Wondering if you can ride an electric scooter in winter?
An electric scooter is one of the best ways to get around the city all year round – it’s fun to ride, emits no air pollution, and is more affordable than owning a car. But, as with most things in life, including driving or cycling, it does get a little trickier in wintertime. When the temperature drops and riding conditions involve freezing rain, snow, or ice, you just need to take some precautions to keep yourself and your scooter in peak condition.
So, if you’ve been wondering if it’s possible to ride an electric scooter in winter, the answer is yes, it’s both possible and safe. We’ve compiled the ultimate guide to make your winter travels more enjoyable, including the steps you need to take to protect your scooter from the elements. Here’s what you need to know about riding your electric scooter in the winter months…
Can you ride an electric scooter in the winter?
It's totally possible to ride an electric scooter during winter, but there are some key guidelines you need to follow to prevent an accident. Many scooter manufacturers advise against riding an electric scooter in extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow, heavy rain, hail, ice, or sleet. A good rule of thumb is to stay off the roads when you can’t see the road beneath you, or the path in front of you.
Always remember that your primary goals are to stay warm and safe. While most electric scooters can handle short trips in light snow or rain, there are some instances where you will really struggle. The primary dangers are ice, slippery road surfaces, and puddles that are deeper than they might appear. An unseen patch of black ice could send you flying, resulting in a serious injury.
You need to know going in if your scooter is built for off-road rides, its water-resistance rating (for wet conditions), and what your warranty covers. The last thing you want is to damage your electric scooter when you try to zip through a deep puddle or ride through torrential rain only to have it not covered by the warranty.
Choose the best electric scooter for winter
If you’re looking to buy a scooter, there are some features you should look out for to ensure you can ride safely in winter conditions. We’ve compiled a checklist of the most important features for a winter-ready electric scooter:
- high IP water-resistance rating
- powerful dual motors
- pneumatic tyres (avoid solid tyres)
- strong disc brakes and anti-lock braking system
- bigger wheel size for better traction
- a powerful battery that won’t run down quickly
- a strong headlight and even rear lights for better visibility
- resistant to rust and corrosion
- good balance and stability.
The cold affects your scooter’s battery
Battery maintenance and a little TLC become extra important in winter. Your battery is the part of your electric scooter that’s most vulnerable to the cold. Your battery life will be impacted and it’ll use more power to cover the same distances as in the summer months. This means you’ll have a slightly lower riding range than previously.
Because of this, it’s critical that you ensure your battery is always fully charged before you leave, as it’s likely to run down faster in the winter months. The best thing you can do for your electric scooter in winter is to avoid leaving it outside in the cold. Bring your scooter indoors when you can and only start charging the battery when it’s warmed up to room temperature as this prolongs the battery life.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep your electric scooter in great working order in winter:
- Increase the number of charges – never let your battery completely drain
- Don’t charge the battery immediately after riding in the cold
- Keep the battery at room temperature inside when not in use (this is even easier with the Nought.One’s removable battery)
- If you’re not using your eScooter in winter, charge the battery every 2-3 weeks to keep it in good condition
- Never physically heat the battery – let it slowly warm up inside.
Use the right electric scooter winter tyres
Your scooter’s tyres are the only thing connecting you to the ground, so they’re one of the most critical safety features you need to pay attention to. Winter riding calls for high stability and traction, so make sure your electric scooter is fitted with pneumatic (air-filled) tyres – these provide better control and traction, and more stability than solid tyres.
The better your tyre’s tread, the more grip you’ll have on the road. If you have the option of swapping out your tyres in winter for offroad, studded, or spiked tyres, better tread will give you better traction on wet or icy surfaces. Avoid using threadbare tyres at all costs. Another thing to consider is the width of your tyre – a wider tyre handles slippery surfaces better.
When changing your tyres isn’t an option, the one thing you can do is ensure your tyre is a little softer in the winter. This will give you better stability and make it more difficult for the electric scooter to slip out from under you. To give yourself better traction, deflate your air-filled tyres slightly. The less inflated the tyre, the less likely you are to slip, and it will help your brakes perform better as well. Deflate your tyres in small increments and test to see how your ride improves. As soon as conditions improve, you can inflate your tyres back to regular levels.
Be careful when deflating air-filled tyres with inner tubes though as this can make them more prone to punctures. Because of this, the best option overall is air-filled tubeless tyres, like the ones used on the Nought.One. They can run at both lower and higher pressures without increasing the risk of punctures and are much more durable in the long run.
Scooter maintenance and cleaning in winter
To keep your electric scooter in tip-top shape, you should clean it as often as possible. In winter, your electric scooter is likely to be exposed to rain, snow, slush, and mud. While some scooters are water-resistant, very few are fully waterproof, so you need to protect all the electrical components from water damage, especially your motor and battery.
