If it wasn’t for functional bicycles and awesome e-bikes, where would the world of food delivery be? Probably in shambles. Of the more than 100 million consumers who ordered food for delivery in 2020, the majority of their orders were completed by bicycle. Forbes journalist Carlton Reid even conducted a study that found that bike couriers often delivered faster than motorized vehicles. Bikes are just as much a part of successful food delivery as pots and pans. And so, as an independent contractor making food deliveries by way of 2 wheels, bicycle maintenance is of utter importance.
But what exactly is the best way to maintain a bicycle? It’s a question that crops up too often amongst the rider community. And thus, we here at Moves present a small course in basic bike maintenance (including e-bike maintenance too). Your bike a.k.a your most valuable business asset is the prerequisite to your success. Its upkeep and essentiality deserve some fair discussion. So that’s what we’ve come to do. In this article, we’ll highlight the importance of bicycle maintenance, and present a basic bike maintenance guide for anyone looking to zero in on basic bike care.
Why Bicycle Maintenance is Important
First things first: The importance of upkeep for our beloved bicycles. It’s necessary to note that both conventional bikes and e-bikes have the same mechanical makeup, minus the addition of an electric motor. Regardless of whether or not your 2-wheeler is connected to how you earn a living, a good bike means a safe bike. Over time a general amount of wear and tear will accumulate on your vehicle which cannot be avoided. That’s especially true for anyone residing in a cold or wet environment, or who takes their bike on backroads with mud or grime. Some overlooked scum stuck in your chain is all it takes for a slipped gear, which could turn out bad. Even worse, loose brakes or a bent frame. Safety is the primary motivator for proper bike or e-bike care for both yourself and all others around you.
The next biggest factor is optimization. Yes, we’re talking to you, food delivery riders. As we mentioned, your bike is your bridge to your bucks. Once your tires have lost their pressure and your crankset has begun to rust, you stop moving as well as you should. That means you’re slower to pickups, slower to drop-offs, and ultimately slower to bigger payouts. Cleanliness, a huge factor in basic bicycle maintenance, also plays a contributing role in your business endeavors. When everything is shiny and polished it leaves a good impression on customers and restaurant staff. You’re taken more seriously and suddenly become more personable in the process.
Last but not least, proper bike maintenance saves you money. This is a branch off of better optimization, but it’s worth mentioning all on its own. Catching problems early on is the best way to avoid costly obligations in the future. It’s that simple. Bikes require routine services, the same as cars or gardens, or teeth. And even though you can write off repair expenses as an independent contractor to save money come tax filing season, why not save yourself the hassle? Moreover, the one week of missed work spent waiting for your bike to get out of the shop is never coming back.
Straight. Now that that’s settled, let’s finally crack open the bike maintenance guide and give you the tips on how to take care of your bicycle.
Tips on Basic Bicycle Maintenance
Check the air pressure of your tires before every trip. You can use your hands to give them each a squeeze, assuring they are firm and most resistant. If you want to get a number on your air/pressure reading, use a floor pump with a gauge. The sidewall of each tire will let you know its optimal pressure. E-bikes are naturally heavier so proper inflation is even more important.
In the process of checking the air, be sure there are no thin spots, punctures, or sharp things stuck into your tires either. You can also tighten your quick-release levers if you have them—and be sure to carry a patch kit!
The last thing you want is to get stuck out on a busy road without properly working brakes. This is especially important for e-bikes which will require more stopping power than their lighter, slower counterparts. Give back, front, and pedal brakes (or whatever you have) a test before each ride to be sure they’re fully engaging.
Chains tighten up or slip without the proper care. After every ride, thoroughly wipe off and clean your chain. Then oil and lubricate your chain, being sure not to add too much lubrication since it can encourage chain slips. It’s also better to do the chain work at the end of your day’s work since pre-lubricating can help dirt stick to the chain. But of course, check everything out for a second time before hitting the road. For e-bikes, follow the same procedures but be extra diligent since the drivetrain system is that much more vital.
Make sure all the bolts, nuts, screws, spokes, cables, etc. are tightly in a place where they should be before every ride. If something feels shaky, check it out immediately.
The next two tips will be concerning E-bikes exclusively:
Like anything that runs off of fuel, you’ll want to fill up before the tank gets too low. It’s a good idea to leave the gate with a fully charged battery, in case of the worst. You should also take measures to conserve your battery power when you can. Be wary of taking routes that have steep hills. Try to go with the wind if you can help it. Use the eco mode or battery-saving mode on your e-bike whenever possible. These things will require more leg work but will save you time and money in the long run.
For long-term storage, it’s best to leave the battery with between 30%-60% charge. Also, cold weather drains lithium batteries faster, so store your bike somewhere warm whenever possible. Lastly, handle the battery with great care to avoid internal damage. With proper maintenance and optimization, your battery should last for years before needing a replacement.
Most e-bike motors are built to be maintenance-free. On the off chance that you are having problems with your motor and need an e-bike repair, take it to a shop. Odds are, you’ll have to replace the whole unit. Otherwise, no need to worry about it!
Basic Supplies for Bike Maintenance
Here’s a final small list of some simple supplies to keep handy for effective bike maintenance:
- Clean rags to wipe off grease and oil, and for drying. They’re multi-use and are a lifesaver to have.
- Water for cleaning. Probably most convenient if stored inside a bucket.
- Biodegradable soap for washing away dirt and grime.
- An old toothbrush to get into the hard-to-reach places, particularly the chain.
- Wet lube or dry lube depending on the climate of your environment.