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Trek 300 Owner's Manual

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Trek 300 Owner's Manual

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Table of Contents

  • Bicycle Overview
  • Before Riding
  • Component Systems
  • Handlebars and Stem
  • The Drivetrain
  • Pedals and Toeclips
  • The Crankset
  • The Freewheel
  • The Derailleur System
  • Function and Operation
  • Rear Derailleur
  • Rear Derailleur Alignment
  • Shift Levers
  • Cable Replacement
  • Wheels and Tires
  • Quick Release Units
  • Front Wheel Removal
  • Front Wheel Installation
  • Wheel Inspection
  • Rear Wheel Removal
  • Rear Wheel Installation
  • Tire Inspection
  • The Brake System
  • Brake Lever Installation
  • Cable Installation
  • Brake Shoe Installation
  • Bicycle Care
  • Maintenance
  • Clincher Tire Repair/Replacement
  • Mounting Sew-Up Tires
  • Bearing Adjustment
  • Standard Hub and Freewheel
  • Recommended Reading

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  • 1 Bicycle Overview
  • 2 Handlebars and Stem
  • 3 Wheels and Tires
  • 4 The Brake System
  • 5 Trek Frame
  • Download this manual

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How to Make Your Electric Bike Last Longer

Follow these steps to keep your electric bike and its battery running smoothly

By Michael Frank

with Ben Preston

A high-quality electric bike can be a significant investment, with prices ranging from less than $1,000 to well over $10,000, and the average in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. In addition to being costly to replace, high demand for e-bikes in some areas could make it tricky to find the one you want. Sales of electric motor-assisted bikes were 233 percent higher in 2023 than in 2019, according to NPD, a firm that tracks the industry. At any price, an e-bike can pay big dividends in increased fitness and inexpensive transportation.

Owning an electric bike is much less expensive than owning a car or motorcycle in most cases and also contributes to your physical fitness. A 2021 study published in  Translational Journal  concluded that compared with a regular bicycle, riding an e-bike for a simulated 3-mile commute resulted in lower metabolic, cardiovascular, and perceived effort and met the intensity level associated with healthy physical activity recommended by the World Health Organization and the American College of Sports Medicine. (The ACSM recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular exercise.)

Although they use parts that may be the same as or similar to what you’d find on a conventional bike, electric bikes also have an electric motor, typically powered by a lithium-ion battery. The added power and complexity make both riding and maintenance a bit different from a conventional bicycle, but following our tips can help you get the most from your electric bike.

We asked experts at bike brands Rad Power Bikes, Specialized, and Trek about the best methods to pedal your electric bike and for “hacks” to make it last longer, as well as advice on how to prevent your electric bike from being stolen. We also wanted to know the best ways to charge and maintain the battery, which can cost $500 or more to replace, and how to prevent an electric bike battery fire.

Here’s what they told us.

How to Shift Gears and Pedal on an Electric Bike

There are two common kinds of electric bikes: mid-drive, in which power from the electric motor helps turn the pedals and gets routed through the bike’s gearing, and hub-drive, in which the motor sends power directly to the rear wheel (pedal power from your legs still goes through the bike’s gearing).

Photo: Trek

Some e-bikes, regardless of where the motor is located, have a separate throttle control, typically a thumb-operated lever that applies electric power without the rider needing to pedal. This is handy for a quick, effortless takeoff, but it uses a lot more battery life than a pedal-assist setup, and that can limit the bike’s electric range, as well as the amount of exercise you’ll get from riding the bike.

Nate Bosscher, a senior engineer on the electric bikes team at Trek, says the motor on a mid-drive e-bike is “upstream of the gears and the chain, and that certainly puts more strain on the drivetrain than a non-e-bike.” You can reduce the wear and tear on the drivetrain by regular cleaning and lubrication, he says. Bosscher says hub-drive motors are less sensitive to strain than mid-drives.

Whether you’re riding a mid- or hub-drive electric bike, you should downshift to an easier gear ahead of a traffic light. That’s so you can resume pedaling without having to “mash” or stand on the pedals to make the bike move, Bosscher says.

You also don’t want to stand on the pedals with maximum force while trying to shift, which is especially hard on the bike’s transmission, Bosscher adds. This is true whether you’re shifting at a slower speed or flying down the road full-tilt. And it’s always best to lighten your pedaling as you shift gears to reduce wear on the gear cluster and chain. 

Marco Sonderegger, a senior product manager at Specialized, says that the best pedaling speed on the company’s mid-drive bikes is 70 to 90 rpm, which means your legs are moving at a speed similar to a fast jog. That typically puts less stress on the chain because you’re not putting a lot of torque on the system with each pedal stroke.

The moderate pedal speed also optimizes your range and eases the load on the motor because “the faster the internal electrical engine can spin, the higher the efficiency.”

