Step-by-step: How to clean an electric mountain bike?

Approx Reading Time: 18 minutes

Electric mountain bikes are a very handy innovation in the world of mountain biking because they are designed to make the job of paddling easier with the help of an electric motor. Electric mountain bikes have added electronic components along with regular bike parts which make the process of cleaning an electric MTB different from the cleaning process of a normal mountain bike. While a regular bike can be washed in any way you like, you need to use water sparingly when washing and cleaning an E-MTB so you don’t cause water damage to the electronic components.

You will need a very little amount of water to clean your electric mountain bike even a bucket of water will do. Some other items you are going to need to start cleaning your electric MTB are:

  • Work stand for parking the bike
  • Bike cleaning fluid from a good brand
  • Quality brush or a cloth
  • Silicone spray
  • Chain lubricant
  • Disc brake cleaner

It is always a good idea to keep your E-MTB’s user manual handy to know exactly how you are supposed to clean the bike and what areas of the E MTB you are not supposed to tamper with. The frequency of cleaning depends upon the conditions your E-bike is being used in. If you are doing a lot of off-roading on your E MTB you will have to clean it more frequently.

 Regularly cleaning your electric mountain bike will not only make it look good but will also make your E MTB bike last a lot longer. So if you want a reliable and fun E MTB, keeping it clean is going to help you a lot. This article is going to provide you with a step by step guide on how you can clean your electric mountain bike properly without damaging any of the sensitive electronic components of your E MTB.

Step 1: Things you will need for cleaning an Electric Mountain Bike

There are specialized bike cleaning kits and cleaning fluids available that not only make the job of cleaning your bike easier, but also make the paint last a lot longer. So here are some items you are going to need for proper cleaning of your electric mountain bike.

  1. Using a cloth to clean areas such as the space between the drive train components, hubs, and the spokes can be tricky. Therefore using a specialized bike cleaning kit that contains brushes of different shapes and sizes can really help you clean the bike thoroughly.
  2. It is recommended to use a low-pressure water hose to rinse off any dirt or cleaning fluid off. Using high-pressure power washer can cause water to get into different switches and electrical components which can be harmful to your electric mountain bike.
  3. Using silicone spray can really help in the drying process as silicone-based sprays are great at soaking up excess water. But be careful not to spray the silicone spray directly at the bike but spray it onto a cloth and then wipe the bike off with that cloth.
  4. Using a chain lubricant after cleaning the chain will help in preventing it from getting dry. So once you have thoroughly cleaned and dried the chain up, use a chain lube to make it nice and friction-free.
  5. If your E MTB has disk brakes you will have to use a dedicated disc brake cleaner for cleaning the brake rotors.
  6. You will need a few cloths to cover up any exposed electronic components before starting the washing process so keep a few thick cloths handy before you start washing your E MTB.

Step 2: Preparing the electric mountain bike for cleaning

There are a few precautions you have to take before you start cleaning your electric mountain bike.

  1. Put the E MTB on a work stand before you start cleaning it because this will allow you to access all the areas of the bike easily. Make sure the bike is properly mounted on the stand.
  2. Now is the time to use the cloths to cover up the switches and the display of the E MTB in order to prevent any water from splashing into them. Some electric mountain bikes come with removable display’s which can be removed when washing, but if you have a non-removable display you can cover it with a cloth. Make sure the cloth you are using is thick enough to prevent any water from getting through it and reaching the components.
  3. Before you start any kind of cleaning you need to remove the battery of the electric mountain bike to prevent getting a nasty electric shock. Most of the electric mountain bikes have an easily removable battery at the underside of the bike’s frame which can be removed without any problem. Once you have removed the battery, place it aside where water can’t accidentally splash on it. With the battery removed you have to cover up the battery plug to prevent any water getting into it and you can do that by wrapping a cloth around the battery plug.
  4. Usually, electric mountain bikes come with a water resistance rating from the manufacturer in the form of an IP score. So in order to know how much water your E MTB can resist you can refer to its user manual. If your E MTB has a low IP score of around 40 you can’t use a water hose on it and will have to use a damp cloth to rinse everything off.

Note: You don’t have to clean the electric motor of your electric mountain bike because if you remove the protective cover of the motor it can make its warranty null and void.

Step 3: Cleaning the electric mountain bike’s frame

Bike’s frame gets a lot of mud splashes and road dirt when you ride the bike which is why you need to wash and clean the frame regularly and here is how you do it.

