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Can Electric Bikes Be Used in the Rain?

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Picture this: it’s a Friday night, and a popular new restaurant downtown has just opened. All of your friends have decided to meet up after work for some drinks and food at the new restaurant, but you’ve got one dilemma: it’s starting to rain outside, and you need to take your electric bike to get to the restaurant. You begin to wonder…

Can electric bikes be used in the rain? Yes, electric bikes can be used in the rain and can generally be used in the same conditions normal bikes can. However, the amount of rain an electric bike can withstand differs between models, and some extra precautions may need to be taken when using an electric bike in the rain.

We’ve researched and compiled all the facts and tips you need to know about using electric bikes in the rain, so you never have to miss a Friday night dinner with friends – even when the weather isn’t necessarily cooperating. 

Using Electric Bikes in the Rain

Luckily for electric bike users, electric bikes can be used in the rain! As we mentioned, however, the amount of rain electric bikes can withstand without damage differs between models, and regular bikes can withstand more rain than electric bikes.

There are some extra precautions you may need to take before and during a rain shower.  Also, there are some key things to know about electric bikes to use them safely in the rain.

Before we get into the specifics of why and how electric bikes can get wet in the rain, and ways you can safely ride your electric bike when it’s rainy outside, let’s take a look at some basic information about electric bikes – like how they work, and how you can tell which ones are best suited for use in areas where it frequently rains. 

The Basics of Electric Bikes

When you think of electric bikes, the first thing that might come to mind is something along the lines of a motorcycle or moped. While those things can both be electric, they’re not electric bikes – and electric bikes look a lot different.

Electric bikes are essentially regular bicycles with a few extra electrical components, like a controller, a battery and a motor.

How do they work, though?

Electric bikes are operated the same way standard bicycles are–by good, old fashioned pedals, handlebars, and brakes. The difference is that, of course, electric bikes have electric components; the electrical components on electric bikes build on the human power it takes to operate a bike (rather than replacing it, like a motorcycle or moped would).

There are different types of motors, batteries, and controllers for electric bikes that we won’t get into here, but those different parts can make a world of difference when it comes to riding electric bikes in the rain.

The most important thing to know about electric bikes (when it comes to riding in the rain) is where all your electrical components are located. When you know where parts like your motor, battery, and controller are located, you can aim to protect them from water damage. Let’s talk about why. 

Using Your Electric Bike in the Rain

It’s important to know your electric bike and where its parts are located, especially the electrical components. Why? What else should you know about operating an electric bike in the rain? 

Electric Bikes are Water Resistant

First things first, electric bikes are water resistant, not waterproof. They can get wet.

That’s a big difference. When a product is waterproof, that means no water can get in, and no water can get out.

On the other hand, when a product is water resistant, that means it’s difficult for water to get in, but not impossible – and if water does get in, it can cause damage.

For example, let’s think about smartphones and other electronics. When you’re using your phone and step out in the rain, do you immediately put your phone away for fear of it getting water damage?  Probably not, since most phones are water resistant.

However, you wouldn’t want to drop and leave your phone in a puddle, or a pool, or another body of water for a long time.  You know that doing so could damage your phone beyond repair.

Electric bikes are similar to phones and other water-resistant electronics in that regard. While they can withstand rain and small amounts of water (like rain), heavy amounts of water (like downpours, puddles, and mud piles) can be damaging to electric bikes, especially if water gets on the electric parts.

Okay, so electric bikes can withstand some water and be just fine. But how much can they handle? How can you tell just how water resistant your electric bike is? There’s actually an easy way to find out. 

Figuring Out How Water Resistant an Electric Bike Is

When it comes to electrical enclosures and mechanical casings (i.e., those things that enclose the electric parts of your electric bike), there’s a rating system called the International Protection code, or the IP code.

The IP code (also called IP rating) rates how much protection a product has against water, dust, and contact intrusion. In short, the IP rating of an electric bike shows just how much protection it has against liquids and solids, which is very important when it comes to using them in the rain.

You’ll need to know how to read and interpret an IP rating, though, in order for it to make any sense.

