When the temperatures drop and the nights draw in, you may be tempted to put your electric bike away for the winter and stick with other modes of transport. But you don't need to do this if you correctly prepare for riding your bike during the winter months.
In this article, we will talk about what it's like to ride an electric bike in the winter, how to prepare yourself and your bike for it, and give you lots of tips for staying safe.
Riding an electric bike in the winter
Riding an electric bike in the winter keeps you active. You can continue your exercise regime, burn calories, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and boost your immunity. So there are many great reasons why you should keep riding your electric bike all year round.
If you are familiar with riding a regular bike in the winter, you'll find transferring to an electric bike very easy. This is because it is very similar. However, there are some differences that you should know about.
You Will Feel The Cold More
As the electric bike assists your peddling, you don't work up a sweat like you would on a traditional bicycle. Therefore, you will be surprised at how cold you will feel if you don't wear the appropriate clothing.
You Can Lose Traction Easily
Next, you need to be aware that your electric bike motor produces lots of torque. This means that when you ride on slippery surfaces, the rear wheel can spin much more easily, and your stopping distances are much longer. Therefore, you must adapt your riding style to stay safe on your electric bike.
Your Electric Bike's Range Can Reduce
Cold temperatures affect electric bike batteries. This means your range can be significantly shorter due to the reduced efficiency of the battery cells.
How To Overcome The Issues Of Riding An Electric Bike In Winter
These negatives of riding an electric bike in the winter should not put you off doing it, as there are a few things you can do that will counteract them. Let's take a look at how you can ride more safely and in more comfort during the winter.
Choose Your Clothing Wisely
Generally, most cycling clothing is designed to be suitable for regular bike rides, not riding an electric bike. Therefore to stay comfortable in lower temperatures, you will need to wear more layers than when riding a regular bike in cold weather.
Adding or removing layers makes it easy to stay comfortable according to the temperature.
If you are riding in freezing temperatures, you may benefit from wearing a base layer or thermal underwear. Base layers are made from either natural or synthetic materials that are breathable and wick moisture away from your skin. These technical fabrics allow you to stay warm and comfortable while riding an electric bike in cold weather.
Avoid wearing cotton clothing as it gets wet and doesn't dry out very quickly, making you colder.
On top of your base layer, you can wear an appropriate mid-layer. Your mid-layer can be a technical hoodie, sweater, or even a down jacket which is ideal for long rides and extremely cold weather.
On top of your mid-layer, it is best to wear a waterproof and breathable outer layer in the form of a cycling jacket and pants. These are also made from technical fabrics that allow moisture to escape but keep rain and snow out. You can spend a lot of money on outer layers; the more you pay, the better they will be.
When you ride an electric bike, you travel at higher speeds for more extended periods. This means the cold wind can be punishing on your hands. To overcome this. You should wear a quality pair of gloves to keep your fingers warm. But try not to buy gloves that are too thick, as they will make it more difficult to modulate your brakes.
Some people who ride in extremely low temperatures and those with poor circulation often use hand warmers. Alternatively, they may fit their bikes with handlebar mitts that fit over their handlebar grips to keep their fingers toasty. These mitts may only work if your electric bike has a center-mounted LCD, as LCDs mounted near the handlebar grips may get in the way.
Working out the best layering strategy for your local weather conditions may take some time. Therefore you may need to have a few clothing options until you work out what works best for your rides.
Adapt Your Riding Style
One of the best ways to stay safe when riding an electric bike in the winter is to change how you ride. If you live in a place that gets lots of snow, there's a good chance the roads will be narrower and much more slippery. Therefore, you should take it easy and not ride too fast, so you and other road users will find it easier to react to unexpected mishaps.
We also advise you to ride more smoothly. By this, we mean brake much earlier for junctions than you usually would and accelerate less aggressively. Set off in lower assistance levels to reduce wheelspin. Doing so will reduce the likelihood of accidents and preserve your battery life, extending its range.
Preparing And Looking After Your Electric Bike For Riding In The Winter
If you ride an electric bike with fat tires, you can increase your grip by reducing the tire pressures by a couple of PSI. Doing this creates a larger contact patch with the ground, giving you more traction for cornering and acceleration.
Another thing you can do is switch your tires to ones with more aggressive tread patterns. These knobbly tires cut through the snow and grip much more efficiently, giving you more confidence and security. You can even buy snow tires with metal studs that give you exceptional grip on snow and ice.
But be aware that lowering tire pressures and choosing more aggressive tread patterns will affect your electric bike's range. This is because there will be more rolling resistance, reducing efficiency.
2. Fit Fenders
Some electric bikes don't come with fenders, but fitting them makes a huge difference when you ride in winter. They prevent snow and rain from flicking into your face and up your back, improving the riding experience in bad weather.
3. Choose A Different Helmet
The cycling helmet you use during the summer may not be warm enough for winter riding. You may be lucky enough to be able to fit a beanie hat under it. Still, some electric bike riders wear different helmets in the winter.
For example, you may want to opt for a warm ski or snowboard helmet, which can even be paired with goggles for riding in Snow storms.
4. Lower your seat
You may feel a little nervous when you are riding your electric bike in the snow and ice. But if you lower your seat, it is much easier to put a foot down if you lose control on slippery surfaces.
5. Stay Visible
When riding your electric bike in the winter, there's a good chance you will be out and about in low-light conditions. Therefore you should ensure that your electric bike is fitted with quality and bright lights front and rear.
It is also a good idea to fit an additional light to your helmet so you can see more of the road ahead while making you more visible to other road users.
You should avoid wearing dark clothing as you will be less visible. It is best to wear bright clothing with reflective detailing to increase your visibility.
6. Look after your battery
As cold temperatures affect your electric bike's battery life, it is best to keep it at room temperature when you are not riding. This is because room temperature protects your battery's cells and extends its usable life.
You can also protect your battery from the cold while riding your electric bike. Some electric bike riders like to insulate their batteries using neoprene tubes which reduces the effects of the cold, so the range isn't compromised as much.
7. Wash Your Electric Bike
Riding an electric bike in the winter means it will pick up lots of grime and salt from the roads, damaging it and eventually corroding the frame. Therefore, when you return from your ride, rinse down the frame and dry it with a cloth to ensure no salt and grime residue is left.
If you use a pressure washer, don't spray the jet onto the electrical components for too long or too closely, as this will damage them beyond repair.
As you can see, you can stay active with your electric bike, even in cold weather. With a little bit of preparation and the correct clothing choice, you can ride all winter long, allowing you to exercise, have fun, or commute as usual.