The electric bike has become increasingly popular in recent years. But whether you’re riding a traditional bike or an electric bike, most people opt to store their bikes away for the winter in fear they will not be able to ride it in harsh weather conditions. But the truth of the matter is, you can safely ride your e-Bike through the winter months, as long as you follow the right precautions.
How should I ride an e-Bike in the winter? As long as you are confident riding your e-Bike, you can safely right through the winter months. All you need to do is :
- Make sure that the battery stays warm.
- Have a good pair of winter tires.
- Dress appropriately.
- Replace your brake pads.
- Make sure the bike is clean.
- Make yourself visible.
- Slow it down.
With these handy seven tips, you should have no problem whipping around your city on your favorite bike. We’re going to discuss in further detail how you can apply these seven tips to your bike-riding experience to reduce the chances of mishaps and slip-ups.
Top 7 Tips for Riding an e-Bike in the Winter
First and foremost, we will say this: riding any type of bike through the winter, you are going to come across a lot of rain and in some areas, an influx of snow. If you are not comfortable with your e-Bike, you should avoid riding in the harsh weather conditions until you are more stable. An amateur rider may end up slipping and sliding, which can lead to an accident.
Another important tip is to stay off the roads if there is any chance of black ice. Even the most confident bike rider can end up in despair if they come across black ice during their trip. It’s best to wait until the ice has melted a bit, and roads are properly plowed before trying to ride through the town.
Now, let’s get into the top seven tips for riding an e-Bike safely in the winter:
1. Make Sure that the Battery Stays Warm
This is probably one of the most important tips for riding an e-Bike in the wintertime. After all, batteries don’t like to be too hot or too cold and will react negatively to both situations. When the temperatures drop too low, then your battery will respond by losing the amount of range it provides to the rider.
So how can you make sure that your bike doesn’t end up losing range and ruining your ride? The biggest piece of advice is to always remove your battery after use and keep it in a warm, dry space.
You are free to leave the battery sitting on a shelf as long as the room temperature is warm, but if you want to make sure that it stays warm, you may wrap it in insulation.
When you are ready to ride your e-Bike again, then you can simply unwrap it from the insulation and place it back on your bike. Make sure that the battery is nice and warm, and there is no signs of snow or water remaining on the battery, as this can cause the battery to lose around 30% of its overall range.
Another important tip on e-Bike batteries during the wintertime is to never try and charge a battery that is extremely cold. Trying to charge a frozen battery can lead to damage to the plug as well as the battery, and aside from that, the battery simply won’t charge while it’s in a frozen state.
Wait for the battery to warm up for a little while before charging for your next journey.
2. Have a Good Pair of Winter Tires
One thing that may be often overlooked is the importance of winter tires. Sure, you can probably get by with your regular tires okay, but if you want utmost grip and safety, then you should seriously consider having a good pair of winter tires installed on your bike.
This is especially important if you are planning to regularly ride your e-Bike throughout the winter months, not just a few quick excursions.
Luckily for consumers, there are a lot of winter tires for e-Bikes available on the market. Keep in mind, though, that you should always buy tires that are specific for winter wear. Tires that are designed for rain will not do the trick, as lower temperatures on these types of tires can reduce the amount of traction as the rubber stiffens up.
When choosing a tire for riding an e-Bike in heavy snow and ice, consider studded tires made with carbide tires. These are notoriously the top choice for safety and traction in the snow, giving the rider confidence that he won’t slip in his ride. These may not be the cheapest choice, but they are ideal and well worth the price for reducing safety hazards.
However, keep in mind that studded tires shouldn’t be used when ice begins to melt. Riding studded tires along the pavement will wear down the studs and cause the e-Bike to run at a slower pace. It will also impact the range of your battery.
When the ice and snow begin to melt, you can switch to good quality winter bike tires. Ideally, your tires should be puncture-resistant so that you don’t have to worry about changing your flat tire in the cold.
If you can’t afford puncture-resistant tires for your e-Bike, the next best option is keeping a spare inner-tube with you. These allow for quick changes when you’re trying to rush and get back home from the cold, and they are inexpensive.
3. Dress Appropriately
Whether you are going for a walk in the snow or having a snowball fight, one important thing you always want to remember is to dress appropriately for the low temperatures. This is even more important when riding your e-Bike as the cold temperatures hit against your skin more rapidly, which can cause something small as cold to something riskier like hypothermia.
If you want to safely enjoy your e-Bike through the snow, you need to pay special attention to your head, fingers, and toes. These areas will get cold the fastest while you are riding, so they need to be the most protected during your journey.
These are some of the must-haves when riding through extremely cold temperatures:
Helmet – A helmet is required when riding your e-Bike. This is true whether you are riding through the summer or wintertime, so don’t forget it. However, helmets are designed to release heat, not keep it inside.
We advise you to wear a hoodie, balaclava, or another type of garment that will keep your head warm underneath the helmet. Ski helmets are another option.
Gloves – Gloves are an essential part of winter e-Bike riding, as they come into contact with the cold temperatures first. In fact, some people may find that gloves are necessary for all types of weather because of the wind chill factor while riding.
