An electric bike batteries are pretty similar to batteries in your phone or laptop. They work in the same way, but in this post, we will be covering the basics of electric bike battery care and how to get the most from them.
Electric Bike Battery Basics
There are many different types of electric bike batteries regarding their chemistry, but lithium-ion batteries are the most common. Lithium-ion has a high energy density, meaning it can store lots of electricity, but these batteries are also relatively lightweight.
Electric bikes either have their batteries mounted internally or externally. Internal batteries are more protected from the elements while giving the bike cleaner lines. Whether your bike has an internal or external battery, you can easily remove it for charging or replacing.
The capacity of an electric bike battery is measured in watt-hours (wh). How many watt-hours your battery has will determine how far it will take you before needing a recharge.
Most batteries have 300 to 700wh, and the higher the number is, the longer your range will be. Paying attention to the numbers is very important to determine how far you can ride between charges.
For example, a 250W motor powered by a 500wh battery running at 100% for 2 hours will empty the battery.
However, working out your electric bike’s range isn’t as easy as that. If you are a heavier rider, your range will be less than a lighter rider. Also, if your journey has lots of hills to climb, your motor will be working harder, draining the battery more quickly. Another element of how quickly your battery drains is how you ride. If you use a higher assistance level all the time and are inefficient on the brakes, you will find your battery dies much sooner.
It is also worth noting that how your battery depletes is not linear. Towards the end of your ride, the battery will drain quicker than when it was fully charged when you set off.
Electric Bike Battery Weight
Electric bike batteries usually weigh between 2-3kg. Generally, heavier batteries give you more range. If the range is important to you, you have to carefully consider battery weight if you want to carry a spare in your backpack. Carrying an extra 3kg high up considerably affects your centre of gravity. If you are using your bike to commute, this may not be too much of a problem. However, if you are riding technical and steep terrain, the high centre of gravity may affect your ride quality.
Before you buy your electric bike, you may want to consider where the battery is mounted. A bike with a battery mounted low and central in its frame will have a low centre of gravity. An electric bike with a low centre of gravity is stable and corners well.
Charging Your Electric Bike’s Battery
You can charge an electric bike’s battery between 500 and 1000 times. When you think about it, based on 35 miles per charge, this equates to a lot of riding. Therefore, on most electric bikes, the battery’s lifespan is much longer than some drivetrain components if you look after it properly.
To charge an electric bike battery to 50% takes about 2 hours, depending on its capacity and model. This is pretty useful to top it up during a mid-ride charge. You can charge very high-end batteries to 80% in 2 hours, but these are very expensive items. If you are planning a ride that includes a break for charging, you may need to plan in time for removing and re-mounting an internally mounted battery.
Electric bike batteries can cost anywhere between £200 and £800. Their price obviously depends on the brand and capacity. But, the price of a battery is an excellent incentive to look after it. A well looked after battery will have a longer life.
Is Internal Or External Best?
As far as ride quality goes, there isn’t much difference between bikes with internally and externally mounted batteries. It is more down to personal preference or the other components and features that appeal to you.
Electric Bike Battery Waterproofing
The waterproof level of a battery is indicated with an IP (ingress protection) rating. The higher the IP rating, the more protected the battery is from dust and water particles. It is worth checking out your electric bike’s IP rating before you ride it in the rain. Some bikes have better protection than others.
Looking After Your Electric Bike’s Battery
As we highlighted earlier, electric bike batteries are expensive. Therefore, you will want to extend your battery’s life span as much as possible. Here are a few ways you can look after your battery.
Charge It Correctly
Whether your bike’s battery is internally or externally mounted, it is a good idea to get into good charging habits. As soon as you get back from a ride, clean your bike and plug the battery into the charger. Keeping it in the garage and letting the battery naturally discharge is terrible for its life span. Try to store the battery with 30 to 60% charge. The reason for this is that the batteries cells are not stored full or empty. At this level of charge, the cells are nicely balanced.
Keep It Clean, But Be Careful
When it comes to washing your bike, avoid squirting the battery directly with a pressure washer. Remove the battery, wipe it clean and check that the connectors are clean and in good condition.
Take care when removing and re-mounting the battery. You don’t want to damage it or the bike by being too heavy-handed.
Store Your Electric Bike Properly
If you can, store your electric bike indoors where it is warm. Sub-zero temperatures don’t do the battery any good, so room temperature is ideal. Riders who have to keep their electric bike in a cold garage or shed should bring the battery inside. A cosy battery will have a longer life than a freezing one.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Electric Bike’s Battery
Electric bike riders want to get more range from their batteries. But, your range is primarily affected by the length and profile of your journey and how you ride. Here are some tips o how to get the most range from your battery.
Think About The Nature Of Your Ride
Before heading out on your ride, it is a good idea to think about the nature of your ride. For example, are you going on an all-day adventure, or are you just going for an hour’s long pedal around the local park?
Longer rides will require you to be careful about how much battery you use, while you can be a bit more gung ho on shorter rides.
Be Mindful About Which Level Of Assistance You Choose
When you use higher assistance levels, your battery will deplete much more quickly. But, by changing your assistance level at the right moment, you can easily extend your range.
On flat surfaces, you don’t need much assistance; therefore, Eco mode should be sufficient to keep you moving. It can be tempting to use a higher assistance level when you don’t really need it. So, before you go up a level, ask yourself the question, “Is this really hard, or am I being lazy?”. Listen to how hard you are breathing and pay attention to how your legs feel, not the little voice in your head.
On downhill sections, you don’t need motor assistance at all. Switch it off, or select Eco mode to save the battery.
If you feel like you haven’t had a workout during your ride, you can pedal above the assistance level. Doing this will give you a great interval training workout.
To make sure you have enough battery power to complete longer rides, you should select an assistance level that is “just enough”. Your pedalling will be easier, and you will get some exercise while extending your range. You should only use the turbo mode during these rides when it comes to steep climbs, or you are new to bikes, and you need extra help.
Work On Your Cadence And Gear Selection
The relationship between cadence and gear selection is critical for your electric bike’s range.
Electric bike riders benefit more from a high cadence, meaning they pedal faster in an easier gear. To hit the sweet spot for the most extended range takes a bit of trial and error. But once you have mastered it, you can ride much further before needing to charge your battery.
Brake And Accelerate Smoothly
When riding through the streets, you can extend your range with smooth riding habits. The principal is the same as driving a car economically. Smooth braking as you approach traffic lights and junctions, combined with gentle acceleration, will give your battery more miles.
Often smooth deceleration will mean that you don’t need to stop at all. Therefore, you will already be rolling when the traffic starts to move, reducing the work your motor has to do.
Now you know how to look after your battery and get the most out of it. These tips will keep your battery in excellent condition for longer and give you an extended range.
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