Find yourself running out of steam halfway up hills on your bike rides? An electric bike might be just what the doctor ordered; however, there are certain things you need to know before investing in one of these gadgets.
As they’re powered by batteries, you have to be very aware of charge capacity and battery cycle life.
After all, the last thing you want is to use all your juice on your outward trip, leaving you with nothing but your tired legs to peddle you back home.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the specs of the average electric bike battery.
Electric Bike Battery Charge Capacity
As I’m sure you’re aware, electric bikes come with all sorts of different batteries. Some have large capacities and cost quite a bit of money, while others won’t last quite as long or cost quite as much.
Having said that, there are some averages we can look at to give us the gist:
- 500 wh / 250 w load = 2 hour run time
- 500 wh / 500 w load = 1 hour run time
- 500 wh / 1000 w load = 30 minute run time
Do bear in mind; however, there are a number of variables that may limit your bike’s battery performance, including rider weight, wind resistance, and gradient.
What’s more, with every cycle, by which I mean every 100% to 0% discharge, the overall potency of the battery deteriorates, so you can expect the above figures to dwindle over time, especially once you get past the 1–2 year mark.
In terms of distance, the average e-bike battery will take you between 35 and 75 miles on a single charge, which is pretty darn impressive if you ask me!
Electric Bike Battery Cycle Life
Again, the overall cycle life of an e-bike battery depends on a number of factors such as build-quality, battery technology, and how well it’s maintained, but, to put a timeframe on it, you’re looking at something to the tune of 2 to 5 years.
With proper maintenance, a good quality battery from a reputable brand may well last you longer than 5 years, but, on the flip side, a lesser battery that doesn’t get the TLC it needs may not even last 2.
Now let’s take a look at the different types of e-bike batteries and what benefits and drawbacks they bring to the table.
E-Bike Battery Types
Battery technologies couldn’t be more different from one another, so it’s important to consider which energy blueprint has been used before forking out for a pricey electric bike.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most popular choice for e-bikes, and rightly so, too! They can power on for upwards of 1000 charge cycles, and, to sweeten the deal to an even further degree, they’re a lot more stable and safer to use than their counterparts.
They’re also lighter than most other battery types, meaning they’re less of a burden on you when you’re cycling the au naturel way, and less of a burden on the motor.
Nickel batteries last about half as long as their lithium-ion cousins. You should expect about 500 battery cycles before you start to see some serious deterioration or, in some cases, total failure. They’re also exceedingly heavy, which can make cycling uphill without assistance harder than it needs to be.
The silver (or nickel) lining here is that nickel batteries are very affordable, so if you’re looking for an e-bike on a budget, nickel might be the way to go.
Sealed Lead Acid
Sealed lead batteries are the granddads of the energy storage world. They’re big, they’re heavy, and they don’t have long for this world.
They will typically last for about 300 charge cycles, and their capacity is almost never as impressive as batteries based on the lithium-ion blueprint.
Newer models of e-bike will rarely have these batteries due to their shortcomings, but if you’re buying an older secondhand model, you may end up with a lead battery.
Should it have some fairly substantial mileage on it already, it’s probably best to buy a replacement battery along with the bike itself, just in case it dies on you.
Which E-Bike Battery Is Right For Me?
If you have the funds, I’d always suggest going with a lithium-ion battery, but, although they’re quite robust, they’re sensitive to extreme temperatures, so keep that in mind if you live in a climate that has bitter winters and scorching summers.
Whatever you settle on, it’s always best to make sure it comes with at least a 2-year warranty, as there will inevitably be a few dud batteries on the market. A nice, long warranty ensures you can exchange your battery for free should it deteriorate before its time.
When Should My E-Bike Battery Be Replaced?
After two years of use, your battery is considered to be on its way “over the hill”. At this point, pay close attention to its charge capacity. Is it noticeably shorter than it has been in the past? If so, then it’s a good time to start considering a replacement.
You may also notice that your battery simply isn’t as powerful as it used to be, or perhaps that it exhibits voltage fluctuations. Both of these occurrences are signs that you should replace it sooner rather than later.
How To Optimize E-Bike Battery Life
The service life of your battery is largely dependent on the TLC you provide it over the years, so, before we go our separate ways, let’s take a look at a few pro e-bike battery care tips.
- Only use the charger that came with your e-bike.
- Never charge a hot battery. Wait for it to cool, then plug it in.
- Never let the battery deplete to 0%. Aim to recharge when it hits about 50%.
- When not using your e-bike for long periods, remove the battery and store it separately in a safe location. Turn it on every now and again to reduce self-discharge.
- Unplug your battery as soon as it hits 100%. Overcharging can be devastating for batteries.
- Store your e-bike in a cool, dry environment.
- Clean your battery with a dry cloth, as moisture can cause corrosion.
There you have it! The longevity of an electric bike battery, in terms of both charge capacity and cycle life, depends on battery technology, battery quality, and maintenance.
But, on average, you can expect a single charge to take you between 35 and 75 miles, and a single battery to last between 2 and 5 years.