Tire pressure is one of the simplest regular maintenance tasks for a bike rider, and one that can have a big effect on your riding experience. We can see and feel a flat tire, or a tire that just needs a bit more air, and most of us have access to a hand held or step-on bike pump.
There are two types of valves available on bike tire tubes: the thicker Schrader valve and the thinner Presta valve. The former is more common on Pedego bikes, but pumps can usually handle either style.
When you attach your pump to the valve, you pull a lever which locks the nozzle to the valve stem. Sometimes this doesn’t work first time. If the gauge on the pump reads zero, this usually means things haven’t locked together properly. Remove and reattach the pump nozzle to the valve until the gauge registers the tire pressure.
The recommended pressure range is written on the side of every bike tire; for safety you should keep your tire pressure within this range. For example, the range for a Pedego City Commuter 28” Schwalbe Fat Frank tire is 35-60 psi. The range on the tire for the Elevate electric mountain bikes is 17-35 psi.
Whereabouts within this range you keep your pressure comes down to personal preference. Factors like riding surface, speed, efficiency, rider weight and comfort come into play. A few basics about tire pressure:
- Higher pressure gives a harder tire; the bike rolls more easily and you will get better range. The converse is true; low tire pressure can significantly reduce the distance you get on each charge.
- Tire pressure at the lower end of the recommended range will give a softer ride. This is particularly noticeable with the larger volume “balloon” or “fat” tires. The softer tires act as a type of suspension and absorbs the bumps better than a hard tire.
- Lower tire pressure results in more tire touching the ground, which gives better grip.
- If the tire pressure is too low, the tire can become unstable when cornering at high speeds; hence the low end of the recommended range for each tire.
- Very low pressure can result in more frequent punctures, when the tube gets squeezed against the rim on bumps.
How to select your tire pressure? Just try a few different pressures within the recommended range to see what works for you! At Pedego Canada, when riding on paved roads, we like to keep our Commuters at 45 psi in the front, 50 psi in the back, and our Interceptors a slightly more comfy 40 in the front, 45 in the back.
You should check your tire pressure before each ride with a squeeze. If you haven’t ridden for a while, or suspect a leak, use a tire gauge to check your psi. Tires may become soft with changes in the weather, so don’t assume your inner tube needs replacing. If it maintains air pressure after you’ve pumped it back up, the inner tube is fine.
Once you get into bigger volume tires or more technical riding, tire pressure becomes even more important. For example, with our Trail Tracker fat tire bike, the way the bike handles can change much more with a relatively small change in tire pressure. You can ride the Trail Tracker with tire pressures below 10psi; at those pressures the tire spreads out across the ground and is great for soft surfaces like sand or snow. However, it wouldn’t feel very good to ride on hard pavement at such low pressure! The Elevate electric mountain bike also handles very differently depending on the tire pressure. Even though the riding is more technical, the same theory applies for these bikes; play around until you find the pressure that works for you.
Electric bikes are a lot of fun to ride in the winter, as we’ve already said in our previous article, “How to Prepare Your Electric Bike for Winter Riding.” But, as that story mentioned, there are key things you can do to get ready for the season, including switching out your tires to studded tires, rust proofing certain areas of your bike and getting warm clothes, winter boots and a waterproof, breathable jacket. But what should you do to maintain your electric bike throughout the winter?
Store Your Electric Bike Properly
If you choose to store your bike between November and March, rather that ride it, there are things you should do to maintain your electric bike. For example, if you’re storing it, make sure to keep it in a dry location that’s not too hot or too cold. If you have to leave it in an unheated shed over the winter, for example, remove the battery and store it inside the house. Also, don’t charge your battery if it’s very cold (below freezing) as that does harm to the cells. Instead, wait for it to be at room temperature before charging. And, as mentioned in our “How To Take Care of Your Lithium Battery” blog, make sure your battery is partially charged when storing, preferably between 40% and 80%, and check its charge occasionally.
