Chain Maintenance on Electric Trikes: How Long Do They Last and How to Maintain Them

Etrike chain maintenance is much different than eBikes. Let's talk about how to care for them and know how to tell if they need replacing. 
By Addmotor | 11 January 2024 | 0 Comments
Adult electric trikes experience more wear and tear. This is because of the more powerful motor and the added bulk of the frame, cargo, and rider. 
ETrike users might have to perform more frequent maintenance on their chain. This can be especially true if they commute or ride daily. 
In this article, let's talk about how to care for an eTrike chain, and how to check if a chain is beyond saving. On top of that, we'll also provide some extra tips to minimize premature wear and tear. 


What Does the Chain Do In An Electric Trike

The chain is a crucial component of an eTrike’s drivetrain. It transfers the force given out by the pedals onto the wheels and helps the rider push the bike forward. 
In trikes with a mid-drive, the chain is also directly coupled to the motor. As a result, the mid-drive motor adds torque to the chain, helping to drive the electric trike forward. 
Adult electric trikes are much heavier and require higher amounts of torque. As such, the chains used on eTrikes are much thicker and can withstand heavier forces.

Why It’s Important to Clean and Maintain an Etrike Chain

For most eTrikes, the chain is always exposed to the environment. This prevents the chain from getting stuck inside an enclosure and causing a crash. 
On the flip side, this does open up the chain to rust, dust, and extreme temperatures, causing them to wear out sooner. 
Because we can’t enclose the chain, we must perform regular maintenance. The eTrike chain should always be clean, well-lubricated, and rolling with minimal friction. 
A well-maintained bicycle chain ensures smooth operation in the drivetrain. This is true when you can easily switch gears, and slog through hills and difficult terrain.
Also, a proper bicycle chain won't give out any squeaking noises or sluggish controls. They also won't jam up or break when you least expect them to.

How Long Does an Etrike Chain Last

The longevity of an eTrike chain depends on various factors. Under regular conditions, expect to get 1000-2000 miles before replacing them. 
You can get more mileage if you use a high-end option and carry out maintenance much more frequently. 
Also, where you ride your trike can significantly affect the chain's mileage.
For City Cruisers: Expect your chain to last around 2000 miles or more. This is especially true if you’re a commuter or ride exclusively in an urban environment,
Our CITYTRI E-310 is the best option for a lightweight city cruiser adult trike. It’s well-specced for casual urban riding and provides 90+ miles of range.
For Off Roading: If you’re doing some light off-roading on a bike trail, park, or unpaved roads, the chain will wear out a lot faster. Also, expect to do a lot more maintenance, especially if the chain gets dirty after a day’s worth of riding. 
At Addmotor, our HEROTRI M-365X is a decent option for regular offroaders. It sports full suspension and a seat that can support another child or adult.
For Cargo and Heavy Riders: Regardless of the terrain, heavy riders and lots of cargo will stress out the chain much more. So in this case, expect to run weekly maintenance and always inspect the chain for any signs of damage. 
Our GRANDTAN TURBO is ideal for heavy riders. It’s got a 1000W mid-drive motor with a weight capacity of 350lbs for the rider plus an extra 100lbs for cargo. 

What Can Cause An eTrike Chain to Wear Out Faster?

Several things can aggravate your eTrike chain. These include your riding style, weather, and the condition of the road you’re riding on. 

Temperature and Weather Conditions

Extreme temperatures and weather conditions will cause your eTrike chain to wear out faster. 
This is especially true in higher temperatures. Here, the metal chain links can expand due to extreme heat. As a result, it can create unnecessary friction and premature wear and tear. 
Other than that, snow, dust, mud, and water can also latch onto the chain and cause extra damage. They can block up the trike chain and also absorb the lubricants. 

