About Electric BikesElectric BikesRiding Tips

A Complete Guide to Riding Electric Bikes in the Snow

By November 4, 2021November 18th, 2021No Comments
A Complete Guide to Riding Electric Bikes in the Snow

From road bikes to folding bikes, electric bicycles offer a great way of getting from A to B without breaking a sweat. However, there are many reasons why riding an electric bike is even better during the winter months than it is during the summer.

For example, if you live in the northern hemisphere, where the temperature progressively gets colder as winter approaches (or vice versa), you might find yourself wanting to cycle less and less due to cold weather conditions like icy roads, heavy snowfall or strong gale-force winds. An e-bike with the right tires and power can take away all those worries and make riding your e-bike in the winter nearly as enjoyable as in the warmer months.

E-bikes themselves come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re built with similar parts that enhance your cycling experience no matter what time of year it is. Here are some ideas for keeping your electric bike properly maintained for winter riding, which should answer a question we get around these parts. Can you ride your electric bike in the winter? With the right preparation, there’s no question that you can.

Install Quality Winter Tires

Unless you already have a fat-tire winter bike with accompanying large-tread tires, it might be a good idea to invest in some. What you’re looking for is a tire that will give you maximum traction in snowy, icy and slushy conditions. Generally speaking, the wider your tire, and the larger and deeper your tread, the more traction you’ll have access to on your electric bike.

Winter tires for electric bikes are specially designed to handle cold temperatures. This means they will have better traction, increased grip and improved braking performance in the snow or ice compared to normal bike tires that can get slippery when wet because their rubber becomes far more rigid. If the town or city you live in allows for studded tires, these are also a great option as they can easily dig into both soft and hard-packed snow to yet again increase overall traction and handling of your electric bike during the winter months.

Warm Up Your Battery Before Charging

When charging your electric bike’s battery, make sure its temperature is not below freezing. Otherwise, you could harm the battery cells. Riding your bicycle in sub-zero conditions won’t be a problem as the battery remains warm due to discharge, but make sure to let it warm up gradually before charging by putting it into a room-temperature environment. When out on extended rides during very cold weather, there may be some reduction of power and range; this is normal and expected. One way around this issue would be bringing the battery inside whenever possible for increased warmth, reducing the drain due to the cold.

Hub or Mid-Drive Motors for Best Electric Bike Winter Riding?

Another question we’ve been asked a lot is what is the ideal motor type for electric bike riding through the snow?

While you can get away with riding in the snow with either a mid-drive or hub motor, a mid-drive powered electric bike will tend to be more consistent and handle better over uneven terrain than a front or rear hub motor would. A mid-drive motor’s electric-assisted design helps it keep traction in deeper snow conditions without getting bogged down too much–even if there’s just one wheel making contact with whatever snowy or icy surface is beneath it. Mid-drive motors also have the advantage of dropping into a lower gear for that extra torque to get through particularly deep snow or slush. 

Another question we often get is how much power should an electric motor have for effective winter cycling? Our experience has been that you should look for something in the 1000W range in order to really conquer those snowy terrains with some modicum of ease. 

Brakes in the Winter and Snow

Like a regular bike, your electric bike’s brakes are likely equipped with disc brakes which are far more effective at bringing your bike to a stop than old-school drum brakes, which tended to become nearly unusable when they got wet. I speak from many an experience as a young teen discovering this fact far too late before an inevitable crash. That said, there are still some specific concerns to watch out for when riding your electric bike in the winter. 

No matter the quality of your brakes, stopping distances are always going to be longer in wet, snowy and icy conditions. You can combat this by ensuring that your brakes are as dry as possible before setting out on your ride and using a few drops of deicer on the housing of mechanical brakes. 

Rust Proof Your Electric Bike’s Components

Unless you happen to live in a place that has decided not to use salt on wintery roads, you’re going to get a heaping dose of salt invading your various electric bike parts. There are many ways to prevent rust on your bike, but one of the most effective is using preventive products. 

You can get a trusty old can of WD-40 Specialist Long-Term Corrosion Inhibitor. It’s like liquid “armour” for metal parts that get applied right before you ride to stop salty water, snow and ice from getting onto all exposed areas where it could form rust-forming corrosion! Just be sure not to touch LCD screens and other electronic components when applying this stuff. 

Clean Your E-Bike After You Ride It

Winter is not just a time for bundling up and hunkering down with some good TV, but also an ideal opportunity to take care of your electric bike! Whether you ride year-round or only during the winter months – proper maintenance will help ensure that it runs smoothly at all times. Follow these simple guidelines:

  • Bring your bike inside to warm it up to as close to room temperature as possible before cleaning it.
  • Once warmed up, take some clean water and wipe down the entire bike, paying close attention to exposed metal parts. 
  • Once you’ve removed snow, salt and debris from your various components, take a soft rag and dry your bike as much as you can. 
  • If need be, you can use a can of compressed air to get rid of any lodged debris amongst gear components. 
  • Wet lubing your chain is also important in the winter for the same reasons outlined above. 

Wear Proper Protective Clothing

Don’t skimp on winter gear for your e-bike. Winter is no time to mess around with wearing apparel that’s not warm enough to handle bike riding. While not every rider needs to purchase a full set of specialized biking clothes, they should invest in some essential pieces that will keep them warm and dry while travelling through inclement weather conditions such as blizzards or ice storms.

If you don’t already own anything suitable, then I recommend investing in high-quality protective layers like padded jackets with insulation inside; these provide extra protection against cold winds, which can easily chill unprepared riders during winter trips outdoors.

Protecting Your Hands

Pogies, otherwise known as bar mitts, are often seen as a must-have accessory for winter riding. They will keep your hands safe and toasty even while wearing thinner gloves, giving you better control of your electric bike’s controls like the throttle and mode switches. 

Protecting Your Face

To protect your face during winter bike riding, consider putting on anti-glare sunglasses or ski goggles. This will help improve your vision significantly and keep any falling or blowing snow and debris from interfering with your eyesight! Most protective eyewear of this kind will also provide anti-glare features. A mask or balaclava will provide even more warmth for other exposed parts of your face, which can get rather frost-bitten if not properly protected. 

Winter E-Bike Riding Safety Tips

With its powerful motor and lightweight design, the e-bike is a great way to get exercise, even in the midst of winter. The best advice for safe winter riding? Keep your speed slow! Make sure that you have good lighting on both front and back so that other drivers can see what’s coming towards them in dimmer light conditions–especially when there are small children around who might not yet know how fast these things go.

Another way to ride your electric bike safely in the winter is to consider slightly lowering your seat. This will ensure that your feet are allowed to have a bit more contact with the ground in case of any hard braking or slipping and sliding emergency you may encounter. 

So the question as to whether you can safely ride your electric bike in the winter is a resounding yes. Just keep all the above tips in mind to keep your bike properly maintained and make sure that each time you traverse the great white North (or wherever you happen to be riding your e-bike), you come well prepared with the right gear. 

Sebastian Arciszewski

Sebastian Arciszewski

I've been riding electric bikes for eight years and I love the fact that we're entering an age of electrified micro-mobility. Our cities are changing and adapting to the needs that climate change is thrusting upon them. Electrified micro-mobility is the future, and I'm excited to write about it. You can find me on twitter: sebastian_a