As one of the most expensive and important e bike components, the e-bike motor deserves a lot of care and attention. Not only is the motor typically very costly to repair or replace, but it’s a lot of work, too. Therefore, the best solution is to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that holds true in this case.
E-bike motors are often found in the hub of the rear wheel. This is a good common placement for the motor due to its affordability and design simplicity. Some bikes, like the Himiway Cobra Pro, offer a mid-drive motor which allows for higher performance riding and extremely smooth acceleration because the force is coming from the center of the bike. However, tips on protecting the e-bike motor apply to any placement of the motor.
The main reason to protect the motor is due to the simple fact that friction inside the motor generates heat. When combined with a high external temperature, such as while riding during the hottest days of summer, the heat can become too much for the motor to function properly. Motors are typically enclosed systems with sensors, gears, and electronics. Just like your computer, they require heat dissipation, which is another way of saying they need a method to cool down. But instead of cooling down with a fan like your laptop or desktop computer, motors rely on complicated inner rings and magnets to dissipate the heat.
The motor can only deal with so much heat at once, so when the temperature rises to too high of a level, it can damage the motor and cause the mechanical components to seize up and ruin the entire motor. These complex pieces of equipment are vulnerable to heat when not managed correctly. We’ve covered general e-bike motor care tips before, but today we will focus exclusively on protections for riding in hot weather.
Keep Your E-Bike in a Shaded or Covered Location Whenever Possible
Although most e-bikes are perfectly suited for exposure to the sun, reducing the heat and environmental factors when possible is generally a good idea. Not only will this protect your motor from overheating on the off chance something is wrong, but it will also keep your bike in better condition overall. When a bike is exposed to the elements, it can be damaged by wind or rain. Leaving a bike outside and uncovered can increase the risk of theft, and it may even collect bird droppings!
Use your E-bike Properly
Understanding where and how to ride is important to preserving the life of the motor. For example, riding in deep mud or heavy sand will cause your motor to work extra hard. Combined with high temperatures from the sun and heavy prolonged use of the throttle could overheat the motor if any other variable is slightly amiss. Reduce the chance of an issue by riding in normal conditions with proper tire pressure and the recommended capacity. Over-burdening the bike with the weight of the rider and too many heavy items may overheat the motor.
Inspect Your E-bike Motor
A damaged motor or one that has been left out in the rain may cause corrosion in the form of rust. Water may seep into the motor and rust the parts inside, and it can be hard to tell. Visually inspect your motor for signs of rust in the seams of the metal on the motor. Look for any exposed wires or damaged components, as this may cause the motor to short circuit while you are riding. Fires can occur inside motors which have liquids spilled over them or when submerged in water. Although the entire e-bike is water-resistant, no e-bike is completely waterproof.
Don’t Hack the E-bike’s Factory Settings
The factory settings that your bike is shipped with are set this way for a reason. Research and development teams have tested their bikes for thousands and thousands of hours to perform with specific parameters. Overriding these settings and using the bike for an unintended purpose or with unintended power can cause the motor to overheat, short circuit, burn out, or seize up.
There are many options such as the level of pedal assist and the amount of power that each level provides, which can safely be changed. Just don’t try to hack your bike to go above or below the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Not only will this potentially damage the motor in the heat, but it may also be against the law and void your e-bike warranty.
Use Only Original E-bike Manufacturer’s Parts
Some riders may be tempted to buy an aftermarket charger from a different company. But this can damage the battery and cause it to overheat. Riding a bike with an overheating battery may compromise the motor, which is trying to provide power to a failing system. Similarly, the battery needs to be factory for the specific bike. Otherwise, it may be misaligned with the power needs of the motor. By providing too much electricity to the electric motor, it can cause it to overheat.
There are many quality controls and regulations which govern the use of electronic components for e-bikes. Even so, it is important to pay attention to your own use and maintenance of your bike. Using these tips during warm months will lower the risk of your motor failing or overheating.
Keep your bike covered and stored in the shade whenever possible. Use your e-bike only for approved and safe situations. Inspect your bike and motor regularly for signs of damage or unusual activity. Keep the factory settings as-is and don’t try to bypass safety precautions built into your bike. Finally, always use the original manufacturer's charging cords, batteries, and motor. This alignment between all the brand’s recommended bike components will ensure no issues occur due to mismatched parts. For more ideas on summer riding, check out our best recommendations for beach activities or commuting with your e-bike in 2022.