ion cell.
In these cases, the battery may need to be replaced. This becomes increasingly likely as you approach roughly 700 charge cycles.
3. The Motor is Giving Out
If your electric bike’s motor begins cutting out unexpectedly, that does not mean the motor itself is necessarily the issue. Once again, connectivity is key.
A malfunctioning motor may in fact be a battery or controller issue in disguise, so be sure to include these parts in your inspection, paying special mind to look for loose connections. Also, clean the motor of dirt and debris.
While these common solutions often do the trick, those without mechanical knowhow will find themselves at an impasse if the motor continues to pose problems.
In this case, it will be necessary to consult with a professional e-bike mechanic to find other potential root causes and solutions.
4. Chainstay Installed Incorrectly
A more specific connectivity problem with electric bicycles involves the connection between the motor and the chainstay.
This problem occurs most commonly with rear-hub electric bike models. Be sure to inspect this connection when struggling to diagnose motor issues.
Thankfully, this is one issue where e-bike owners can be proactive. Chainstay protectors are easily purchased online and will reduce the likelihood of the chainstay becoming loosened or damaged.
However, sometimes the problem is as simple as the chainstay being improperly installed. An e-bike mechanic can easily diagnose and fix this in no time.
5. Loose Electrical Wiring
Continuing the theme of loose connections, those experiencing e-bike issues will want to check all electrical connections.
Even if the controller, battery, motor, and chainstay are all properly connected with all fuses intact, there may still be a loose wire elsewhere on the bike.
Be diligent in checking every connection to prevent racking up an unnecessary mechanic’s bill.
6. Electric Bikes Without Throttles
One particularly frustrating and common problem stems from the fact that no regulations require e-bike manufacturers to include a throttle.
This often means paying for an electric bike that must still be pedaled manually. However, a throttle may still be purchased and installed by a competent e-bike specialist, since most throttles fit universally.
Even then, the throttle may become damaged, or the cables twisted. Fortunately, this can often be solved by replacing one or two wires rather than the throttle itself. In the event the entire throttle does suffer severe damage, it is often cheaper to replace the whole thing than to bother with repairs.
Finally, the magnets in the pedal assist mechanism may become displaced. It takes little more than a screwdriver and a little knowhow to fix this, but it won’t be the most expensive issue to take to a mechanic if you’re wary of doing it yourself.
Note that most issues involving malfunctioning throttles occur due to overstressing or misusing the machine.
Rather than worrying about the issue after it occurs, opt for prevention by simply being careful to know your bike’s limits and refrain from pushing the throttle beyond a reasonable threshold.
7. Wheels Starting to Lock Up
As with the throttle, an e-bike’s wheels may cease to work properly when the bike is pushed beyond its limits. However, this problem usually doesn’t stem from the wheels themselves.
If your e-bike’s wheels start to lock up, you more than likely have a motor issue. If the problem ceases when pedaling slowly, the motor probably just needs to be repaired rather than replaced.
If the motor shows no signs of damage or overuse, check to see how difficult it is to operate the bike by pedaling manually without the throttle. It’s possible that the chain is too tight and needs to be loosened or replaced.
Barring this, thoroughly cleaning or outright replacing the gears may be all it takes to resolve the issue.
8. Overly Sensitive Cut-Off Switch
Electric bikes include a motor inhibitor switch to prevent the bike from reaching unsafe speeds. Unfortunately, this switch sometimes kicks itself into operation well before intended.
This may happen under several circumstances, including:
- Operating your bike down a steep hill
- Riding the bike in excessively strong winds
- Damage to the brakes, handlebars, or cut-off switch itself
If the brakes are damaged, the obvious solution is to have them repaired or replaced. However, repairing the cut-off switch itself is a trickier proposition.
You might adjust the sensitivity or even disconnect the motor inhibitor altogether, but this means robbing your bike of a vital safety feature.
If you don’t want to take your life into your hands, you’ll need a mechanic for this one.
As with any motorized vehicle, the parts of your electric bike are intricately interconnected. Always perform a thorough inspection of every connected component before leaping to a diagnosis or replacing a part that may not actually be in disrepair.
If you lack mechanical knowledge or simply don’t want to perform the work, there’s no shame in trusting it to the professionals.
Many common problems with electric bikes can be addressed on your own, but erring on the side of caution may cost far less in the end than performing the wrong repairs or doing further damage to your bike.