With the cold weather upon us, the vast majority of electric skateboards owner will yield to the weather and opt to store away their boards until the warmer weather emerges. However, there those among us who reckon that they can keep using electric skateboards and longboards in winter.
Being an avid e-skateboard user, you may be in need of tips on how to use electric skateboards in winter. I’ve scoured the internet for solutions, and this read will give you a better understanding of how to use electric skateboards during winter.
In a nutshell, using an e-board is all about understanding the surface conditions with regards to the grip available, taking caution due to diminished traction, wearing the appropriate safety gear, and optimizing your e-boards wheels and battery casing for the ultimate cold-weather riding experience.
Tip #1: Understand The Conditions To Expect While Riding Electric Skateboard And Longboard In Winter
Skating during the winter is not the same as skating during other times of the year. You will have to deal with conditions that are significantly different from warm weather conditions. Below are some of the elements you have to contend with for winter skating and what that means for your skating experience.
Rain is a common occurrence during the formative weeks of winter. And while it does change the riding experience and the overall riding characteristics, it does make for a fun experience in that the slides are significantly easier to pull off and they go further.
That said, it is very important to note that due to the water layer between the wheels and the road or pavement, there is less grip for you to use while braking. As such, stopping your e-board on a wet surface is not the same as stopping it while is dry. It takes longer and you end up covering more distance before braking. Just keep that consideration in mind and adjust your stops accordingly to avoid accidents and injuries.
As we get more and more into winter, the cold weather makes for colder precipitation. This means that ice formations and snow will be a common occurrence.
Generally speaking, riding your e-board on ice or snow is pretty much the same as riding it in rainy conditions. However, you have to contend with even more diminished grip levels. This is because unlike water, ice and snow do not displace under the weight of the wheel to the side. Displacement allows the wheels to grip to the road far better.
Instead, the ice particles do not move but instead remain in position under the wheel. As such, your wheels do not have any way of attaining grip as the wheels do not make contact with the road.
Therefore, you need to be even more careful while skating under icy or snowy conditions, adjusting your speed and choosing the appropriate braking points for your stop in time.
While the wind velocity may or may not increase, you still have to keep in mind the fact that the wind will be much colder. This will not only affect you as you use the board (after all you are exposed to the elements entirely), the cold temperature that the wind brings forth tend to have an impact on the performance of the e-board as well.
Legality Of Using Electric Skateboards During Winter
Aside from the mother nature’s element, you might have some legal issues to contend with. It may be the case that it is illegal to ride an e-board under certain conditions (which in the case of winter is low grip conditions). Therefore, even if you are confident that you can deal with the element comfortably, ensure that you using your electric skateboard during winter months is not illegal.
Tip #2: Understanding The Performance Of An E-Board In Winter
Battery Performance During The Winter Months
One of the biggest consideration you should have in mind with regards to using electric skateboards in winter is battery performance. Batteries are affected by temperature quite a lot and when operated outside the sweet spot, the battery will underperform both in terms of battery capacity and life.
This poor low-temperature performance can be attributed to the chemistry of the battery. Some researchers have put forth the theory that at a lower temperature, the electrolyte in the battery will freeze, resulting in lower ionic conductivity.
Furthermore, with a frozen electrolyte, the battery experience increased resistance. And while the resistance of the battery will create heat, this will accompany some efficiency loss. This generally lowers the output of the battery, affecting its discharge and capacity.
It is no wonder that most batteries are rated to operate at comfortable room temperature. As you might have noted, the vast majority of batteries are specified to operate at 80°F (27°C).
With the lower winter temperatures, you should expect your e-board to drain its battery a lot faster, even when you use the accelerator moderately. That being said, you can try to insulate batteries to help the battery pack retain some of the heat they generate. Relying on the plastic battery pack cover for insulation won’t do the trick.
Furthermore, if and when the temperature is too cold, you should try warming up the battery pack, taking care not to exceed the safe temperature. Too much of temperature rise will cause the electrolyte to evaporate, thereby affecting the longevity of your battery.
How Do The Wheels Perform
Riding your e-board in the winter will entail going over snow and ice. This means that you need e-board wheels that will perform well with regards to displacing water and ice. As such, you should replace your normal wheels with specialized wheels.
Such wheels should have a wide contact patch, at the very least 65mm. Check out these electric skateboard all-terrain wheels. They are perfect electric skateboards winter wheels. The wheel should have grooves to displace water, availing a contact patch with the ground. It should also have a hard duro; purchase wheels rated on the durometer as being at least 80a.
If you are going to go over a lot of ice, you should consider purchasing spiked wheels. The pointy spikes will create pressure point melting the ice and allowing the spike to dig into the more stable surface.
Alternatively, you can DIY rig your own spiked wheels fit for purposes. There are plenty of tutorials around for this. However, the most impressive example of DIY spiked wheels I have come across is screwing in self-tapping screws onto wheels you don’t plan to use once winter passes.
Obviously, the size of your wheels will determine the size of the screws you install. To completely seal the wheels, consider hot glueing the back of the screws. The hot glue will also keep the screws in place.
