How to Test an Ebike Controller

Some of my favorite memories as a kid are exploring my hometown on my e bike. I’d ride for hours and hours. I can imagine how much I might have discovered with an e-bike! An e-bike is a traditional bike with electronic components that provide electronic pedal assist.

A battery, motor, and controller are all you need to convert a bike into an e-bike. Of course, there are other accessories like an accelerator/throttle, digital display, and pedal sensor but for the sake of this article, we’ll keep it simple and deal with the basics, more specifically, the motor controller.

What is an e-bike controller and what are its main functions:

The eBike controller is the CPU of the electric bicycle system. It receives and sends the various signals needed for your eBike to function. It connects to both the main(motor, battery) and secondary(throttle, LCD’s, PAS, etc) parts of the e-bike system. The controller itself consists of the main circuit board and various peripherals like MOSFETs and current/voltage protection.

That being said, the brushless motor controller is a necessary component of an e-bike. In order to understand how to test an e-bike controller, we need to take a closer look at what it does and the tools needed for troubleshooting. Then we’ll talk about some steps to complete some basic troubleshooting.

Why would I troubleshoot my motor controller?

If it’s electronic and it's on your e-bike, it’s connected to your electric bike controller. The answer to why you might need to troubleshoot an e-bike controller is as varied as the number of components in it. Anything has the ability to fail, especially wires under stress. Faults arise from normal wear and tear to repairs from accidents. What I intend to do is give you a jumping-off point to more specific troubleshooting.

What tool(s) do I need to test an e-bike controller?

The most versatile and necessary piece of troubleshooting and testing equipment an electronic technician can have is a multimeter. That is a meter that can measure current, resistance, and voltage.

This is not an endorsement but most of my military and civilian experience has been with Fluke. They’ve been dependable in my 20+years of experience. There are other options on the market. The nicer ones have an lcd display.

Please do a bit of research to make sure you get what you need, at a price you can afford.

Basics of Troubleshooting

There are several ways to begin troubleshooting. Going through the US Navy’s advanced electrical/ electronic technical core and working in a shipyard for over a decade has given me an array of experiences to draw from. My troubleshooting path always begins with power.

The battery is the source of power for your e-bike. Check the battery voltage. You may not even be able to see some faults if your battery pack is defective. If it is, all that might be required is for you to get a new battery.

Check it, and it’s paths to ensure everything is being powered.

Next check your interconnecting cables(ICC’s).

Make sure all cables, connectors, and plugs are secured properly. Movement and friction from normal use can loosen connections over time. Then check timing circuits which can be quite a bit more complicated. As of right now, you don’t know what the problem is.

If you’re not sure where to start, I performed a quick search and found this: Troubleshooting guides. Similarly, I also found resources that help you decide how to choose the correct controller.

Please keep in mind there are some minor differences between brushless controller and a brush controller. But generally speaking solutions to your e-bike problems may be as simple as having the most efficient controller installed.

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