Can you ride an electric bike in the rain?

Can you ride an electric bike in the rain?

Wherever you live, rain is part of our life. And as everybody knows: water and electrical appliances don’t mix well. So what about your electric bike?

Can an e-bike withstand a rain shower?

Electric bicycles are splash-proof or splashproof. But not waterproof.

You would assume that electric bicycles are designed in such a way that they can withstand a rain shower. That is quite essential because half of all electric bike owners say they use their bikes all year round. There is some truth to that but not all brands and E-bikes are created equal.

I couldn’t find any US guidelines for electric bikes obligating manufacturers to waterproof their E-bikes.

Europe does have a guideline for electric bicycles: namely EN 15194 (EPAC – Electrically Power Assisted Cycles) and this forces manufacturers to make e-bikes in such a way that they can withstand water. However, manufacturers often do not promise explicitly that their bicycles are really waterproof.

I suspect that manufacturers omit the word ‘waterproof’ because they cannot guarantee 100% that no water damage can occur from a heavy rain shower or prolonged exposure to moisture.

What do the manufacturers themselves say?

For example, Gazelle says this in their FAQ: 

“Can I ride my E-bike in the rain too?”

“Yes, the components in it are splash-proof and will operate normally in the rain. However, you must not immerse your e-bike completely or clean it with a pressure-washer.”

Source

What is waterproofing anyway?

Electrical appliances can be assessed for water resistance using a standard method.

IP code to determine water resistance

The so-called IP code (International Protection code) is assigned to a device, depending on how well it withstands all kinds of exposure to water and dust. This standard is also used to indicate how water resistant or waterproof, for example, a mobile phone or a watch is.

The IP code roughly distinguishes between true watertightness (is that even a word 🤨): continues to work well until fairly deep underwater, waterproof or splashproof.

Can you ride an electric bike in the rain?

Electric bicycles are splash-proof, what does that mean?

Well, electric bicycles are therefore splash-proof. And not completely waterproof. But what exactly does that mean?

Splash-proof means that no water from outside the device (in this case the bicycle battery, display, or motor) can enter if water falls on it. For example, the manufacturer uses rubber strips and sealants to keep seams and cracks closed to water.

Splash-proof offers no guarantees

However, this is no guarantee that no water from outside can get into the vulnerable bicycle parts. Unfortunately, if water is under pressure, for example by immersion, water can creep in.

It is also conceivable that the material of the battery shrinks or expands during temperature fluctuations and the protected seams can give way slightly. This could also allow water to creep through. An icy winter shower can just mean the end of your battery.

What are the water-sensitive parts of an electric bike?

Battery: If water gets into the battery of your electric bike, it can short-circuit. When that happpens the battery drains very quickly and can be permanently damaged. Water must first enter the plastic housing, which is splash-proof. The contact points (where the battery is connected to the bicycle) do require some attention. If they come into contact with water a lot, corrosion can occur.

Motor: The motor is the second sensitive part. In addition to being damaged by moisture reaching the electronics, rainwater can also cause mechanical wear. Depending on the type of motor, it is also made splash-proof.

Display: The third sensitive part is the display. In particular, displays that can be disconnected can become damp and broken due to heavy rain. It is advisable to remove it from your bike in any case, but do this especially when it is raining.

Water not only affects electronics

Although the electronic parts of your e-bike are the most vulnerable to (rain) water and can break down overnight due to a short circuit, water also poses a danger to the mechanical parts of a bicycle .

Prevent erosion and wear due to rain

Just like with a normal bicycle, water in combination with air causes, for example, the frame, spokes, sprockets and chain to rust.

Rainwater also washes away the lubricating oil, making rotating and resilient components less likely to move and wear faster. Fortunately, this water damage develops slowly and can easily be prevented with regular maintenance of your electric bicycle.

What can I do to prevent water damage to my e-bike?

The obvious tip is of course to always store your electric bicycle in a covered position. Do you have a shed or garage? Always store your e-bike in a dry place.

Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If you are on the road and you can only park your bike out in the open, then you just have to hope it stays dry.

TIP: Take a waterproof protective cover for your electric bicycle

Fortunately, there is only a small chance that problems will immediately occur if you leave your e-bike outside in the rain. But if you have to do this more often, I recommend that you purchase a waterproof protective cover and have it with you, for example in your bicycle bag. This protective cover covers all electronic parts.

With an e-bike protective cover make sure that:

  1. The cover is waterproof (and not only protects against dirt)
  2. It coveres the battery and the motor well

Be careful when cleaning with water 

You have to be careful with water when cleaning your electric bike.

Avoid the pressure washer and make sure that no water remains on any parts.

High-pressure water can get through the splash guard from sensitive parts, as I mentioned, and damage them. Therefore, do not use a high-pressure washer to clean your e-bike. Also, make sure that no water gets into the suspension fork or bearing parts.

What about warranty and water damage?

One or two-year warranty is the standard for most electric bicycle manufacturers. If your battery fails within a very short time, say after a year, contact the seller.

In many cases, the seller will further settle the defect, or refer you to the manufacturer. 

Conclusion

Electric bicycles can certainly withstand a bit of rain. And they don’t just break if they get wet. So don’t worry too much if your e-bike gets wet due to a rain shower, they can handle it.

But you don’t get really hard guarantees for this, because the electrical parts are not completely waterproof (according to the international IP standard).

Incidentally, prolonged exposure to rain and wind in particular shortens the life of your e-bike.

Therefore, store your electric bike as dry as possible and use a waterproof protective cover if necessary. Not only to prevent short circuits but also to prevent rust and wear. This way you can enjoy your electric bike for longer!

Q&A

How do I protect my electric bike from the rain?

The best protection is to store it in a dry place. If you have to leave it outside in the rain, you can purchase a protective cover.

Can you leave an electric bike outside?

It’s not recommended to leave your electric bike outside exposed to the elements, this will drastically reduce the lifespan of your E-bike. Always store it in a dry place, and if you really have no choice but to leave your electric bike outside, at least take the battery out and inside with you.

Do e-bikes work in winter?

Yes, E-bikes work in winter. The cold doesn’t prevent the motor and battery from assisting you while pedaling. It’s not recommended to ride in heavy snow, and on salty roads, because there is a risk of damaging your electric bike and parts corroding.

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