When looking for the right pair of gloves, you should try and find a pair that comes with a windshield outer layer. You can also double up on your gloves or choose a pair of gloves with two layers. Two layers will ensure that one is designated solely for providing warmth while the other will fight back against water and wind chill.
Sunglasses or Goggles – Trying to ride through exceptionally bright, sunny days is challenging as you are left with impaired vision. This can be extremely dangerous, especially if there is snow on the ground or rain falling.
The best way to ensure you have a good vision while riding your e-Bike is to wear a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses will allow you to see better, especially on days where the sun is shining bright. They also reduce the amount of glare, which can be extreme on cold winter days with snow on the ground and the sun in the sky.
However, the biggest issue with a pair of shades during the winter months is that they can easily fog up. This, again, poses a vision risk to the rider as they can’t see as well. It’s most likely to happen when the rider stops for one reason or the other.
If you’re concerned about your sunglasses fogging up and posing a risk to your safety, you also have the option of wearing ski goggles instead. You won’t have to worry about squinting when the winter days are bright and sunny, and you also won’t have the concern of foggy shades.
As a bonus, you can even wear your shades underneath most goggles safely and comfortably for added protection.
Windproof Clothing – Trying to ride an e-Bike through the winter can be extremely cold, especially if there is a lot of wind. This brings the ‘wind chill’ factor that can be extreme and take your breath away. To avoid the intensity of wind-chill during the winter, consider purchasing windproof clothing.
A windproof jacket will keep you warm while cutting the wind, leaving you far warmer during your trip. When choosing a windproof jacket, try and buy a bright, reflective color that will alert other drivers that you’re on the road. This is extra important on snowy days where visibility may not be as good.
Waterproof Pants and Shoes – A pair of waterproof pants that can go over your regular pants is a great idea. This will ensure that your legs don’t end up wet from rain or snow. There is nothing more uncomfortable or chilly than riding around with moisty pants, so a cheap pair that will keep your pants safe is ideal.
Another area that is bound to get wet quickly is your feet. After all, you will end up putting your foot down in the wet, snowy ground at some point during your ride, which will lead to wet feet. This is uncomfortable and will make you feel a lot colder throughout your journey.
That’s why you should always wear a pair of waterproof shoes. If you want to save a buck or two, you can also opt for waterproof cycling overshoes. These quickly and easily slip over your favorite riding shoes but will be safe from wetness. They will keep your feet nice and warm on your trip and also increase the longevity of your riding shoes. You could also look into wearing a cycling poncho to keep the rain off you.
4. Apply a New Set of Brake Pads
Breaks are an extremely important part of your bike, whether you’re riding a traditional or electric bike. However, they become even more important during the winter months where you rely on your breaks, even more, to help you stop in harsh weather conditions.
The downside to riding in the winter is that even a good set of breaks may not be as great during cold temperatures. That is why a set of new brake pads are highly recommended before heading off on a journey through the rain or snow.
While you are at it, you may also want to check on your cables before heading out. Why? For the simple fact that some cables have runs where water can get trapped inside, and this will lead to the cables freezing and breaks not working as well. If you notice that there are areas on your cable that may allow water in, you might want to replace them as well.
If you’re really concerned about snow reaching your battery (and potentially your face), then you might look into placing front and back fenders on your e-Bike. This will ensure that snow doesn’t end up getting in places where it doesn’t belong. It might not look the coolest, especially on an e-Bike, but it can save you from a lot of travel if you’re using your e-Bike in the snow.
5. Make Sure the Bike is Clean
A lot of people might not think that it’s important to clean your bike regularly, but it is. You should always make sure your bike is clean in any type of weather conditions, but it’s even more so imperative during the wintertime. But why?
Think about it: when you’re riding your bike around a snowy town, your bike is going to get wet as well as run its tires across the salt that’s been placed on the roads to increase traction. What moisture does to your bike is cause it to freeze (if left outside or in cold temperatures).
The winter salt causes more major issues for your bike. The salt can cause corrosion around the entirety of your bike, which, in turn, has a negative impact on brakes, cables, and other important parts that help the bike move. The corrosion causes stickiness on these moving parts, thus making it more of a challenge for the bike to operate correctly.
To avoid problems with your bike from corrosion and wetness, always wipe it down with a damp cloth. Make sure to remove any visible signs of snow, grime, and salt. You may also choose to wipe it using a bicycle lubricant, which will also help to keep the chain running smoothly.
For a complete step by step guide to cleaning your ebike click here.
Worried about rust? Rust can be a major issue during the winter seasons, but it can be combated with the right products. One great product to consider is Rust Check, which is available at most home stores or auto stores. Spray it down and reduce the chances of rust on your e-Bike.
Storing Your e-Bike
Ensuring that your bike is cleaned, lubricated, and dried off is important during the winter months, but the bike care doesn’t stop there. It is also important that your e-Bike is stored properly throughout the colder temperatures to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.
So, where should you keep your bike for the best results? Your e-Bike can remain outdoors as long as it is protected from rain and snow. However, it will be better protected against harsh weather conditions inside.
