Biking to work has never been more popular, and has never been easier thanks to electric bikes. But is it possible to commute by electric bike all year round? Is it safe to ride an electric bike when it’s raining? Here are few tips and tricks how to keep riding your e-bike whatever the weather.
It’s a well-known fact that water and electronics don’t mix! This is because the water can form a temporary connection between two components that should not be in contact, short-circuiting them and frying the electronics. This can sometimes (though very rarely) make the electronic appliance explode or melt, though most of the time the entire appliance just shuts down and won’t work again until the burned out components are replaced with new ones. Thankfully, most things that might come in contact with water, like cars, E-Bikes and motorcycles have fuse boxes that will isolate the faulty circuit and stop further damage.
There’s also a difference between riding in a light drizzle and a heavy downpour. Riding anything with less than 4 wheels isn’t recommended in a downpour in any case, but riding any e-bike in a light drizzle should be okay.
In short: Yes, you can ride an e-bike in the rain
Most eBikes are already waterproof (well, water-resistant), and their electric wiring is very well made. Many manufacturers have found out that most riders will ride their bikes in the rain. Rarely, a newer company or a cheaper bike might have less waterproofing, but almost every bike you can get will be waterproof out of the box.
Now, for clarification, an electric bike isn’t fully, 100% waterproof. If it’s dropped into a lake or ocean, it will surely fail and be irreversibly damaged. It’s water-resistant, meaning it can get a little wet and be dried off later. Kind of like a water-resistant watch that will handle some casual diving in the swimming pool, but this watch will not handle spending a lot of time deep underwater.
Bicycle components can be given an IP (Ingress Protection) rating to indicate how resistant to water they are. On the rating label the letters IP are followed by two numbers. The first number is the protection from solid particles. The second number is the protection from water penetration. The higher the IP rating (especially the second number) the more the component should be able to withstand heavy rain or a soaking.
Please do not leave your bike outside in the rain, for days at a time. They will surely fail and you’ll have to bring it to a shop. Please at least cover the bike with a tarp or a big sheet of plastic. The best and most expensive option is buying a bike cover, but an even better option is to always keep your E-Bike indoors.
Electronics are OK, but what about the mechanics?
Time for some mildly bad news: the E-Bikes bearings, chains, and unprotected metal parts will rust if they’re wet. You should dry off and lubricate your bike after riding it in the rain, and this should keep your mechanical parts functional. Be sure to lubricate the chain, because the lubricant will both protect it against water and provide a smoother ride next time.
Most of the time, the gears and chains will rust, become less efficient, and eventually break. Be warned, the chain will take another part to the grave before it completely breaks down. A broken chain can whip back and injure you too. Periodically check if the chain and other parts became rusty and if they are please visit a certified maintenance shop, or switch these parts out yourself. And be sure to wipe down the bike too, as soon as you’re safe from the rain. Do not wait for a few days, or worse, a few weeks; it will become rusty.
Tips for e-biking in the rain
Many competition bikes don’t have fenders (because they have to be as light as possible), and so do many cheaper ones that cut production corners. A fender, also known as a mudguard, is an important piece of equipment for both off-road and rainy day rides. Off-road, it will keep mud and dust away from your back and face, and on rainy days it will keep the water off both the bike and the rider.
You’d do well to buy some bike fenders and attach them. Please buy the correct ones, because loose-fitting ones will either rattle during your ride, hit the wheels or other parts of the bike and damage them, and worst case scenario, fall off and get stuck inside your wheel, launching you forward and into the pavement, asphalt or concrete. Let’s take this chance to remind everyone to wear a helmet.
Don’t use plastic bags for handles and other homemade “hacks”
Sorry, DIY enthusiasts, but most DIY solutions won’t keep your bike safer, or waterproof it. Some holes and tolerances exist on your electric bike for a reason, and sealing those off will harm your bike in the long run. Electric components are often air-cooled, and sealing them off will eventually melt them, or activate some sort of safety that will preemptively shut down your bike. Using plastic bags to cover the handles is a slipping hazard, and your hand might slip off. Try it out inside and then imagine how worse it would be if the plastic bag is wet.
Please just follow the instructions instead of trying out a folk remedy for the bike, and ask the manufacturer if there are more ways of waterproofing the bike. They might have some heavier duty gear such as rubber seals or covers that might help you waterproof your bike. There are ton of accessories like bike covers or biking rain gear like waterproof gloves, so you really do not have to be inventing anything to stay dry and keep your electric bike functional in the wet.
Don’t apply silicone
Like we said, don’t do this because you might damage the bike, damage the bike’s paint job, and most places that have holes/joints are meant to move or be removed. While it might feel fun to apply a quick fix to the battery cover, it will not be fun at all to have to scrape it all off when you have to replace the battery.
A team of engineers designed the E-Bike and most often their solutions will trump anything silicone might patch. And please do not superglue anything with the idea it will be waterproof; it will be a nightmare later on.
Most electric bikes are water-resistant, but they can’t be made 100% waterproof. Please wipe the bike off after riding in the rain. Do not let the bike stay outside in the rain. Please check the bike chain and lubricate it after every wet ride. Having quality fenders will greatly improve your bike’s longevity in rainy and muddy tracks.
Homemade “hacks” will more often ruin the bike rather than improve it. Please wear a helmet and mind the traffic. Stay safe and have a great ride, in any weather.