How Much Does It Cost To Maintain An E-Bike?

E-bikes can be pretty pricey. Just like cars, other bikes, and just about anything else that you use often, e-bikes require a bit of maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. Here’s a quick rundown of the hidden costs of maintaining an e-bike over time, some tips on bike maintenance, and when you should talk to a professional about your e-bike.

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain An E-Bike?

The short answer is “very similar to regular bikes.” The maintenance of ebikes can be more expensive than bikes’ since they go faster and more miles per year and thus they need more frequent maintenance. While inner tubes, chain, derailleur and brakes need regular maintenance, the more expensive electronic parts don’t incur extra maintenance costs.

That said, maintaining an e-bike can be a lot pricier than maintaining your other bikes. Bike parts tend to wear down the more you use the bike. 

E-bikes tend to get used more aggressively on faster, longer rides than regular bikes, and many e-bike owners use them to replace a car for commutes or errands. 

This means it’s common for e-bikes to be ridden for thousands of miles each year. The more miles you put on your e-bike, the more you’ll have to adjust or replace parts, adding to the amount it’ll cost to maintain your bike.

Will Any Bike Shop Work On My E-Bike?

Some local bike shops are antsy about working on e-bikes. As mentioned above, however, all of the complicated electronic bits are sealed up. Almost all of the maintenance work that’s done on an e-bike is identical to the work that’s done on a regular bike. 

If your shop expresses reluctance to work on your e-bike, let them know that you don’t expect them to do anything with the motor, battery, or controller. If they still say no, respect their answer and try calling a different shop. 

In my experience, most bike shops are happy to work with e-bikes, meaning this issue is somewhat rare.

How Much Does It Cost To Get An E-Bike Tune-Up?

A bike “tune-up” is a service that most bike repair shops provide that covers you on a lot of basic maintenance work. The shop will check your tires, adjust your gears, cabling, and brakes, and service your drivetrain. 

They’ll clean and lubricate your chain, true your wheels, adjust your headset, and ensure that everything is tightened properly and safe to ride. You can do about half of these things at home, but the bike shop will be a lot faster and more accurate with many of the tasks. 

A few of them, like truing your wheels, are a lot more difficult to perform on your own and will require specialized tools and a bit of practice to get right. This means you can increase the time between professional tune-ups by maintaining the bike on your own, but you shouldn’t skip them entirely.

A tuneup runs between $50 and $200, depending on the shop and the services offered. Expect to want a tune-up about once a year. If you purchase an e-bike from a local bike store, there’s a good chance they’ll do the first one for free.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you get a tune-up once per year for $150.

How Much Do E-bike Inner Tubes Cost?

The biggest difference between an e-bike and a normal bike in terms of maintenance is the rear wheel. 

Modern e-bikes usually have big, heavy hub motors, meaning getting the rear wheel off can be a big pain. Once you’ve got the rear wheel off, replacing the rear inner tube is a fairly standard process, but you’ll have to put the whole thing back together when you’re done.

This isn’t to say that replacing the rear inner tube is difficult, but rather that it’s a tedious affair that you won’t want to do very often. For this reason, most e-bikes come with puncture-resistant tires. 

You might want to double your protection and spend a bit more on high-quality anti-puncture inner tubes to try to further reduce the frequency of you popping off the rear wheel.

Most inner tubes cost between $4 and $20, with a great deal of variance coming from the width of your bike’s wheels. Fat tire inner tubes tend to be on the more expensive end, while thinner commuter inner tubes will tend to be on the cheaper end. 

Again, it’s probably a good idea to spend a little bit more on e-bike inner tubes to avoid having to deal with the rear wheel.

If you don’t puncture them, inner tubes can last for years. If you put in a fresh tube and ride over a nail, your inner tube could last for minutes. In general, expect to replace your tubes twice or three times a year, depending on where you ride and how often you ride.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you replace 3 tubes per year at $15 per tube, for a total of $45.

How Much Do E-bike Tires Cost?

While tubes can last mere minutes, e-bike tires tend to last 2,000 to 3,000 miles. If you’re commuting to work each day, this means that you could easily burn through one or more sets of tires in a year. The good news is that replacing your tires is fairly easy and can be quite cheap.

E-bike-rated puncture-resistant tires can be found for as little as $25. Expect to spend more, however, as you might not want the cheapest tire. Wider tires will have much higher purchase prices, making it easy to spend $200 per tire.

Tires are definitely something that you’ll want to investigate in person if you’re not familiar with your options. 

Even if you plan to order your replacement tires online, try visiting your local bike shop to learn about what options are available and compare their prices with your favorite online store. Being able to see and feel different tread patterns will help you decide on the best option for your bike and riding style.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you replace both of your tires once every year and you spend $60 per tire, for a total of $120. This is likely either much higher or much lower than you’ll spend in practice, depending on how often you ride and what type of e-bike you have.

