How To Troubleshoot An Electric Bike’s Common Problems

Electric bike manufacturers have come an incredibly long way since the first e-bike was produced. These days, you can expect a high degree of quality from your electric bike, no matter which one of the top brands you choose from.

Still, even the best models will face some common electric bike problems.

In many cases, you can troubleshoot common electric bike problems by checking just a few essential parts. That includes the battery, the wires and their connections, the throttle, and the brake motor inhibitor.

Of course, your first troubleshooting step should be to turn the e-bike off, wait 30 seconds, and then turn it back on again.

In this article, we’re going to dive deeper into some of the most crucial parts of your electric bike.

Typically, these are where most common problems occur, and you could potentially save yourself a trip to the shop by troubleshooting them first.

Let’s get to it!

Turn Everything Off And Then On Again

There’s a fundamental rule when it comes to troubleshooting almost any piece of electrical or electronic equipment.

That rule is to turn the device off completely, even to the point of removing its power source, waiting about 30 seconds, and then turn it all on again.

Seeing as how this is the simplest and quickest method, you should definitely try that first when facing a problem with your electric bike.

Just as mentioned above, turn the e-bike off and disconnect the battery. Then, wait for 30 seconds, and reconnect it again.

This approach works for many electrical and electronic devices because it’s a way to reset almost all components in the bike.

Start With The Battery

As an e-bike owner, you’ll eventually find that the most common problems lead back to the battery. So, it would be a wise move to start your troubleshooting there before moving on to other bicycle components.

To start things off, you’ll want to look, smell, and touch the battery. That might sound weird at first glance, but rest assured that there’s a good reason for doing all of that. 

An up-close visual inspection will help you see if there’s any burn marks or other damage to the battery that might be giving you problems.

Smelling it, on the other hand, will help you sense if any burning smells are coming from the battery pack,

As for touching it, well, that’s to see if the battery is overheating or not. If it is, that’s a clear-cut sign that there’s something wrong with it.

Burn marks, smells, and overheating are undeniable signs that your battery is problematic and that you should consider replacing it.

Grab A Multimeter

An electric bike battery might look, smell, and feel fine on the outside. Still, the insides could be in a very different condition.

That’s why a standard multimeter is a priceless tool when it comes to troubleshooting e-bike battery problems.

With a standard multimeter, you’ll be able to measure the battery

  • Current.
  • Voltage.
  • Resistance.

To know if your battery’s causing your e-bike any problems, all you need to do is compare the multimeter readings to the user manual.

Any significant differences in those numbers will tell you whether or not you have a problematic battery on your hands.

Don’t Forget The Battery Prongs

When troubleshooting and inspecting an e-bike battery, always be sure to remove the battery and check its prongs.

The prongs have a straightforward function: they act as the connecting point between the battery and the bike.

However, you can also view them as the ‘weakest link’. Even if the bike and battery are both excellent, problems with the prongs could stop the battery from delivering power, and the bike from working entirely.

So, when it comes to the battery prongs, check to make sure that they’re well-aligned. Then, ensure that they go all the way in when you connect the battery.

Sometimes, prongs aren’t firmly connected, which is why the electric bike might suffer from an intermittent power supply, especially when riding on bumpy surfaces.

Be Aware Of The Battery Management System (BMS)

Suppose you notice that your e-bike battery is neither charging nor discharging.

If there’s no power going in or out, it could be caused by another smaller component inside the battery pack called the Battery Management System or BMS.

That is a small circuit board (though some people mistakenly refer to it as a ‘chip’) inside the battery pack that ensures everything works correctly.

It serves a very important purpose, which is to protect the battery from damaging itself.

However, if it becomes faulty, it can cause your bike to receive power intermittently or not at all.

Inspect The Wires And Their Connections

An electric bike is made up of several parts, all of which require a continual supply of power to work correctly.

How does that supply of power get from the battery to wherever it’s needed?

Through a network of wires that run throughout the bike like veins, and the electrical connectors that connect them to each component.

Sometimes, when your e-bike becomes problematic, it’s not that any particular part has worn out or failed. Maybe that part just isn’t receiving the power it needs!

So, when you’re trying to find out what’s wrong with your electric bike, grab a flashlight and inspect every inch of wiring you can find.

What you’re looking for are cut or damaged wires. Those will need to be spliced together or replaced entirely.

In some cases, you may even find burnt or melted wires, which is a sign that there’s too much power going through them.

Safety Tip: Disconnect The Battery

Before performing a close inspection on your e-bike wiring and electrical connectors, always be sure to remove the battery entirely.

Sure, you could keep the bike shut off, but you’ll reduce the chances of you getting hurt by making sure the power source is removed from the bike entirely.

Check The Throttle

Suppose you’re experiencing problems related to acceleration in particular. If that’s the case, then it’s entirely possible that your throttle may need a closer inspection.

Remember in the previous section how we mentioned that all parts rely on wires and electrical connectors? Well, the throttle is a perfect example of that.

If you remove the throttle, you’d find that its connector consists of three wires and pins. Though they could be different depending on the model, those wires are usually red, black, and green in colour.

To check your throttle for problems, the first step would be similar to some of the steps used to troubleshoot the battery earlier.

Firstly, you should inspect the wires visually to ensure that they form a strong connection.

Plus, be sure that they’re free from any burn marks or any other damage. While you’re there, check for any burnt smells as well.

A multimeter can also be used to perform several tests on the throttle. One basic test is a continuity test which lets you know whether or not an electrical current can still flow through the part as usual.

If there is continuity, then the part should be in good working condition. If not, then there might be an electrical problem inside.

Check The Brake Motor Inhibitor

Another crucial part of your electric bike to troubleshoot is the brake motor inhibitor. This is often referred to as the motor ‘cutoff’ or ‘interrupter’ because it shuts it off whenever the brake is activated.

This component plays a crucial role, so how can that become problematic?

Well, suppose the brake motor inhibitor mistakenly thinks that the brakes are engaged, even when they’re not. If that’s the case, then it will prevent the motor from turning on, even when you need it the most.

As a result, the brake motor inhibitor is often the culprit when your e-bike motor fails to turn on even though the battery is fully charged and there are no other problems with the throttle.

Final Thoughts

An electric bike, much like any other electric device or vehicle, can suffer from a wide range of problems. Still, those problems can be narrowed down to some of the more common ones.

On top of that, it’s also possible to narrow down the root causes of those problems, as you’ve seen in this article.

As you’ve seen from this article, most of an electric bike’s common problems can be narrowed down to just a few parts: the battery, the wires and electrical connections, the throttle, and the brake motor inhibitor.

It’s safe to say that if you’re facing a problem with your e-bike, you’ll likely find the cause in one of these five parts.

Still, here’s one final tip to conclude this article: if you’re ever unsure, always consult a qualified expert. That could be the manufacturer’s Customer Support department or even the guy at the store where you bought the bike from.

But of course, before you do anything at all, always try to shut the bike off and turn it back on again. You’ll be surprised at how often that helps to solve your problem.