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Putting Your Electric Bicycle (bike) Away for the Winter
Last updated 2009.12.11
Tips for putting your e-bike away in the fall
OK, perhaps you are one of those stalwarts that cycles all in all weather and actually looks forward to showing what your e-bike can do in a few inches of snow and when temperatures are so cold most of the cars in your neighbourhood won't start. This section is not for you.
In addition to the regular storage maintenance you do with a regular bicycle (checking everything over to see if anything needs repair, refit or replacement, letting a bit of air out of the tires, giving the chain a good soaking with an appropriate lube), there are a few things you should do for the electric bits.
Check all the wiring for damage, repairing and replacing as needed. Check all the connections and clean and straighten as needed. Check the motor for any signs of overheating or other problems. Check the connection from the motor to the drive line for alignment, contact, drag issues, or other problems.
Check each battery or cell for voltage and any signs of physical issues. Check the connections to ensure they are tight, signs of corrosion or hot connections. Address issues as appropriate. Traditionally, the battery pack and connections are the problem areas for e-assist bikes. Connections include the fuse and fuseholder, ammeter shunt, and other instrumentation connections. Give the pack a full charge and check voltages again for imbalances. If imbalances remain, you can try balancing charging on the weak modules/cells. If that doesn't work, make a note to replace as necessary. If the pack as a whole, or even more than 30% of it is questionable, you may want to replace the pack (and look into a better charging / monitoring arrangement if life was not satisfactory).
Remove the battery pack from the bike to ensure there are no leakage currents that will drain the battery during the storage period. After fully charged, store the battery in a cool, dry place to help reduce self-discharge. Refrigeration is not out of the question, but batteries and food probably don't mix well.
Once a month, especially for lead-acid batteries, give them a top-up charge. Do not leave them on a conventional trickle-charging battery maintainer (slow cooker). If you have an intelligent charger (like the Soneil line) that monitors the voltage, and turns off and on accordingly, it is OK to leave that hooked up for the season. However, even with this type of charger, I prefer to disconnect for a week at a time, just because I am a power miser.
With these tips, your bike should be in good shape for its spring checkup and return to service.
We don't sell electric bicycles. We continue to provide unbiased information about the electric bike because we feel they are a superior urban transportation solution for many applications, notably commuting. For a list of electric bike suppliers (complete bikes, kits and components), please see the listing at the bottom of this page or the advertisements to the right. (We do sell Soneil battery chargers, some of which are ideal as chargers for electric bike batteries as they are small, lightweight, intelligent and affordable.)
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