man riding his electric bike in the rain

Are Electric Bikes Waterproof?

Are Electric bikes waterproof? The quick answer is no. Electric bikes are water-resistant. Think of it like your mobile phone or your watch. They are both not waterproof, but they are water resistant to various degrees. As long as you don’t use your e-bike as a submarine, you should be fine.

You may be worrying about the rain now. Don’t. All bikes are water-resistant, so you’re not going to see a lot of people avoiding riding in the rain. That is because there are a few simple things you can do and can check for to make sure your e-bike is as water-resistant as possible.

Rain, Rain Go Away

In order to keep your bikes in good shape even during rainy days is to be proactive. Both with e-bikes and standard bikes. The main thing is to make sure you’re not leaving them out in the rain for days at a time. Leaving your e-bike out in the rain for multiple days is a great way to end up with a big repair bill. Not just from water slowly seeping into the electronic parts, but also from it sinking into your bearings and chain.

If you do not have anywhere to store your bike indoors, think about buying a waterproof cover for when you leave your bike outside. You can buy specific bike covers for precisely this issue. If you want to do it cheaper than that, get a tarp or big sheet of plastic. You will need to weigh them down, but it should save your e-bike from the worst of the rain.

I would always try and keep an electric bike indoors. Not just to avoid the rain but also because it will generally be too expensive a bike just to have it stolen. When you take it indoors after a wet ride, wipe your bike down. Take off the excess water, do not give it a chance to penetrate any parts of your e-bike. Then lube your chain.

Getting Penetrated

Water penetration is the most likely way for water to disrupt your e-bikes electronics. Like all electronics, an e-bike battery will be rated for how well they withstand water penetration. There is a standard called Ingress Protection (IP), you will be able to find this data for better quality e-bikes. An Amazon purchase may not provide this.

The IP code tells us the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures.

The first number tells us how well the product will withstand the intrusion from solid objects, such as your fingers or dust. The number code goes up to 6. 6 is the level at which dust can be prevented for entering over 8 hours.  A rating of 0 would mean that you could freely poke the electrics with your finger. You do not want that on an e-bike.

The second numeral tells us about the ingress of water. The scale goes from 0 to 9. 0. You definitely don’t want to buy an e-bike with a number of 0 here! It needs a high level of protection. The number 9 tells us that you can jet wash your e-bike and have no issues with water ingress. The rest of your e-bikes bearings might not be sealed to a level to resist that, though.

The highest numeral at the minute that can be found on a bike is 7. At this level, your e-bike can withstand being submerged in water a meter deep for 30 mins.

It is always worth remembering that this IP rating is only in reference to the battery. This rating will not cover the rest of your bike. If you ride in the rain a lot, you will want to make sure your bike uses parts such as sealed bearings to help protect against water ingress.

Getting Chained Up

One of the most susceptible parts of your e-bike to water and rain will be your chain. Leaving your chain too wet will cause it to rust. A rusty chain will lead to a lot of other problems. It will, for instance, help to wear down the rest of your drivetrain pretty fast.

There is also the danger that it will snap when you are riding, and snapping your chain while riding is not fun. The least that could happen is that you knee your stem — the worst that could happen is that it throws you off your bike and into traffic.

A good maintenance schedule and making sure you dry your chain off after wet rides will help to minimize any of the damage rain and water can inflict on your e-bike. Don’t wait to clean it for days or even weeks after a ride. You will only be destroying your investment if you do that.

Don’t Get Offended

Another simple thing you can do to help protect your e-bike from water is to fit fenders. Not the type that just clips on and keeps your butt dry but the full guard style, the ones that cover most of your wheels.

These fenders will help to protect areas such as your bottom bracket and headset. These areas are very susceptible to water ingress. You can destroy a headset in a few wet rides if you don’t take care. Fitting full guards will stop water from being able to get into your headset.

You also want to fit a quality set of fenders, such as SKS Bluemels. Cheaper fenders will rub and move about as you ride. As well as causing damage to your bike, the noise from loose fenders is torture. That is a simple tip that can really save your bike from future damage.

 Being water-resistant will not be a problem if you always dry your bike down and follow a proper maintenance schedule. There is no need to fear the rain.

References

  1. IP Code – Wikipedia
  2. Electric Bike Guides, Resources – ElectricBikeReview

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