Can eBikes Be Used in the Rain?

Close-up of the someone riding the EB8 in the rain.

Can I ride my eBike in the rain? That might be one of your first questions when contemplating on switching to a healthy ride as your primary source of transportation. After all, you’ll be riding to and from uni or work. And even the sunniest regions get several inches of rainfall each year. The short answer is yes, you can ride an eBike in the rain, but that yes does come with a couple of caveats.

While there is an electric bike out there designed for every type of terrain and weather, not all eCycles are created equal. Some can handle a lot more inclement weather conditions than others. Before you grab your gear and hit the streets, here are a few things you should know about eBikes.

eBikes and IP Ratings

An eBike is a combination of an electric device and a standard bicycle. While all bikes are designed to be weather-resistant, prolonged water exposure isn’t a good thing. Even the best bikes can rust if stored improperly.

eBikes are a little different from standard bikes since they may also be IP rated, just like a smartphone or other wearable device. Where your smartwatch with a high IP rating might survive a pool session, your electric bike’s IP rating might be a little lower. After all, you can’t exactly take a ride on the bottom of a lake.

You should always look for well documented IP ratings on all promotional and marketing materials when looking for your next eBike. Don’t assume. If it’s not prominiently listed, then the eBike likely hasn’t been properly tested and certified. Look for the rating on the product box, Amazon/web description, spec list, etc. And even the most so-called “waterproofed” electric bike might not be suitable for major weather events, like a tropical storm. Your eBike likely isn’t designed for Biblical levels of water and wind.

(Also: there’s no such thing as a fully “waterproof” eBike, as of yet.)

What Does an IP Rating Mean?

IP ratings refer to device durability in certain conditions, particularly water resistance. You might see a rating like IP67 or IPX7. The first number in the rating refers to resistance against solid objects and doesn’t matter much to rain. The second number is the one that tells you how water-resistant an electronic device is.

Infographic showing the IP-Rating system, as explained.

First digit – protection from foreign body and particulate ingress:

0(or X) Not rated (or no rating supplied) for protection against ingress of this type.
1Protection against solid objects larger than 50mm and accidental hand contact with open palm; however, not against deliberate body contact.
2Protection against solid objects larger than 12mm and accidental finger contact.
3Protection against solid objects larger than 2.5mm, e.g., tools and wires.
4Protection against solid objects larger than 1mm, e.g., fine tools and wires, nails, screws, larger insects and other potentially invasive small objects.
5Partial protection against dust and other particulates, such that will not damage or impede the satisfactory performance of internal components.
6Full protection against dust and other particulates, including a vacuum seal, tested against continuous airflow.

Second digit – protection from moisture ingress:

0(or X): Not rated (or no rating supplied) for protection against ingress of this type.
1Protection against vertically falling droplets, such as condensation, when an item is upright.
2Protection against vertically dripping water when enclosure is tilted up to 15° off vertical.
3Protection against direct moisture spray at angles up to 60° off vertical.
4Protection against splashing water from any direction, tested for a minimum of 10 minutes with an oscillating spray (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects).
5Protection against low-pressure jets (6.3 mm) of directed water from any angle (limited ingress permitted with no harmful effects).
6Protection against powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) of directed water from any direction.
7Protection against full immersion for up to 30 minutes at depths between 15 cm and 1 meter.
8Protection against extended immersion under higher pressure, i.e., greater depths.
9kProtection against high-pressure, high-temperature jet sprays, wash-downs or steam-cleaning procedures.

Most SWAGTRON® eBikes, for instance, have an IPX4 rating. This means that they have protection against splashing water that might come from any direction. And, for such splash resistance, the test was conducted for minimum of ten minutes. All electric bikes with solid construction should have its IP rating listed clearly on the packaging, like our EB12 city bike or the EB6 fat-tire mountain bike with an IPX4 rating. If you don’t see the IP rating, it might be a sign that the bike you’re looking at is not as advertised — unless it’s specifically and explicitly advertised for use only on sunny days!

Riding in the Rain

While your bike can survive a ton of exposure, your riding strategies can change depending on the weather. In a car, you turn on the defrost, lights and windshield wipers, but a bike doesn’t have those features. Instead, you need to use the right gear to handle the extra precautions needed during rain.

Visibility is one of the biggest problems when riding in the rain, so dress in high-viz clothing and look for add-ons like a waterproof helmet to help you see as far ahead as possible. To help vehicles see you, consider adding a few lights to your bike. SWAGTRON even offers the SWAGLIGHT Quad, which mounts to your wheel spokes and helps light up trails and city blocks.

Don’t just dress to be seen, but also for the cold. A wet, rainy ride can turn cold pretty quickly, leaving you to shiver your way to work. Dress in a waterproof outer layer and in thick enough clothing to protect against sudden temperature drops.

Don’t speed! That might seem like a silly warning to offer someone on the back of a bike, but electric bikes can easily reach 20mph. And that speed isn’t necessarily sensible to maintain in all weather. When you can’t see very far ahead and there are visual obstructions on the road surface (yes, that means puddles), you should probably slow down. Not only will you have less time to react to problems, but your brakes may not work as well on wet streets.

Dry Storage Between Trips

Close-up of an older bike being dried with non-abrasive cloth before being put into storage.

Your eBike deserves the same level of care as any other electric device. When your phone gets wet, you take a moment to dry it off. Extend your electric bike the same courtesy, and it can take you through mile after mile of rainy weather, as long as the seals stay solid. If your bike does wind up submerged, turn off all electronic components immediately, and let everything dry out before attempting to turn it back on.

If possible, store your eBike in an enclosed area, such as a garage or shed and use a waterproof covering if it’s exposed to the elements. Portable, foldable models can be carried upstairs and right into your apartment. With care, you can enjoy your SWAGTRON eBike for years to come, rain or shine.

Last Update: June 19, 2020  

June 19, 2020    EB10, EB11, EB5, EB7, EB7 Plus, EB9, EBIKES    
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