E-Bike: how to boost battery life and other tips


E-bikes are the kind of bikes of this moment and they will be a lot more in future. They are everyday more spread and the technologies used for their design most advanced. But do we know how to improve their use and their battery too? In this tutorial we will show you which tips are better to follow to extend your battery life.

The core of every e-bike are engine, the control electronics and the battery pack (or power pack), with its specific charger to be plugged into any standard electricity socket.

E-bike battery: general information

Batteries can be different according to chemical components that are acting inside and their capacity. First batteries were produced with Lead AGM elements, then with NiMh elements to reach today the most used Ion Lithium (Li-Ion) ones. In first models tension was 24V, then we have seen 36V, that are the most used today, with capacity that vary from 8 to 15 Ah (Ampere/hour). We can also find today 48V engines and batteries. With such energy, an e-bike can run from 40 to 120 and more Km, according to the assistance level used, to the track type, to the bike and cyclist weight. Law establishes that the engine of an assisted e-bike must have max 250 Watt power and its assistance must deactivate once it reaches 25 km/h speed.

E-bike battery: charging times and tips

A battery is a vital part of an e-bike and its capacity is measured in Ampere/hour. The energy included is measured in Watt/hour (Wh): the highest Wh value, the longer will be the battery life. Almost all  batteries are removable from bike chassis and to be charged again a special battery charger is used to plug into the electricity source. On the other hand, when it’s not possible to take the power pack out, there will be jack inputs directly on the battery or on bike chassis. The medium charging time varies from 2 to 8 hours, while a battery weight is around 2-2.5 kg, up to 4 and more kgs. How do you calculate battery Watts/hour (Wh)? Watts/hour are obtained multiplying Ampere/hour (Ah) by battery Volts (V). A 36 V battery with 12 Ah will have a value of 432 Wh (36×12). If you need to charge your battery inside a car, a van or camper, check you have a travelling inverter to be plugged into the cigarette lighter: to it, you can plug the battery charger to get also partial charges during your travel.

Something about Li-Ion batteries

Modern Li-Ion batteries have a rather long life cycle and with a medium use they can even last for 5 years. After 500 charging cycles or 3 years (according to model quality and use), battery performances will naturally start to decrease. Litium battery packs (or power packs) can be partially charged in every moment without compromising battery performances. This is why Li-ion cells, compared to lead batteries, are not affected by the so called “memory effect”, that means they do not lose the charging capacity even if just partially charged. If always used at extreme conditions (Turbo speed and steep climbs conditions) a battery will of course last less compared to another one, used in Eco and Trail mode, on less steep tracks.

How to extend your battery life: precautions, charging, transport

If you have an e-bike, just read its user’s manual. If not available in paper form, on the net you can easily find pdf version manuals. You will find precautions, some of them more obvious, other less, among them:

  • Battery charger – always use the original battery charger, specific for your battery model.
  • Technical specs: if you rent an e-bike, check that the charger technical specifications comply with the battery specs you are using.
  • Washing: do not wash the battery, the display or the handlebar control by a water cleaning machine or plunging them into the water. Just use a sponge or a humid cloth.
  • Storage: keep the battery in dry places, with temperatures between 5° and 20°C.
  • Left charge: if not used for long times (from 6-12 months), it’s better to keep the battery charged from 30% to 60%. Do not go under 30%, often checking it keeps within such values.
  • Extreme temperatures: avoid to leave the battery pack at direct sunlight and at low temperatures (under 5°C) without using it.
  • Car transport: if you transport your e-bike on a bike rack, always disassemble the battery (and also its display, if possible) from the chassis, keeping them in a safe and stable place where they can be protected during transport
  • Abroad: if you travel abroad, take the necessary information about electricity plug voltage of the Country you will travel to.
  • Plane: in this moment it’s not possible to transport a Li-Ion battery on a plane as a standard luggage. All main air companies exclude e-bike and battery transport.
  • Delivery: it’s possible to dispatch the battery in advance by boat. Contemporary Pedelec batteries are equipped with BMS (Battery Management System), that’s an electronic device used to balance the battery cells and to prevent overcharges, tension bounces, short circuits, overheating etc. Battery chargers available on the market often are “Smart chargers”, they autonomously connect when the full charge is reached: always check that yours is having such characteristics. Every time you charge your battery, do that in a safe and dry place, away from inflammable substances.

