So you have made the move from a traditional two wheel bicycle to a three wheeled e-trike, how do you make sure your rides are smooth and trouble free? You might be surprised to know that the majority of the components on eTrikes Canada’s electric trikes are standard bicycle parts. Tektro disc brakes, Shimano gears, Bafang motors, Samsung, LG or Panasonic lithium-ion batteries, Kenda tires, Mozo suspension are common across all models we carry.
By using standard components it makes ongoing maintenance of your electric tricycle straight forward and quite similar to that of a traditional bicycle. Keep your trike clean and dry, keep key parts lubricated, check key bolts on wheels and axles, keep your tires pumped up, carry a patch kit and some tools.
In most cases your local bike shop will be able to perform basic maintenance and service on your electric trike.
You’re planning a big ride tomorrow and you’re ready to roll. But is your e-trike ready? The last thing you want is unforeseen surprises after you set out on your ride. It won’t be a very long ride if you get a flat tire, or your battery is not fully charged, or you go to stop and find out your trike doesn’t want to stop.
Before you head out, it's important to make sure that your trike is ready to ride. Always check your battery, major bolts, especially on the rear axle, plus brakes, quick release bolts for seat, handlebars and wheels as well as tire pressure.
- Clean your electric tricycle. Always start with a clean set of wheels so you have less work to do post-ride.
- Always check your brakes! Your electric trike is quite a bit heavier than a traditional e-bike with most coming in over 100 pounds. Working brakes are even more important when taking into consideration this additional weight.
- Closely check all three tires and wheels and rims to make sure they do not show signs of damage or wear. Some cosmetic damage will happen like scratches, dents, scrapes which is to be expected with regular riding. This is ok as long as the wheels spin freely and straight. If there is some wobble you will need to inspect the spokes to ensure they are not bent, damaged or loose.
- Tires are key, always keep a tire patch kit with you – simple punctures can be easily patched just like a normal bicycle tube. If you see any holes, cracking, significant tread wear or tearing in the tire itself it is time to replace them
- Check the chain and gears. The pedals, derailleur, Nexus gears, chainrings etc all need to be in working order for the trike to ride smoothly. Always check to make sure shifting functions are smooth, if the gears do not shift smoothly it is recommended you visit your local bike shop for a tune up
- Cable check – the cables, and in some cases hydraulics, control the gear shifting and braking operations of your e-trike for adults. With continued use these cables will eventually wear out and stretch. How much depends on how much you ride. You should regularly check your cables for rust, dirt, cracks or bends in the cable itself.
- Lube up! The chain, and other components need regular lubrication to continue functioning properly and last without issues. Kind of like how a car engine won’t run for long without oil. Once your e-trike is properly cleaned, use an approved bicycle lubricant and apply it to the chain and any moving parts on the derailleur and exposed cabling.
If you are doing regular pre-ride checks you will not need to do a whole lot for your post-ride check. Make sure your electric trike is clean and dry. Wipe down the chain and any other dirty parts and lubricate accordingly. Any water, mud or moisture left on your trike may cause premature damage or rusting. Doing a once over to check for loose or missing bolts or parts after each ride is a good way to make sure you have no surprises when you are out on your next ride.
Extending The Life Of Your E-Trike Battery
Our eco-friendly electric trikes use ling-life lithium-ion batteries making them a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Lithium-ion batteries are a great improvement over earlier batteries, as the price of lithium-ion continues to come down and technology improves, an electric tricycle becomes a better much more appealing alternative option to your daily commute.
We always recommend reading the owner's manual for the battery that ships with your electric trike as each model uses a different style of battery. There are some risks with lithium-ion batteries, they can become unstable and are flammable of paired with the incorrect charger or are used incorrectly.
If you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations you will get the most out of your battery life. The life of an e-bike battery is calculated in charge cycles. This is the number of complete charges from 0 to 100% that the battery can undergo before it starts to lose efficiency.
Once you reach the specified number of charge cycles you can expect a reduction in overall battery performance. This doesn’t mean the battery will stop working at this point, it just won’t hold a charge as long.
Managing Your E-Trike Battery
When you completely drain the charge on a lithium-ion battery, it will reduce its ability to hold a charge over time resulting in reduce capacity. It is recommended that you always keep a lithium-ion battery fully charged. You can plug it in to top it up after a ride, even after only a short distance.
Don’t Swap Chargers
Under NO circumstances should you use a charger other than the one provided by the manufacturer. First, doing so will void any warranty. Second, there is a high risk of fire or explosion if you use an un-approved charger.
Create A Safe Charging Environment
With the risk of fire with all lithium-ion batteries it is strongly recommended that you designate a safe area to charge your electric tricycle battery. Indoors on an empty garage floor or outdoors are good options. Keep an eye on how long the battery is on the charger. Most chargers are smart and will detect when the battery is fully charged and automatically switch off. As a precautionary measure, always unplug the charger when you aren’t using it. If your charger is not a smart charger you will need to closely monitor the battery as it chargers. Unplug it when the battery is fully charged.
Always turn off the battery on your e-trike after each use, most have auto shutoff features but if the power switch on the battery remains in the on position and has not been charged in some time, it may experience failure.
If you suspect your e-trike battery is damaged you should not charge it under any circumstances. Never leave it charging indoors and unattended.
Don’t Drain Your Battery
You should not run the charge on your e-trike battery completely down to zero on a regular basis. Over time, discharging a lithium-ion battery to 0% is damaging and will reduce the overall charge the battery will hold.
Smaller discharges are easier on the battery and allows them to last longer. Using regular top ups with only partial discharges will help in extending battery life. When you see your battery down to 50% charge it is time to charge it back up to full.
If your battery is fully discharged on occasion it’s okay but is best not to make this a habit!
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
Lithium-batteries perform best between 0 and 25 degrees Celsius. Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, should be avoided. As the cells in a Lithium-Ion battery heat up they lose electrical resistance. Warm temperatures will cause the battery to discharge more quickly.
Cooler temperatures make for happier batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries resistance increase in colder conditions. Keep your battery in a cool dry place when in not in use and make sure it is at room temperature before charging.
Keep Your E-Trike Battery Dry
Any kind of moisture is bad news for your lithium-ion battery. Always store your e-trike in a secure, dry location and remember to consider humidity. Every few months we recommend removing the battery from your electric tricycle and check the contacts for rust, making sure they are clean and dry.
Long Term Battery Storage
If you will not be using your electric trike for more than a couple of month it is important to store your battery in a fire safe location. Over time the battery will discharge on its own and you do not want to let the battery completely drain. Batteries are best stored with between 40% and 80% charge.
Check the battery every two to three months to monitor the charge level, topping off as needed.
Do Not Open
Never open your e-trike battery. First off, this will void any warranty. Second, this is very dangerous! The lithium-ion cells contain highly combustible lithium powder that can explode on contact with oxygen. The risk of fire is high so simply put – DON’T OPEN
Good Habits Help Avoid Surprises
If you follow these basic guidelines regularly as you enjoy your electric tricycle for seniors you will get the most out of your e-trike. Ongoing and regular preventative maintenance, proper storage and battery care will ensure your trike spends more time on the road than in the shop.