Firmware… Keep it up to date

Firmware up-grades for your eBike?

Yes… this is a thing. Today’s eBike feature very hi-tech batteries, motor drives and onboard computers that keep everything running and operating to maximum efficiency. And like any other computer… from your smartphone to desktop, every once in a while, it needs a firmware upgrade.

Screen Shot 2017-12-05 at 1.37.05 PM

Most eBikes brands that are utilizing Bosch or Shimano drives have a regular updates that comes out every 6 months or so.

Why is this important…?

To answer this, lets look at the Bosch system. It has a 32 bit processor onboard that learns how you have been riding. As this data is collected, the system adjusts to save your battery power and makes the system more efficient. Regular updates allow the onboard processor to be fresh and current. Information collected from the processor is also of great value should your eBike have issues that can only be resolved via the shop’s diagnostic tools.

BoschComputer

Other systems have similar technology and requirements.

The Yamaha system (currently available on Giant eBikes) has a 16 bit processor inside the motor. This too needs regular updates to remain current. Utilizing the Yamaha BluePed app (Android and Apple compatible) allows you to monitor the performance and functionality of your Yamaha equipped eBike. EBike service shops (such as Gears) will have the more sophisticated GreenPed utility, which allows for deeper diagnostic and processor maintenance.

Most Specialized eBikes work with the Specialized Mission Control app (Android and Apple). This app allows the consumer to do their own updates and monitor the bike’s performance, but the bike’s history still needs shop-level diagnostics should something go wrong with the drive unit.

Emotion (Easy Motion) also has an awesome App (Android and Apple compatible). With the addition of a Bluetooth module, this app can give you electrical assist when your heart rate reaches a preset value. Like all other eBikes, Emotion firmware should be updated every 6 months to year.

Regardless of your eBike, just like regular mechanical service, firmware updates will make your bike happier and more efficiant. Next time you’re at the shop for regular service, be sure to ask the technician to check the version of software your bike is currently running. Chances are…, it could use an update.

Editors Note: Special thanks to Greg Celovsky, Lead Service Technician (and eBike Guru) at Gears Bike Shop Mississauga, for accumulating this information on eBike Firmware. 

#RideTheFuture

Baby its cold outside

Okay… let’s face it. The days are getting shorter and colder. Fall is officially here and winter is not far behind.

bikecoveredinsnow

If you ride an eBike, you may be wondering about whether your bike can handle the cold. Well, the short answer is yes. However, there as several things you should consider to help keep your bike running properly and efficiency during the cold weather months.

 

Get your eBike ready for Winter

It is highly recommended that you first give your bike a complete check-over. This is to ensure that your lights, brakes, gears, motor, etc., are all in proper working order. (Not sure who to do this… drop by any Gears Bike Shop or your local eBike Dealer)

Its important to know that rain and snow will have little effect on the bike as all your motor-drive and electrical components are well protected.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 4.42.07 PM

However, the salt used on many roads in Canada to help clear ice, can have a highly corrosive effect on your bike. Especially your drive train components (i.e.: chain, cassette, etc). It is advisable to wash down your bike with clean water after a messy ride and then dry it off with a rag. Using a “wet” lube on your chain will also help it to shed moisture. Many veteran eBike riders also get a neoprene cover to protect the battery from extreme cold. (i.e.: when the temperature drops below zero)

 

Your Battery and the Cold

While the battery on your eBike is robust and built to take the day to day effects of riding, it is susceptible to the cold and can easily loose capacity when used during low temperatures. The the temperature drops below zero, it is highly advised that you remove the battery (when not in use) and store it at room temperature – ideally between 15° and 20°C.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 4.42.21 PM

When charging the battery, the same rules apply – Lithium-ion batteries should be charged at room temperature.

 

Winter Storage

Not all of us want to brave the cold and many would prefer to store their eBikes during the winter months. Should you wish to do so, there are a few tips one should consider:

  • Store the bike in a place that is protected from the elements. such as a garage or basement.
  • If the bike is to be stored in an area that is unheated, be sure to remove the battery from the bike and store it inside. Ideally in a dry place where the temperature does not rise above 20°C (high heat and extreme cold will lessen the lifespan of the battery)
  • The battery should also be stored with 30 to 60% capacity and it is advisable to check this a couple of times during the winter. Do not store the battery at 100% charge for long periods of time.

 

Embrace the winter and don’t be afraid to get out there and enjoy your eBike. And remember… there is truly no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. (which is something we’ll address in a later blog posting)

#RideTheFuture

 

3 Tips to keep your eBike battery healthy

We found these 3 Tips in an article on the Pedego website (click link for the full article) and thought it contained some very good information about the care and maintenance of your eBike’s battery. (we also felt the Pedego would not mind us sharing this information with you)

pedego-canada-battery1-sm

#1. Keep The Battery Cool
Environmental conditions are an important factor affecting lithium batteries. For example, leaving one in your car in the hot sun will guarantee you lessen the life of your battery. In fact, that would be the worst situation: keeping a fully charged battery at elevated temperatures. It’s a good rule of thumb to store your bike out of the direct sunlight for long periods and when not in use, keep your battery in a cool place, preferably below 20°C (68°F). The chart below, provided by Battery University, shows the impacts of temperature upon recoverable capacity of a battery.

Table3_Batter

#2. Store A Battery Partially Charged – But Not Too Low!
You’ll also notice in the above chart that storing a fully-charged battery has an impact on the recoverable capacity. Even more important, storing a fully depleted battery may be disastrous because, as we mentioned above, a lithium-ion battery will slowly discharge over time even when you’re not using it. If the voltage drops below a certain point this may cause irreparable cell damage, depending on the time it’s left sitting. Ideally, when storing the battery for a long period ensure it has less than 100% charge (5 bars, if you have an indicator on your battery) but more than 40% (2 bars). Some chargers have a lower ‘storage’ voltage setting, so just switch to this before charging it for storage. An easy alternative is to take the bike for a short ride after you’ve charged it fully and before storing.

