Electric components on an e-bike are susceptible to damage from water and moisture. But can freezing temperatures destroy your electric bike’s motor and battery?
Cold weather, especially below freezing temperatures (32°F), can shorten the life of your battery and motor or even damage them permanently if you don’t take proper care of them. You should never ride your electric bike in subzero temperatures (-0°F).
But how cold is too cold? And can you ride your electric bike when it’s really cold outside without ruining your investment?!
You can protect your e-bike if you follow simple guidelines and don’t get lazy. Read along and I’ll help you understand the problems that cold weather can cause for electric bikes and give you a solution to each.
How Cold is Too Cold for an E-Bike?
Generally speaking, temperatures lower than -5° Fahrenheit are too cold for an electric bike to be ridden in while temperatures below 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celcius) are too cold to store your e-bike in. Freezing temperatures will negatively affect battery range and performance.
The primary concern about freezing weather is that Lithium-ion electric bike batteries are super sensitive to extreme high temperatures and low temperatures. This means that the performance of Lithium-ion batteries can suffer greatly.
And the truth is, even cool weather (whether or not it’s below freezing) can harm the battery capacity without proper care.
One major problem of riding your electric bike in cold temperatures is due to the most sensitive component, the ebike battery. The battery capacity will significantly decrease in range.
For example, let’s say that you’re riding in below-freezing temperatures. There’s a good chance that you’ll lose 30-40% of the battery capacity temperature drops. Thus, it follows that you’ll be able to ride 30-40% fewer miles than on a 60-degree day.
So, if you intend to ride long distances during cold weather, you might want to have a battery backup plan.
Can E-Bike Batteries Freeze? (Problem)
A battery isn’t likely to freeze as long as it’s being ridden in temperatures above 0°F. Just the act of riding will keep it warmer than if it was simply sitting out in the cold.
However, letting your battery sit unused in below-freezing weather will have a serious impact on your bike’s performance. It may decrease its overall life, reduce acceptable range, or possibly damage it beyond repair.
Although these are quite different results, it’s fair to say that storing your battery in really cold temperatures (or leaving your electric bike outside during the winter) is a bad idea.
E-bikes that house the battery inside the frame may offer some additional protection from the cold.
How to Keep My Electric Bike Battery Warm in Cold Weather (Solution)
Keeping your electric bike battery warm is similar to taking care of your cell phone. After all, you wouldn’t leave your phone sitting in the cold unprotected.
Fortunately, there are several ways of keeping your bike battery protected from the cold:
- Use a battery cover. Thermal covers can be wrapped around the battery like a jacket while you’re riding. You can find a cover that fits your battery right on Amazon!
- Wrap them with chemical heat packs, perhaps inside the battery cover
- Store your battery in ambient temperatures above freezing but preferably between 50°-70° Fahrenheit
- Keep it inside where temperatures are comfortable for you… and then you’ll know your e-bike battery is in good shape as well
- Make sure your battery is warm before riding your e-bike (room temperature is perfect)
- Charge your battery inside, or at least where it’s warmer than 32°F.
- Charge your battery often… in low temperatures, your electric bike battery will lose its full charge more quickly
One other consideration… e-bikes that house the battery inside the frame may offer some additional protection from the cold.
Can I Ride My E-Bike in the Snow?
Nothing says “cold” like snow.
Riding an electric bike in snow and ice can be dangerous. But it is possible to ride safely when the temperature drops with the right tires, good battery care, and proper maintenance.
Keeping your battery warm, as discussed above, is essential. But so is keeping it dry. Additionally, keeping all of the other electric components clean and dry, such as the motor and electric bike controller, are important as well.
What Type of E-Bike Works Good in the Snow? (Problem)
The biggest problem is that you can’t easily ride just any e-bike in the snow. Not only are below freezing temperatures dangerous, but snow and ice are slippery and harder to ride on.
Further, riding an electric bicycle in the snow increases the chance of rust and corrosion that can cause damage to the bike frame and electrical components. So, it needs to be able to handle the environmental conditions!
Realistically, you should have an electric mountain bike with wide, studded tires or a fat tire e-bike like this one. Both of these types of bikes are built to handle bumpy, uneven terrain. This is thanks to the suspension and wider, knobby tires found on e-mountain bikes and the super-wide tires on fat e-bikes.