IP ratings have a standard format: the letters IP followed by two numbers. For example, an IP number may be “IP32.”

The first number in the IP sequence indicates how much protection an object has from solids. The second number in the IP sequence indicates how much protection an object has from liquids – like rain.

So, our example IP rating of “IP32” means the object has a protection rating of 3 against solids, but a protection rating of 2 against liquids. We’ll explore what these numbers mean, but if you can’t find them, they won’t do you much good.  

Finding Your Electric Bike’s IP Rating

The IP ratings of your electric bike’s components are significant–they’ll tell you just how much rain and water your electric bike can handle, and they’ll also show you how much protection is offered against other things, like dust and hard objects.

Most IP ratings of electric bikes and their electrical components can be found online, by calling the manufacturer, or by asking a sales expert before buying. Once you find out what the IP ratings are, you can begin to interpret them.

The DSMT has in depth charts on interpreting IP ratings, so you know exactly what each number represents and how much protection is offered. Let’s check out some simplified versions of those charts. 

IP Digit One: Solids
Level Object Size Protected Against Example of Objects Protected Against
0No protectionNo protection against objects
1Greater than 50 mmLarge surfaces of the body, like the back of the hand 
2Greater than 12.5mmFingers and similar objects
3Greater than 2.5 mmThick wires and other tools
4Greater than 1mmMost thin wires and screws
5Dust ProtectedComplete protection against contact; protection against most dust
6Dust TightComplete protection against contact; complete protection from dust 
IP Digit Two: Liquids
LevelLiquid Protected AgainstExample of Liquids Protected Against
0Not protectedNot protected against liquids
1Dripping waterVertically falling water (like rain) should have no effects
2Dripping water tilted up to 15 degreesWhen the enclosure is tilted up to 15 degrees from its original position, dripping water should have no effects
3Spraying waterProtected against water spraying at any angle up to 60 degrees from vertical
4Splashing waterProtected against splashing water from any direction
5Water jetsProtected against water projected from a nozzle (6.3mm)
6Powerful water jetsProtected against water projected from a powerful nozzle (12.5mm)
7Immersion up to 1mProtected against immersion in water up to 1m depth
8Immersion beyond 1mProtected against immersion in water up to more than 1m (usually hermetically sealed)

The Higher the IP Rating, the More Water Resistant the Bike

Once you’ve found and interpreted your electric bike’s IP rating, you’ll be able to tell just how much water your electric bike can withstand.

If you’ve already got an electric bike, you can see how protected your bike’s electrical components are against solid objects and liquids.

That way, if your bike has a higher IP rating, you’ll know you’re good to ride in the rain. If your bike has a lower IP rating, you’ll probably want to use more caution when using your electric bike in the rain.

If you’re looking into buying an electric bike but haven’t yet, and live somewhere in which you anticipate a lot of rainy riding days, look into getting a bike with a higher IP rating.

Whenever you get confused (it happens) refer to the charts, and you’re good to go!

Tips for Using Your Electric Bike in the Rain

By now, you know that electric bikes can be used in the rain, and you know how to figure out just how much an electric bike can handle when it comes to water.

There’s still more you can do to ensure your electric bike stays in good shape and that you stay safe while using your electric bike in the rain. We’ve got some of the best tips for using your electric bike in the rain – stay along for the ride!

Get the Right Electric Bike for Your Climate

This tip is for those who haven’t yet purchased an electric bike. As we previously mentioned, if you live somewhere in which you anticipate a lot of rain, you’ll want to make sure to get an electric bike with a higher IP rating – that is, an electric bike that can withstand more water.

Think about the climate where you live and how much you plan on riding your electric bike on rainy days. Is your electric bike the mode of transportation you will always be using? Do you plan on using a car or public transit on rainy days rather than your electric bike?

These are all questions you should take into consideration before purchasing an electric bike. Once you’ve considered how much rain you’ll experience and how often you plan on riding your electric bike in the rain, you can buy a bike that can better withstand water.

There’s plenty of electric bicycles that are rated for a variety of climates and some that can even be ridden in the snow!