Riding Style

How you pedal, switch gears, control the electrical assist, and maneuver the trike can also cause premature damage to the chain. Take these into consideration so you can minimize damage to the trike chain:
Ease Up on the Pedals or Throttle When Switching Gears: When riding, switch gears properly. You should lay off the pedal or throttle when switching gears. Also, avoid switching gears back and forth. 
Switch to the Correct Gear: You must avoid throttling the motor with the wrong gear combinations. For instance, using a higher gear at a lower speed can put additional strain on the bike chain and wear them out faster. 
Switch Gears Gradually: If you need to switch to a higher or lower gear fast, make sure you do so gradually. Switching gears instantly, when the chain doesn’t have enough time to straighten up, can stretch out the links and cause extra damage. 
Avoid Putting On Extra Weight: Loading up your etrike with too much cargo, or an extra passenger can place more stress on the drivetrain. Stick within the weight capacities of your eTrike and ride slowly when carrying cargo. 
By the way, if you’re looking for an eTrike that can support two adults easily, check out the SOLETRI M-366X. It’s got a 350lb weight capacity with an extra 100 lbs for cargo.

How to Perform Maintenance On an eTrike Chain

Unfortunately, eTrikes have heavier and larger chains. They also wear out much faster. As such, you might find yourself cleaning and lubing an eTrike chain much more often.
This can be especially true if the eTrike is your daily driver for commutes, grocery runs, and other trips.
Regardless, maintaining an eTrike chain is still DIY-friendly and won’t take up too much of your time. Let’s learn about how to get this done. 

1. Gather the Necessary Tools and Supplies

You don’t need tools or expensive components to clean and lubricate the chain. Here’s what you need to gather before getting started:
Regular bicycle spanners and screwdrivers
Several pieces of dry cloth
Degreaser for eBike chains
A sizable container to dip the 
Chain breaker tool (in case you have to replace links or remove the chain)
Chain Oil/Lube

2. Remove the Chain from the Trike

For adult eTrikes, cleaning the chain while it’s still attached to the drivetrain is not possible. You must remove the chain before cleaning it. 
So start loosening the chainring bolts and remove the eTrike chain. 

3. Clean the Bike Chain

After that, you must clean out the chain and make sure there’s no dust, dirt, or gunk stuck to it. You can use a chain brush or similar scouring tool. 
However, make sure to get all the bits and pieces around and under the chain links. 

4. Apply the Degreaser Solution

After making sure the chain is relatively clean, you can apply the degreaser solution. As the name suggests, the degreaser helps take out the old lube and the grease that’s formed because it absorbs all that dust and dirt. 
Also, the degreaser can easily get into all the nooks and crannies. They will help loosen up any stubborn bits of dirt and ensure the chain is clean for re-lubricating. 
You can drip the degreaser over each link of the chain. Alternatively, you can also immerse the chain in a degreaser solution and shake it up to loosen up the dust. Make sure you use a sealable container.

5. Let the Chain Dry Out

You don’t want to apply chain lube right away. Instead, you must wait for the chain to completely dry out.
If you don’t wait for the chain to dry, the excess water will absorb the chain lube. This will result in increased friction and more grease getting stuck to the chain links. 
To ensure the chain dries out, leave it out in the open for several minutes and also run it through a dry cloth.

6. Apply the Chain Oil/Lube

After that, you can start to apply the chain lubricant. Make sure you apply a drop of lube to each chain link from the inner side.
If you had to remove the chain from the drivetrain, make sure to keep it on a flat surface or table with the links facing up. Then apply a drop of lube and let gravity do the rest. 

7. Reattach the Trike Chain

Finally, you can reinstall the chain if you have to remove it before. Make sure the chain is not too loose or too taut. 
Also, use a dry cloth and run it over the chain to ensure you get out all the excess lube. 

Wrapping Up

A trike chain is a crucial component that directly affects your ability to ride the trike. If the chain breaks down, you can't pedal back to the repair shop. This can be especially true if your trike doesn’t come with a hub motor and throttle controls. 
When it comes to proper chain maintenance, do regular checks to ensure it’s not damaged. Other than that, you should also clean and lubricate the chain regularly.


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