E-BIKE TECH CORNER
Q: I recently bought a used Bulls e-mountain bike. The owner claimed it was a 2020 with 1400 miles on it. He also said he hadn’t ridden anything too extreme and it was free from any major frame scratches. Service and maintenance are my main concerns and something I have no experience with on an e-bike. Are there things that tend to wear out quicker than normal bikes? And, what about the motor? Is there anything I can do to service it?
A: It’s a bike first, so things aren’t as different as you may think. Even in 2020 e-bikes were pretty sturdy and spec’d with extra weight and torque in mind, things like bigger rims, stronger chains and downtubes to protect the battery. Most important, though, is how a bike has been treated, how hard it has been ridden and how heavy the person was who had it last.
The heavier the rider, the more often we see e-bikes ridden in the highest power settings, which obviously adds more load and fatigue on everything. With that said, it’s amazing how many miles you can get out of an e-bike. There really isn’t a lot of service you can do inside the motor as a consumer. It is generally sealed and required to be sent to the manufacturer for warranty or fixes.
Simply cleaning the battery contact points will eliminate the chance of any unnecessary error codes. The wiring harnesses can acquire corrosion and dust over time, and that can be cleaned up, but we recommend bringing it to a dealer to have that done. Taking the covers off and trying to drop off your motor to clean things can have inherent risks. Pinching wires is fairly easy when reinstalling motors, so proceed with caution if you plan on taking it on yourself.
“Replacing rear linkage bearings will help alleviate extra stress on the frame and add back some of that new-bike feeling.”
Replacing rear linkage bearings will help alleviate extra stress on the frame and add back some of that new-bike feeling. The cable lines can be cleaned or replaced for like-new shifting, and you’re going to want to check the drivetrain life. This could mean bringing it to a shop and seeing how much life the chain has on it if you don’t have a chain-life tool. Be prepared to purchase a whole new drivetrain if the chain is worn too far. Just replacing the chain, cassette and front chainring will leave you with a chain that hops teeth particularly in the high-speed cogs.
The chances are if you have a Bulls from 2020 it’s a Brose motor. They are a blast to ride because of the low-end torque and smooth, quiet power. One problem we’ve seen, though, is that the Brose belts notoriously fail under plain riding conditions, heavy rider or not. There is an upgraded parts kit you can have installed on those Brose motors, though, that are said to last longer.
WHAT ABOUT SUSPENSION SEATPOSTS?
Q: My wife and I recently purchased e-bikes to take camping with us, which we are thrilled about, but we need some advice. The bikes that ended up fitting our budget and our style of riding turned out to be fully rigid bikes. In most cases they are fine, but my wife wants a comfortable seat for the gravel roads we sometimes end up on. I thought of ordering one of those suspension seatposts, but I’m not sure which one to try and if it will fit my bike. Any direction you can give me would be appreciated.
A: The search for comfortable seating is easily one the most commonly talked-about subjects with new cyclists, and by no means is it unwarranted, because we all have different backside needs. We can’t say what seat is the best for you, but we would recommend the suspension seatpost. Again, which one to buy is going to depend on how much you want to spend. One we’ve had the most time on and like is the Kinekt by Cirrus Cycles, which we thought was very high quality. And, it does make the ride feel much more comfortable.
Take the time to measure your seat-post so that you don’t order the wrong size. If you are not sure, you can call your dealer, and they will be able to tell you what size the post is for your bike. The chances are that you’ll have a 31.8mm or perhaps a 27.2mm, which are fairly common. Beware, though, because we have seen oddball measurements from certain cheaper e-bikes, so double check that you have it right before ordering.