E-bikes and winter: directions for use

A short guide for storage and winter riding: tips from THOK E-Bikes

 


November 30th, 2021

 

In winter many e-bikers store their bike in the garage, but more and more of them are instead choosing to take on the cold on their electric bike: that’s because riding through the woods in winter or on snow-clad trails is surprisingly fun!

Whether you want to put your bike away for some time or keep riding it, winter requires some specific care.

Here’s some useful information from THOK to keep your e-bike perfectly functional.

 

 

 

Prepare your e-bike for the winter break


First and foremost: CLEAN YOUR BIKE!

Before you put away your e-bike, you need to clean it thoroughly. Apart from the frame, you have to be very careful with the suspensions and chain and use specific products (degreasing cleaner, brake cleaner, electrical contact cleaner, suspension protector) that remove grease and dirt without damaging the components.

It is advisable to also remove the battery and thoroughly cleaning the charging port and connections, as well as using specific sprays for electric contacts, having a protective function.

Once you are done washing the bike, you’ll need to lubricate the mechanical parts: oil the chain, the pedal bearings and use silicone spray to protect and keep soft the fork and shock absorber oil seals and the telescopic seat tube.

Be careful not to oil parts such as the brake discs.

 

 

Batteries and cold don’t get along

When you don’t use your bike, there’s no need to remove the battery, as long as the recovery temperature is between 10° and 20°C. Otherwise, or in the event of high humidity, remove it and take it to a suitable environment.

If you can’t remove the battery, you can protect it by covering the down tube with a blanket and, in the event of humidity, with nylon as well; you can also purchase specific covers in neoprene.

For the battery to maintain its efficiency, recharge it to 70% before you turn it off.

If you do not use your bike, it needs to be taken back to that level every six months and fully charged before being used.

 

 

The right position and other tricks

The first rule for those who “hang up” their bike for the winter is: never hang up your bike! Keeping it in a vertical position, despite taking up less room, is not a good idea.

A horizontal position is far better, to avoid the build-up of air in its hydraulic brake system and the leakage of oil from the fork seal rings.

You don’t need to leave your tyres at maximum pressure, but they must be filled with air and without punctures: otherwise, they will be deformed, and they will permanently lose their original shape. With tubeless tyres, when you are not cycling, you should rotate the tyres from time to time to keep latex moving and keep it from drying.

When the bike is not being used, the longest gear needs to be inserted, for the transmission springs to remain relaxed. If you have a Shimano shift, the clutch must be set to off.

The telescopic tube of the seat post must be completely lifted (resting position for the cartridge) and the suspensions unblocked so as to not keep them under pressure but in a relaxed position.

 

 

Safety

While bikes may go to sleep in winter, thieves do not. You should therefore use a good padlock and consider using a GPS localiser, which can help you track it if it gets stolen.

 

Spring awakening


With the weather getting nicer, the call of the woods is just irresistible. To start cycling again safely, however, a general check-up of your bike at a service centre is strongly recommended.

Here, are a few tips before spring use:

  • fully recharge your battery;
  • do (or even better have someone do) a DOT hydraulic brake bleeding: oil tends to accumulate humidity and therefore air within the system;
  • if you have tubeless tyres, check whether the latex hasn’t dried up by removing the tyres from the wheels. If you need to insert fresh latex, make sure you clean the inside and get rid of the old latex first;
  • make sure that the fork’s oil, lying on the bottom of the fork blades due to lack of use, can move towards the bushings. Just pump the fork a few times with the bikein a fixed position. Flipping the bike upside down is a common method, but it can cause the build-up of air in the hydraulic brake system: not recommended at all!

 

 

 

Winter rides


Cold temperatures, though not dangerous, can affect your e-bike’s performance.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • pedal-assisted bikes use lithium-ion batteries, which runs out faster with low temperatures. Consider the fact you’ll have to recharge them more often;
  • although using them when it’s cold does not cause damages, you shouldn’t go out when it’s below -10°/-15°C, under these circumstances the performance of all components is affected: faster battery consumption, more rigid suspensions because the oil is less fluid, less performing hydraulic brakes...;
  • removing some pressure from the tyres will help you have better control over the bike, especially on ice and snow, and have more traction;
  • before setting out on our ride in the cold, a warm-up lap for your bike is recommended – using your brakes frequently and applying pressure on the suspensions to get the fluid moving;
  • clothing is crucial: never overdress in winter, dress in layers so you can cover yourself more when riding downhill. Watch your neck, hands and feet: these are the most sensitive parts of the body and through which the cold reaches the rest of the body. Breathable clothes and bright colours with reflective finishes are extremely useful, as there is less daylight in winter and you may have to cycle in the dark or in the fog.

 

 

Back from a ride in the cold

  • Thoroughly clean your bike, in winter the roads are even dirtier: in addition to mud, snow and gravel, the bike also encounters salt. Then lubricate and oil it as explained above;
  • after rides in particularly cold temperatures, taking your e-bike to a sheltered place to allow all its components (fork, brakes, transmission, telescopic tube ...) to regain balance is highly recommended;
  • keep an eye on the battery: before recharging it, gradually (and without using external heat sources) bring the temperature back to around 20°C. This will ensure optimal performance for the next ride. Recharging your battery at temperatures that are too low reduces the maximum distance that can be covered.

 

 

 

See you on the trails: enjoy the winter!

 

 

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