Electric bikes come in a variety of motor types, shapes and sizes with knock-on effects on tire changing.
Changing a tire on bikes with pedal-assist motors built into the bottom bracket is usually the same as it is on their non-electric counterparts. Because the chain transmits the additional energy to the rear wheel (as the cyclist would normally), there are no extra wires to the rear wheel. So when you come to change the tire, you pop the wheel off as you would normally, either by unscrewing the axle bolt or removing the quick-release skewer.
Electric bikes that feature hub motors, however, are different. Here the drive sits in the centre of the wheels and provides power independently of the cranks.
Batteries do not sit on the majority of hub motors. Instead, they reside on the frame and connect to the hub via a cable. Throttle usually comes from a handlebar-mounted switch or grip. Additional wires complicate the matter of swapping out a rear tire, but not significantly.
The vast majority of e-bikes feature hub motors on the rear wheel, though there are models that mount them on the front too. Tire changes on non-hub motor wheels should be similar to a regular bike. Those on hub wheels, however, will be slightly different.
Shift To The Highest Gear
If you’re replacing a tire on the rear wheel, shift to the highest gear so that the chain is farthest away from the hub.
Put Your Bike In The Correct Position
Next, put your bike in the correction position, either by securing it in a stand or turning it upside down so that the saddle and handlebars support its weight.
If you decide to turn the bike upside down, please ensure that you move any handlebar-mounted consoles out of the way first so that you don’t damage them.
Unplug The Motor Cable
If your bike has a hub motor, there will be a cable that runs from the battery to the hub. Most manufacturers route it along the chainstays, although the setup can vary between models.
Look for a location to unplug this cable. Disconnect at the motor, the battery, or halfway between - wherever you have the option.
Remove The Wheel From The Frame
If your electric bike has a quick-release skewer, flip out the handle and then unscrew it as you would normally.
If your bike uses an axle bolt secured with nuts, then you will need to remove these. Peel back any rubber nut coverings or guards. Then, use an appropriately-sized spanner to remove the nut.
On some models, you will need to hold the other side with a spanner while you unscrew the axle.
If your electric bike has a frame inset - an oblong cut-out giving you different options for where to place the wheel in relation to the frame - then make a note of the axle's position before you remove it. When you come to reinstall the wheel, you need to ensure that you fit it back in the same place.
If there are washers, then make a note of their orientation. On some bikes, the outward-facing side will be different from the inward-facing side. You want to make sure that you fit them the correct way around when you reinstall the wheel.
Lift The Wheel Off The Bike
Once you’ve undone the axle nuts and remove the bolt, you should be able to remove the wheel from the frame. The chain will catch on the cassette as you try to lift it out, so push on the jockey wheels to slacken it and give you more wiggle room.
Use Tire Levers To Remove The Old Tire From The Wheel And Fit The New One
Once the wheel is off the bike, the process reverts to a regular tire change. Use plastic or silicone tire levers to prize the tire from the rim. If the fit is tight, you may need to place two or three next to each other and then use leverage to pop the rubber from the rim.
Once the tire is clear of the wheel, you can choose to replace the inner tube (unless you use a tubeless system).
To fit the new tire, reverse the process. Place the bead of the tire in the groove of the rim to make fitting easier. Then use your hands or tire levers to pull it over the rim's side so that it sits snugly inside.
Connect a pump to the inner tube value (either Presta or Schraeder) and inflate. The tire should pop to the edge of the rim during inflation.
Replace The Wheel
Now you’re ready to replace the wheel. Place it in the dropouts or frame inset and extent the rear derailleur to make installation easier. Then fit the quick release or tighten the bolts.
A Note On Tire Pressure
The pressure of your tires depends on your preferences and riding style.
Road cyclists typically choose higher tire pressures than mountain bikers. Higher pressures reduce rolling resistance but decrease grip and pliability while off-road.
Likewise, heavier riders typically increase the pressure in tyres more than lighter ones. The extra weight compresses the air in the tires more, necessitating an increase in pressure to get the same riding experience.
Riders who spend most of their time cycling in wet conditions frequently choose lower tire pressures to increase the area of contact between the rubber and the terrain beneath.
Additional Electric Bike Tire Changing Tips
- Check the maximum and minimum supported pressures for the tire. These are usually imprinted on the sidewall.
- Use a pump with a pressure gauge so that you can set your pressure to the desired level for your weight, bike model, and riding conditions
- Check that there are no sharp objects stuck in the inner tube or protruding from the rim bed before you put on a new tire. (This prevents you from getting a second flat)
- Ensure that you have sufficient rim tape on the inside your rim before fitting a new tire
Once you’ve finished, you’re ready to set off and enjoy your ride!