One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to electric transportation is “how far does it go?” This can also be one of the hardest questions to give a concrete answer to. There are many factors that are at play when it comes to getting the most out of your battery life. And that goes for every device that has a battery be it a bike, Segway, unicycle or car. Which is what makes it so hard to give a one size fits all answer. Do you go by battery calculations? Best case scenario test rides, or worst case scenario? Meet somewhere in the middle?

This guide is specifically for electric bikes but the same principles apply to all electric powered transportation.

What are the Factors?

  • Speed

  • Weight

  • Motor power

  • Temperature

  • Terrain

  • Battery Capacity and Chemistry

If you think about it all of the factors that play into how far you’re going to get on a charge make sense, but don’t forget to take them all into consideration.

Speed: The fast you go the more battery power you will eat up, this particularly applies to accelerating.

Weight: This is the overall weight which includes yourself, the bike and any gear. The more weight the more power will be used to maintain speed.

Temperature: This is one most people don’t think of but makes a huge difference on battery life. Batteries will lose power much quicker in cold temperatures.

Terrain: You’ll get a lot further to a charge riding on flat smooth pavement then you will on rough hilly trails.

Motor power: The power draw of your motor should also be taken into consideration, the more power you ask for the quicker you will drain the battery.

Battery capacity and chemistry: Obviously the amount of power a battery holds will have a huge impact on what range you get. But the chemistry of the battery and the make are important too.

Close up of lithium ion battery pack

It’s All About Management

Now that you know the factors that play into battery life you need to think of how best to manage what you have. If you have a lot of riding to do have a plan before you head out. Give yourself enough time that you can ride a little slower. Know your route. Is it flat? Gentle rolling hills? Steep hills? Is it cold out? Are you packing a lot? These are all things you need to keep in mind as you are riding, as well as watching the battery indicator.
On short rides and in otherwise optimal conditions you can get away with either using the throttle or a high level pedal assist, but not so on long rides. Whether your daily commute is a bit long or your planning a big day trip battery management is key. Plan to do a lot more pedaling on a low pedal assist and only use a higher level of pedal assist when you need an extra boost on hills. Another option to conserve your battery power is to turn off pedal assist. You can do this when the riding is very easy. Such as on long stretches of smooth flat pavement, and slight downhills when you are still pedaling.
Watch your battery level as you go. You may notice that you don’t need to be as conservative with your power as you thought. But you may also find that you have not been conservative enough. Consider turning off pedal assist for easier riding so you will have enough power to give you a boost on harder sections of your ride.

Battery Calculations

To help you figure out how far you can go on a battery charge you can do these battery calculations. While it will help you get an understanding of what your battery is capable of, never forget that there are many factors at play.

volts x amps = watt hours

And you can expect to get approx 1 km per 12.5 watt hours if you ride fairly conservatively.

Lets look at our rental bikes as examples.

XT 500: 48 v x 13.2 amp = 633.6 watt hours

Approx. 50 km to a charge

CT 350: 36 v x 10.4 amp = 374.4 watt hours

Approx. 30 km to a change

Battery Maintenance

If you own your own e-bike or any other electric mobility device your batteries life depends on how you maintain it. On any electric device the battery is the most expensive part to replace. But also the part that typically receives insufficient or incorrect maintenance. If you are using your bike for your daily commute you shouldn’t ever have any issues with your battery until the end of it’s life, which is usually 2-3 years. Storing a battery will not increase a battery’s life. If done improperly it can damage the battery, reducing the life span. If you do ever have to store you bike for any length of time, say over winter when the weather isn’t suitable to riding, here is what you need to keep in mind.
Storing Lithium Ion Batteries:
• Store at approximately 40% capacity (minimizes age related capacity loss)
• Remove the battery from the bike and keep it in a dry location
• The ideal storage temperature is 15 degrees Celsius
• Check on the battery by reinstalling it into the bike every 1-2 months to check the charge
Something else to consider for maintaining your Lithium Ion battery is that it won’t develop a memory. That means you do not need to fully discharge the battery every time. Lithium batteries actually perform best with partial discharges. But they can sometimes develop “digital memories” where the battery level doesn’t display correctly. Doing a full discharge ever 30 or so charges will cause a reset and the battery level will display accurately.
Now with all this information you can get out there and have a great ride while making the most of your battery power. If you have any questions whether renting or buying please don’t hesitate to ask, we are here to help.