If the holiday season brought you a new e-bike, it’s time to get up to speed on e-bike service and maintenance options. 2020 saw an explosion of bike sales, with e-bike sales on track to grow from 3.7 million a year to 17 million by 2030. That’s a lot of battery checks, tune-ups and brake adjustments.
E-bikes are not cheap so it’s worth finding an experienced shop or technician who understands the complexities of e-bike batteries, brakes and drivetrains (the network that includes the pedals, cogs, chain and derailleur). Most highly rated bike shops fix and maintain e-bikes but it’s smart to ask whether the technician has experience with your brand in particular, as some companies have component parts that aren’t standard.
A few brands provide dedicated service that ensures your vehicle gets the attention it needs. Rad Power Bikes, for instance, recently launched a mobile service that comes to you if you own a Rad. The company’s big Rad vans show up — draws neighborhood crowds, even — in nine cities around the U.S. and Canada for assembly, adjustments, safety checks, and flat tire fixes. I asked Chris Porter, Director of Product Quality and Post-Sale Service at Rad Power Bikes, about the unique maintenance requirements of e-bikes and what to expect from an e-bike house call.
What are the special service needs of e-bikes that might be new for people who’ve only ridden pedal bikes?
Chris Porter: The service needs of an e-bike aren’t all that different than a traditional pedal bike. As with all bikes, e-bikes require regular cleaning to keep the drivetrain working well and to extend the life of the bike. Rain, grime, rock salt, and dirt can damage the chain over time, and cleaning your bike and chain regularly will help keep your bike safe and fun to ride.
Riders should also examine their tires regularly to make sure they’re in good condition. This means inspecting them for any shrapnel you may have picked up while riding. If you notice anything that’s become embedded, pick it out. Depending on the extent of the object you remove, the tire may still be usable, although if the threads or casing is visible it will need to be replaced.
One of the main differences between an electric bike and a traditional bike is the battery. We encourage riders to follow some common-sense steps to prolong battery, namely keeping it charged regularly, properly storing it when not in use, and not riding in temperatures lower than -4 °F.
Before each ride, you should also check the bike and its components for signs of improper alignment, security, and function. This includes making sure the electrical connectors are all plugged in securely and that nothing is loose or disconnected, and making sure that the battery is properly locked onto the bike.
How many Rad vans are out on the road and where are they? How many service technicians do you have out there?
Chris Porter: We currently have 19 Mobile Ambassadors and nine service vans operating in nine cities: Seattle; Austin; Portland and Bend, Oregon; Sacramento and Orange County, California; Miami; Phoenix and Vancouver, B.C.
What are the rates of service calls?
Chris Porter: Prices vary based on location and the service needed, but the minimum service charge ranges between $99-$129. We are currently offering our assembly and delivery service for $199 in all locations and test rides are free of charge. Our Rad Mobile Service includes a variety of offerings, including a basic tune, inspection and adjustment of the bike’s mechanical and electrical systems, including the drivetrain, braking system, and tires. Even bike cleaning.
Winter bikes need winter bike cleaning, for sure. What else should readers know?
Chris Porter: Rad Mobile Service launched in late 2019 in Seattle and Vancouver. We are gearing up to launch in 12 additional cities in 2021 with an expanded fleet of 27 service vans so that we’re able to meet the needs of more customers across the United States.
When we launched Rad Mobile Service in 2019, we changed the way people can have them serviced or delivered. By providing test rides, assembly and delivery, as well as maintenance and warranty work in a mobile setting, we make it easier and more convenient for our customers to select and maintain their bikes.
The timing is good. We’re all rijkding bikes but nobody wants to enter a bike shop. I like the idea of the bike shop coming to you.
Chris Porter: This local direct to consumer approach combines the convenience of shopping online with the in-person services that you’d find at one of our retail showrooms, which helps alleviate some of the concerns customers may have about buying a bike online. And our local Rad Mobile ambassadors bring unmatched knowledge and experience about our e-bikes and the communities they serve, ensuring that our customers can enjoy the full Rad experience, even if they can’t visit our showrooms.
I’ll add one last thing. Even the best curbside service won’t matter if your bike gets stolen, and, in some places, bike thefts are up 27 percent this year. Get a good bike lock!
The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.