March 3

Riding Your Ebike In The Winter: Cold Weather Tips & Battery Care

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Proper maintenance of your e-bike goes a long way to ensure you get years of reliable service from it. This is especially important during the winter season when you are tempted to limit the use of your bike or stop riding it altogether, given the cold outdoor conditions. 

If you choose to ride your e-bike in the cold, it is crucial that you know how to care for the battery. Failure to do this can easily render your e-bike obsolete by the end of the winter. 

The winter season is known for its low temperatures and long nights, but despite the unfriendly conditions, you can still take your e-bike out for a ride. With more people opting to commute using cars during this time, an e-bike may be the best way to escape the increasing traffic on the roads. 

Riding an e-bike in the cold also helps to get you warmed up. But if you plan to ride your bike in the winter, you should know how to care for it in these harsh conditions. 

The following are cold weather tips to assist you with the maintenance of the battery and bike when riding your e-bike in the winter. 

How to Care for the Battery During Winter

The battery is one of the most delicate components of your electric bike. It needs a great deal of care and attention, especially in the cold and freezing winter weather. Failure to do this risks rendering your battery obsolete. 

There are several ways to maintain your battery and keep it from suffering that fate. You can prevent this by ensuring the battery operates in the ideal temperature conditions. For instance, before charging your battery, make sure its temperature is above freezing point to avoid damaging the cells. 

charging the battery

Picture credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy4M9hlf2YQ

However, when warming your battery before charging, you shouldn’t do it rapidly with a heater. This can also damage it. Also note is that the battery range typically drops when the weather is cold. 

While it is completely normal, you can reduce this power drop by storing the battery indoors whenever you’re not using the e-bike to keep it warm. This is especially true if you have a habit of storing the bike outside. 

Preparing Your Battery for Long-term Storage

If you want to put your battery in storage for longer than two weeks, then you should ensure that it is around 75% full before you store it. Also, check on it every once in a while, to confirm that the charge hasn’t fallen below the recommended level. 

The e-bike can sit either inside or outside during the winter months, as long as it is well shielded against the precipitation. A garage or the basement will be a nice place to stow away the bike. But if you want to keep it under an unheated shed, be sure to detach the battery and store it at room temperature.

Clean Your Electric Bike

To maintain your e-bike in the winter months also clean it more regularly. The roads are bound to get dirtier than usual during the winter months because of the sand, gravel, and magnesium salt used to keep them safe for driving. 

cleaning an ebike

Picture credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjGR2gXHgKg

Make a point of wiping down your electric bike with a damp piece of cloth constantly. Use a bike-specific lubricant to maintain the chain and follow the appropriate guidelines to keep rust and grit buildup at bay.

Rustproof Your Electric Bike

Electric bikes are more vulnerable to rust during the colder months of the year. Between the high rates of precipitation and the salts used to melt snow on the road, it won’t be long before you start seeing your metal parts succumbing to corrosion. 

Luckily, you can buy products such as Rust Check from the local automobile or home supply store to prevent rust. Spray it carefully over the spoke nipple, as well as any exposed metallic components on your e-bike. 

Just remember to keep the rust spray off the LCD and any other electronic parts. Leave a coating on the bike and wipe this off when spring comes. Continue examining your bike’s body and chain for rust and re-apply the lubricant and Rust Check as often as is necessary. 

Rust Check spray

Use Winter Tires

Most likely, the rubber tires your electric bike came with from the factory are only suited for summer riding conditions. Just like in a car, you need to get more appropriate tires that can thrive on slippery icy and snowy surfaces.  

This should prompt you to invest in a new set of tires that will turn your e-bike into an elite winter vehicle. Fat tire bikes come in handy when you want to plow through inches of soft snow. Meanwhile, tires with studs will be a great option for plowed roads or icy surfaces. 

Winter tire

However, you should note that fat tires can’t be installed on ordinary bikes as the forks typically need to be specially built to accommodate the broader tires. On the other hand, studded tires can be accessed at most bike stores.

How to Keep Safe When Riding Your E-bike in the Winter

With the tricky and unpredictable road conditions during wintertime, safety should be at the top of your priorities when you decide to take your electric bike for a ride. Depending on where you reside, there will be snow, sleet, freezing rain, and ice to deal with. 

