Sticking a Torx or Allen key into a chainring bolt and then backpedalling the cranks is a common method for oiling ebike chains. But have we been knackering our motors?
One of the things that all ebike owners will remember is the first time they went to oil their new ebike’s chain and… er, it didn’t work out as normal.
Essentially, because ebike motors operate via a clutch sort out engagement, you can’t backpedal a chain on an ebike.
The cranks spin but the chain just sits there, looking at you.
There are various workarounds when it comes to oiling an ebike chain.
Some folk put the ebike in a workstand and pedal forward whilst oiling. This requires having a strong enough workstand to hand.
Some folk put the bike upside down (I can hear the winces from here) and oil the chain whilst pedalling forward. This method is not great when it comes to potential damage of bar-mounted controls and/or displays.
Some folk oil whatever sections of exposed chain that they can get at, then they roll the bike backwards along the ground a bit to expose the un-oiled chain sections and oil those. This is an okay method but is a bit faffy.
Personally speaking, I’m one of those folks who jam an Allen key into a chainring and force the drivetrain into backpedalling and oil the chain just like a normal bike.
You can see my old revelatory Instagram post about this method from a couple of years ago…
Up until recently, I confess to never really even think about whether this ‘forcing’ method was a good idea in a motor-ruining sense. Then Muc-Off came out with their E-Bike Drivetrain Tool, that subsequently provoked all kinds of armchair expert finger-wagging about how it wrecks motors.
Anyway, to cut a long story short. I asked Shimano and they said not to worry. It’s okay.
Shimano UK: “Turning the chainring backwards is no problem for the STEPS motor. Except maybe scratches on chainring or crank from the ‘special tool’.”
As you were.
While you’re here…
Sign up as a Singletrack Member and you can leave comments on stories, use the classified ads, and post in our forums, do quizzes and more.
Join us, join in, it’s free, and fun.