An ebike is essentially a regular bike with the addition of a motor, display, and battery. There is little the average ebike user can do to impact longevity of the motor and display, but the battery is within our sphere of control. It is within our “power” (pun intended) to take steps that will keep the battery in top shape for years to come. A well-maintained battery will result in greater range, performance, and increase the time before the battery needs to be replaced. Specific practices can vary from brand to brand, so always follow the guidelines for your battery manufacturer.
How Often to Charge
Ebike batteries are typically lead-acid, lithium-ion (Li-ion), or nickel-metal hydride (NiMh) with the most popular ebike batteries today being lithium ion because of their weight, cost, and power. But one characteristic of Li-ion is they degrade over time and the longer it stays at a higher voltage, the more loss occurs. Specific practices may vary from brand to brand, but there are some best practices:
How to Charge
If you are able to store your bike indoors where there is a power source, just plug in the power charger into a standard electrical outlet while the battery is still on the bike. If not, make sure your bike design allows you to easily remove and reinstall the battery so you can charge it off the bike.
Manufacturers cite widely different ranges for how far you can travel on a charge, typically from 25 – 100 miles, so how do you know how long your battery will actually last when you go out for a ride? Range depend on several factors like the weight of the rider, wind, tire inflation, temperature, hills, etc. which you may not be able to influence in the short term, but you can control how much of the motor you use. Most ebikes have varying levels of assist and the more assist you use the faster you will drain the battery. If your bike has a throttle, the ability to propel the bike without pedaling, it is a major drain on the battery. When on a longer trip, be sure to manage how much assist you use so you have enough charge to get back and are not forced to pedal a heavy bike with no help.
To maximize your range on a charge, follow these tips:
A lithium battery will last about 1,000 charges depending how it is managed. As a battery gets older the voltage will drop along with the battery’s performance. That will translate to slower acceleration and overall speed. This signals it is time for a new battery. A new battery will cost between $500 - $900.
With good management your ebike’s battery will take you further, faster, and with more ease than you’ve ever been before on a bike.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories