One of the benefits of an ebike is that you can travel faster with less effort than on a non-assisted bike. This is a benefit in the colder months because you can get to where you want to go faster and with less exposure to the elements. This is a reason those who commute on an ebike are extending their trips into the winter months with some hardy souls cycling all winter. While most of the recommendations for winter riding are the same for assisted and non-assisted bikes, there are some areas unique to an ebike.
An ebike is a bicycle with the addition of a battery, motor, and display. These unique components that provide the boost are typically long-lasting, sealed, and should require little maintenance. The electrical components are mostly off-limits to the consumer and you can void the warranty if you attempt to take them apart yourself. An exception is the battery which you should not dissemble, but you do need to manage all year long.
Managing an Ebike Battery in the Cold
An ebike battery needs regular management and special attention in cold temperatures. Most ebike batteries are sensitive to temperature fluctuations with the result that the range it will enable you to travel with assistance will drop significantly in the cold. Here are strategies for managing the battery:
Cleaning an Ebike in the Winter
If winter conditions in your town include precipitation such as snow or ice and salt and sand are added to the roads by the municipality to make them more passible, you should take extra effort to clean your ebike on a regular basis. This moisture and debris will get into the bike’s moving parts and either corrode them or accelerate their wear and reduce their performance. This is true not only in the winter but anytime your bike is exposed to moisture or dirt. The most important components to keep clean are anything with moving parts: the chain, brakes, and derailleurs. It is especially important to keep all the cables and harnesses that support the electric operation clean and connected to assure continued operation.
It would be ideal to dedicate an area indoors for cleaning in a garage, shed, or basement where it is above freezing. After washing any debris from the moving parts, dry them and add a touch of lubricant to help keep them moving.
When cleaning any bike, use a bucket of soapy water and a brush, rinse, dry, and lube. Don’t use a pressure washer or garden hose that forces water into delicate areas or the bearings since these need to stay sealed and well lubed. Don’t submerge the electrical components in water. The process of cleaning a bike is also a time to inspect for worn or damaged tires, brake pads, or bent or twisted components. You will find that parts on an ebike wear out faster than on a non-assisted bike due to the additional speed and force on the components.
If your ebike has a carbon belt rather than a chain, it might be best to avoid biking in snow, ice, and mud. A carbon belt generally requires less maintenance such as less re-tensioning or lubrication but the carbon fibers are sensitive to bending loads, shearing forces, indentions and impacts. There is a risk of snow or debris becoming clogged in the teeth and the belt being pushed off the pulley.
Dressing for Riding an Ebike in Winter
Even though you may be able to get to your destination quickly on an ebike, you are still exposed to the elements and should wear the appropriate cold weather gear. There are plenty of light weight, waterproof, breathable jackets, gloves, hats for under your helmet, and neck scarf to keep the wind off your skin and allow you to be comfortable outdoors.
Most ebikes have built in lighting systems powered by the battery, but it is a good idea to add additional lights on the handlebars, rear of the bike, or wheels in the winter for increased visibility during the shorten hours of daylight in the winter. Motorists are not expecting to see ebikes on the road in the winter and you want to be seen.
Following these tips will keep your ride in tip-top shape and laughing at the cold.
Earth Rider Blog about Cycing
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories