Electric bikes are a lot of fun to ride in the winter but there are three specific things you need to do to maintain them throughout the snowy months.
We’ve had a few queries from various Pedego owners around Canada about how to change an electric bike tire, specifically the rear tire that’s connected to the electric motor drive. This is a really great question and one that requires a step-by-step guide. If you have no interest in getting your hands a bit dirty and using a wrench for a few minutes, however, then we’d recommend you take your electric bicycle to a professional to have the tire changed. However, sometimes you might get a flat tire on one of your rides so it’s important to at least know the basics.
The front tire of all Pedego electric bikes are similar to those found on regular bicycles and so removing it is an easy process that involves these steps:
- Turn the bicycle upside down so it’s resting on the seat and handlebars
- Unscrew the lever or nuts holding the axle to the frame
- Gently remove the wheel from the frame, ensuring the disk brake slides out of it’s housing without bending
- Deflate the tube completely
- Loosen the tire beads from the rim by squeezing the tire together all the way around the rim
- Use a tire lever (or a spoon or similar flat object) by easing it under the wheel rim and levering out the edge of the tire
Once that’s done you can change the inner tube (if it’s flat) or the tire if installing studded tires in preparation for winter riding.
The rear tire on a Pedego electric bike is different from regular bicycles, however, because of its connection to the motor drive. Therefore it’s really important to follow these steps to ensure there’s no damage to the electric connections. To help illustrate the steps, we enlisted Marley Bassett, a happy new owner of a Pedego City Commuter living in Nelson, British Columbia. When the snow fell she changed to studded tires so she could continue commuting to work throughout the winter months. (Alternatively, you can watch the video created by Pedego Greater Long Beach about how to change a tire. See below.)
Step 1: Ensure your bike is in the highest gear so that your chain is furthest away from the rear hub.
Step 2: Place your bike on a stand or turn it upside down so it’s resting on the handlebars and seat or battery rack. (IMPORTANT: Take care not to damage the LCD console or other components on the handlebar.) This will allow you to access the tire easily.
Step 3: Using two hands, unplug both sides of the electric motor cable located under the chain guard. (You will need to snip the zip ties on either side of the connector.)
Step 4: Remove the rubber cap that sits over the bolt holding the wheel to the frame.
Step 5: On the opposite side of the hub, take an allen key and unscrew the 2 bolts holding the brake assembly in place.
Step 6: Remove the brake assembly and let it hang off to the side.
Step 7: Return to the other side of the hub and take note of where the axle sits in relation to the frame inset. When it comes time to reinstalling the wheel, it needs to go in the same place. Normally this will be with the tab on the locking washer butted up against the end of the frame inset.
Step 8: Using a wrench, unscrew the two bolt attaching the wheel to the hub. (There’s one on either side of the wheel.) IMPORTANT: Take note of the way the washers are placed as you’ll want to reinstall them in the same way.
Step 9: Gently lift the tire out of the hub while pulling back the chain so it unhooks from the chainring.
Note: When it comes time to putting the tire back on the frame, you’ll want to ensure the tail of the washer is seated in the frame inset.
Once the rear wheel is off you can remove the tire and replace with a different one or fix or replace the rubber inner tube. For video instructions, have a look at the film below, produced by Pedego Greater Long Beach.
With advancements in tire technology and clothing warmth there are fewer reasons not to take your electric bicycle out and enjoy Canada’s winter season. Some might say their Pedego electric bike is too special to subject it to the snow and cold, but the fact is they’re designed for whatever elements you throw at them. Especially the Pedego Trail Tracker, which boasts extra wide tires that can handle the snow perfectly. But with the right tires, any Pedego electric bike can handle the winter.
That said, it’s important you follow the key points listed below to ensure you enjoy riding your ebike during the colder, snowier months. (However, if you’d still rather store your electric bike during the winter, please follow the guidelines we lay out in our Prepare Your Electric Bike for Winter Storage blog.)
#1. Battery Care
It is important to make sure your battery is above freezing before charging, otherwise you could harm the cells. It is no problem to ride the bike in below-freezing conditions (it doesn’t harm the battery), just make sure you let the battery warm up slowly before charging (don’t put it next to a heater!). When you are riding in very cold weather, you will notice a drop in power and range; this is normal and expected. You can help avoid this by bringing the battery inside whenever you aren’t riding to keep the temperature of the battery up. That way you will get that extra bit of power!
#2. Keep Your Electric Bike Clean
The first thing you want to remember about riding in the winter is that your electric bike is bound to get dirtier than it will during other months. That’s because our roads are kept safe for driving with the use of sand and gravel on the roads and there is often a magnesium salt in the grit that can be even more aggressive than regular salt. Therefore, it’s important you keep your electric bike clean by wiping it down with a damp cloth regularly, using a bicycle-specific lubricant for the chain and following the guidelines in our How to Clean Your Electric Bike blog to avoid rust and grit build-up.
#3. Rust Proof Your Electric Bike
Another good way to avoid rust is to use preventative products such as Rust Check, which you can get at most automobile or home supply stores. Spray it into every spoke nipple, which is where the spoke meets the wheel. You can also spray it on any exposed metal before riding to help prevent salty water build up on various parts of your bike. Just be sure to keep the spray away from the LCD screen and any of the electronics. Leave a coating of the spray and wipe it away in spring. Check your bike’s body and chain regularly for rust and reapply Rust Check and lubricant as needed.
#4. Use The Right Tire
Chances are the rubber tires that came with your electric bicycle are excellent for most summer riding conditions but, as with a car, winter ice and snow requires something different. Studded tires are amazing and transform your bike into a winter vehicle! The studs are great on plowed roads and for hard-packed or icy conditions. Fat tire bikes (without studs), like those found on the Trail Tracker, are excellent for softer/deeper snow (studded fat tires are available, although quite expensive). Note that fat tires cannot be put on regular bikes as the forks have to be specially designed to accept wider tires. Studded tires can be purchased at most bicycle stores and you can follow our directions here about how to replace your tires.
#5. Try Not to Ride Through Slush
Riding your electric bike through snow is not only possible, it’s super fun! (Watch the video below for proof.) What’s not fun is riding through slush. The watery, salty snow gets splashed up into your gears and can seep into hard-to-reach areas, causing rust to form. If you do have to ride through slush, be sure to wipe the entire bike down and lube the chain etc. afterwards and, if possible, store in a warm, dry location.
#6. Store In a Dry Place
This holds true for every season of the year. Your electric bike is fine in the snow and rain for short periods of time but when storing overnight, be sure to keep it in a dry location and if it’s especially cold, (-10°C or lower) bring your battery inside to avoid the associated reduction in power and range.
#7. Wear Special Attire
It goes without saying that for winter riding you’ll require warm clothes, a waterproof, breathable jacket, winter boots, toque and gloves. And because it gets darker earlier, consider wearing visibility outerwear for safety and use extra lights and both the front and back of your electric bike.