Last Updated on November 14, 2021 by Igor Karni
If you’re an e-bike owner, then the chances are that some days you get tempted to take your bike out for a ride even in winter when it’s cold out. But with the weather so frigid, it can make preparation a bit tricky. By knowing and following a few tips, you can make sure your e-bike is well prepared for winter.
How to prepare your electric bicycle for winter? When preparing your e-bike for winter take good care of the battery, clean the e-bike and protect it from rust, use winter tires and avoid going through slush, while riding. Do not store or charge the battery on the cold and store it not at full charge.
The winter season brings about low temperatures and longer nights, but even with that, an electric bicycle can still be a reliable means of transportation. Since more people are switching to cars, it means traffic congestion is only going to get worse. With your e-bike, you would be able to get to your destination faster than those driving their cars.
Riding an e-bike is also great exercise, and the sense of achievement you will feel if you can ride in winter is downright exhilarating. Wintertime will test not only your e-bike but your motivation for e-cycling too. Essentially, if you do it right, you will be able to enjoy a bike ride from winter all the way through to spring.
In the coming sections, I will share some of the key steps that you can take to prepare your electric bicycle for cold weather.
Take good care of the battery
The battery is by far one of the most sensitive elements of your electric bike. It requires special care and attention when faced with cold and below-freezing conditions. Always make sure that the temperature of your battery is above freezing before you charge it or you could end up damaging the cells.
It is perfectly fine to ride your e-bike in below-freezing temperatures, as it will not damage the battery. But you should always slow warm it before charging. Do not try to warm it rapidly with a heater. This could damage the battery.
Also, note that the power and range of the battery will drop when the battery is cold. This is completely normal. One way to avoid this power drop is to store the battery inside whenever you are not riding so the battery will stay warm.
Regularly clean your electric bicycle
Riding in the winter means that your bike is bound to get dirtier than it did during the other months. This is due to the road maintenance techniques used to make the road driveable in winter. Sand, gravel, and salt are used to melt the ice and snow and make the roads driveable. Sometimes, there is even magnesium salt in the grit and it can be more aggressive than regular salt.
Keep your bicycle clean by wiping it with a damp cloth after every winter ride you take. Use a bicycle-specific lubricant when cleaning the chains.
Protect your e-bike against rust
With all the water and moisture in the air, your e-bike is more susceptible to rust. Due to that, you want to do all you can to protect it from rust. You can do this with preventative products like Rust Check, which you can get at most home supply or automobile stores.
Use it to spray every spoke nipple (the points where the spoke meets the wheel). You can also use it to spray the exposed metal parts. Here is an Amazon link, if you want to check the price on Amazon.
It will help to prevent the build-up of salty water on e-bike’s parts. While using the spray, make sure to avoid the electronic components. Check your e-bike regularly to see if there’s rust, and if you notice rust, then apply lubricant and Rust Check as necessary.
Use winter tires
Standard tires on your electric bicycles were made for summer riding conditions. Cars are not the only vehicles that require different tires in the winter. Your electric bicycle also needs a different set of tires to be able to handle the ice and snow.
Studded tires are the ideal tires for your electric bicycle come winter. They are great for icy or hard-packed conditions and on plowed roads. For softer snow, you may want to try stud-less fat-tire bikes.
Avoid riding through slush
One of the perks of taking your electric bike for a ride in winter is that you can ride through the snow. It’s a fun activity, and perfectly okay for your bike.
What is not okay is riding through slush. This salty, watery snow can splash into parts of your e-bike, and seep into hard-to-reach areas and then cause rust. If you are unable to avoid it, then make sure to thoroughly clean your e-bike upon arrival. Do not forget to lubricate the chain and metal parts once you are back in your home.
Five cold weather tips for your e-bike
Do not leave your e-bike’s battery out in the cold
You should never leave your lithium battery out in the cold longer than necessary. When the battery is left out in the cold, usually temperatures below 5-10 degrees Celsius (or 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit), it will not function as well as it should.
Batteries left in the cold become less efficient and have less power than they normally would. So, bring your battery inside whenever possible to keep it warm and ensure it gives the best performance.
Do not charge the battery when it was long left in the cold
Avoid charging your battery when the temperature is too cold, say around 10 degrees Celsius, or below freezing. If you absolutely must charge the battery, then do so at a lower current.
Charging at low temperatures will degrade your battery quality over time. If the battery has been out in the cold, allow it to slowly warm up before charging.
Charge the battery more frequently
You will need to charge your battery more frequently than you would do in summer or warmer weather. Most riders would normally charge the battery when they need it for their trips, maybe a couple of times a week.
However, with the cold weather, your battery will not be able to store as much energy as it would when the weather is warmer. So the charge that would have lasted you a week in summer, will not last that long in winter. So, make sure you charge your battery more frequently.
Properly store the battery
Most riders would use their electric bicycles less in winter than they would do in summer. If you are not going to use your e-bike for up to a week, you can leave the battery fully charged.
However, if you intend not to use your e-bike for longer, it is better to lower the voltage down to below a 90 percent charge (normally, around 70%). Your battery will last longer when it is not stored for a long time at full charge.
Slow down while riding
Avoid riding fast in winter. Not only are the roads slippery, but it also gets dark pretty fast. This makes it difficult for other motorists to see you. When you go slowly, you will find it easier to avoid any mishaps that may occur.
Riding slowly also means you will have not so much cold wind to contend with, and it will make your winter ride more comfortable.
Tips for storing your e-bike in winter
If you decide to take a break and not ride your e-bike in winter, for most of the cold weather period or for a part of it, you will need to store the e-bike. Here are a few tips for storing the electric bike:
- Clean the e-bike thoroughly;
- Store your battery with a partial charge;
- Check all wiring for damage, and replace any that needs replacing to prepare for the next season;
- Lubricate the chain and metal parts;
- Store in a warm, dry place.
What’s it like riding an electric bicycle?
Riding an electric bicycle is quite similar to riding on a traditional bike. You get on the seat and start pedaling. The only real difference is the electric motor kicks in immediately as you start pedaling. Most times, you will hardly notice when the motor has kicked in.
Isn’t it cheating when you use an electric bike?
The simple answer is no. An electric bicycle is only as fast as you are. So, pedaling efforts still play a key role in riding an electric bike. Worth noting that in many countries there are regulations that require electric motor power cut off at the speed of 25 miles/hour (40 km/h). If you would like to go any faster, you will have to rely on your pedaling skills.