For this same reason, you should never submerge any of your electric scooter’s parts in water or spray them with a hose. You can use water to clean the dirt away, but use a minimal amount with some soap, and use a microfibre cloth to wipe away the dirt. Remember not to leave any parts wet after cleaning, as this can cause rust or corrosion, which will shorten the lifespan of your eScooter.
Another thing to bear in mind is that many places spray salt on the streets to melt the ice, which is great for improving the quality of the road but not for your scooter when it comes to rust. Once your ride is clean, you might consider using a rust-protection spray on the aluminium parts to prevent corrosion.
You could also look at battery maintenance grease to prevent any moisture from getting into the wiring. The main thing is, you don’t want dirt to build up and start interfering with your electric scooter’s performance.
Clothing and safety equipment for winter riding
Using your electric scooter in winter weather means it’s not just your ride that you need to think about. Your journey is outdoors, so you’ll be exposed to the elements, unlike in a car. Whether you’re faced with wind, rain, or snow, the cold will seep in quickly if you don’t take the proper precautions and dress appropriately. Wearing suitable clothing and safety gear can prevent illness, as well as injury.
The cold presents a few different dangers: you could get distracted and focus more on the cold than on where you’re going, leading to an accident. Your reflexes will also be impaired if you’re too cold to react quickly. This is why it’s important to dress warm and protect against wind chill. The trick is to dress warm, but not wear so many layers that you can’t move comfortably.
A windproof jacket and pants are a good start to keep the cold from getting in. You’ll also want to wear the right shoes – winter boots or waterproof shoes that keep your feet warm and dry even if you pass through a puddle.
Cycling glasses or skiing goggles are also a good idea to protect your eyes and help you see clearly. The last thing you need is tears forming from the icy wind in your eyes, obscuring your vision and the road ahead. And while a helmet isn’t mandatory for riding a scooter in the UK, it is recommended, especially in winter. Head injuries are serious and should be avoided at all costs.
You also need to protect your hands with a good pair of gloves. This is critical – if you can’t feel your fingers, you can’t grip the handlebars properly to steer or hit the brakes when you need to. Winter riding requires all of your mental faculties and physical reactions to be fully engaged so that you’re in total control of your ride.
Preparation is key when it comes to riding in harsh winter conditions. Take care of your extremities (your hands and feet) and don’t underestimate the impact the cold can have on you. The weather can change in an instant, so it’s best to always be prepared – wear or pack as much windproof gear and safety equipment as you can to stay safe.
Adjust your riding style for your winter commute
It’s no good wearing all the safety gear in the world if you’re not adjusting your riding style to fit the winter weather. Riding in perfect weather is a very different experience from slipping and sliding on ice, with flecks of snow obscuring your vision. If you’re someone who likes to weave between cars and take risks, winter is not the time to test your skills.
The number one rule is to slow down and steer more carefully – avoid jerky movements or sudden manoeuvres. Slow and steady wins the race! Remember that your electric scooter is not built for water, so it’s best to go around puddles and potholes when possible. It’s not always possible to see how deep a body of water is, so rather be safe than sorry.
Riding conditions are more hazardous for drivers as well as eScooter riders in winter, so pattention to everyone and everything around you. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can expect others to make mistakes. If you’re observant and quick to react, you can steer clear of bad situations and avoid unnecessary accidents.
Don’t assume that others have seen you when you’re on a scooter in poor conditions (low visibility). Drivers won’t expect to see someone on a scooter in bad weather. Make eye contact so that you’re sure they’ve seen you before moving. On this note, you could also take steps to improve your visibility on the roads. Wear bright, reflective clothes, or invest in reflective stickers or tape for your helmet, arm sleeves, the back of your jacket, and your shoes.
Quick electric scooter winter safety tips
To sum it up, here are 10 things you can do to ensure you and your electric scooter make it through winter unscathed.
1. Deflate your tires slightly for better traction.
2. Avoid riding over deep snow in case your tyres get stuck.
3. Tighten your brakes a bit so they’re a little more responsive on slippery surfaces.
4. Take it slower than usual and avoid abrupt turns.
5. Pay extra care to your battery maintenance and charge after every use.
6. Don’t charge your battery immediately after coming in from the cold.
7. Clean your scooter frequently so keep it in peak condition.
8. Protect yourself from the elements with windproof clothing and proper safety equipment.
9. Wear reflective clothing or tape to improve your visibility.
10. Make sure your scooter lights are on when needed.
So, is it safe to ride an electric scooter in winter?
Winter weather brings additional challenges and safety risks for commuters with all modes of transport. The roads can be icy, visibility can be poor, and the cold can be brutal. This doesn’t mean you need to pack your electric scooter away for the winter though. If you choose your electric scooter wisely, follow the precautions listed in this guide, and avoid riding in extreme weather conditions as much as possible, riding in winter can be perfectly safe.