Whether you’re a novice e-bike rider or a seasoned expert, you might be hesitant to take your e-bike outdoors in anything but the best weather. You might remember having the rule while growing up to never ride your bicycle in the rain, but did you even know why mom and dad had this rule? And is their reason applicable to electric bikes?
Electric bikes are fine to use in the rain. Most manufacturers design their bikes to be water-resistant or entirely waterproof. Riding slower and breaking earlier can help prevent rain-related collisions, and you may have to relubricate your chain or dry the bike after riding in heavy rain.
Yes, e-bikes can be used in the rain, but you should ask yourself if you want to ride one in the rain? You might end up getting wet, and you can more easily get in an accident due to the slippery and low-visibility conditions. To learn why riding e-bikes in the rain is okay, what precautions you should take, and how to protect your bike in the rain, continue reading this detailed guide.
Are Most E-Bikes Water-Resistant or Waterproof?
Yes, in fact, most e-bikes are waterproof, and if not, they are at least water-resistant. Therefore, you can be confident that riding your electric bike in the rain won’t pose a hazard to the bike itself.
However, all models of electric bikes are different – so how can you determine if your e-bike is water-resistant or waterproof? The answer is in the specifications of the e-bike.
What’s the Difference Between “Water-Resistant” and “Waterproof”?
Electric devices are a part of everyone’s daily life; most people have smartphones on them most hours of the day or a smartwatch on their wrist 24/7. Most people have experience with these devices with water.
For example, most people know from a phone-destroying experience that most smartphones are not waterproof but can handle a rainy day in your hand. To add to this, many smartwatches are rated for use in pools while swimming. So, what is the difference between the ratings on these devices?
In broad terms, the ratings of these types of consumer electronics are simplified as waterproof or water-resistant. Waterproof means that absolutely no water can get inside of the device – most smartwatches are waterproof to certain depths.
On the other hand, water-resistant means the device is designed to make it extremely hard for the water to get inside but has no guarantee it won’t.
Most electric bikes are in the water-resistant category. This means they can get wet and survive just fine. However, if the e-bike does experience heavy rainfall or drops into a pool, it will likely get water inside the electronic components.
How Do IP Ratings Work?
To get more technical, the IP rating or International Protection code demonstrates a device’s water-proof capabilities. The IP rating classifies a range of protection for mechanical and electrical enclosures – everything from dust, to splashing liquids, to full-submersion in water for multiple minutes.
The IP rating of a device is always a two-digit number rating. The first digit (1 to 6) represents the device’s protection against solid objects, while the second digit (0 to 8) represents its protection against water. Here is precisely what each digit in the IP rating represents:
|First IP Digit||Type of Solid Object Protection||Second IP Digit||Type of Water Protection|
|X||Not tested||0||Not protected|
|0||Not protected||1||Protection from vertically dripping water|
|1||Protection against 50 mm or larger solid objects||2||Protection from dripping water while tilted up 15 degrees|
|2||Protection against 12.5 mm or larger solid objects||3||Protection against sprayed water|
|3||Protection against 2.5 mm or larger solid objects||4||Protection against splashed water|
|4||Protection against 1.0 mm or larger solid objects||5||Protection against water jets|
|5||Protected from dust||6||Protection against powerful water jets|
|6||Completely dust-tight||7||Protection against temporary water immersion|
|8||Protection against continuous water immersion|
Most eBikes have an IP rating of IPX4 or higher. If we reference the chart above, IPX4 means the electric bike is not tested against solid objects and has protection against splashing water.
Some electric bikes have IPX5 ratings or protection against “jetting water,” which is a little bit more robust. However, eBikes very rarely have IPX8 ratings, which most people would consider completely waterproof.
To tie back these IP ratings to riding an e-bike in the rain, unless you’re riding it in a monsoon or riding inside a pool, an IPX4 rating is more than enough to protect it from any damage to the electronics. Therefore an IPX4 or even an IPX3 rating is sufficient for riding electric bikes in the rain.
How Can You Waterproof Your Electric Bike?
If you’d like to make your eBike even more water-resistant, there are a few things you can do to increase its protection. The first thing you can do is add a dab of silicone sealant, like this Gorilla Clear Silicone Sealant (on Amazon), to where the wire enters the front wheel. This will prevent water from dripping inside.
You can also use the same silicone sealant around any openings and screws of the controller and battery compartment. Additionally, you can wrap handlebar wrap or rubber strips around the wiring to the frame.
Wrap so that each layer overlaps and provides an excellent seal to moisture ingress. These are just small things that all electric bike owners can do to boost the water resistance above the manufacturer’s design.
Is it Safe to Ride an Electric Bike in the Rain?
In most cases, we’ve learned that riding an electric bike in the rain is completely fine for the bike. However, can riding an e-bike in the rain be dangerous for the rider? To answer simply, riding an electric bike in the rain is more dangerous than riding on a sunny day.
On rainy days, there is less visibility, and the road is more slippery, which are two factors that increase the risk of accidents despite the vehicle you are controlling.
