The days of summer are over and a brisk fall has flown by. If you are not a hardcore E-bike commuter chances are you are probably going to park your E-bike for the winter. Since an E-bike is generally more expensive than conventional bikes, a few extra practices should be done to store your E-bike properly for winter.
There are three main things to consider when storing e-bike for winter. First, give it a good cleaning and make sure it is good and dry. Clean grease and oil key components like the chain and cassette. Make sure the battery is only charged to about 60% for storage and check your battery over the winter, if the charge drops, recharge battery to about 60%. Bring your E-bike inside to warm temperatures is ideal but If you are forced to park your bike in an outside shed or garage that will go below freezing temperatures be sure to bring the battery inside to stay warm for the winter.
You could permanently damage the battery if you let it freeze for the winter and greatly reduce its overall life.
In this post “How to properly store your E-bike for winter”, I will further explain the steps to help you keep your E-bike in top shape for spring.
How to properly store your E-bike for winter
You can use soap and water but do not use a pressure washer
Clean your electric bike
Other then proper winter battery care, staying on top of cleaning your bike is very important in proper winter storage of an E-bike. It not only keeps the bike looking good but it also gives you an opportunity to become more familiar with your E-bike and how everything should be and allow you to perform regular inspections on your bike.
E-bikes vibrate more than regular bikes and checking and tightening screws on a regular basis is a good maintenance practice. This will help prevent breakdowns and if it does breakdown you will be more likely be able to quickly diagnose and fix the problem.
If you are putting your E-bike away for the winter you should go one step further and break out the soap and water. An E-bike can take some water but do not use a pressure washer on your E-bike. A mild degreaser soap like dishwashing liquid is an ideal cleaner. If you want to use what the professionals use, Muc Off by NanoTech available at Amazon. Get a bucket of warm water and a few rags. Use one wet rag to apply soapy water to wipe dirty areas.
Then use a second dry rag to dry off the water. A third dry clean rag for detailing is also nice to have. A very important area to give a good scrubbing is the chain and the rear tire cassette. Use the same soap water mixture, the hotter the water the better, and use a scrub brush on the chain and cassette.
Be sure to rinse and thoroughly dry the chain and cassette. Removing the rear tire can make this job a little easier. If it is a rear hub motor don’t overdo it with the water around the motor. It should be watertight but on some E-bike, this may not be the case.
Here is a good Bike Cleaning Kit from Amazon that will give you a number of bushes to get in all the nooks and crannies and it also includes a chain cleaner. It is very important that everything is dry. Pull out the seat stem and hold your bike upside down to be sure there is no water trapped in the frame.
When you put the seat back put a little grease on the stem. You will thank me in the spring when you find your seat posts adjusts smoothly. Many times a little moisture will cause the post area to rust, particularly metal posts and this will make it difficult to move the seat post in the shaft.
Fiber Grip comes highly recommended it is a carbon fiber assembly gel available at Amazon and can be used anywhere carbon parts are clamped. Great to use on your seat post and handlebar stem.
After your chain and cassette are thoroughly dry, be sure to apply some good lube to both. Don’t overdo it. A light coating will do. Here is a good lube to use from Amazon.
The two next steps may be a little much for some people. It involves further dis-assembling your bike, cleaning, greasing and finally reassembling.
It requires some mechanical skills and proper tools. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this step maybe you should have a mechanical friend that can help or it may be best to bring it down to your local bike shop and get them to do it. For some people, this may be the best way to go. Here is the average cost to get your bike serviced by a professional.
The headset can get sticky and corroded after sitting for a winter. To avoid this, remove the front steering headset post then clean and re-grease the headset and reassemble.
A few tools are required to take the handlebars off the stem. It is not that complicated but pay close attention to the bearings when disassembling the headset. Clean thoroughly and regrease Fiber Grip as mentioned above is a great choice.
The second area to remove and clean is the bottom bracket. Remove the pedals and disassemble the bottom bracket, clean, grease and reassemble. This could get more complicated if it is a center hub motor. You may want to leave the pedals off to make it easier for storage.
Now that your E-bike is clean and greased it is ready for storage
Here is a really helpful video on the proper way to clean your road bike that can be applied to an E-bike minus the battery care.
Battery care, how to store an e-bike battery
The battery is the weak link when storing your E-bike during the winter. Basically, batteries like to be used once they are activated and sitting dormant is not ideal. Improperly storing your battery can result in permanent damage that will greatly reduce the life and function of a battery. Considering a replacement battery will cost close to $500 you want to take care of your battery.
A battery does not like to be left idle in storage after it has been put into use
When batteries are first stored at the manufacturer’s facility the batteries are put into sleep mode. This makes the batteries safer for shipping and when the battery is in sleep mode there is a very negligible draw of power, if any, on the battery.
In this state, a battery can sit for up to 5 years without being affected. This is a deep sleep mode. When a new battery is first charged it wakes up the battery and takes it out of deep sleep mode. Once charged the battery management system (BMS) starts to work. With the BMS activated, there will be a constant draw on the battery.
The BMS monitors the temperature of the battery pack and makes sure the cells are balanced. Once activated, a battery cannot be put into deep sleep mode again. Some batteries if left idle for a long period of time, it will go into a sleep mode, but the battery still should be charged at least once a year. More frequent charging than once a year is highly recommended.
If you do not plan to use your E-bike for long periods of time. I highly suggest you get yourself just a normal bike without power or rent an E-bike when you need one, more E-bike rental companies are cropping up every day. Replacing a battery every few years because of neglect can get expensive. E-bikes like to be used.
First off keep your battery in a cool dry place. Be sure it does not go below freezing. Store your battery at about 60% charge. If you do not have a variable battery charger then completely charge your E-bike and go for a little ride to bring the battery down below 100%, clean your bike and it is ready for storage.
There are mix views on how to charge a lithium-ion battery for storage. Some say to charge to 100% to store and others say to charge the battery to around 60%. I personally lean to storing an undercharged battery. You can decide for yourself. See the video and chart on my How to care and maintain your E-bike battery to learn more about caring for your battery.
The one thing everyone agrees on is: do not let your battery discharge below the recommended cut off voltage. When you plug in a charger to a battery that is below cut off voltage the charger often will not detect it and will not recharge the battery. So do not let your batteries totally discharge.
Two variable chargers are the Cycle Satiator 72V Programmable Electric Bike Battery Charger or the less expensive Luna Charger 52V Advanced 300W E-bike Charger The two chargers are a little pricey but if you have a few E-bikes in the family, the extended lifespan of the battery will recoup the cost of purchasing an expensive charger.
Storing your electric bike indoors in a dry area
Storing your E-bike indoors in a dry area is the best practice if you can do it. Basements and outdoor sheds are great, but during temperature changes, they can develop condensation that will rust your bike and corrode electrical components and especially battery connector.
So keep an eye out and visit your E-bike over the winter and give it a little love. If you can on a nice winter day take your bike out for a spin. But be sure to wipe it down because there is more salt on the road in the winter.