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What have you learned from commuting by ebike?

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    I have had some cold commute rides lately. Sometimes I am riding to or from work at 2 or 3 AM, and it is dark, wet and cold. I try to avoid riding in the rain, but I have been caught in some rain lately.


      Ok, so here is something new that Ive been dealing with as the temps are around 30 here during my rides....the battery doesnt like being too cold, does it? Seems like distance and power are affected, does anyone have any insight into this?


      • Alan B
        Alan B commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, lithium batteries don't like the cold, their capacity drops and their internal impedance rises. Keep them warmer and they will perform better. If they start out warm they will stay warm for awhile.

      Originally posted by Galroc View Post

      mostly the horizontal surfaces of my clothes got soaked
      Ditto, same problem happens here. I would like to mention that I have now given up on Frogg Togg rain/wind gear as I have realized that even though its comfy and works great, I have destroyed my last three sets very rapidly and will go back to a bulky vinyl or rubber water proof gear system.


        Originally posted by calfee20 View Post
        I have been watching this thread because of the cold weather wear. Today I went for a ride in the low forties. I used a knit cap under my helmet, flannel lined jeans, Duofold thermal top with t shirt and heavy sweat shirt, and some large work gloves with wool liners. I went less than 1/2 mile and went back home to dig out my old full face motorcycle helmet. Let me tell you that did the trick. It kept my head and ears warm and I could control air circulation with vents and the front shield.

        Here is the first selfie I have ever taken.

        The Duofold thermals I have used for year, and I really like them, but they seem to have gone out of style and are hard to find. There were definitely no tall sizes around. The closest one I found is from L.L.Bean. I will have a couple in a few days and report back. They are made from cotton merino wool and nylon.
        Have been really considering a full face motorcycle helmet lately as well as battery pack heated gloves. Just upgraded to a MET Parachute helmet thinking it was good to move up to a chin guard helmet at these speeds, but might just have to get one like yours.


        • Dan.shaner
          Dan.shaner commented
          Editing a comment
          I use bar mitts, and love them.

        • quantumcloud509
          quantumcloud509 commented
          Editing a comment
          I use bar mitts as well and they are great.

        The low temps here are in the high 30 degrees Fahrenheit. My ebike is stored indoors, but as soon as I get going I am in the cold. I have not had any issues with my battery being too cold.

        My battery is about 5" away from my hub motor which is heating up with the ride. Also, the battery heats up with use. My batteries are in protective (yoga mat) foam, and they are inside waterproof panniers.


          Originally posted by quantumcloud509 View Post

          Have been really considering a full face motorcycle helmet lately as well as battery pack heated gloves. Just upgraded to a MET Parachute helmet thinking it was good to move up to a chin guard helmet at these speeds, but might just have to get one like yours.
          The one I have has a flip up chin guard. This is nice when stopped because you don't have to take the helmet off to get a drink or talk or whatever.
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            We had a rare December day. Mid fifties but a little windy. I went out with flannel lined jeans, knee high wool socks, hiking sneakers, long sleeve cotton t-shirt. and new LL-Bean two layer thermal top. It was the same as the other day I had to come back for the motorcycle helmet. After a couple of miles I stopped to add a medium sweatshirt and my leather work gloves without the liners. I was set then. When the wind was at my back I had the chin guard flipped up but as soon as I turned around down it came.

            I really like the LL-Bean thermals. They have a higher percentage of Merino wool than the Duofolds that I used for years so they may be a little warmer. It is hard to tell though because I used the Duofolds so much they are getting thin like a very old sock.

            When I add thermal bottoms for two layers on my legs and with three layers on top I think I could ride in upper 30s or so. All of this is possible because of that motorcycle helmet. I wouldn't even be trying this otherwise. I like to go out for fun not to freeze my butt off so I won't be pushing the envelope to far.


              A big Thank You! to commuter ebikes for suggesting this section. Commuting is where I see ebikes making the biggest benefit to society.

              While my commute is only 6 miles each way, it is done at all hours of the day and night, on weekends and holidays, and on urban Southern California streets that are not the friendliest toward cyclists.

              I support battery electric transportation of ALL types and don't really care if you call what I ride a bike, ebike, moped, light motorcycle, whatever. It's better than using gas.
              In that vein, I don't really go for the whole "stealth" thing. I'm proud I ride electric. I use mirrors. I use dual head & tail lights. I wear a hi-viz mesh motorcycle jacket and hi-viz dirtbike helmet.
              I make myself so visible that drivers (including cops) see me, and take me seriously.

              I took a low cost "Urban Safety Riding" class, which I recommend any cyclist do. They taught that the best way to be safe and seen is to BEHAVE LIKE A CAR. There are lots of examples that apply to ANY cyclist (like taking the full lane when needed), but the biggest way this pertains to ebikes I feel is speed. CA now allows 28mph, and I think everyone should be riding that speed if in the street. When your speed closer matches that of cars, you are seen as more of an equal, and less as a threat to some rushed driver thinking they're going to miss the next light, or be late to work.

              Traveling at 30mph with 2-4hp under your butt warrants top shelf EVERYTHING in my opinion, and I weigh 275lb, so quality components are really essential. A comfortable full suspension frame (or hardtail with SR Suntour NCX or Cane Creek Thudbuster LT suspension seatpost) is a must in my book. Sun Ringle makes good rims that are 30mm+ wide. DT Swiss Alpine III spokes are really fancy, and actually spec'd for 30mph ebike use by the manufacturer. The thickest tubes I've found are Kenda Downhill ones (the "Heavy Duty" ones are a bit thinner, but still good). Schwalbe tires are great, and come as wide as 2.3" (Big Apple). Maxxis Hookworms (my current tire) come as wide as 2.5". Ergon grps and some type of gloves will help with circulation & hand fatigue.

