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Are electric bicycles waterproof to the extend that we can leave them in the rain for a day or few or ride it in rain or wash it with a standard home hose on normal pressure and soap?

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6 Answers 6

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I live in the Netherlands and we have plenty of rain as well as plenty of electric bicycles. I have not heard bikes getting damaged.

Parking outside in the rain is a given, washing down with a hose is much less likely.

Some people will state that the cheaper E-bikes are less weather proof but any company that sells in a country where rain is common should expect claims if theirs are not weather proof.

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    Ever since I've ridden my e-bike through a puddle that was too deep, it has semi-randomly reported an error every 100 km or so, solveable by a reboot. Lesson learned: rain is OK, but maybe don't get it submerged.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 3 at 10:40
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    The weak point is likely to be any connectors. Even if all electronics appear integrated to the frame, there are probably connectors between modules and those are often hardest to make waterproof. Fortunately they can usually be cleaned if needed.
    – jpa
    Commented May 3 at 14:00
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    It's far from impossible to make connectors waterproof (my Chinese electric scooter has them and IP67 is usually plenty), but I've seen plenty of e-bikes with connectors that aren't. The batteries will survive. The electronics will survive. It's the connections you may have to check every so often.
    – Mast
    Commented May 4 at 14:40
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    I ride mine in Sweden where in addition to rain we also have plenty of snow. No problem even when the entire bike is covered in snow, but then of course I use a quality brand from the Netherlands ;) I've found that riding through snow is mostly a mechanical strain on the bike more than anything else. Chain won't last nearly as long, I managed to break a wheel hub this winter etc etc.
    – Lundin
    Commented May 31 at 14:49
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I use E-bike for commuting in all weather for multiple years with no issues, so I am sure it is at least as much waterproof as the ordinary bicycle is. Maybe riding with cassette submerged is not a good idea, but not more.

Washing with the hose may damage bearings and electronics, so never point water directly to them, only use the "rinsing" setting (never "high pressure") and also keep a reasonable distance (at least a meter, possibly more). With these precautions taken, the damage is probably limited. I needed to replace the freewheel after a couple of years, but with this kind of usage, washing was probably not the only reason to contribute.

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  • "at least as much waterproof as the ordinary bicycle is": That is, possibly, not very. Chains and sprockets suffer, obviously; but even 7 speed Shimano hubs are sealed badly enough that they start to "grind" after a few years of staying outdoors, in Berlin, which is much drier than Amsterdam. Commented May 5 at 12:22
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I've been riding a (mid-drive) e-bike in all weathers for a decade, often (briefly) riding through deep water up to the level of the pedals. It has also withstood occasional gentle cleaning with a garden hose spraying water in a fan pattern.

It would pay to be more cautious and not ride it through water that will submerge any electrical parts, but a reasonably well-made bike will easily tolerate rain and shallow puddles. I have heard reports of damage to bicycles from spraying water into the bearings so caution is needed washing the bike in these areas.

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I live in the Netherlands and, as said by Willeke in their answer, no half decent company would produce an e-bike which would suffer the rain and sell it here.

However the other day I was talking with a colleague who moved here from a less rainy Asian country and took his e-bike with him: the bike started having problems after being used under the rain, and the manufacturer clearly stated that the bike was not intended for being used under constant rain.

Cleaning with a water hose should give no problems in general, maybe using a high pressure cleaner might force the sealing beyond their design limits.

In any case if you are in doubt it's probably best to contact the manufacturer.

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It is fine to use in the rain or to wash with a garden hose - but avoid high pressure. Assuming nothing on the bike is damaged, the only vulnerable parts is the battery connectors and the battery charging connector. I strongly recommend removing the battery before washing the bike.

If you leave the bike out in the rain (or snow) with the battery removed, wipe away most of the water from it with a piece of cloth before attaching the battery. Mostly these connectors are very rugged, but if they are completely covered in water you risk shorts.

Be careful with the battery charger connector. Ensure that it is protected at all times (there's usually some rubber cover or the like). Avoid charging the battery when coming in from the rain - leave it to dry indoors at least an hour or two.

Always charge the battery indoors. Most (all?) chargers are not designed for outdoors use.

Obviously it is not a great idea to submerge the bike in water either, particularly not the motor and the battery. If that happens then remove the battery and leave it to dry.

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Are electric bicycles waterproof to the extend that we can leave them in the rain for a day or few or ride it in rain or wash it with a standard home hose on normal pressure and soap?

Well I guess some might consider steel waterproof, but it still does rust. Few days in the rain is unlikely to cause the chain to jam due to rust for example, but a very long time in the rain can rust chains. There are chains with better plating but the problem is, if the chain is not well oiled inside, the plating has worn away in the innards already and it rusts on the inside, where it can jam chains. On the other hand, if the chain is well oiled, the oil will protect it for a while but not forever. So if you ride it every few days, leaving it in the rain is unlikely to cause any issues as long as you listen to the sounds the chain is making and oil it with a wet oil based lube every time it starts to squeak. A 20-year old bike left in the rain for 20 years probably has a jammed chain, but could be restorable.

Non-stainless bolts can rust too but this is mainly a cosmetic issue, since the rust is usually surface rust and you can usually remove the bolts as long as the threads were greased originally.

The electrics on the other hand, the waterproofness can vary from brand to brand but the voltages are so low the only danger is corrosion will make something not work. You won't be electrocuted. It's not a safety issue, only a monetary issue of losing your big investment in the e-bike.

wash it with a standard home hose on normal pressure and soap?

Be careful. Even though it's not a pressure washer, the seals on some hubs are not designed for fast water streams getting in, and if water gets into the bearings, you will have problems. Even the act of transporting a bike on the roof of the car or riding at fast descents in the mountains in the rain can jam hub bearings. So every location where there is a major bearing (both wheel hubs, crank bottom bracket, head bearing on the fork, pedals) is a location where you shouldn't spray water. I would avoid spraying water also to locations where the electrical contacts are: near the motor, near the battery, near the display, near the charging port.

Rainwater on the other hand doesn't damage hub bearings unless you transport the bike on the roof of a car or ride very fast down mountain descents. The rainwater when it falls from the sky is quite low speed.

Actually, the best thing you could probably do would be to wet the bike with very low speed water (very low pressure), put soap on, brush the dirt away, then spray very low speed water to get the soap away. Don't use the water pressure itself to clean anything. Only scrubbing should be used to clean.

Pressure washers should be never used on a bike, unless you are VERY careful not to direct the stream ever near any bearing or electrical interface.

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