You’ve had your fun in the hills, or touring around country lanes, so now it’s time to get out the hose and wash your e-bike to get rid of any muck. Cleaning your pride and joy is a common chore for most electric bike riders, but how do you safely clean an e-bike without shorting the battery or damaging any of the electrical components?
Can you use a jet wash to clean your electric bike?
It is possible to use a power washer when cleaning an e-bike – in fact, UK bike cleaning brand Muck-Off have even developed their own power washer for exactly this purpose. Most common power washers, such as Karcher’s K4, give extreme levels of power as they are designed to really blast ingrained dirt from rough surfaces.
However, if you have the cash available, it may be worthwhile trading in the K4 for a Muck-Off cleaner, as these have been specially developed to remove dirt at lower pressures, protecting the seals around your electronics and other sensitive components. If selling the Karcher is not for you, simply use the low-pressure settings to make sure water isn’t blasting into places you don’t want it to go!
What’s the safest way to wash an e-bike?
By far the safest way to wash an electric bike is using a good old bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge. However, this will take far more time and you will need a lot of elbow grease to remove dirt that has been trapped in those hard-to-reach places, especially around the chainset and suspension components.
We advise using a mixture of the two – cleaning non-electric parts with the pressure washer and gently cleaning the outer surface of sealed electronic components with a soapy sponge to make sure the seals are never compromised. To enable easy access to these components, we recommend using a bike stand. This will lift the ebike off the floor, providing easy access to those hard-to-reach places where the dirt and grime likes to hide.
Remember, before you start washing your e-bike, make sure your power is turned off!
A step-by-step guide to washing your electric bike
1) Remove the bulk of the dirt from your e-bike:
Once your ebike is on the stand, use the pressure washer on a low setting to remove excess dirt from the tyres, chain, gears, derailleurs and underneath the crank. If your electric bike has a mid-mounted motor, like my Wisper, then you should take great care if using the power washer. I would advise using a hose for this part, as a lot of the muck will fall away easily. Once you’ve removed most of it with the hose, you can simply wipe away any remaining dirt using the sponge.
2) Cleaning the chain
There are hundreds of chain cleaning products available, but to be brutally honest, they all seem to be rebranded versions of the same thing. Chain degreaser is not something to be precious about, so own-brand versions will suffice. Liberally spray the chain, turning the crank as you go to ensure every link is covered, and making sure each cog in the gear set is saturated too. Leave the degreaser to soak in – we’ll clean this off later.
3) Cleaning the frame
Most modern electric bikes will have the batteries hidden in the frame, however there are still many brands available that have rear-rack mounted batteries too. Do not remove the battery when cleaning – removing the battery will expose the connections to water and is likely to short the electrics when you try to turn it back on. Instead, clean your frame with the battery still attached – just use your common sense – be gentle and don’t blast seals with a high-power water jet.
When washing my e-bike, I normally start at the handlebars, gently wiping with a damp sponge to remove any grime. Then, I methodically work my way along the crossbar, and down the frame to ensure no parts are missed.
Look out for dirt hiding in tight corners, such as underneath the welds behind the seat post and crank. A damp towel can be a real savior for these areas, as you can feed one end through the gaps, pulling the towel up and down from both ends to get better access to the space.
4) Cleaning your electric bike’s forks
This is another area where a power washer can be potentially damaging. If you have suspension forks its best to stick to using your sponge, as excessive pressure can damage the seals and force water into the cavity below. Don’t forget to clean the side of the fork closest to the wheel – you can also use your trusty towel for these tricky areas. One area to note is above the wheel where the forks slide into the head tube. This is often open and can get full of mud. Exercise caution again in this area, as the headtube can also be used to conceal wiring on electric bicycles.
5) Rinsing the e-bike
Now that you have been over every nook and cranny, it’s time to rinse your bike down. For this task, you won’t need much water pressure – a decent hose or jet wash on a low-pressure setting will suffice. The best place to start is at the back of the bike – specifically the chain and gears. The degreaser should have dissolved any oily build up and mud on the chain, so it should rinse off with ease. Make sure you clean all parts of the chain by rotating the pedals to access the links that have been rested on the gears.
The rest of the frame and forks should also rinse clean easily, leaving you with a nice and shiny bike. If there’s any mud left on the tyres, feel free to ramp up the pressure and blast it away. Once completed, leave the bike to dry, rotating the pedals occasionally to make sure all links are free to dry off too. Remember, before you set off on your next adventure, you will need to lube your chain once more. By repeating this process each time you return from a ride, your electric bike should last you a long time. Happy riding!