One drawback of having spiked wheels is, spiked wheels are only best used for riding over ices. The wheels tend to get stuck in soft snow, especially when there is a deep layer of it. Moreover, you cannot ride of water as the spikes interfere with the wheel’s contact with the road, thereby providing low traction levels.
In case you have a street electric skateboard that you want to ride during winter, you could use sip ties to replicate the same effects of spikes. Combining some hard wheels like the Slick Revolution Slick 85mm with some heavy-duty zip ties running across the wheels will create pressure points that increase grip on icy conditions. Just make sure you cut off the excess zip tie material for safety.
Tip #3: Winter Electric Skateboard And Longboard Riding Gear To Buy For Winter
Just like riding in the warm months of summer, riding during winter whilst riding during winter should involve taking safety into consideration. Winter e-board riding is about dealing with the cold. Every gear that you purchase for your winter riding should be to keep your warm and safe from the chilling winds. Some of the gears you can buy for winter riding include:
- Leather gloves, fingerless gloves (for instance, the triple 8 Hired Hands glove used for motorcycling), and hand warmers.
- A hooded balaclava with a pair of goggles, full-face helmet with a visor, a face mask or thermal balaclava used with eyewear.
- Thermal underwear (thermal pants and long sleeve thermal top).
- Layered jackets or heated jacket, none wind permeable cloths, and or electric vests.
The combination of thermal underwear set, thermal gloves, a thermal jacket, and a full-face hooded thermal balaclava is the best way to keep warm. Read our guides to getting the best thermal underwear set, thermal gloves, thermal balaclava, and thermal jackets in these links.
Tip #4: Avoid Riding On Stagnant Water And Snow That Contains Salt
Over the winter months, it is standard to use salt to melt snow, making the roads and the pavement more usable. However, the lingering salt-laden water does not bode well for your e-board (or any board for that matter).
As you might appreciate, salty water does have an adverse effect on steel in the form of accelerated rusting. And as things currently are, e-boards make use of a number of components made using steel.
For instance, all the nuts and bolts in the vast majority of leading e-board brands are made of steel. As such, you should make deliberate efforts to avoid salt, as the chemical reaction leading to rust begins almost immediately after the salty water comes into contact with your bearing and other metal components found on your electric skateboard.
Alternatively, you can take steps to do away with the risk of rust altogether. You can replace your standard components with galvanized steel or stainless steel hardware. Such components are better capable of withstanding rusting. That being said, you should note that replacing your bearing with rust-resistant ones is a daunting task and significantly more expensive.
However, it is still doable and there are plenty of guides on the internet that will take you through the process. Here is a good guide you can use. You can opt to replace the bearing with a more expensive version that uses stainless steel or galvanized steel. Alternatively, you can opt for a cheap but reliable bearing that will not hurt your finances when replacing.
Tip #5: Stay Within Your E-Board Weight Limit
You also need to be cognizant of the weight capacity of your board. Every winter gear that you wear adds extra weight that your e-skateboard will have to bear. Going over the weight limit of an electric skateboard not only affects the acceleration power, but it also affects the stopping power of the brakes, something that is quite dangerous for you.
Tip #6: Does Your Electric Skateboard Need Additional Waterproofing?
While many off-the-shelf e-boards are waterproof rated, you should consider adding additional waterproofing for the battery and electronic components housings.
Tip #7: Storing Your Inactive Electric Skateboards And Longboard In Winter Properly
There are e-skateboard owners who cannot fathom using their boards during the winter months, and you might be one of them. As much as riding an electric skateboard is always a thrilling experience, the wind chill, the snow, the cold rain, and the generally dumpy environment does not bode well with their idea of fun or a commuting experience.
Moreover, there are those who have health issues such as asthma, which precludes them from engaging in activities that will expose them to the elements in cold weather. As such, storing the board is the only option that you have.
To properly store your electric skateboard for the 3 to 4 months of inactivity, you need to ensure that the battery is in the right condition to protect its longevity. To this end, you need to ensure that the battery cells are in the nominal charged state; that is, they have a charge ranging between 40% and 60%.
While storing your battery at a lower or much higher charge poses no higher danger, the 40%-60% charge range is the perfect range to ensure that your battery retains its electric charge storage capability and capacity.
However, never store the battery cells with empty charge. Doing this will destroy the battery, thereby necessitating expensive battery replacement when the time comes to bring out your e-board.
If your electric skateboard is fully charged, you can use to lower the charge to about 50%. Conversely, if it is not charged at the time of storage, you should charge the battery to about 50% before storing it.
Another consideration to keep in mind is the fact that batteries do discharge even whilst in storage. Depending on the rate of discharge, it is important that you recharge the battery from time to time up to the 50% level. In cases the battery completely discharges, you run the risk of destroying the battery, thereby affecting its subsequent charging capacity and capability.
These are some of the considerations you have to keep in mind with regards to using (or not using) your electric skateboard during the winter. If you have any question or would love to add additional tips, leave a comment in the comment section below. There is plenty to learn from each other. Let’s make this a learning experience.