And by ‘indoor,’ we don’t necessarily mean putting it by your bed and keeping an eye on it all night (unless you really want to). Places like the garage and the basement are excellent choices for e-Bike storage. If they are enclosed, they are likely the right temperature and give you an area to clean and dry your bike before storing for the night.
However, keep in mind that if you are storing your e-Bike in cold temperatures, you need to remove the battery and keep it warm. Remember the importance of the battery remaining warm in order to function properly. If needed, remove the battery and wrapped in insulation to keep it safe.
6. Make Yourself Visible
When it is raining or snowing, there is far less visibility on the road. This makes it extremely dangerous for e-Bike riders, as those in their vehicles may not be able to see you until the last minute. And with road conditions the way they are, breaking in a hurry can be a challenge.
The best way to avoid potential collisions with motorists is to make yourself visible while riding. Here are a few top tips to remember before heading out in harsh weather conditions and low visibility:
- Wear bright colors. Colors that stand out, even in the fog, are crucial when riding in rain and snow. These colors include bright oranges, neon shades like yellow or pink, and lime green. You can also opt to wear a jacket with a reflector on it, which is normally worn by highway workers. The point is to make yourself as visible as possible.
- Reflective gear. Reflective gear works wonders in low visibility as they present a sheer sign to motorists. Aside from considering a reflective jacket, you can also wear reflective gear that is worn on the wrists, ankles, legs, back, and chest. There are also reflective stickers that can be added to your bike, like the tires, to increase visibility.
- Proper lighting. Aside from being required by law, proper lighting is also essential to the safety of the rider and other people on the road. Your headlight should be visible at least 200 feet, although some areas may require more. Also, have a red taillight on your bike at all times. These lights can be set to ‘flash,’ which is more noticeable to other people on the road. You can also add flashing LED lights to your bike and gear.
- Follow all traffic laws. When driving in harsh weather conditions, it is more important than ever to remain predictable so that other motorists will know where you are going. You never want to cut corners or try and swerve in and out of traffic, as this can lead to a collision.
- Never stop to the right of a vehicle. It can be hard for larger vehicles to see you, and they may end up turning right into you. Instead of stopping directly next to a vehicle, go behind them so they will dodge you in the case of turning or pulling off to the side.
- Don’t be afraid to drive in the lane. You might think this is a scary thought, considering cars can’t stop as easily. However, if you’re off to the side, they might not see you and come too close. Always ride your e-Bike in the lane so other cars can clearly see you.
As you can see, making yourself visible isn’t too big of a chore. By simply wearing bright colors and being a safe rider, you can reduce your chances of being accidentally hit in bad weather.
7. Slow it Down
The general rule for anyone driving in the snow or rain on any type of equipment, whether it’s a car, motorcycle, or e-Bike, is to slow down. The road conditions are not good during times of harsh weather conditions, and there is no reason for anyone to be driving or riding at excessive speeds.
So what does that mean for the e-Bike rider specifically? Generally, you want to keep your bike at a steady, slow speed throughout your journey. This is especially true when you are planning to turn. When turning, slow down sooner than you normally would before trying to make the turn. This will have a better chance of success, rather than spinning out in the snow.
Don’t think that because you have a good set of snow tires, you’re free from potential slipping and sliding. While top-notch snow tires are a great thing to have while riding in the snow, that doesn’t mean they can’t slip up. Therefore, it’s still important to slow down even with the best snow tires on the market.
Also, when you are planning to turn, never lean into the curve. This will reduce the amount of tire that is actually in contact with the road, which can lead to slipping and sliding. Before turning, you want to generously slow down and take the curve with as much tire grip on the ground as possible.
Remember that cars on the road won’t be able to brake as fast as usual. This poses a big safety hazard for those who are riding around on a bike. It doesn’t make it impossible, though, and we covered some wonderful suggestions to make yourself known in low visibility above. The best thing to do is to make yourself known on the road and slow down.
Another concern for e-Bike riders is the amount of sunlight in a day. Those using their e-Bike for commuting may leave when the sun is shining but find themselves riding through the dark when they are off work. This makes it more hazardous as they are combining darkness with bad road conditions and low visibility.
When it’s dark and snowing, it’s important to go slower than usual. It’s also incredibly important to make sure that your lights are bright and in good working order.
Always keep an eye out for slippery spots in the road. This includes things like puddles, water, gasoline, and oil spills. This is especially important when it’s raining outside, as asphalt can become unpredictable when it comes in contact with water.
One more final rule of safety when it comes to riding your e-Bike through harsh conditions is to never use motor assistance, such as turbo if your bike allows for this type of enhancement. Using turbo in snowy weather can cause the tires to spin out more easily. In some cases, the e-Bike won’t move at all as the tires will continuously spin without any traction to get going.
Riding your e-Bike through harsh weather conditions doesn’t have to be dangerous. In fact, it can be incredibly fun! Making sure that you always go slow and steady and watch out for slippery spots is important, but what’s even more so important is preparing your e-Bike and yourself. The battery should always stay warm, your e-Bike should be properly cleaned, and the rider and e-Bike should be easily visible with bright colors, lights, and reflectors.