How Much Do E-bike Chains (and sprockets) Cost?

Unlike inner tubes, your bike’s chain is subject to constant wear. It WILL break, it’s just a question of when. Luckily, bike chains aren’t particularly expensive. Name-brand bike chains go for $40 or less, depending on the exact configuration of your bicycle. 

Bike chains tend to last for about 3,000 miles, but you’ll see quite a lot of variance from factors like lubrication, grit, riding conditions, and how you ride.

You will definitely want to clean and lubricate your chain as you ride. Cleaning your chain can be done with either a specialized chain cleaner or a degreaser like WD-40. which is $30 / gallon in round numbers and has plenty of other household uses. 

Bike chain lubes can get crazy pricey, but some of the better ones are $20 or less for 1.5 fl oz or more. You’re supposed to use a single drop per link on your chain, so those 1.5 fluid ounces should last for a long time.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you replace your chain once per year with a $25 name-brand chain and buy a $10 chain lube once per year, spending a total of $35 per year.

How Much Do E-Bike Brake Pads Cost?

The number of miles you can get out of your bike’s brake pads will depend on the style of brakes you have, how clean you keep your rotors (or rims), and how you use your brakes. 

Expect to replace your pads as often as once per 500 to 1,750 miles. You’ll know it’s time to get a new set when your brakes start making odd noises, performing worse than normal, or have been worn down to a fraction of their original depth.

Brake pads are quite inexpensive. A set of two brake pads from a fairly reputable brand can be found for $25 or less. While you can get pads that are much more expensive than this, it’s usually not necessary.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you replace 4 brake pads twice per year for a total of $100. It’s very possible to stay well under this number while riding quite a lot by using cheaper brake pads, keeping your rotors clean, and not riding the brakes.

How Much Do E-Bike Derailleurs Cost?

Most of the time, the maintenance required on your derailleur will involve adjusting screws or replacing cables. Cables are quite cheap, usually under $10, and a bit of a pain to replace, so you’ll probably want to get your cables replaced by a professional at your local bike shop. 

In some cases, however, you’ll find yourself putting a whole new derailleur on the back of your bike. Derailleurs can get crazy pricey, but many mid-range e-bikes use the Shimano Altus and Acera systems, which are both around $25 to replace entirely.

Derailleurs can last for tens of thousands of miles with some occasional adjustment and lubrication. This isn’t always the case, however, so don’t be afraid to replace your derailleur if it starts causing you problems.

For the sake of estimation, we’ll pretend that you replace your derailleur every two years and spend $25 on the replacement, for a total of $13 per year. We’ll pretend that your local bike shop replaces your cables as needed as part of your yearly tune-up.

What About Batteries, Motors, and Controllers?

Bike batteries should last for years. Most battery issues are not a result of age or wear but rather a result of poor storage. 

Be sure to keep your battery charged at all times, as it can die forever if you leave it too long without a charge, and protect it from the cold, especially when it’s uncharged and not in use. 

Most modern batteries will protect themselves from being overcharged, but you can usually get a few more charge cycles out of your battery by deliberately charging it to 80% instead of 100% most of the time. 

Be sure to actually charge it up all the way every once in a while, however, as this is usually required to balance the charge between individual cells in the battery.

E-bike replacement batteries are $200 and up. Again, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to replace your battery unless you ride for tens of thousands of miles or you fail to store it properly.

Rear hub motor and controller bundles can run you $400 or more. Even more so than with batteries, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need to replace these items, ever.

Bottom Line

If you ride your bike for several thousand miles per year (or c. 20 miles per day, in very round numbers) and are somewhat unlucky, your maintenance cost might be as high as $463. This works out to close to $0.06 in maintenance per mile. We built in a bit of headroom for our estimates, so it’s likely that you’ll spend less in practice. 

Some e-bike enthusiasts have reported per-mile costs of $0.025 or less, and they often include the price of electricity in their figures. By contrast, according to AAA, car maintenance is $0.09 per mile, which is a fair bit more.

As mentioned above, these numbers can change drastically based on the type of bike you have, how you ride it, and how diligent you are about keeping your chain clean and lubricated, your brake rotors clean, and your driveway clear of pointy objects. The more experienced you are with bike maintenance, the cheaper and easier it gets.

Overall, it’s quite inexpensive to operate an e-bike long-term. If you put several thousand miles on your e-bike every year, you’ll probably spend a few hundred dollars in maintenance. 

While it definitely won’t be free, you’ll be having lots of clean, emission-free fun while transporting yourself to where you need to be, and you’ll spend considerably less than you would maintain a car. It’s a win-win!

Bike Commuter Hero

When it comes to Cycling to Work, SAM IS THE MAN because he doesn't just talk the talk, but he also walks the walk - or rides the ride, to be more precise... Come, pedal with me and be a HERO!

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