  1. If your mountain bike has a lot of mud and layers of dirt on it you can use a low-pressure hose to rinse the dirt off. But if you haven’t been riding through mud and potholes all week wiping the E MTB’s frame thoroughly with a soft damp cloth can do the job just fine. Leaving any mud on your bike’s frame for long periods can cause damage to its frame and reduce the shine of the paint job. But be sure not to point the water hose directly at the switches, the wiring and especially the motor cover. Because pouring water directly at these electric components can cause the water to seep to the motor and potentially damage it.
  2. Use a good quality bike cleaner to remove any stubborn dirt that was left over after the first step of rinsing or wiping the bike’s frame. Now is a good time to refer to the owner’s manual of your electric mountain bike to see if a specific type of bike cleaning fluid is recommended for your bike’s paint. The reason some bike manufacturers recommend using specific bike cleaning fluids is that some cleaning fluids contain chemicals that can damage the paint. If your E MTB doesn’t have a recommended cleaner use a light low grade cleaning fluid to spray all over the bikes frame while avoiding the battery connectors and the electric motor cover. Once you have thoroughly applied the cleaning fluid to the E MTB’s frame let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Once the cleaning fluid has loosened the dirt from the frame of the E MTB you can begin scrubbing the frame using a cloth or a bike cleaning brush. Dip the cloth or brush into clean water to get it wet and scrub the frame of the electric mountain bike. Start from the handlebars making sure not to touch the switches or the display and scrub your way down to the bottom of the frame while staying clear of the battery connectors and the electric motor.  The advantage of a brush is that it is specially designed to clean the frame of the bike and it can reach places that a simple cloth can’t.  After thoroughly cleaning the frame of the E MTB, rinse all the bike cleaning fluid off with the help of a low-pressure hose.

Note: You can rinse off the cleaning fluid with a brief shower from a water hose once you are done cleaning the frame of the mountain bike. But make sure you don’t rinse the bike after lubricating the chain of the electric mountain bike as it can wash off the lubricant that you just applied.

Step 4: Cleaning the chain of the electric mountain bike

A dirty chain will need frequent replacing and you are more prone to run into a problem if you don’t clean your electric mountain bike’s chain regularly. Here is how you can properly clean your E MTB chain.

  1. Take a stiff brush with rigid hair to get all the dirt out of the chain. Using a cloth will not help you to get the dirt out of the rollers and connectors of the chain. However, if you are using a cloth you can grip the chain in your hand with the cloth acting as a glove between your hand and the chain in order to prevent any injuries from the chain.
  2. Scrub the chain with the brush and rotate the paddle from time to time so you get the whole chain nice and clean. Make sure you scrub both the top and bottom part of the chain as well as both sides of the chain. If you have your E MTB on a stand, you can rotate the paddles and move the chain through the brush to make sure you don’t miss even a single link of the chain.
  3. Once you have got all the debris out of the chain, apply the E MTB chain lube to the chain of your electric mountain bike. Make sure you oil each of the chain’s links thoroughly so the lubricant is spread evenly throughout the chain’s length. There is no need to oil the outer parts of the chain since these parts are not in contact with the drivetrain. So you are only supposed to lubricate the insides of the chain sparingly to avoid leaving drops of excess chain lube wherever you park your E MTB. There are specially designed E MTB chain lubricants for riding in dry or wet conditions so make sure you use the lubricant that is designed according to the conditions you are using your electric mountain bike in.

Note: Leaving chain lube on the outer sides of the chain will only cause it to gather debris quicker and become dirty so make sure you clean any excess chain lube if it accidentally spills on the outer sides of the chain.

Step 5: Cleaning the drivetrain of your electric mountain bike

Drivetrains of electric mountain bikes are similar to regular bikes and the cleaning process for an E MTB drivetrain is similar to a normal mountain bike.

  1. You need a special drive train cleaning tool to take out all the crud and dirt that gets stuck between the gears of the rear cassette. Take the curved drivetrain cleaning tool and thoroughly move it in between every sprocket of the rear cassette to make sure there is no dirt and debris left in between them. A DYI way of cleaning the spaces between the cassettes is to use a shoelace and move it between the cassettes of your electric mountain bike as if you are flossing the teeth. Make sure to move the shoelace in each and every angle to get every piece of dirt.
  2. Wipe the cassette off with a cloth to remove any access dirt from the drivetrain and apply a good quality degreaser to remove any stubborn oil, dust, and grease from the drivetrain. Let the degreaser work its magic for 5 minutes and allow it to loosen up all the grease from the cassette. Once you notice that the degreaser has uprooted all the dirt and nasty grease from the rear cassette, use a cloth to wipe the grease off from the cassette.
  3.  Once you are done cleaning and degreasing the rear cassette, cleaning the front chainring is where you have to take extreme precaution because the electric motor of your E MTB is right next to it. So in order to clean the chainring, you simply want to take a slightly wet cloth to wipe any dirt off the chainring without risking any water entering the electric motor. Now use a brush with long hair to gently scrub the area between the chainring and the motor because this area tends to collect some dirt over time.

Note: You don’t need to use a lubricant directly on the cassette of your electric mountain bike because the lubricant can seep into the hub of the bike and end up gathering dust in that area. Simply moving the lubed up chain over the chainring and the cassette is enough to get them lubricated.