If you’re forced to store the battery for prolonged periods of time, make sure to check your battery every couple of months. If you notice that the battery indicator has dropped to one or two lights (out of five) give it a bit of a charge. If you don’t have a battery indicator, it’s probably a good idea to charge the battery for a half hour or so every few months. Again, try not to put the battery away fully charged (but it won’t be the end of the world if this happens.)

#3. Don’t Regularly Fully Discharge Your Battery
It’s amazing that we still see tech sites advising regular full discharge of your battery, even when this has been proven as detrimental. The chart below, again provided by Battery University, proves that regularly discharging lithium-ion batteries to 0% is harmful and partial discharges with regular top-ups are recommended to extend the recharge-cycle lifespan of the batteries. The occasional full discharge on that extra long ride is no problem! If you are doing very short rides on a regular basis, it is slightly better to charge it every few rides rather than every ride.

Table2_Battery

So… is it going to rain?

DarkSky.net

Start time at the shop was noon, but all morning CBC Radio One has been talking about rain coming and staying around till nighttime. The commuter e-bike I’m trying this week isn’t equipped with fenders, so I thought it best to consult DarkSky.net to see what messiness was heading our way, and when.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 6.02.57 PM

After checking the site earlier I saw the storm system and it was somewhere southwest of Lake Erie with winds pointing directly at us. Now, after refreshing the site, rain was was much closer so plan B went into effect – leave early, beat the wet.

This is another instance where an e-bike can prove to be a great city vehicle, in a dramatic race to beat the rain (well I thought it was dramatic). The first drop of rain hit my arm before I left my backyard, but it turned out to be just a forewarning. As hoped for, my plan was a success; the rain held off and I arrived at the shop dry as a bone.

Given my early arrival time, I left for a close-by café to do a little work. It was on the walk over to Tim’s when the skies decided to open up. Just a little damp, I settled in to my seat with a piping hot dark roast to write a few thoughts down and it came to mind that I just experienced three things that I really like; Tim’s, DarkSky.net, and e-bikes. So does the whole crew at Gears, Leaside. Not much need be said about Tim’s, that’s a reputation as big as the breadth of Canada, and we love that there’s an outlet only 2 minutes from our store.

Although DarkSky.net isn’t as well known as Tim’s, it is growing on the radar of cyclists and indeed all outdoors enthusiasts. And speaking of radar, that is one of DarkSky’s great features; it shows rain clouds on radar along with an indication of wind direction by using a series of mini arrows. Furthermore, it will say what time rain is expected to hit where you are at the moment. It does this by zeroing in on your location and computing, with distance and speed of the system, exactly when the rain can be expected. The fact that it gave me the opportunity to create a plan B bears out why we heartily recommend DarkSky.net to all our customers and indeed all cyclists.

Lastly I come to e-bikes. This is a subject we are enthralled with because it’s the newest technology in the biking world, and their popularity around the globe is now being mimicked in North America. We see it every day in the store, and all our stores are witnessing the same increase in interest. If you don’t yet know what all the buzz is about, drop into any of our four locations and test ride one. You will be part of the growing group of people who know what e-bikes deliver and why they are a major development in the effort to remove cars from the road. What’s more, they’re a blast to ride! Come try one out!

Tires, too much pressure… or not enough?

Tire pressure has two primary impacts on how your tires perform.

First, it affects grip and the rider’s ability to control and handle the bike in corners or over rough terrain. Second, it affects rolling resistance and the amount of effort and energy a rider need to maintain forward momentum.

flat_bicycle_tire-resized-600

Grip Levels

The more your tire can conform to and make contact with the surface, the greater the grip level it achieves. However, at the opposite end of the spectrum, this means that an over-inflated tire will bounces over a surface and will suffer from a lack of grip… something to consider in rough or wet conditions.

Rolling Resistance

Rolling resistance is how much friction occurs between tire and surface; the greater the friction, the greater the resistance. An under inflated tire will provide too much contact with the surface, and therefore too much rolling resistance. This not only increases the odds of a puncture or “pinch-flat,” it also requires more effort to move the bike. (with an eBike this will also decrease the efficiency and longevity of the charge in your battery).

Surprisingly, an over-inflated tire also increases rolling resistance; because it constantly bounces on the surface, rather than rolling smoothly along it. This “bounce” can also effect the performance and grip of the tire (as mentioned above).

For you to achieve the best balance between grip and rolling resistance, be sure to check the inflation specifications usually found indicated on the side-wall of the tire.

In addition to the recommended pressures indicated on the tires, the best pressure for your bike will depend on the kind of bike you have, and also important factors like rider weight, bike weight when fully loaded, road conditions and weather conditions, etc.

How often should one pump up their tires?

It is important to know that all tires will loose pressure over the days and weeks between rides. Some high-pressure tires will loose between 5 to 10 psi per week. As such, you need to check your tires frequently and then pump them up accordingly to avoid any issues. I highly recommend that all riders should own a proper floor pump with a gauge.

Track-pumps-Active-August-2015

In addition to owning a proper floor pump with a gauge, its also important to ride with a minimum of gear with you, just in case you should suffer a flat with on a rides:

  • Spare tube or patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Mini-pump of other inflation device

Its also important to know how to fix your flat when on the road. It is a relatively simple thing to do, but not something you want to have to learn during an emergency situation. Be prepared and practice this a few times first.

BTW: Pro Tip, anyone with a CAA Membership can take advantage of the CAA’s bike pick-up program. Contact the CAA for details.