Get Your Bike and E-Bike Ready for Spring

Author: Hannes Rügheimer

Mar 13, 2024 Safety on the road / Mobility

Bicycles and e-bikes that have spent the winter in the basement or garage should be thoroughly checked before the first ride of the new season. If you are not familiar with the technology of modern bikes, it’s best to leave the maintenance work to experts – for added safety.

The Netherlands is in the lead: For every of the approximately 17 million inhabitants there are 1.3 bicycles. In Germany, that number is 0.98, in Denmark probably slightly lower – directly comparable figures are not collected. However, the COVID 19 pandemic has led to significant growth in both traditional bicycle and e-bike numbers in almost all European countries.
Naturally, not every one of these millions of bikes is used regularly – and even among regular cyclists, there are many who prefer to leave their bikes in the basement during the winter. With rising temperatures and more favorable weather, it is time to get the bike back in shape for more frequent use.

The essentials: From chain to tires, from lights to brakes

Ideally, some care and maintenance measures have already been taken before the bike went into winter hibernation – cleaning and greasing the chain in particular. If this was neglected, the chain may need to be freed from rust, cleaned, and re-greased.
It is just as important to check the tires carefully: The rubber may have become porous after long periods of inactivity. This increases the risk of a tire blowout during the ride. Fine cracks can be an early sign of such problems. It is also essential to check and adjust the tire pressure.
Lighting also plays a crucial role in road safety. Cyclists can easily check the functionality of headlights and taillights, any parking and brake lights, and the presence of reflectors on the rear of the bike, on the pedals, as well as on the spokes and tires themselves.
Marc Gölz, DEKRA expert for bicycle damage assessments, points out other aspects that are crucial for the roadworthiness and safety of the bike: “The braking system is very important for safety – modern bikes have disc brakes, the pad thickness of which needs to be checked. In the case of hydraulic brake systems, the brake fluid or oil may also need to be changed.”

Leave inspection and maintenance to trained professionals

The expert also points out: “The technology of modern bicycles is complex and challenging for non-experts to adjust and maintain.” This applies, for example, to adjusting the gears, but also to the braking system and other components.” Hence, we recommend to leave inspection and maintenance to a specialist.” While some bike dealers only service the bikes they sell, other bike workshops have specialized in offering such services for all customers. Typical prices for an inspection start at 49 euros, with additional costs for spare parts and lubricants.
Marc Gölz strongly advocates for this investment in one’s own safety: “Laypeople are definitely not doing themselves any favors if they attempt maintenance or even repairs on modern, highly technical bicycles on their own.” Those looking to save money here are saving on the wrong end – and could regret it in case of an emergency, when an optimally functioning brake is crucial.
The highly recommended checks, adjustments, and maintenance works are better handled by professionals who do this on a daily basis. With such inspections, you are flexible. “Even if it’s not immediately your bike’s turn, you can drop it off and pick it up again a few days later in top condition.”

Inspections are even more crucial for e-bikes

While an annual inspection is highly recommended for conventional bikes, it is a must for electric bikes. “Due to the electric motor support, the components of an e-bike are subjected to much higher forces than on conventional bikes,” explains Marc Gölz. “The loads the components bear are higher, so it is also crucial that they are well maintained and optimally adjusted.”
While drive units of modern e-bikes are virtually maintenance-free, their battery deserves special attention and care. “Under no circumstances should it be stored for months on end in cold basements or garages,” DEKRA expert Gölz recommends. Ideally, the e-bike’s battery should spend the winter at around 50 percent charge level at room temperature, stored in a fireproof place. For example, on tiles or a concrete floor rather than on a wooden shelf.
If the battery was stored outside, it is best to bring it indoors before charging, to allow it to acclimatize to room temperature. Only then should you start to charge it to prevent damage to the expensive e-bike battery.
Bicycle services at DEKRA
Damage assessments are just one aspect of the extensive services DEKRA offers for bicycles and e-bikes. To prevent damage and accidents from occurring in the first place, DEKRA offers a wide range of services relating to two-wheeled mobility. These range from expert tips over material and component testing to online instruction for company cyclists. You can find an overview of the services at https://www​.dekra​.com/en/bicycles-services/ .