Electric Bike for snow, slush, hail, sleet and ice (sometimes at the same time)

Gid

New Member
Hello EBR members,

For the last 16 months, I have been bike commuting to and from work on a REI Co-Op DRT 1.0 bike in Chicago IL. The round trip ride is 20 miles total with two small climbs. The hardest part of the journey is when the winds get bad in IL and has been so bad that the wind stopped my forward momentum. The worst conditions I have been in though are when we have a combination of snow, slush, and ice at the same time. I was able to get through it with the REI mountain bike but want to get an eBike to make life a little easier on those bad days.

About my ride
  • Daily commuter
  • Mostly flat but does potholes which is why I currently use a mountain bike instead of a road bike in nice weather.
  • 10 miles each way (20 total)
  • Year round including rain, snow, sleet, hail, wind, high and low temperatures and anything else Chicago can through at us.
  • I have a covered place to park my bike to protect it
  • I am 170 lbs and 5' 10"

Minimum?
  • Fat tires
  • 15 miles per charge (can charge at work)
  • Front fork suspension

Nice to haves?
  • Class 3 (28 mph)
  • 30+ miles per charge (allow me to only have to charge once per day)
  • Front and back suspension

I am have been looking at the Rad Power Bikes RadRover, Juiced Bikes Rip Current X, and Sun Seeker Fat-Tad Trike as this bike is specifically to solve the problem of winter riding. If I end up enjoying the electric bike I might purchase a second one for during nice weather.

Questions I Have.
  • Would a recumbent trike be a good fit? I have never ridden a recumbent bike or any sort of trike but I like that I would have some additional stability with the three wheels. I understand that my turn radius would change and that they can still flip but I would be closer to the ground. Being lower also has a negative that if I am trying to deal with snow I might be trying to go through it instead of on top of it when it gets to 2feet or higher. I also have read that they use different muscles so I might have to rely on the motor more to start with.
  • Best choice between RadRover and RipCurrent X?
  • Any other suggestions for winter riding bikes?

Sorry if I missed any information that would be helpful. Thanks for everyone's input and advice.
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
I park the bike when the snow changes to ice. A good thaw then a refreeze, there are patches of ice I may not see that would put me on the ground. The piles of former snow the city leaves in the bike lane turn to icecrete, it would take a sledgehammer to blast through them. Visibility is bad for motorists in that weather anyway, getting out in the car lane that is cleared is more of a risk than normal. People drive crazier in snow days knowing the police are busy with accidents and don't write tickets much.
You may be able to ride with spiked tires, but changing tires twice a year is a nuisance. Plus since most of the riding would be on cleared pavement, the spikes might not last very long. 165 miles south of Chicago I didn't have to ride the bus to the grocery once last winter. Was a mostly dry winter below freezing.
If it has to be a bike in ice, investigate the tricycles. However, most only have brakes on one wheel. Under the type of bikes forum, there is three wheel topic.
 

Gid

New Member
Hello indianajo,

Thanks for the reply. Last winter wasn't as bad as I thought and was pretty fun in the snow. I only had to ride in the street on 2 trips which was rough but manageable. I do believe I will be going down the trike route but am still looking into it.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
My thoughts. A four foot high recumbent on a snowy day in Chicago will get run over and the driver won't even realize he hit it. A bike, at least with lots of blinkers will get noticed and the drivers might marvel at the rider's tenacity and hopefully give a lot of room. Ebikes aren't allowed on sidewalks in Illinois per state law. For that matter, neither are bicycles on sidewalks in some parts of Chicago, but the cops use that mainly in poor neighborhoods.

You will have to bring the battery indoors on cold days, and cold nights. It cannot be charged if the cells inside are close to 32F, but you can take a charged pack and use it in cold temperature. Then wait til it warms to room temperature before charging it. Expect range to drop with ambient temperature.

Cover up the display to keep it dry, You don't need to see your speed. Depending on what you buy, winterize the rest of the electrics. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on the bike. Salt spray will rust all the steel pieces.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
Hope your company has indoor bike parking. I've seen rental bike fleets frozen in huge snow banks in Chicago.
 

WIGuy

New Member
My commute sounds similar to yours. I am two hours north in Madison WI. Been commuting on and off for the last 15 years. I tried a recumbant with studded tires in snow but it is difficult to get started from stops and the front tire did not track well. Had been riding with a full fender touring bike with winter studs but I found myself slowing down and not riding as much as I use to. Bought a Trek Powerfly 5 this spring and added a badass box 4. It is a bomber bike for rough roads. 36 mile range. I can vary the boost depending on the wind and my energy level. I have not ridden it in the winter yet but I have Marathon Plus studded tires in the basement waiting to be put on. With the badass box and the lower mountain bike gearing I can hit 25mph but I usually ride around 18-22 or slower on bike paths.
 

Attachments

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
My thoughts. A four foot high recumbent on a snowy day in Chicago will get run over and the driver won't even realize he hit it
Exactly what keeps me off a frame I find enticing, but to scary in traffic for me. As a winter rider I'd be terrified!
 

Thomas Jaszewski

Well-Known Member
Biggest issue I see is battery temps. I'd definitely look at a battery warming gambit. I just got the parts from China for a new self powered battery warmer.
 

pushkar

Active Member
Hey guys. I’m the owner of Watt Wagons. I’m a month away from releasing the Fat tire version of my ebike. The big changes in the Watt Wagons Monstah from the Ultimate commuter Pro are

1. 26x4 wheels. HED Cycling rims, Dillinger 4 studdable tires. I can offer the option of studded tires too.
2. Cambium C17 saddle.
3. Manitou Mastadon fork.
4. Grips will be GP3
5. Dual 5A chargers (one for home, one for office).

All other parts standard.

Options
1. All fat tire bikes will be dual battery compatible- stock 880wh on plus another 880wh on the top tube. The dual battery option will be available end November.
2. You can upgrade to Dominion A4 brakes for incredible sun zero weather stopping power.

You should be able to get plenty range and stopping power with the Monstah. As others have pointed out, please keep your battery warm.
 

Gid

New Member
Harry S,

You have an excellent point about a trike not being visible as it is so low and that is a concern and a good reason to stick with a regular electric bike. My commute is 50% on the McCormick Blvd path, 35% streets with a bike lane, and 15% on streets with no bike path. I had planned on bring the battery into my home and office when I wasn't riding but did not think about the what temp the battery needs to be at for charging. Thank you for mentioning this.

I do believe you are right that purchasing a cheaper electric bike might be the best option to at least start with since salt and the weather might make it not last a season.

Rich C,

I have a parking garage I put my bike that is covered but open on the sides. The bike rack is tucked away so it is protected from rain, snow, and wind.


WiGuy,

That bike looks awesome and curious to know how it works out for you in the winter. After talking to some locals a recumbent bike doesn't seem to be the best option for me at this time.



After talking with other people I have found that it might be best for me to stick with like a 2.8 inch studded tires then fat tires as Chicago mostly has ice, water, slush and not as much fluffy snow that true fat tires would be useful.