The weather outside is frightful and the road doesn’t look so delightful. Contending with colder winter temperatures means it’s time for e-bikers to choose between storing their e-bike until Spring or continuing with their riding adventures. If you’re braving the elements, there are some precautions you should take to ensure a safe ride while keeping your e-bike in top condition. If you decide to store your bike until it’s warm again, it’s important to follow some basic maintenance tips so your bike will be ready to ride when you take it out of storage. No matter which route you choose, here are the essentials that will keep you and your bike safe this season.
Riding in cold weather
You’ve vowed to brave the winter elements. Now it’s important to keep you and your e-bike safe. First, prepare your electric bike for winter riding. The last thing anyone wants is for their bike to slip and slide out of control while riding at 28+mph. So if you might be riding on snow or ice, then change your tires accordingly. And immediately. There are tires specific to getting traction on hard-packed snow, ice or softer snow like spiked or studded models. Next, remember that your e-bike is water-resistant but not waterproof. We recommend avoiding riding through heavy rain and avoiding riding through deep puddles and wet mud. Submerging your motor or battery in water will ruin your bike and end up costing you thousands when you have to buy a new one. If you do get caught in the rain or snow, when you get home after riding, always wipe down the entire bike with a dry, clean towel as soon as possible – don’t let the bike drip dry. Essentially, you want to remove salt, dirt, water and any other debris off the entire bike. You’ll likely notice that dirt has splashed up into hard-to-reach crevices -- which can accelerate rusting unless you’re on top of the situation. Once you’ve wiped down your entire bike, you want it to look almost spotless.
When not riding, make sure the bike is stored in a warm & dry place like a garage or even inside your home. Cold weather can damage parts – even erode them – and abbreviate the lifespan of your bike. Plus, it can affect your e-bike ride in other ways. You can expect less range than you would normally get out of your battery during the warmer months. However, you can help reduce range dropoff by keeping your battery warm and dry inside of your house when you're not using your bike. We also always recommend charging your battery inside, during winter. If you just came back from a ride, wait about an hour before charging it so that it first returns to room temperature, where it will maximize your range for the next ride. You can also buy the Juiced battery cover to protect your battery from the elements when riding.
When you’re riding, remember that an e-bike’s speed can easily exceed that of a regular bike – especially if it has a throttle. So slow down and give yourself extra time to brake on wet and icy roads, just as you would if you were driving a car. Expect hazards. Bike lanes get narrower and can even disappear from parked cars and snowbanks. Plus, car windshields can quickly become dirty in snowy weather. And with fewer cyclists on the road, drivers may not notice you. So make sure your bike headlight and any helmet lights are working. And wear loud, reflective clothing that will catch the attention of drivers, as well. Finally, know your ability to ride in the snow. Newbies should take several test rides without the motor on at first, just to get a feel for the terrain. Then proceed at an appropriate speed.
Storing your e-bike
In some parts of the U.S. it may be too cold to ride – we get it. So it’s important your e-bike is stored correctly so it will be ready to roll as soon as you are. First, it’s important to keep your battery indoors and stored at a 50% charge level. It will self-discharge overtime – that’s normal. If you're not riding for two or more months, check the charge every so often and charge it back up to 50% when needed. Left in the cold, it becomes less efficient and loses power. If left uncharged for months on end, your battery may not even turn on when you go to ride.
Most electric bikes have water-resistant batteries, but many electric and mechanical components can be affected by condensation and changing temperatures. So store your bike in a dry, clean and temperate area. Messy garages can be the cause of many household accidents. Either do some seasonal cleaning of that space, or just bring your bike inside for winter. And if your garage is cold or damp, definitely store the entire bike inside – if possible. When you bring your bike in, wipe it dry with a soft cloth. With all the water and moisture in the air during winter, your bike is more susceptible to rust. Thus, get a can of Rust Check at an automobile supply store and spray it where every spoke meets the wheel. It helps prevent build-up of salty water. That said, be careful to avoid spraying it on electronic components. You also want to lubricate the chain and any moving metal parts with a bicycle-specific lubricant. Finally, check all wiring for damage, and be sure all connections are secure, so that your bike is ready to go in the spring.
By following these tips, no matter if you’re riding or storing your e-bike this winter, you will ensure the best care for your e-bike. Once you've decided what to do with your bike this season, it's time to grab some hot chocolate and figure out where your next bike trip will take you when the weather warms up.
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