Battery storage for long times

Li-Ion batteries of modern medium and high range e-bikes are designed to last long and to be stopped, at the same time, for several months without any kind of misfunctioning, no matter what’s the charge they have. BMS circuit (the electronic managing system for cells) deactivates and it does not consume your battery. By the way, if we want to extend its life cycle, during wintertime or for long times without using your bike (more than one month), it is of key importance:

  • Extract the battery from the chassis, if possible, especially if bike is stored on a balcony, a garage or a humid place
  • Keep it in a fresh and dry place between 4°C and 20°C
  • Avoid to leave it completely discharged or charged. During storage, battery must have a charge from 30 to 60% that assures an optimal preservation of every kind of battery. If it’s unused for one year, it’s possible to use it again even without a new charge, but we have to expect lower performances for a couple of charging cycles, until the cells are not completely activated again.

Before and during a bike ride: practical tips for a longer battery life

It is of main importance to get a good maintenance of your e-bike after every ride in order to have it checked, cleaned and lubricated, ready to be used. If time is short, try to check your e-bike status at least the evening before using it, with special attention to the following points:

  • Brakes: check brake pads and be sure disk brakes have no contacts between pads and rotors – if needed, realign the clamps
  • Transmission: often check its overuse. Clean with a specific degreaser and lubricate the chain the night before your bike ride (the oil will better soak during the night). You will get a more fluid transmission with less breakage risks.
  • Tyres pressure: if you plan to run a lot on steep or plain road, inflate them better. Even if slightly, you will get lower friction on the soil (when going downhill then get them back to the desired pressure).
  • Accessories: check if you need a backpack or a smaller bum bag, a water bottle or a water bag. Keep light and calculate to get water shortage along your ride, if possible
  • Weight: avoid useless weight: take off anything that may not be strictly necessary or directly depending on your planned ride.
  • Additional charge: bring a battery charger with you if you plan to do a rather long stop on a place with electrical plugs: in 1 h you will get 30-40% charge.
  • Cold: if you go out in winter with low temperatures, during such stops disconnect the battery and take it to a warmer place (15-20°C)
  • Battery cover: cold temperatures reduce battery autonomy. If you often go out in winter and your e-bike has got an external battery you’d better check for a neoprene cover. You will save 5-6% on battery capacity.
  • Summer: with summer temperatures and high use it’s better to wait until the battery gets cold before charging it: at 50°C the battery enters into a protection mode, while at 40°C it enters into a protection mode during charging.
  • Winter: with temperatures around 0°C and without any battery cover, you have to consider a reduction of 10-15% in battery autonomy: cold is the worst enemy of every battery. Be sure that battery and charger voltage correspond, especially during e-mtb use on a rent.

Battery saving: driving advices

At last, here are some driving advices that will allow you to extend your battery pack life and come back home after your long rides with such “safety string” on  your display:

  • Plan: carefully evaluate your track: it’s of main importance to know total kms and height drop of your track when you use an e-bike
  • Assistance mode: always use the lowest possible assistance if you don’t know exactly how long will your track last and what kind of height drops will your track have. Only use High or Turbo modes if necessary
  • Restart: after every stop, restart using more muscular force and less assistance: it’s one of the times the engine consumes more
  • Engine power display bar: where present, keep an eye on engine power displayed and adjust your ride accordingly. A long bar means high consumption.
  • Pedalling frequency: always keep above 50 runs per minute (rpm), until you reach 80 uphill
  • Gear ratios: when possible, uphill, use slick gear ratios, as if you were on a muscular action, the engine will employ less power
  • Switch off the engine: set the assistance on “OFF” mode anytime possible. A lot of e-bikes can be easily ridden for short flat tracks even with an engine off. Some displays allow, through the Reset control, to reset all data. Do that any time you ride to get the right remaining distance in Kms.

Ending notes

There are several tips that can be used to better improve your e-bike performance and its battery. Even if the majority of these tips are necessary only if your rides are going to challenge your battery durability, it’s worthwhile trying them. It’s clear that with a short ride or with high technical steep hills the engine power will be highly used without taking too much consumptions into account.

Have great e-bike rides!