Even though it is fun and practical to ride an ebike for recreation and transportation, no one likes to ride in the rain. Sometimes you have no choice. You might be out riding and a shower rolls in or a mist turns into something more, catching you off guard. Or you find you just need to get somewhere and your ebike is the best choice, weather be damned, so you just roll out. You can ride an ebike in the rain, but there are some steps you can take before, during, and after your ride to make a ride in the rain safe and enjoyable.
Like their non-assisted cousins, most ebikes available today are water-resistant, but be sure to verify this with the bicycle manufacturer. Basic mechanical bicycle components such as the frame, wheels, brakes, drivetrain, handlebars, pedals, and saddle are designed for the outdoors and won’t fail with a few raindrops. The additional components that provide a rider with a boost on an ebike are the motor, battery and display and these are designed to be splash proof or water resistant but they are not waterproof. Water resistance means the item is designed so that it is hard for water to get in but there is no guarantee no moisture will penetrate it. Long term exposure to moisture to any electronics should be avoided.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for those rainy rides before clouds appear:
1. Don’t submerge the motor and battery – if you encounter severe rainfall that results in flooding do not ride through deep water. An ebike’s electrical components are designed to resist water and may not operate properly and could be damaged if completely surrounded in water. Besides the risk of damaging the electrical components of an ebike, deep water, streams, and brooks might be a travel hazard because they might cover up potholes and deep pools that might cause damage to the electrical portions of the bike.
Also avoid slippery spots that look like rainbows created by oil and gasoline coming to the surface by the force of water. Other slip hazards include painted lines, railroad tracks, metal grates, and fallen leaves.
2. Be visible – inclement weather results in low visibility. Your ability to see where you are going on the road or trail will be limited and other vehicles will have a harder time of seeing you. Make sure you have an operating headlight and tail light before you start out whenever you ride at dusk or later, but especially when there is a risk of encountering rain.
Lights serve the purpose of allowing you to be seen and also to see conditions on the road. You should have a front facing white light that can be seen at least 500 feet away and a red tail light that can be seen 600 feet away. Many ebikes already come equipped with front and rear light, but you can also add a blinking light on a helmet, rack, or bag.
It also helps to wear bright colors and reflective clothing to make it easier to be seen. Neon colors and luminescent clothing with reflective accents in the back, arms and legs help with visibility. Besides enhancing visibility bright technical all-weather clothing will enable you to be more comfortable.
3. Utilize waterproof accessories – minimize the impact of the rain on your clothing and accessories by choosing waterproof materials. A seam sealed waterproof pannier bike bag, backpack, or shoulder bag, a waterproof pouch for your cell phone, a cover for your saddle, and fenders will help keep your equipment dry. If you travel with a laptop, tablet or cell phone be sure to use a few ziplock plastic bags to store it your valuables even inside your waterproof panniers just in case.
A waterproof jacket, pants, shoes or boots, and gloves will keep you dry, comfortable, and warm. Avoid cotton, instead selecting apparel made from synthetic materials or wool. To keep rain out of your eyes, rely on the visor that comes with many helmets or a hat with a visor underneath the helmet. In warm weather you welcome the holes in a helmet for the ventilation, but in rainy weather you will want to close up those holes with a helmet cover or neoprene or wool hat underneath.
4. Apply brakes sooner – braking times increase when calipers are wet so brake early and smoothly to avoid locking up the wheels and skidding. Even though most ebikes are fitted with disc brakes, some with hydraulics, that typically perform better in the rain than rim brakes, an earlier application will reduce the risk of hydroplaning and enhance the safety of your ride.
5. Slow down – wet roads are more slippery so you will have more control over your bike if you slow down. It also enables you more time to assess the environment that might have limited visibility in the rain and anticipate and avoid potential problems.
6. Clean your ebike after your ride – when your ride in the rain is finished, it is time to clean up your ebike. Wipe down the bike, especially the battery, with a clean, soft rag to remove any water that has pooled on it. Wipe off any road debris that accumulated on the bike with a wet sponge and then wipe it dry. If possible, remove the battery and clean the contact points and battery cabin and let it dry before reinserting it. Don’t turn on the ebike again until the battery is 100% dry.
You will also want to reapply lubrication that was washed off in the rain. Key spots to lube are the chain, any exposed cables, and pivot points. If possible, do not store your ebike outside in wet weather for any length of time. Prolonged exposure to the elements will take a toll on the ebike so find a safe space inside a basement, garage or other storage spot.
7. Decrease tire pressure – bike tires allow for a range of pressure and if you find yourself biking in the wet conditions, reducing the tire pressure will improve traction. A slightly lower pounds per square inch (psi) allows more rubber on the tire to come into contact with the road, providing a better grip.
By not leaning too aggressively into corners you also keep more rubber on the road which allows for better control. Also be cautious of the amount of power assist you use when turning corners.
If you are transporting your ebike on an external bike rack on a car, be sure to remove the battery before putting on the ebike. Prolonged exposure to the force of rain, debris, and wind can damage the battery casing and compromise battery performance.
By following these tips you will take the stress out of riding an ebike in the rain and arrive safe and invigorated and have just as much fun as when you ride on a sunny, dry day.
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