Updated: Jul 29
We recommend checking your brakes regularly. Given how vital the brakes are on your ebike, it is important that you take care of them to ensure your stopping power. If you want, bring your ebike into our service center for brake adjustments and repairs (or any qualified bike ship). Remember, an ebike carries more weight (motor and battery) than the average bike, so your brake system works harder in stopping the bike than a regular lightweight bike, and should be checked frequently.
Here are some tips and an easy-to-follow video on bike brake care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsZPUyFZaxQ
Your ebike has either mechanical or hydraulic disc brake parts, with the primary components pictured below:
Disc / rotor Brake pads
Disc caliper Brake levers & cables
Bikes with new brakes need to be broken in, or what is referred to as “bedding in” your new brakes. This increases braking power and can help prevent squeaky brakes. Here are the steps:
1. Start pedaling your bike and get it up to a speed around 5-10 mph. Do the rear, then front brakes.
2. Apply your rear brake and squeeze evenly until you are at a walking speed.
3. You may notice very poor stopping power at the beginning of this process, which is perfectly normal.
4. There may also be excess noise created during this process, which is also normal.
5. Use care not to come to a complete stop or to lock up the brake and skid. Doing this can deposit an uneven amount of material on the rotors.
6. Repeat this process 10 to 20 times.
7. You will know that you are done when you are able to stop smoothly and quickly. You should be able to skid if you were to try, but do not skid during the process!
8. When the rear brake is properly bedded in and you are able to stop smoothly and quickly, repeat the process for the front brake.
9. Your brakes are ready to go - repeat this process whenever the brake pads and/or brake rotors are replaced.
A video on this bedding process is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SeyuV4OuzM&t=9s
Brake system maintenance tips:
1. Avoid touching the brake disc (rotor). The primary reason for this is that after engaging the brakes or riding downhill for a little while, due to friction, the discs can become very hot. You should wait a few minutes before doing anything with the brakes to allow for sufficient cooling. Another reason is that oils from your fingers can contaminate the disc. Oils on the disc will cause a loss of brake power and can make them squeaky when applied.
2. If you are cleaning your bike chain with a degreaser, or tuning it up using lubricant, be careful not to get any on the disc. This can also cause a loss of braking power. It is possible that if those chemicals contact the brake pads for long enough, it can seep into the pad material and compromise them. In this case, it is a good idea to replace the pad – better safe than sorry. If you happen to get some oils or chemicals on the brake rotor itself, just use disc brake cleaner to remove it. Squeaky pads that are glazed can be sanded to help with squeaking, or simply replaced.
3. Along with making sure that your brake disc rotor is clean, you should also examine and clean your pads regularly. Any material or dirt that isn’t meant to be there will affect braking power and should be removed. You should also check out the thickness of your pads, as owing to the friction between the pad and disc they wear down over time and lose their effectiveness. Brake pad wear and tear is more likely to happen during winter or in wet conditions when there is grit and more debris on the roads. A can of brake cleaner is good to have on the shelf. WD40 should not be put on your brakes since it can reduce friction where it is needed and even break down and damage brake components. While spraying WD40 may temporarily reduce a brake squeal or squeak, it could also cause the brakes not to function correctly when you need them most.
Brake pads should be replaced once they have worn away. Not replacing brake pads early enough will result in damaged brake discs and resulting faded brake power. There are metal plates underneath brake pads which will be pressed against the disc when pads are worn out, damaging both the pad and the disc. It is important to note that because electric bikes are heavier than traditional bicycles and travel at greater speed, the brake pads may get worn down faster than you would expect.
4. Try not to damage your discs. If you remove your wheels for storage or cleaning, be careful where you leave your disc. If the disc were to bend or warp, your brakes will not be as effective, probably noisy, and may not work at all. Disc brakes operate by being pinched by the brake pads and if the disc were to be off at all, the pads would not be applied to both sides of the disc equally, and thus have less effectiveness.
5. A common problem with disc brakes occurs when the pads are not positioned correctly, and rub off the disc even when the brakes are not engaged. This will cause your brakes to be noisy and prematurely wear down if the problem is not fixed. Luckily this is a quick fix, and can be done by loosening the brake caliper bolts and pulling the brake lever. The caliper should square itself with the disc and you can then re-tighten the bolts in the new position.
6. Your brake handlebar levers stretch your brake cables through time, and the brake levers will press down all the way to the handle bars. Periodically these will need to be quickly and easily adjusted - here is a video on how to do this, or bring the bike in for service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5GR_vlgwgY&t=15s