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Should I get an electric bike? How to get up to speed with e-bikes

London vendor Martin runs a successful bike maintenance business. He’s seen an increase in ebikes on the roads – if you’re thinking of making the switch, here are his top tips

Big Issue vendors have a wide variety of skills and experience, so we bring you the best of their knowledge each week. This week, London vendor Martin McKenzie tells us about his successful bike maintenance business. He says he has seen an increase in e-bikes on the roads and shares his top tips in case you are thinking of making the switch. 

Most of the care for e-bikes is the same as for pushbikes except you have some additional maintenance to bear in mind. Such as if your tyres are soft you could bend your spokes and drain, or even ruin, your battery. You could also burn your motor out as it has to work harder. Speaking of batteries, if you’re buying an e-bike, my advice would be to avoid lead batteries – lithium is better.

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You can tighten your spokes with a small tool available from any bike store. Just remove your tyre and inner tube and there will be a rubber band covering. Remove that and it will reveal your spokes, you will clearly see where your spoke tool fits on each spoke.

Hand tighten until you feel the bite then move on to the next spoke and repeat. When your tyre’s back on and inflated to the correct pressure you will find your bike will be smoother and faster. As for the motor itself, they’re sealed units and require professional servicing as it stores power like a power transformer.

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Be sure to check your power connections are tight and secure, this prevents the elements from getting into your electrics. Also, as an electric bike takes more of a pounding than a regular bike, be sure to lube your chain once every two weeks.

Brakes will need regular checking once a week as they have more strain and fade faster than they would on a regular bike because e-bikes are heavy. So bear in mind that your stopping distances will be greater too.

And if you’re coming to an e-bike after a long time out of the saddle, don’t forget that you’ll need to wear a helmet. Some come with lights attached these days, which I’d recommend.

Martin McKenzie sells The Big Issue outside Tesco on Stroud Green Road in London. To hire him to help get your bike back on the road, call 07543 686554.

The Big Issue has teamed up with ShareBike to launch The Big Issue eBikes scheme, which is aimed at helping people back into work.

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