As public transportation has become increasingly risky during the pandemic, people are looking for ways to use personal modes of transportation instead. For many, this means gearing up for winter on their ebike. While there are limitations to the weather that is safe to ride in, you do not have to put away your bike at the first sign of snow.
Here we will look at top e-bike riding tips for winter including how to winterize your bike (and yourself) for safe winter travel.
Prepare Your E-Bike for Winter
Your bike is affected by the cold weather in similar ways that your own body is. The frigid temperatures can make it harder for parts to move so special attention must be paid to the following:
Be Mindful of Your Battery Temperature: While heat is highly detrimental to a battery, extreme cold can also cause issues. Though it is safe to take your bike out for a ride in freezing or even below freezing temperatures, it will need to be warmed to room temperature – around 20°C – before being charged. The process of charging is too strenuous for an ice-cold battery and you could cause damage by charging it in that state.
Storage and Starting: Similarly, you will want to start and store your battery at room temperature. The colder it is, the more chance you will not be able to start it at all.
Battery Covers: A neoprene cover for your battery can help to insulate it and also avoid damage from wet, slushy winter conditions.
How to Warm Your Battery: If your battery does get too cold, place it in an area that is around that magic number of 20°C. Avoid the temptation to speed up the process by applying direct heat. The rapid and extreme change in temperature will also degrade your battery.
Note on Battery Performance in Winter: You will likely notice that your battery drains more quickly in the cold. Starting your battery from a warm state will help minimize this but be prepared for getting a shorter range. Until you know exactly how your battery performs in winter, plan to take shorter rides. For example, if your battery typically gets an hour and 20 minutes of run time on a charge, start with a ride that you know will only take around forty minutes to gauge how quickly it drains.
Frame Maintenance: While today’s paints and finishes help to protect your bike from rust, it is still vulnerable to damage from road salt and grit. To keep your bike looking and performing well, get in the habit of dusting off any dirt after a winter ride. Then, take a damp cloth and gently wipe away the remainder. You should also dry your bike with a fresh cloth to ensure no moisture is allowed to hang around to cause damage.
Chain Maintenance: Regularly lubricating your bike’s chain will keep it clean and ensure it does not lock up on you during a ride.
Check Your Tires: Ensuring proper tire pressure is essential for bike maintenance and performance at all times of the year. In winter, this is even more critical as the cold air will condense the air in the tire making it slightly flatter than it would normally be. The heat generated while you ride should correct this but you do not want to start out on already under inflated tires.
To Winter Tire or Not to Winter Tire: Generally speaking, most cyclists will be best served by all-season tires. Summer tires, also known as racing tires, are lighter which can improve your speed and range but the difference will not be noticeable for most people unless you are riding competitively. More importantly, the additional thickness of all-season tires makes them less vulnerable to punctures.
Winter tires, which come in several varieties, will include spikes that improve traction on ice. While these tires do serve their purpose, the spikes are hard on the pavement and also wear down the tires themselves more quickly. This can get quite costly.
Alternatively, some riders will keep a set of winter tires and only put them on when it is likely to be icy out. However, this can get inconvenient. Also, keep in mind that if you store tires, they will slowly lose pressure even if they are not being used. If you do swap out your tires this way, make sure to check tire pressure before each ride.
Winterize Yourself for Your Ride
Dress Appropriately: If it is cold when you are standing outside, that chilly air will likely be intolerable as you ride through it at 30kmh. Pay special attention to covering your hands and feet. These extremities are especially vulnerable to the cold. Losing feeling in your hands can also make it more difficult to handle your bike as you ride.
Protect Your Eyes: anti-glare sunglasses can protect your eyes and help you avoid being blinded by the reflection of sun on snow.
Dress in Layers: To maximize warmth and comfort during your ride, aim to dress in layers that include a top layer of wind-resistant material. Bulky coats that keep you warm while standing still will not do as good a job on their own once you are on the move.
Be Prepared to Pedal: Ideally, you will charge your battery regularly and keep it at an adequately warm temperature. However, while these measures will reduce the chances of your battery malfunctioning due to the cold, they do not eliminate the possibility. Try to pick travel routes that you know you can pedal without electric assistance to avoid being stranded.
Choose Your Route Carefully: While e-bikes are absolutely made for adventure, winter is not the time to take risky new routes. Instead, stick to routes you know and that match your personal ability. This is especially true if you are new to ebike riding.
Take it Slow: 500W ebikes are capable of speeds up to 32kmh, which is fast enough to cause serious damage if you crash or fall from your bike. Play it safe and limit your speed in icy conditions and when you are taking a turn.
Why Should You be Riding Your Ebike in Winter?
Even if riding your bike in winter is not a necessity for you, there are benefits to be had. First of all, riding an ebike is great exercise no matter the time of year. It also means you can avoid crowded gyms or still get exercise even when those gyms aren’t open.
Maybe even more importantly, an ebike gives you a way to run errands or get to work while also getting sunlight. Sunlight is a primary source of vitamin D for many individuals and this can be sadly lacking in a Vancouver winter.
Professional Help for Winterizing Your E-Bike
Epic Cycles is committed to helping riders travel safely all year round. Shop our online store for protective gear and tools that will help you prepare your bike and yourself for all seasons. Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact our expert team: 647-715-9000.