You take your e-bike out for a spin and suddenly it rains- what now? Don’t leave your cycle in the lurch by turning to Uber to rescue you from being stuck in the middle of the road. Settle down and save yourself from worries. Your day is not totally ruined.
Trust me, you and your e-bike are going to be fine. You didn’t think bike manufacturers were amiss in such a scenario, did you? If that were the case, there will be a number of months of wasted biking opportunities each year, which can be a total bummer to many e-bike users.
- 1 The lowdown on e-bikes
- 2 Riding When it’s wet
- 3 Pressurized water
- 4 Full water submersion
- 5 Check your e-bike
- 6 Busted batteries and motor
- 7 Rusty chains
- 8 Waterproof vs water-resistant
- 9 Cleaning after
- 10 Soaked in saltwater
- 11 DIY waterproofing
- 12 Ride with care
- 13 Light rain, yes, no to downpour
- 14 Remove the battery pack to dry
- 15 Store your e-bike in its rightful spot
- 16 Final thoughts
The lowdown on e-bikes
E-bikes have become your modern powered versions that require less manual effort from the rider with its pedal assist. At the same time, it manages to promote clean and green energy along the way. As a result, you have happy knees, thighs, and the environment overall.
These nifty pieces of mean machine may have the same features as a conventional two-wheeler. You’ve got the frame, brakes, saddle, foot pedals, and other things that look exactly like its predecessor. However, there is one striking difference, and that is, the presence of a motor and a battery. These essentials make it a lot easier to handle compared to powering up a bike through manual pedaling.
E-bikes are slowly but surely, earning its spot on the road alongside other light modes of transportation. It’s quite fun to ride it, it’ll put that goofy smile on your face without you realizing it. You’ll love it even more when you take it uphill – no more excruciating climbs and panting lungs, which even the best cyclists experience on the regular!
What’s great is that you don’t have to limit yourself to using your e-bike only on sunny days. You can still ride it in less optimal weather, even when the rain starts to pour. After all, the e-bike has been designed with different weather conditions being taken into consideration. But that is not to say you can brave a downpour out for too long. Here’s what you should know.
Riding When it’s wet
If you’ve got a Samsung smartphone or some fancy electronics, maybe you’ve already heard about IP ratings and stuff. They’re typically on the specs of water-resistant gadgets which indicate how they will hold up against adverse environmental situations such as being dropped in water or getting wet from the rain. This is the feature you would want for your e-bike that gets exposed to the elements.
The IP (International Protection) indicator usually has two digits succeeding it. When you say something is rated as IPX6, it can be protected even when water gushes over it all of a sudden. The external casing can withstand the jets of water for at least three minutes without the fear of moisture penetrating your sensitive internal wiring.
Check for your e-bike’s IP rating, which is typically found in its operating manual. Specialized has e-bikes that have the highest waterproof rating, with an IP code of IP67. The first number 6 refers to the product being virtually impermeable to dust. The second number, on the other hand, means the e-bike can be immersed in water for a short time with depths reaching up to 1 meter.
As rain would start to fall down while you’re happily riding your way to your target destination, your e-bike can remain unharmed in the process. What will damage it beyond repair is to leave your electric bicycle out in the open rain, expecting it can hold up against torrential down pour.
|IP Rating||Digit 1 – Solids||Digit 2 – Liquids||Testing For|
|IP60||Protected from total dust ingress||Not protected from liquids, limited ingress protection|
|IP61||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from condensation, limited ingress protection||Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.|
|IP62||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from water spray less than 15 degrees from vertical, limited ingress protection||Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.|
|IP63||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from water spray less than 60 degrees from vertical, limited ingress protection||Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect|
|IP64||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from water spray from any direction, limited ingress protection||Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.|
|IP65||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from low pressure water jets from any direction, limited ingress protection||Water projected by a nozzle (6.3mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.|
|IP66||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from high pressure water jets from any direction, limited ingress protection||Water projected in powerful jets (12.5mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.|
|IP67||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from immersion between 15 centimetres and 1 metre in depth, limited ingress protection||Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).|
|IP68||Protected from total dust ingress||Protected from long term immersion up to a specified pressure, limited ingress protection||The EQUIPMENT is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the EQUIPMENT is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of EQUIPMENT, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.|
Here’s the thing, you would not want to spray high pressure water on your supposedly water-resistant mobile phone to test its features let alone, your pricey electric bike. Not only is this a silly move, you are likely going to cause damage in your transport with your unnecessary action.