Wipe Down Your Electric Bike After Every Ride
If you are riding your electric bike in the winter time, try to avoid doing so when it’s very slushy outside as the watery, salty snow can get embedded in your gears and seep into hard-to-reach areas. That said, wiping down your electric bike after every ride will help a lot. We recommend you follow the instructions we laid out in our “How to Clean Your Electric Bike” article. But we also know it can be hard to rinse a bike in the wintertime so instead wipe it down with an old cloth after every ride. This may seem like a lot but it’s important that salty water from the roads not be allowed to dry on your bike. Fenders do an excellent job of keeping water from getting into the frame but they don’t protect your rims, spokes, chainrings and chain. So give those a quick wipe to dry them before storing for the night.
Clean Your Chain Regularly
It’s not enough to wipe down your chain regularly – it’s important to clean it and use a bike chain-specific lubricant regularly. If the chain has a lot of dirt or grime build-up, use a chain solvent such as Simple Green or warm water and any degreasing dish soap, and an old toothbrush to scrub away the grim. It doesn’t take very long but it will save you money to have a professional unclog all the gunk in your chain later. Then use a bike chain lubricant on it liberally to ward off rust.
Did you know the battery in your Pedego electric bike is made of the same material that’s in your laptop, cell phone and electric car? Lithium battery technology has come a long way in the past decade and it’s now what powers many of our electronics. What you might not know is there are easy things you can do to maintain lithium batteries and prolong their lifespan. In most cases, you can expect a battery to last between 3 and 5 years if it is well maintained. (A lithium battery will slowly lose its capacity over time, even if it’s not used.) Pedego offers a full 2-year replacement warranty on all its batteries, which is testimony to how well we believe our lithium batteries are made. But obviously it’s preferable to have your lithium battery last a full five years.
In this “How To Take Care Of Your Lithium Battery” article, we’re going to look at easy things you can do to help improve the performance and lifespan of the lithium battery that powers your electric bike (and all other lithium batteries for that matter).
Don’t Let Your Lithium Battery Get Too Hot
It’s important you avoid storing a lithium battery in the direct sunlight or in very hot places, such as the interior of a car during hot whether, for long periods. This rule goes for all lithium batteries, whether they’re in your computer or your electric bike. In short, heat hurts batteries. Likewise, extreme cold isn’t great for your lithium battery but it’s not as problematic as extreme heat. The lithium battery on your electric bike is designed to go out in the cold and any Pedego electric bike owner in Canada will tell you they work very well in winter weather. However, to prolong the lifespan of your lithium battery, it’s best not to keep your electric bike battery out in the cold for long periods of time. For example, taking your electric bike into town and locking it outside in cold weather for a few hours and then riding home again is fine. But rather than leave it outside overnight, it’s a good idea to store your bike inside (in a garage or basement for example) or at the very least remove the battery and store that inside. The ideal temperature at which to store your lithium battery is higher than 10°C and lower than 20°C. It’s also important to remember to ensure your battery is above freezing before charging, otherwise you could harm the cells.
Don’t Store A Lithium Battery Fully Charged, Or Totally Depleted
Storing a fully depleted lithium battery could be bad because, as mentioned above, a lithium battery will slowly discharge over time even when you’re not using it. If a voltage drops too low, cell damage could occur. Likewise storing a fully-charged lithium battery, or storing it while the charger is connected to it and a power source, has a negative impact on the recoverable capacity; try to avoid leaving the battery on the charger overnight.
If storing a lithium battery for a long period, ensure it has a charge between about 40% and 80% of a full charge. To best accomplish this, charge your lithium battery and then take your electric bike for a short ride to deplete a little bit of energy. Over the winter months, be sure to check your battery every month or so. Most Pedego lithium batteries have indicator lights telling you how much of a charge it has left. If it’s below 40%, give it a half hour charge. If you don’t have an indicator light on the battery, plug it into the bike to check the voltage.
Don’t Regularly Discharge Your Lithium Battery Fully
Contrary to old beliefs, it’s not a good idea to completely discharge your lithium batteries on a regular basis. This has been proven by various research and you can read an excellent paper about it here. Instead, partial discharges with regular top-ups are recommended to extend the lifespan of lithium batteries. The occasional full discharge isn’t a big problem but doing so regularly will have a negative impact on the cells.