While E-Bikes can be enjoyed by anyone, not everyone will have the perfect storage area. This is for those of us in an apartment, somewhere with narrow stairs, or just out on the road. Can you leave an electric bike outside, or is that bad news for your new toy?
Can You Leave An Electric Bike Outside?
You can leave your electric bike outside, but you will need to have a good cover. You’ll get away with leaving it outside temporarily in good weather, but in bad weather or in the longer term you could damage sensitive parts of your expensive new mode of transport!
If you need to leave a bike outside a store or a friend’s house for a short time, don’t worry too much. As long as you use a good lock setup and always use it, you’ll be ok for a few hours. If you can, always bring it inside away from weather and opportunists.
Ideally, we don’t recommend leaving your E-Bike outside at all if possible. The exposure to weather and the possibility of getting it stolen is too high. If you have to, we’ve got a guide to leaving an electric bike outside safely below.
Problems With Leaving Your E-Bike Outdoors
Leaving your e-bike outside might not seem like a big deal, but there are some big problems with it.
- Thieves – E-Bikes are high-value targets for thieves, and leaving yours outside is likely to attract attention. Even with the best locks, it’s still possible for a determined thief to break or cut them given enough time and effort.
- Rain + Moisture – While the battery and motor are normally well-sealed on most electric bikes, moisture will get in. Too much moisture and not enough heat to dry it out can end up damaging the internal electronics.
- Sun Damage – Your tires, saddle, and paint will all wear from sun damage over time. On E-Bikes, direct sunlight can also heat up the battery and lower the capacity of the cells over time. Extreme heat (more frequent these days) can kill a battery pretty quickly.
How To Keep An Electric Bike Outside Safely
- Use A Cover – If you’re going to be storing your E-Bike outside regularly, a cover is a great investment. It will shield it from the sun and rain, and make it just that extra bit harder to steal. Well worth it.
- Get Some Good Locks – A flimsy cable lock or folding lock won’t cut it. As in, they will get cut – by thieves. Without a good lock setup like this Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Chain & U-lock combo, you’re essentially letting your bike get taken.
- Take Your Battery Out – Your battery is the thing most likely to degrade in extreme heat, direct sunlight, or from water damage. Bringing your battery indoors with you is fairly simple and makes the bike less attractive to thieves. It’s a top tip and definitely worth that little extra step.
If you can’t store your electric bike all the way indoors, try and find something that covers it a little. A shopfront or awning that blocks a little rain and sun works in a pinch. Even a shed is better than directly out in the garden.
If space is the problem in an apartment, consider a mount high up on the wall or a pulley system to get it up out of the way!
Can You Leave An Electric Bike In The Rain?
It’s a bad idea to leave your electric bike in the rain. Most E-Bikes will be classed as water-resistant to some degree, but not waterproof. So a little drizzle or very light splashing in puddles should be OK – but anything worse won’t be.
If you live in an area or country that rains a lot, invest in an E-Bike cover that’s waterproof. Areas that are humid or damp a lot will also mean moisture in the air. Keep your E-Bike in a dry, room-temperature place to avoid damage to circuits in the battery and motor.
Can You Leave An Electric Bike Outside In Winter?
Absolutely not. You really should avoid leaving your E-Bike outside in winter – especially when it’s snowing. Not only do low temperatures affect E-Bike batteries (see the Should I Keep My E-Bike Battery Inside section below), but snow settling on your bike is a problem.
Snow will melt and seep into electric parts cavities. If it gets cold enough and freezes again, that’s an even bigger problem. On top of that, regular bikes don’t do well with snow or water. Parts will rust, rubber and materials will break down, and you’ll have a lot of expensive repairs or replacing to do!
Can You Leave An Electric Bike In The Sun?
Too much heat is bad for e-bike parts, and leaving your electric bike in the sun directly exposed to UV light isn’t a good idea. A little sun isn’t the end of the world and won’t be much of a problem. However, hours of exposure to high temperatures and UV is.
UV light breaks down rubber tires, handlebars, seats, and brake cables over time. The paint also breaks down and will peel. Any areas that are greased will need to be regreased regularly.
On top of all of this, the E-Bike parts can break down. Motors are too big of an issue but heat affects the internals by drying out grease and lubricant. The battery is the bigger issue as extreme temperatures really have a bad effect on lithium-ion cells.
Most E-Bike batteries are in a hard black plastic shell. Black objects heat up faster than other colors and you’ll find the inside of the shell is probably a higher temperature than the outside! Use a cover that will deflect light, store indoors, or at the least under an awning.
Should I Keep My E-Bike Battery Inside?
Ideally, you should always keep your electric bike battery indoors. Basically, all E-Bike batteries are lithium-ion. Most batteries are covered by a hard plastic shell but need some tiny air gaps for safety reasons.
The battery is made up of lithium-ion cells, plus a few basic electrical parts and normally a couple of safety circuits. The circuits are susceptible to corrosion from rust caused by rain or moisture in the air.
The safe operating temperature for lithium-ion cells is between -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 60 Celsius), with the optimal temperature between 50 to 86 Fahrenheit (10 to 30 degrees Celsius).
Outside of this, higher and lower temperatures can lead to “degradation of performance and irreversible damage” according to many studies. Essentially this will lead to cell damage that reduces the maximum charge, increases charge time, and leads to gradual declines in both.
Once you’ve damaged a battery cell, it’s basically impossible to repair it without replacing or intensively recycling it. So if your battery is exposed to cold, frost, or direct heat, you could be in trouble.
Essentially, keeping your battery inside is the safest thing to do for long-term use. It also makes it harder to steal for thieves as they can’t ride away as easily, plus would have to replace an expensive part before reselling.
Too long; didn’t read: Take your E-Bike battery inside with you. Also, cover the exposed battery slot from rain. Read our article on E-Bike Batteries Explained for more