Of course, if you decide to ride your electric bike in the rain, you should do what you can to minimize your risk. Here are some important considerations you should take:
- Apply the brakes earlier than normal when you need to stop
- Slow down more on turns
- Wear a reflective vest like the TOURUN Reflective Vest (on Amazon) to increase visibility
- Use flashing battery-powered lights like the Ascher USB Rechargeable Flashing Light Set (also on Amazon) on the front and back of your e-bike
- Ride where cars expect you to be– bike lane, shoulder, etc
- Don’t ride through large puddles; they could hide potholes
- Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles (bikes and cars)
- Stop the electric bike and move to a secure location if it is raining so hard you can’t see
- Install rear-view mirros like the XSafe Bike Mirror (also on Amazon) on your bike
If you don’t feel safe riding your electric bike in the rain, consider using alternative transport options.
Electric Bike Rain Riding Tips
So you’ve decided you are finally up to the challenge of riding your electric bike in the rain. You are confident that your bike will survive the rain, but did you consider other things that might get wet? How do you stay dry? And how do you keep your on-person storage away from the rain too?
You can do various things to keep yourself, your clothes, and your backpack dry while you ride your e-bike in the rain. And no, the answer isn’t to hold an umbrella.
Here are some quick tips to keep your clothes and laptop bag dry for e-bike commuters:
- Wear waterproof clothing– sure, this one sounds like a no-brainer, but wearing waterproof clothes is the most certain way to stay dry. A raincoat and waterproof pants will do wonders. Also, consider wearing waterproof gloves to keep your hands warm and dry too (hint, they will also give you a better grip).
- Use weatherproof storage and bags– yes, another no-brainer; if your bags aren’t waterproof, the rain will soak whatever is inside them.
- Increase your visibility– wearing a high-visibility vest might look flashy, but that’s the point. If people can see you better, they are less likely to run into you. Consider flashing bike lamps and taillights for even more eye catchiness.
- Install tire fenders– bike tire fenders go over the top of your e-bike’s tires and prevent water splashback from hitting you, the electrical housing, and the e-bike controls.
- Plan your route– if you know you will be riding in the rain often, plan your route so that you know it like the back of your hand. Also, you can avoid streets with potholes entirely.
- Clean your electric bike– after each ride during rainfall, do a once-over cleaning of your bike to remove any dirt and mud from the frame.
- Oil your chain– excess waterfall onto the chain can remove precious lubricant over time. Be mindful of your chain and lube it accordingly.
- Check the forecast– always look at the forecast for the day before you set out to ride; that way, you can better plan your day and the gear you need to bring.
Can You Leave An Electric Bike in the Rain?
We talked about the concerns of using an electric bike while it is raining as well as the safety concerns, but what about storing an e-bike outdoors while it is raining?
Although electric bikes are sufficiently water-resistant, it is best to store the e-bike indoors while it is raining outdoors. Excess exposure to rain can weaken watertight seals, eventually leading to water penetration. If storing the e-bike indoors is not an option, consider a waterproof bike cover.
Even if it is not raining outside, we still recommend storing e-bikes indoors. The outdoors is a variable environment – it gets hot during the day and cold at night. There is extreme heat during the summer and cold in the winter.
These variables, including direct sunlight exposure, can wear down watertight gaskets and silicone seals and allow water to leak through. This is why it’s best to keep it indoors. Plus, it is less likely to get stolen from your garage than from your front yard.
Hot-To Protect Your E-Bike In the Rain
The best way to protect your e-bike from the rain is to avoid excessive rainfall altogether. However, in some cases, that is not an option. For example, if you take your e-bike to work and by the time you need to leave for home 8 hours later, it is raining outdoors. In that case, it is best to come prepared and to have your e-bike outfitted with the best rain resistance possible.
Here are some tips to protect your e-bike in the rain:
- Avoid storing outdoors– store your e-bike in your garage, basement, shed, or in your bedroom. Anywhere indoors is better than outdoors (even when it is not raining). If you don’t have room, get a waterproof cover, like this universal bike cover (on Amazon).
- Seal all crevices, seams, and screws with silicone– silicone provides an extra layer of water resistance.
- Use a “wet” lube on your chain – a chain lubricant designed for wet conditions will last longer and protect your chain and drivetrain better.
- Clean the e-bike after rain – cleaning after a rain ride increases the overall lifespan of the e-bike and prevents breakdowns.
Check out our complete guide on protecting your e-bike from the rain for more details.
What You Should do After Your E-Bike Gets Wet
After your e-bike gets wet, you should dry it off. It seems obvious, but some people might not think to do that– who dries their car off after the rain? Sitting moisture can corrode your electric bike and break down seals over extended periods of time. That is why it is best to use clean clothes to wipe the bike dry as soon as it is out of the rain.
Additionally, you should pay special attention to the electric bike’s chain. If it looks like it got splashed with mud, you will want to clean it and lubricate the chain right away.