Step 6: Cleaning the wheels and brakes of your electric mountain bike

Wheels of your electric mountain bike take a lot of beating during a ride not to mention they collect the most dirt and mud since they are in direct contact with the ground. That is why it is important to thoroughly clean the wheels of your mountain bike along with the breaking mechanism for optimal handling and stopping capability and here is how you are supposed to do it:

  1. To start cleaning the wheels you need to spray water on both the front and rear wheel using a low-pressure hose. The purpose here is to get the tyres, rims and the spokes wet for further cleaning and rinses off any easy to remove dirt. You can also shower water on the brake discs of your electric mountain bike to wash away any debris that might be accumulated on it.
  2. Now that you have removed the loose dirt from the tyres and wheel spokes its time to get the stubborn dirt off the wheels with the help of a rigid brush. Make sure you scrub the wheels and the hub of your electric mountain bike nicely as well as the spokes. While you are cleaning the wheels pay attention to the tread of the tyres and make sure there is nothing stuck between the treads and if you find something stuck in your electric mountain bike’s tyres remove it immediately because it might cause problems later on.
  3. When you are done cleaning the wheels, tyres and the hubs of your E MTB use a specialized disc brake cleaner to clean the brake rotor to make sure there is no cleaning fluid or any other chemical left of the disc rotor that might cause damage to the rotor.
  4. After giving the wheels a good scrub, rinse everything off using a hose but you should avoid showering water directly into the hubs of the bike as it can be difficult to drain and dry water from this area.

Step 7 (Final Step): Thoroughly drying your electric mountain bike

Properly drying your electric mountain bike is very important because leaving the E MTB wet can cause it to accumulate dirt even faster. So here is how you are supposed to dry your E MTB after cleaning it.

  1. Using a soft dry cloth, wipe the whole frame of the E MTB starting from the handlebars down to the seat and then the lower frame of the bike. Make sure there are no water droplets left on the bike and try to dry as much of the water using the cloth.
  2. Spray some silicone spray on a piece of cloth and use the cloth to wipe off any leftover water from the first step. Silicone is great at drying up water from the surface of the frame not to mention it leaves a really great shine on the paint of the bike. Since our goal is to keep the water away from the electronic components of the E MTB the silicone spray really comes in handy if you accidentally get some water on the motor cover or near the battery connector. You can use a cloth with silicone spray on it to wipe off any unwanted water from these critical areas.
  3. Since you had removed the battery of your E MTB before starting the cleaning process now is the time to give it a bit of a wipe off with a damp cloth to clean any dirt off of it. Batteries of E MTB’s are pretty water-resistant so you don’t have to worry about damaging it if you use a damp cloth to clean it. You can also use a contact cleaner to clean off any unwanted dirt from the terminal of the battery. Spray the terminals of the battery with a contact cleaner and use a dry cloth to wipe off any excess contact cleaner fluid from terminals.
  4. Once you are done cleaning the battery you can plug it back into the bike and secure the battery properly.   

What kind of Lubricant should be used an on E Mountain Bike’s chain?

There are E-Bike specific chain lubes available which are designed to withstand the high pressure produced by an electronically assisted mountain bike and therefore these E-Bike specific chain lubes perform better in electric mountain bikes as compared to normal ones. You can pick a general-purpose chain lubricant or if you really want to make your E MTB’s chain last longer, you can go with specific chain lubricant for different weathers. The two types of E MTB chain lubes are:

Winter chain lube: The winter-specific chain lubes are thicker to provide extra protection against wet conditions and large amounts of mud that results from winter rains or snow. But one drawback of winter-specific chain lubricant is that they collect dirt easily because of the higher thickness and this can make the job of cleaning the chain a lot tougher.

Summer chain lube: Designed to be used in dry conditions this type of chain lubricant is thinner and doesn’t collect as much dirt and being thin, it produces less heat from friction during summers.

How water-resistant are E MTBs?

While all electric mountain bikes are claimed to be water-resistant there is a certain extent to which they can resist water. All electric mountain bikes come with an IP rating which is a gauge to tell how water resistant your E MTB is. Most modern electric mountain bikes come with an IP rating of 60 and above which means an E MTB with an IP rating of around 60 is safe to ride in the rain and you can use a low-pressure hose pipe to wash it down. But when it comes to being submerged into the water for a long period of time, it is not recommended by the manufacturers because this may cause damage to the components. An electric mountain bike with an IP rating of 68 provides the highest level of protection against dirt and you can even submerge it in a meter of water for a short period and water will not enter the motor. Here are a few ways you can keep your electric mountain bike safe from water damage:

  1. Thoroughly dry the electric mountain bike after every wash to make sure there is no moisture left on it.
  2. Whenever you have to ride your E MTB in rain you should wipe off any rainwater and mud to prevent it from entering the motor.
  3. Don’t park your electric mountain bike in rain for long periods of time because parking a bike in heavy rain is similar to submerging it in water no matter how high your E MTB’s IP rating is.

Conclusion: Cleaning your electric mountain bike is necessary for its proper functioning and long life. But you have to know how water-resistant you E MTB is before you start cleaning it to avoid any issues with the electric components of the E MTB. If your electric mountain bike’s user manual mentions that its IP rating is lower than 60 you should avoid using any kind of water hoses or even splashing water at your E MTB’s electric motor or the switches. In case of low IP rating, you are better off wiping the dust using a cloth or you can use a powerful air compressor to blow away any stubborn mud or dirt that won’t go away using a cloth.