In case of extreme conditions like blizzards, black ice, and freezing rain, it will be wise to keep off the bike altogether. Otherwise, be sure to take all the safety precautions when you ride. Try to invest in proper lighting, reflective gear, and even a helmet to protect your head from imminent falls. 

Lowering your seat is another good idea as it helps to keep your feet much closer to the ground for stability. When riding on slippery surfaces, you can take your feet off the pedals and let them hover closer to the ground.

Lovering the seat of a bike

Picture credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbUmoPA5e4Q

This way, they’ll be able to catch you when the tire cannot handle the slippery ground. This will also be a good time to let the motor do most of the work. 

Note that with the pedal assist function, an e-bike is usually faster than most regular bikes. The thing is that you might not realize this when you’re pedaling lightly and being assisted by the motor. If your e-bike comes with a throttle, take care not to ride too fast on the unfriendly winter roads. 

Aside from the tricky roads, it gets pretty dark fast in the winter months, which tends to make you more vulnerable to accidents. This is particularly true when riding alongside other motorists on the road. 

Riding slowly also implies that you won’t have to contend with the cold winds and air, making your winter rides more tolerable. 

Other Gear to Enhance the Safety of Your Winter Rides

Apart from slowing down and using reflective clothing, other accessories will help to keep you from harm when riding in the winter. For instance, fenders will be a worthy investment to keep slush, rain, and snow off your legs and back. You also need bright enough lights to increase your visibility on the road, more so if you tend to ride in the early mornings and late into the evening. 

A pair of heated gloves will go a long way to make your trips more comfortable. The cold temperatures and winds can easily freeze your hands and compromise the handling of your electric bike. 

Finally, you always want to dress warmly when you venture into the outdoors during the winter months. Use clothing gear designed with waterproof fabrics to keep you dry and warm. Also, you can complement this by using waterproof panniers. 

Heated gloves

Cold Weather Tips for Your Electric Bike

Below are some tips to maintain the health of your electric bike if you plan to ride it in the cold winter weather: 

Don’t Leave your Bike’s Battery Out in the Cold

Never leave your lithium battery out in the cold for extended periods. Leaving it out in temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius will cause a significant deterioration in capacity and your battery may never be the same again. 

Batteries that are exposed to the cold suffer reduced efficiency and will typically store less power than usual. It is recommended that you remove the battery pack from the bike and bring it indoors where it is warmer to maintain its performance.

Don’t Charge Your Bike if It’s been in the Cold

Avoid charging the electric bike battery when the temperatures are too low; anything below 10 degrees Celsius is not recommended. If you must charge the battery, be sure to warm the battery first before charging it at a lower current. 

Charging your battery when it is cold will reduce its capacity and quality over time. If you accidentally forgot your battery outside overnight, allow it to warm up before charging. 

Charge the Battery More Constantly

Charging the battery

Picture credits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy4M9hlf2YQ&t=1s

Your e-bike battery will need to be charged more frequently during the winter than in the summer. Typically, most riders charge their bikes a couple of times a week in normal riding conditions. However, with the cold winter weather, your battery may not manage to store as much energy as it can in warmer weather. 

This means that the charge that would ordinarily last you a week during summer will only last you a few days in the winter. So, be sure to charge your e-bike battery more frequently.

Store the Battery Properly

Many riders tend to tone down on the use of their electric bikes during winter. If you are not going to be using your bike as often, ensure the battery is appropriately stored when it’s not getting any action.

You can store it when it is fully charged, but if you feel that the battery will be sitting in a corner for a longer period, keep the charge at around 70%. This will help to maintain the battery’s capacity and allow it to provide longer service.


Conclusion

Nobody is ever comfortable with the freezing winter conditions, but with an e-bike, you’ll be able to commute with less stress than driving a car. If you have to use your e-bike in the cold winter months, remember our tips above to care for your battery as well as your bike.


About the author

Emma was born and raised in the UK, studied in Amsterdam (where she discovered her passion for biking), and is currently living in Ohio. Her main passion is cycling, that's why she is always looking for an amazing new e-bike to make her journey even more unforgettable!


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