Full water submersion
Unlike traditional bikes which you can ride with extra flair by submerging it in water and come out unharmed, it is not the case with e-bikes for obvious reasons. If you push it to the limit by leaving it drenched, it will likely have operational issues as a result.
Check your e-bike
Do a once-over especially if you’re using a rather old e-bike to ensure your seals are secure, such that water will not be able to come into contact with them. This is a must when a downpour is expected. With a light rain shower, your e-bike should be good for as long as you’ve done your preliminary checks in the past.
Busted batteries and motor
The main reason why you don’t want to expose your e-bike with water for too long is because of your precious battery and motor. Although batteries are rated for their water resistance, constant exposure to wetness will eventually corrode its components.
A piece of metal that has been soaked in water will rust faster than you can speed up your e-bike. It will even cause untimely wear and tear of your drivetrain. When unmonitored, it could snap while you’re riding, and gets worse if you are thrown off your bike.
Waterproof vs water-resistant
So when you have been surprised by a drizzle while out riding, you should be ok, at least for a limited period of time. When there is a heavy downpour, you must head out to the nearest shed. There’s practically no e-bike that is totally waterproof. Majority though, just like a number of watches or cameras, will have the ability to resist water as it hits.
To enlighten you further, a water-resistant e-bike does not make it an amphibious vehicle altogether such that it can brave a stormy weather like it would during normal dry outside conditions. But when there’s a light shower, you’ll find some riders carry on with their e-bikes and survive to tell the tale. More often, they come prepared and observe the following guidelines when riding in the rain:
Get fenders, especially if you live in a state that is prone to inclement weather. They do not only protect your e-bike from flying debris and dirt, but also from rain splashes. Again, your e-bike is water-resistant, not waterproof. While your battery will not conk out with a rainfall, you do not want to drench your bike and its vital components totally either without lending it protection.
Your vision can blur when riding in the rain. It’s important that your e-bike comes complete with lights, especially a bright headlight that easily alerts others on the road of your presence. Don’t forget that your tail light should be visible just the same, and throw in a blinker for your helmet or handlebar, too for good measure.
As you might know, your e-bike should have the appropriate psi according to the type of road conditions you will be riding on. In the case of a rainfall, your bike tires should run on a lower psi, which makes for a better grip on a rather slippery road.
Don’t challenge yourself with late braking when riding on wet roads. This can be dangerous even when most e-bikes have disc brakes that work well with the rain that’s coming down hard. Braking earlier than usual by allocating a few seconds in advance can make a difference in keeping you safe on the road.
I might sound like your grandma talking, after all, you hear it all the time as far as speeding is concerned. But yes, it’s better to err on the side of caution when taking extra safety measures. The same goes with riding your e-bike in wet climate. It’s pedal-free mechanism can make it go faster than you should so it’s best to go easy on your speed. It is recommended to keep your pace at around 20 kph.
Watch out for water puddles
The damp road is precarious enough, hence you should avoid protruding obstacles and oily puddles in particular. These puddles appear as a rainbow reflection caused by fuel or grease. Metal covers and grates become extra slippery, too alongside lane markers and white lines.
Keep yourself dry
Wearing a cap that provides a barrier between your eyes and the rain helps improve your visibility when riding during a downpour. Gloves that have water resistance also aid in making sure your grip stays on the handlebar. A rain jacket such as one that’s made of Gore Tex has good water resistance; it will help keep you warm and somehow dry despite the precipitation. There’s footwear, pants, and bags that you can even consider to bring that are waterproof.
It’s great that you will not be doomed with your e-bike when rain starts to fall; it’s not as water-averse as one would mistake it for. Ultimately though, it’s not easy dealing with such tricky weather. There is no slacking allowed if you own an electric bike. There is an aftercare to perform once you have been through a wet adventure with your two-wheeled buddy.
Batteries, especially the ones on your e-bike can go unaffected by rain in principle. What you do not want to happen is moisture to seep in the battery terminal which can cause untimely corrosion. Electrical parts and water don’t mix as well because this can bring about their malfunctioning.
