If you live in the Midwest or other regions that experience long, cold winters you may be wondering how to store your electric bike and/or how to continue using it despite the cooler temps.
As for myself, I’m a bit of a fair weather bicyclist but on those rare warm-ish days in winter, I’m tempted to get the bike out of the garage and go for a spin. Is it okay to ride an electric bike in cold weather?
Well, generally the cold won’t hurt the electrical system but you can expect shorter range and less power from your battery. Lithium-ion batteries, which are regularly used on electric bikes are fair weather critters like me. They like room temperature and 70 degree days for optimal performance.
It won’t harm them to be used in cold weather but it is recommended to bring the battery up to room temperature before charging. This shouldn’t be a problem since you’ll want to store the battery inside during the winter anyway.
Tip: If storing the battery over several weeks, don’t store it with a full charge nor an empty charge. Usually, 60-80% is a good charge for lithium-ion batteries that won’t be used for quite some time. You’ll want to check the battery every 3 or 4 weeks and give it a little more juice if it’s too low. If it’s too high? Well, good excuse to go for a ride!
Another tip: Don’t leave your bike’s battery on the charger all winter, or summer for that matter. If you forget to unplug for a day or two it probably won’t matter but a couple of months and it probably will.
Leaving an electric bike battery out in a cold garage will decrease its lifespan, and batteries can be expensive. The battery is probably the most expensive component of your bike and it requires some care to ensure a long life.
Something to consider when riding during the winter, especially if you encounter wet, slushy roads is preventing moisture from affecting electrical components. It’s a good idea to wipe down the bike before parking it in an unheated place since the moisture will remain for longer periods of time.
Also, salt on the roads aren’t kind to exposed steel, such as gears, or other parts. Needless to say, salt, dirt, and moisture isn’t a friend to wires, battery connections, digital displays, etc. Just wipe down the bike with a towel and bring the battery inside, if your bike has a removable battery.
Not all ebikes do! My Super 73 Z1’s battery isn’t removable, at least not easily, so the whole bike may have to be brought in.
What temperature is too cold for an ebike battery? Temperatures below zero can damage the battery whether being used or stored. Bring it inside during such temps. Luckily, I don’t think too many people will be riding their bike in below zero conditions but you never know.
So, for those warmer winter days or cool spring days how can you comfortably ride in colder weather? Much of it has to do with your clothing. Layers are better at keeping you warm than one heavy jacket.
Face masks, eye protection, riding gloves, cold weather helmets, helmet liners, insulated socks, all found on Amazon, will probably be required. Whatever you need to feel warm but still be able to move your legs to pedal is what to aim for.
There’s even handlebar wind deflectors to keep your fingers from freezing.
It’s a good idea to bring along extra layers of clothes in case you get wet or have to stop riding for long periods of time. Also, bring extras snacks and water because you’ll burn a lot of energy and will need it replenished.
Keep in mind that it’s harder on the body to work out in the cold, or extreme heat. If you have heart issues or other healthcare concerns, you’ll want to play it smart. A 20-mile ride on a glorious 75 degree summer day isn’t the same as a ride on a 45 degree day. Your body will feel the difference.
Riding can still be enjoyable in the winter but it does take more planning and more gear. As for me, I’m still a fair weather bicyclist but I’d be much more inclined to hit the trails if I know I’m not going to turn into a block of ice. With the right gear and some common sense a good time can still be had and it won’t hurt the bike any.