Trek’s Bosscher says most e-bike manufacturers gear their motors for pedaling speeds of at least 60 rpm. For this reason, Sonderegger believes spinning at 70 to 90 rpm will increase your range roughly 10 to 12 percent compared with mashing at 50 rpm or slower.

That speed is also physically easier, Sonderegger says, because repeatedly pushing very hard and slowly is like doing heavy leg presses.

Caring for Your Electric Bike Battery

An e-bike’s battery can be one of its more expensive components, so it’s a good idea to care for the battery properly to ensure its long life and safe operation. The manufacturers we talked to said you can expect your bike’s battery to last for roughly five years. A lot will depend, of course, on how often you use the bike, where you store it, and how often you charge it.

Prolong Your Electric Bike's Battery Life

Regardless of how you ride, manufacturers shared a number of recommendations with CR for prolonging battery life.

Don’t drain the battery completely. Bike manufacturers use software to make sure batteries are not damaged during charging or discharging. But don’t let the battery get below 10 percent too frequently. Most electric bikes have an LCD display, or an indicator on the battery itself, so you can keep track.

Charge regularly. A spokesperson from Rad Power Bikes says you should recharge your battery after each ride, but then unplug the bike once it’s fully charged. Trek’s Bosscher says don’t let the battery get below 20 percent before recharging it. “Partially discharging and then charging will extend the service life of a battery significantly,” he says.

Store it partially charged. If you’re not going to ride your electric bike for a few weeks or longer, Bosscher says, it’s better to store the bike at less than fully charged. “Storing a battery at 100 percent charge is actually bad for its longevity,” he says. Trek’s guidelines recommend storage at between 40 and 80 percent charge, Rad’s say 75 percent, and Specialized at roughly 60 percent. Bosch, the German multinational engineering and technology company that makes a lot of the mid-drive bike components, recommends a 30 to 60 percent range. Consult the owner’s manual for specific guidance for your bike.

Cold is the enemy. As with anything powered by a battery, extremes of heat and cold will hamper your range. If storing an electric bike in an unheated shed during winter is your only option, take the battery indoors if you can and charge it separately at room temperature. Rad, Specialized, and Trek all say that riding in the cold won’t harm an e-bike’s battery, though you could see reduced range. However, your best bet is to start a ride with a battery that has been stored and charged in your heated home, then inserted in your bike before departure.

Wash with care. While electric bike batteries and related wiring are generally well-insulated from even heavy rain, they’re not designed to be submerged or cleaned by a high-pressure washer. Rad recommends removing the battery from the frame, wiping down the battery case and tray with a damp cloth, and allowing everything to dry completely before reassembling. This is consistent with Bosch’s guidance and that of other manufacturers. Wash a bicycle with a sponge and soapy water rather than a garden hose to prevent forcing water past delicate grease seals, which hold components (like bearings) that need to stay sealed and well-oiled. 

Prevent an Electric Bike Battery Fire

Although electric bike fires are relatively rare, their number and intensity have been on the rise as e-bikes have proliferated—particularly in New York City, where delivery riders and commuters have been using them for years already. Here are some tips from the New York City Fire Department about how to prevent an electric bike fires.

  • Buy an electric bike that is certified by a qualified testing laboratory.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the bike.
  • Do not leave an electric bike unattended while it’s charging, and don’t leave it charging overnight.
  • If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, a change in shape or color, leaking, or odd noises, stop using it immediately.
  • If the battery reacts in an alarming way, and it is safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 911.
  • Keep batteries and devices at room temperature. Do not place them in direct sunlight.
  • Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • Do not use aftermarket batteries.
  • Do not charge an electronic device under your pillow, on your bed, or near a couch.
  • Do not block your primary way into and out of the building with an electric bike.
  • Do not leave an electric bike in a child’s room or in any sleeping areas.

Deter Electric Bike Thieves

A chain or U-lock is absolutely necessary if you’re going to park your e-bike on the street. See CR’s bike lock ratings and reviews for more information. Always lock through a part of the frame and one of the wheels to a fixed structure. Worst case: Lock it to something that’s a chore to move. Electric bikes are relatively heavy so moving both the bicycle and another object would deter most thieves. Always remove the battery, too. Since bike sales have boomed, so have bike thefts . Removing the battery from an e-bike is an easy deterrent because that superhot commodity doesn’t look so appealing to a thief if it’s missing one of its most expensive parts. 

It’s a good idea to remove the bike’s battery even if your e-bike is locked to a rack on your car or RV, because exposure to weather and extremes in temperature isn’t great for that battery, either—and, again, will make your bicycle a that much less enticing to criminals.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2024, Consumer Reports, Inc.

How to Make Your Electric Bike Last Longer

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