The first thing you do after a wet (and wild) ride would be to clean it right away. Don’t dilly dally by putting it off for another day or two. Do it immediately after. Lightly douse your e-bike with water to get rid of sticky dirt and debris which have found their resting grounds on your e-bike components. You wouldn’t want crusted mud on your tire surface as it will also expend more energy from your battery when it’s used. Skip the detergent though.
Once you have removed the mud and grime, wipe it with a cleaning cloth. It is crucial to keep the external cover of your electricals bone dry and moisture-free. Lubricate the chains afterwards for the bike to continue its smooth running condition and dirt-repellent action. When you have finished your chore, it’s time for you to take that warm shower for yourself.
Soaked in saltwater
We talked about rain for the most part, but how about saltwater? You might like riding along the shore or living near the beach. Your e-bike may come into contact with saltwater directly or bask in its humidity. Either way, your e-bike will hate you for it; this calls for more than your fair share of cleaning and maintenance.
You will be rinsing it off with regular water if it was ridden over beach water or wiping it every now and then to keep moisture at bay. After all, you didn’t pay pennies to get your precious e-bike in the first place so, do what you can to take good care of it.
With frequent use, your e-bikes default water resistance may decrease. Whether you live in a place that hardly experiences a rainfall or the opposite, you must realize that oxidation and humidity also contribute to moisture buildup that can impact the electrical connections of your bike. If you want to tap your inner mechanic and save some dollars in the process, these waterproofing hacks can help you.
Aluminum and copper connectors can degrade in color, turning from bright to dull. This corrosion brought about by oxidation can diminish conductivity. As such, the surface gets much hotter. You will then need to apply something that is waterproof for all intents and purposes yet, non-conductive. You can coat your connectors with dielectric grease, which you can grab on the cheap from any store that sells automotive spare parts.
Alternatively, your humble petroleum jelly can do the job as well. Some would use nail polish in clear shade which is great because it does not have metallic pigments that can diminish conductivity of your connector. The ingredients of the nail polish include nitrocellulose that is dissolved in ethyl acetate solution, making it an inexpensive option for waterproofing of sorts.
You can also get specific products such as a waterproofing spray and tape that can offer water resistance to your e-bike. One particular item is ACF50 spray which delivers waterproofing that can last for 2 years. It is usually in the stash for aircraft maintenance. If it’s good enough for airplanes, all the more will your e-bike benefit from it.
As mentioned, there is such a thing as waterproofing tape, which can be used on exposed connectors that are placed on the frame. The tape is made of self-fusing silicone, making it sticky and stretchy without leaving any residue on the surface even when it is removed.
Remember that you should know what you’re doing when delving into DIY waterproofing of your e-bike. Otherwise, just get help from electronic service shops where they can perform additional waterproof measures to increase your e-bike’s ability to withstand a downpour if need be.
Other things you should remember about using e-bikes when there is rain
Now you know that it’s perfectly ok to ride your e-bike even with precipitation, here are several points to consider under the circumstances:
Ride with care
Aside from going slow when it’s raining, don’t go all the way into tight corners. Instead, hit the brake lightly before making a turn, avoiding leaning as much as possible. This allows your tires to stay on the road without causing your bike to slip accidentally.
Light rain, yes, no to downpour
When it’s raining cats and dogs outside, it’s best to postpone your ride with your e-bike. Aside from common sense, we want to avoid high pressure water making its way to the internal wirings of your cycle. It is not worth risking your expensive bike by challenging its water resistance capabilities.
Remove the battery pack to dry
Although your bike just went past a light rain, it’s still a good practice to take the battery out and wipe it dry. While many e-bikes have batteries that are completely sealed, there’s always that extra mile you can do to ensure its protection from water. The charging connector which can get wet should be moisture-free as well before you hook it up to charge.
Store your e-bike in its rightful spot
Water in the form of rain is not the only thing you should watch out for when placing your e-bike in storage. You have snow and sleet as well that can wreak havoc on your bike if left unchecked. You don’t just want to keep it in a roofed area with exposed sides. It should be in an enclosure like a garage to preserve its integrity and avoid moisture damage.
We can all rest easy and take comfort in the fact that e-bikes can weather any storm up to a certain extent. You’ve realized that water is not its worst enemy and has, in fact, found a way to work around it. Like many modern devices, the e-bike has sufficient water resistance while keeping the other desirable features that make it to many users’ preference over manual bikes. Go ahead and keep riding your two-wheeled wonder in the rain.