Weatherproof Yourself and Your Belongings

Your electric bike wouldn’t be anything without someone to ride it, so it’s important to keep yourself protected while riding in the rain. If you’re planning on using your electric bike in the rain, make sure to weatherproof yourself and your belongings.

Humans are pretty water resistant, too, but when you add in other factors, like cold and wind, you can come up with a pretty dangerous cocktail that can increase the likelihood of an accident!

When you plan on riding your electric bike in the rain, wear layers so you can shed a few if you get too warm and add more if you get chilled. Evelo Electric Bicycles recommends getting a reliable cycling cap, a pair of water-resistant gloves, and a nice water-resistant jacket.

Your other belongings might be water-resistant, but you’ll likely want to weatherproof those, too, so they don’t get too much water exposure while you’re riding in the rain.

Seam-sealed waterproof pannier bags, backpacks, and shoulder bags are great for keeping your belongings like your phone, laptop, and daily purchases out of the elements. It can also be a good idea to keep some Ziploc bags on hand, just in case. 

Check All Your Rubber Port Seals Before Leaving

Most electric bikes have screens and batteries. Those screens and batteries most often have rubber port seals on them to keep water and other elements out.

If it’s a rainy day and you’re planning on riding your electric bike, make sure to check that all the rubber port seals on your bike are properly on, sealed, and not loose.

This can help ensure that water doesn’t get where it shouldn’t be on your bike’s electric components and gives you an extra level of protection from any water damage. 

Avoid Excessive Amounts of Water

Okay, sure, we’ve spent most of this article explaining to you why and how electric bikes can be used in the rain. Electric bikes can be used in the rain.

However, that doesn’t mean you should go plowing through big puddles, taking your electric bike out in a downpour, or going mudding. You’re on a bike, not a submarine, remember?

As we mentioned, no electric bike is waterproof, only water resistant, so it’s important to avoid taking your electric bike in excessive amounts of water!

Make Your Electric Bike Even More Water Resistant

If you’re concerned about your electric bike taking on water, there’s another solution rather than just not taking your electric bike out on rainy days. You can make your electric bike even more resistant than it already is.

There are a few ways to do this. First, you can use dielectric grease. Dielectric grease, also called tune-up grease, is a silicone-based grease that repels water and ultimately protects electric connections from water.

To utilize dielectric grease for your electric bike, you’ll simply need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply the grease to your bike’s electrical contact points.

Additionally, you can use liquid electrical tape on your electric bike’s electrical contact points to create a more water resistant barrier. Liquid electrical tape is used in mostly the same way as dielectric grease. 

Wipe Down and Dry Your Electric Bike After Using It in the Rain

After you’ve used your electric bike in the rain, it’s always a great idea to wipe the entire thing down and dry it off (especially the electrical components) before storing it.

Don’t let your electric bike just air dry after using it in the rain; make sure to manually wipe it down and dry it with a towel or something similar.

Not only will this ensure water doesn’t get into the electric parts of your bike, but it will also increase the longevity of your bike. Win-win!

Other Tips for Riding an Electric Bike in the Rain

Lastly, there are some additional tips for safely and correctly using your e-bike in the rain. They are:

  • Make sure to use lights whenever riding in the rain 
  • Lower your tire pressure for more traction on slick roads
  • Take corners slowly whenever riding in the rain
  • Brake early when biking in the rain
  • Get fenders for your electric bike
  • Make sure you’re wearing the right gear. Perhaps it is time to invest in a cycling rain cape

For more tips on riding in the rain see this article that covers these topics more in depth

Final Thoughts

Electric bike users have often wondered if they need to store their bikes away and use another mode of transportation when it’s raining. Luckily for them, the answer is no! Electric bikes are water resistant and can be used in the rain.

It’s important to remember that electric bikes aren’t waterproof, and excess water like puddles and downpours should be avoided. It’s also important to remember that there are some tips for safely and correctly using an electric bike in the rain.

When you’re properly educated on electric bikes and the amount of water they can withstand, you can use your electric bike on just about any day – rain or shine!