HOW TO GET THE MOST LIFE OUT OF YOUR EBIKE LITHIUM ION BATTERY
The second most common question we get is ‘how far will it go?’, or ‘how often do I need to charge the battery?’
We list 35-45 mile range on our bikes. This is not a guarantee or an absolute value. It is an average and it assumes the rider rides it like a bike, by shifting gears appropriately and pedaling the same way you would with a normal bike. The electric drive PAS (pedal assist system) kicks in to give you that extra mojo. Then mix some throttle in from time to time, when you really need a boost, or want to rip it a bit. So, 35-45 is an average range for a fully charged battery running on PAS level 1.
Battery life is effected by many factors, which we delve into below. Before getting there, just for a moment, I want to sit back and think about a traditional bicycle under 100% human power.
What makes you tire and run out of energy when you ride a bike? Well, It will be the same for the drive system on your electric bike … if you can help the drive system during those times, it’s energy will last longer, just as yours will. The two of you are basically a hybrid powered vehicle complimenting each other. If you share the load under times of duress (starting, climbing a hill, accelerating rapidly) the battery and the rider will both avoid fatigue.
Let’s jump into the factors and with each one, ask ourselves, “Which would put more demand on the body as a human energy source?” It will be the same for the electric drive system.
How much are you pedaling?
First and foremost, the more you pedal the longer your battery will last. Pedaling takes stress off the entire system allowing it to run cooler and at less amperage. When the drive system is supplementing human power it requires less energy to gain or maintain speed. Similarly, the rider expends less energy to maintain or increase speed. One of the key fundamentals of an electric bike is shared power. If you want 100% motor power all the time, ride a moped or motorcycle. If you want the option, electric bike all the way.
Rider and cargo size
This is basic physics, The more you and your cargo weigh, the more energy required to move it. With the exception of going downhill, the bigger rider will get less battery life than a smaller rider, under the same conditions.
If you are climbing a lot of hills, your system will use more energy than it will on flat land or downhill. The steeper the hill, the more energy you’ll use to climb it. If you see a hill coming up get a good build up of power going in so that you won’t need to apply as much to power through it.
Condition of ground surface
A nicely paved blacktop or bike path will yield better mileage than loose dirt, sand, grass, roots and rocks.
Simple here. If you’re riding into the wind you’ll use more energy than having the wind at your back.
When temperatures start getting below 45 degrees, the ions in the battery cells begin to slow down significantly. You may notice your controller buzzes or rattles as it is struggling to pull enough power. Top speeds will drop, torque will drop and battery life may drop as much as 40% from peak when you get towards freezing temps. What you can do is pedal harder and not try to go full power.
Starts and stops
If you think about your car, it uses the most gas when accelerating from a full stop. Same goes with your e-bike. The fewer starts from stop, the more distance you will get out of your battery. If you can eliminate a complete stop and replace it with a slow roll you will get more battery life.
Your gear is controlled with your right thumb. If you’re climbing a hill or are in sand, mud, thick gravel, etc, you want to be in a lower gear, ideally starting at 1 and shifting up as you feel comfortable. As you will with a new bicycle or motorcycle, you will quickly learn the feel of being in a gear too high or too low.
For a level road you may be comfortable starting in 6th or 7th gear the entire time.
The gear is ideal to set your pedaling cadence. The pedal assist or motor will set your speed and your gear will set how fast you are pedaling. Are you pedaling around too fast with little effort? Should probably go up a gear. Are you straining and not gaining any speed? Should probably drop a gear.
The key is when you have any feeling of resistance with your motor make sure you have resistance on your pedals. Otherwise you're not contributing much but activating the pedal assist (this is called ghost pedaling).
Pedal Assist level (PAS)
Control this with your left thumb. It’s default is 1. You can go down to zero, which turns the motor off ie. 100% pedal power. Or you can go up to 5. The higher the level, the more juice you’re going to use and the faster you’ll go.
The throttle is there to be used, but expect if you ride the bike like a motorcycle ie, WOT (wide open throttle) your battery will be depleted much quicker than 35 miles.
Tire tread, size and air pressure
Keep your tires around 20 PSI for the best mileage on the road. Running lower will use more juice. Do not exceed 20 PSI pressure with the OEM 26X4 tires!
Proper battery maintenance
You should always keep your battery topped off between rides if possible. Put it on charge after your ride so it’s full for the next ride. There’s no need to worry about overcharging as your charger and battery management system ( BMS ) talk to each other during the charge function. Once your battery reaches full capacity, the charger will switch to trickle charge mode and only send power when the BMS calls for it.
Try to avoid fully discharging your battery. If you drain it completely often, the battery's life will be shortened.
In the winter time if you’re not riding your bike consider removing the battery and storing in doors for the cold season. Try and store for long periods of time at around 50-80% capacity versus fully charged.
Finally, always keep the battery dry. Don’t leave your bike outside in the rain. The tank cover will protect against most water but it is not waterproof as it needs to allow venting.
The following chart is a good reference for about how much battery life remains at a certain voltage. Our battery will cut off at 3-5% remaining to protect itself from long term damage.
Always unplug the charger from both the wall and the bike when not in use.
When the bike is not in use, be sure to flip the power switch to off. It’s located right next to the 12v charging port on the bottom right of the left tank cover. This will shut down low voltage draws from the BMS, which is constantly operating.
Every little bit helps and the more you ride, you will notice your own personal riding habits and develop a good feel for what is drawing the battery down. Most people - range will never be a factor as long as they charge up each night. Ultimately the range is infinite! As you can always pedal home, as long as the chain isn’t broken!
If you do all these things your battery should consistently give you this type of range and last you for 600-800 charge cycles before needing replacement.
Finally, a smart man once told me he always keeps a second battery on the charger...
PEDAL. SHIFT. MAINTAIN.
As usual, please post your feedack below. If there’s anything you notice that I’ve left out, feel free to suggest it.
Now quit reading and GET OUT AND RIDE!