If you have a regular commuter e-bike or an electric road bike, you will have a tough time getting any traction in the snow, let alone ice.
How to Properly Ride an Electric Fat Bike in the Snow (Solution)
The best way to ride an e-bike in the snow is with an electric fat bike or an electric mountain bike, preparation, and proper maintenance.
In general, the fatter the tire and the lower your tire pressure, the greater traction you’ll have.
If you are trying to ride an electric bicycle that isn’t suited for snowy terrain and winter conditions, be extra cautious!
Make sure you follow these tips for riding your e-bike in the snow and ice:
- Charge your battery completely before heading out
- Ride slow…. much slower than usual
- Don’t ride in the dark
- Watch for “black ice”, often found anywhere water has had a chance to build up and then refreeze (bridges, gutters, and puddles, for example).
- Prepare for the most difficult conditions and coldest weather possible on your ride and wear proper clothing: Winter gloves, heated bike socks
(got mine from Amazon), and a warm waterproof jacket is a must.
- Clean and dry each sensitive component after EVERY ride to avoid rust and damage… the lithium-ion battery and motor need careful cleaning and drying as does the derailleur gear system (including the chain)
Can I Leave My E-Bike Outside in the Winter?
It’s typically not a good idea to store your electric bike outside in cold winter weather. Even with a protective cover, moisture and cold can damage the electrical parts.
Once again, the lithium-ion battery requires good protection from the elements.
Is It Safe to Store My E-Bike Outside in the Winter? (Problem)
The problem with storing your electric bike outside when it’s very cold is that it can be damaged by rain, snow, and sleet. Even if you cover the bike, moisture and dew can form under the cover or in the bike shed, leading to pulling out a rusty one after a few months of storage.
But, you can safely store your e-bike in a garage or outdoor shed, as long as you remove the battery and bring it indoors.
How to Store an Electric Bike in Cold Weather (Solution)
The best way to store electric bikes outdoors in wintery weather is to put them inside a weather-proof bike shed or outdoor shed. A bike shed will allow more air to move around your electric bike, helping to prevent moisture build-up.
First, always remove and store the battery at room temperature someplace warm and dry (inside is best).
You might like to check out these bike sheds from Amazon.
Avoid just throwing a cover over your e-bike which will collect dew and transfer it directly to the bike.
A shed will provide protection from the ground and decrease the amount of dew and moisture that’ll form on your bike.
How Should I Prepare My Electric Bike for Cold Weather?
To get your e-bike ready for cold weather, you should make sure your battery is in good working order, clean and oil every metal part, and make sure your tires are in good condition.
How Do I Winterize My Electric Bike? (Problem)
If you don’t take special care of it during cold winter weather, rain, and snow, you might have a very rusty, non-working electric bike in the Spring.
Getting “lazy” or letting bike maintenance slide will end up causing you a serious headache later on. But there are a few steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen.
3 Steps to Prepare Your Electric Bike for Winter Weather (Solution)
- Prepare your lithium battery
Store it partially charged as opposed to fully drained or fully charged. Somewhere between 40% and 80% charged is acceptable.
This will prevent cell damage, as lithium-ion batteries discharge slowly over time as it is and you don’t want to end up with a completely depleted battery. Only charge it to 100% when heading out for a ride.
- Clean the bike frame and all metal parts while making sure they work as they should (but learn how to properly clean electric bikes first)
- Lube your e-bike’s chain
After every cleaning, before storage, or in bad weather, make sure to lube your chain. Just wipe a small amount of bike lubricant on the top of the chain towards the center and make a couple of pedal rotations to spread it out.
Now, just repeat these three simple steps after each ride and your electric bicycle will be ready to go for the next chilly weather adventure.
Pro Tip: Buy a second ebike battery if you’ll be riding a lot when it’s really cold outside. This will double your range and protect you from any sudden Li-ion battery capacity problems (like having your battery die while riding).
I hope you’ve learned how cold weather affects electric bikes and an easy solution to each winter problem.
If you love to ride your e-bike in any weather, then you’d better know how to take care of it, especially when it comes to the battery!
If you do, you’ll keep it in great shape even during inclement weather and avoid the hassles (and expense) of an electric bicycle and lithium battery in poor condition.