What makes an electric bike an electric bike? You might think the answer is simple, but it’s a little more complicated than answering, “a motor.” While, yes, a motor is part of what makes an e-bike, there is also the source of the power. That comes from a battery. Plus, depending on what class of e-bike you’re riding the power might also come from you. Or better yet, your legs. Class 1 and Class 3 bikes are designed for a power assist via the electric motor only while the rider is pedaling. With all that background out of the way, let us dig deeper into the battery.
Most e-bike batteries are lithium-ion. While lead acid batteries are cheaper, they’re also significantly heavier. Plus, lithium-ion batteries have a larger energy storage capacity, they can discharge more energy in a single use without damaging the battery, they’re more efficient and they have a longer lifespan.
Without getting too technical, the storage capacity for a lithium-ion battery is greater. It boils down to how much energy it can hold and compared to a lead acid battery, it’s significantly more. What does that mean in relation to an e-bike? Essentially, you can go farther and faster. With a standard 36-volt battery, an e-bike can go up to 20 mph and cover up to 50 miles on a single charge. Of course, this is all dependent on weight of the rider, terrain, throttle usage and weather conditions. Yes, the weather does impact the energy output of an e-bike battery. You’ll get less output when it’s really hot or really cold. (Note: Never charge your battery in extreme conditions as this will impact storage capacity and may cause permanent damage.)
Depth of charge is not an issue with a lithium-ion battery. You can run the battery down to zero and recharge it without any issue. Lead acid batteries shouldn’t go below 50% capacity because it could impact the storage and lifespan of the battery. A full capacity battery recharge can take up to 6 hours.
Lithium-ion batteries are more efficient in energy storage and output versus a lead acid battery. Plus, they charge faster.
Lithium-ion batteries have a longer lifespan versus lead acid. They won’t last forever, but they will last longer. Lifespans vary based on the voltage and usage, but most batteries are good for several hundred charging cycles which can translate to 3 to 5 years before needing replacement.
5 Tips to Extend Your E-Bike Battery
Here are 5 tips to prolong the life of your battery
- Use the appropriate charger
- Fully charge your battery before your first ride
- Don’t regularly fully discharge your battery
- Avoid extreme temperatures (as mentioned above)
- Keep the battery dry. They’re water resistant, not waterproof