              Use cargo bags & packs anywhere you can fit them. I carry a standard and a bicycle specific multi-tool, spare tube, CO2 inflator, electrical tape, tire levers, any wrench needed to remove wheels.
              My bike is locked up in a visible place (in front of security guards at that), using TWO quality locks (ABUS, etc.), and under a lightweight cover that keeps out rain and pyro fallout (yes, really). The cover also keeps out the curious and prevents a would-be thief from too easily "casing" the bike. At least make them take the cover off before deciding how/if to steal it!

              Be confident and assertive in your riding. Take up the full lane when it's the safest thing to do. California law allows 3 feet between you and cars (parked or otherwise). So if there isn't 8 feet of space in the lane, PLUS room for a passing car, you need to plant yourself right in the middle, and make them pass in the next lane, or wait for you to move over when YOU deem it safe. That being said, avoid higher speed/trafficked streets (and especially intersections) as much as possible. It's better to go out of your way a few blocks if there's a nice, quiet residential route that you can use instead.
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              Last edited by BikeEV; 12-02-2016, 06:56 PM.


                I enjoy my 12V heated vest when riding in the cold. Wearing lots of layers also works, but the vest is easier to control and requires less effort, especially at work where it is not convenient to remove the extra layers. I can wear it on the way home as well, turned off, so I don't have to pack a lot of extra clothing on the bike somewhere.

                When it gets wet, I really appreciate the used 2013 Leaf SL in my EV fleet. These are coming off lease these days and the market for used Leaf's is soft so you can pick one up cheaper than a high end ebike. Since I have been thrust back into the commuting crowd (retired but called back to help out with a project at work), I'm really enjoying the weather isolation. As soon as the weather gets nice I'll be breaking out the Borg again, and very glad it has the range for a round trip since I no longer will have the ability to easily charge it at work. But with 23 amp hours per trip out of 32 available it should be fine. Perhaps I can find an outdoor plug and use the high voltage Satiator and get a charge that way, but it won't be necessary.

                No matter what, wear your protective gear. You'll be glad after your next crash. :)

                Alan B


                  Originally posted by quantumcloud509 View Post
                  Ok, so here is something new that Ive been dealing with as the temps are around 30 here during my rides....the battery doesnt like being too cold, does it? Seems like distance and power are affected, does anyone have any insight into this?
                  Yes, but they also warm up a bit when in use, so I don't worry about it much. It sure can't hurt to start out with it fairly warm. I usually get cold before the battery gives out. I know my lithium battery in the plane, when doing a cold start, says to crank it a bit, then stop and wait 2 or 3 minutes, then crank it like you mean it. In other words, once putting it to work, I'd guess the cold is somewhat not a huge range killer. I had a 6 or 8 mile ride in 14 degree temps the other day, and really couldn't tell any difference in how it performed.


                  • Alan B
                    Alan B commented
                    Editing a comment
                    If your battery pack has low internal resistance (meaning if it is a good one), it won't heat enough during normal use to help much. Starting out warm helps a lot due to a good amount of thermal mass, and any insulation will help keep the warmth in the pack as you ride.

                  All lithium batteries like to run warm or even hot. they put out better performance as they heat up....

                  it is not necessarily good for the life expectancy of your battery to heat up your batteries...but from a pure pefromance stanad point they love it.


                    I'll stick by my statement "I don't worry about it much!" By warming up under use, I meant internally, not enough to call "hot", or enough to denote a crappy battery choice. Enough to somewhat negate the cooler temp it's operating in. I keep my bike in a 50 degree shop, and lately am riding in low single digits, my batteries are enclosed somewhat, and if there is a difference, it's just not enough for me to be concerned about. As long as I have sufficient range I don't really care about a minor loss, it's not a dealer breaker.


                      Keeping the batteries at 50 degrees is a big help. If your batteries sat in single digit temperatures overnight you'd likely notice the reduction in performance.
                      Alan B


                        Couple of things I've learned are it's a great way to meet people. When I first came to San Francisco I knew nobody but by cycling daily I have made a few good friends many more than I ever made riding the train! Also, it helps to be prepared for rain it can be terrible riding in the wet if you aren't.

                        I wrote a little blog a while back about it you can check it out here if you like.
                        Using an electric bike as your primary means of transportation is amazing. Riding through the summer months is probably one of the greatest perks. Soaking in the sun's rays, working on your tan and not having to pay for parking - what more can you ask for... However, winter, cold as it may be, is not without its own si


                          I learned:
                          1. Location is everything, if you want to bike commute.
                          2. I like excitement, not terror.
                          3. For my route, life expectancy would be short.
                          4. You can't truly appreciate the low bar set to get a drivers license, from the seat of a car.
                          5. You can't truly appreciate your OWN driving habits, from the seat of a car. My driving habits are not as bike-friendly as I thought they were. I have much better insight, now. I later caught myself doing things in my car, which would piss me off if I was on my bike.

                          #5 is my most valuable lesson, and was quite humbling.
                          Last edited by JPLabs; 03-24-2018, 08:18 AM.
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