eBikes have considerably evolved over the recent past and are more affordable. Many people prefer to ride their eBikes when running small errands and for short commutes as they are efficient and more environmentally friendly. Although eBikes require minimal maintenance compared to conventional ones, you still need to take proper care of them for optimal performance and safe usage.
There are times when you’ll want to store the bike for an extended period, say during winter or when going for a holiday. Don’t just toss the bike in the garage and leave it there. Unless you are done riding the eBike (which is unlikely), it would be advisable to follow the proper storage guidelines when looking to store it for some time. Some factors, such as the battery charge level, humidity levels, and temperature, should be considered before moving the bike to storage. Many manufacturers recommend storing your eBike at least in a cool, dry place and at room temperature.
The first step of preparing your eBike for storage is checking its battery level. Although you might know this already, it is good practice to ensure your batteries are charged up with at least a 30% charge before putting them in storage. This helps safeguard the battery’s integrity and capacity. eBikes shouldn’t be stored for too long either. Nevertheless, following safe storage guidelines to the letter makes it easier to keep your bike safely for longer.
Factors To Consider, And Understand, Before Putting Your Bike in Storage
Three things matter the most when preparing your bike for storage (short or long-term). These are; battery care, charging, and proper cleaning. These 3 factors play a crucial role in the bike’s overall functionality, performance, and safety in the long run.
1. Know Your Battery
Most eBikes are primarily powered by lithium or lead-based batteries. However, it would be advisable to check with your manufacturer to confirm the type of battery on your bike.
Lead Acid batteries are the most common. These types of batteries should be recharged at least once every 3 months and shouldn’t be stored in high temperatures. Keeping lead-acid batteries in a cool, dry place helps preserve their integrity and lifespan. These batteries can be refrigerated too.
Lithium batteries come in different varieties ranging from lithium-ion, lithium manganese, and lithium iron phosphate batteries. Lithium batteries should be stored in a cool and dry place. These batteries store charge for much longer hence should be charged after every six months. This will help the ebike go further.
Lithium batteries should be handled with care as they can be a fire risk if/when mishandled. Nevertheless, following storage guidelines reduces the risk quite significantly, especially when stored in low temperatures and away from fire hazards. That said, it would be advisable to store these batteries, or the eBike, in an ideal place possible. Avoid storing the bike in areas that experience extreme temperature changes, e.g., an outdoor shed, as this will only damage it.
2. Charge The Battery
The performance and durability of your battery dramatically depend on how you handle and charge it. Improperly charging the battery increases the risk of deterioration and possibly killing the battery prematurely. Check your eBikes instruction manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. Batteries often are one of the most expensive parts of an eBike. You thus need to follow the recommended charging procedure and use the correct charger to ensure its durability and performance.
Never discharge your battery below the manufacturer’s recommended voltage cut-off. This is because anything lower than the cut-off voltage will be stressing the cells and might also make it almost impossible for it to detect a charger. Make a habit of keeping the battery voltage above the recommended cut-off level to avoid such inconveniences.
Here is a good battery guide.
3. Clean The Bike
Make a habit of cleaning the bike thoroughly before putting it in storage. This is particularly crucial if planning to keep it there for more than a month. Clean the bike to remove any salt, water, mud, and dirt that could have build over time. These elements increase, if not accelerate, the risk of corrosion, which would damage the bike’s frame and structure.
How To Prep Your eBike for Storage
1. Remove The Battery from the eBike
Always detach the battery before putting the eBike for long-term storage. Leaving it attached only increases the risk of corrosion on the contacts – this is mainly accelerated by changing temperatures and climates. That said, remove the battery and apply a thin layer of terminal grease to protect the battery contacts.
2. Ensure The Battery Is 30-80% Charged
Check the battery level to ensure it isn’t below 30% or over 80%. Storing the battery when under/overcharged for extended periods can significantly impact its capacity. For this reason, manufacturers recommend charging the battery partially before putting it in storage. This helps the battery maintain its highest internal resistance, improving its lifespan.
The lithium powder in lithium batteries becomes warmer (hotter) as its electrical resistance decreases. This is one of the reasons these batteries should be kept in a cool and dry place. Storing lithium batteries in a warm or hot environment will only cause them to discharge rapidly, forcing you to recharge them more often. The best way to preserve its internal resistance or charge is to keep it in a cold place.
It would help if you also didn’t leave the battery hooked to its charger. While doing so might not affect its lifespan, it sure does increase the risk of a fire. If possible, use a programmable wall plug that will disconnect after X minutes or hours. Investing in a smart wall-plug could also help keep the battery charged by having it turn on to recharge the battery after some time, say 3 months. This way, you won’t be overcharging your battery and will come to a fully charged battery.
3. Store The Battery At 0 – 20 Degrees Celsius
The optimal temperature for storing your eBike battery is around 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Manufacturers recommend storing your batteries between 0 and 20 degrees to preserve their capacity and durability. Batteries stored in higher or lower temperatures than this might degrade with time, hence not recommended.
4. Clean The eBike
Make a habit of cleaning your bike before taking it to storage. You only need some water, a few washcloths, dishwashing soap to clean it. You will also need some bicycle lubricant and oil to lubricate movable parts. Clean the frame, chain, gears, and cassette and use the lubricant to protect the bike from rusting. Do not use pressurized water to clean your eBike. Let the bike dry, then apply some grease on the cassette and chain. Check out our guide on rust for bikes here.
If you got time and are mechanically savvy, take the eBike apart for a thorough clean. You could also take the bike to the local eBike shop for professional/expert cleaning. Choose an ideal spot to store the bike. If you, however, plan to keep the eBike outdoors (in the balcony, etc.), you then should protect it from weather elements such as condensation and moisture. Leaving the bike exposed to such will only cause rusting and might affect the paintwork too. You also want to be checking the bike once in a while to ensure it isn’t exposed to weather elements.
Avoid storing your eBike in a damp area, but rather look for a cool and dry place to keep it. Please consult an expert or the bike’s manuals and instructions on safely storing the bike and its batteries. These manuals do come in handy, especially if unsure of what should be done to keep it safe. Some batteries require specific storage protocols, which should be followed to avoid damaging them.
Lithium-based batteries are volatile and should be handled carefully, especially before and in storage. Considering the risk of fire involved, you might want to install a smoke detector and have a fire extinguisher ready. Consider charging the battery away from flammable objects, preferably in the main house, before putting them in storage. Experts also advise against recharging your batteries close to your car or anything with gas in it, as a simple spark could cause a fire.
All these practices are meant to help keep your eBike safe, and in a proper working condition even when in storage. Following the steps outlined above should help ensure the eBike is in good shape when you retrieve it from storage. All you might have to do is recharge the batteries and lubricate the moving parts, and off you go.