Buying a cargo bike for your family guarantees hours of fun and many weekend bonding moments between you and your loved ones. As with regular bicycles and motorbikes, cargo bikes also require maintenance in order for them to perform at their best, to keep you safe on the road, and to help them stand the test of time. In this guide, we’ll be covering a few quick cargo bike maintenance tips that will help make the ownership process as simple as possible. Whether you have an electric or non-electric model in your driveaway, these tips will have you covered for both types.
Cargo bikes look very different to regular bikes, so you may think that maintaining the former would be all the more complicated than maintaining the latter. The truth of the matter is that even though they might be aesthetically dissimilar, both types require relatively the same types of maintenance checks. Both are bikes at heart, and by and large have similar features and mechanisms, albeit that the variety of accessories (and whether it is electric or non-electric) can create somewhat of a different experience when it comes to maintenance.
No bike is safe without thorough brake maintenance. In general, cargo bikes depend on hydraulic brake systems, which have gotten better and better over the years as a result of improved technologies in the field. It’s good to keep an eye on your brake performance over time, and if you notice them slacking or starting to make a sound when you use them, it’s probably time for some routine maintenance. Over time, the fluid in the lines can become compromised as you ride, so having it replaced regularly can prevent bigger issues down the line. If you carry heavy loads (and often so), your brake pads might need to be more regularly replaced too.
Most cargo bikes are equipped with the best quality, puncture resistant tyres. These form the foundation of any safe journey, as they help to keep you as the driver in control at all times. Always make sure that the tyre pressure is at the correct level based on the advice from manufacturers. Low pressure can make the electric motor work harder than it should, and could lead to faster deterioration over time. It can also cause challenges in non-electric models, especially if you’re traveling long distances. Check the pressure regularly, as you would if you were doing so for a car when you’re fueling up.
We’re not ready to move away from the wheels just yet, as there is another important maintenance consideration you should keep in mind. Cargo bikes require plump wheels in general, mostly because they carry around heavy loads. In order for your wheels to last longer, on top of the tyre pressure, you should make a point of asking your local mechanic or technician to check out the spoke tension of the wheels too. This ensures that they stay sturdy and keep you balanced on the road every time. With breaks and wheels covered, we’re now ready to move to other important components in the maintenance process.
The drivetrain refers to a group of components that help to deliver power to the wheels. It’s not uncommon for people to be surprised by how quickly they can wear on a traditional bike. If you consider that a cargo bike carries a much heavier load, all while running through similar gears, you can imagine that the pressure is slightly amplified. The simple act of regularly replacing the chain can make a world of difference to how long the system continues to operate at a high level. The drivetrain should be replaced completely every 2000km or so for an electric cargo bike. At the same time, it’s worth making sure that the motor is up to scratch too. Not everything goes through wear and tear at the same rate, but keeping an eye on the motor is also vitally important if you have an electric model.
Something that we’re all quick to forget is just how quickly any piece of machinery can get dirty, especially if you use it regularly. If you can, avoid a jet wash, as it can drive out grease meant to lubricate the bearings sufficiently. The water could also corrode some of the inner workings of the bike that will lead you down a costly repair path later. A weekly hand wash along with another member of the family can be a great way to keep your cargo bike clean. Cover up the bike if you want to keep it staying clean for longer. It’s never a good idea to leave it out in the rain or to store it out in the open from night to night, mostly because it is vulnerable to deterioration from changes in weather conditions, and more likely to be the target of thieves if it is out in the open to begin with.
Just like a seasonal deep clean at home is important, scheduling a regular service for your cargo bike is something that you should be doing whether you own an electric or a non-electric model. Explore quick services every three months, full services every six months, and when you celebrate the bike’s birthday every year, drop it off to replace anything that might be loose, broken or run down. Parts will need more maintenance if you use the cargo bike more often, and after a year you should have a better idea about a system that works for your specific model. The Taga team is happy to be of service if you have any questions about the process, want to know more about how to go about maintaining your cargo bike, or if you’re curious about getting your hands on a cargo bike for the very first time.