LIthium Battery for eBike - Battery Life Expectations

The distance you can cover on an eBike will depend on several factors, we have found that most higher end ebikes can generally go for anywhere between 25-40 miles on a single charge. Every battery will perform differently depending on the rider and stage of its life cycle but here are the main factors that will determine your riding range and ways to get as much as you can out of your battery.

Battery Capacity & Range

Is one of the most important specifications to consider when buying an ebike. Depending on the brand, battery descriptions and range estimates are not always accurate and are generally indicative. One method to give you an idea of how far a single charge might take you is by calculating the watt-hours of the battery. This can be done by multiplying the battery voltage by the amp hours, for example, Tower electric bikes have a 48V battery with 14 amp hours which means it has 672Wh. Below is a guide for how long you should expect a battery to go for:

  • 250-500Wh: Ebikes in this range will be pretty basic and will have a limited range. You should expect up to 25 miles of riding from a battery like this.
  • 500-800Wh: You'll find batteries in this range on higher end ebikes. You'll generally get 30+ miles out of a single charge with a setup like this.
  • 800+Wh: These are premium batteries which will get you 40+ miles consistently. The only drawback with these batteries is that they can be heavy and clunky.

Battery cycle life will have a profound effect on battery performance. Batteries have a lifespan, measured in cycles, and once they approach the end of it there can be a noticeable decline in performance. A battery nearing the end of its lifespan will not last as long or hold charge for as long when sitting idle as a new one will. The term cycle refers to when a battery is charged and discharged once. Depending on the quality of the cells in the battery, the amount of cycles available can vary. Ways to prevent the decline of your battery is to take the best care of it you can, after all the battery is generally the most expensive part of an ebike to replace and making a conscious effort to look after it can go a long way.

The weight added to an electric bike will also determine how long a battery will last while in use. The harder a motor has to push a rider, the higher the demand on the battery and the shorter it will last. The performance will not vary from rider to rider a whole lot but if there are touring racks and luggage added or if you are towing a bike trailer, this will have an effect. Electric bike motor systems will have a weight capacity that they optimally operate at and the higher you go above this, the more battery you’ll chew up. So if you’ve got touring racks on your ebike that you don’t use regularly, take them off and you’ll reap the rewards.

Similar to driving a car, the way you ride your ebike will determine how much battery you use up. For instance, riding at full throttle is a sure-fire way to drain your battery quickly. Riding at full speed for an extended amount of time will not only drain your battery but may cause longer term damage. The more power you demand from your battery, the more heat that will be generated as a result and the more damage you will do to your battery and motor over time. If you want to get as much distance out of your ebike as possible we advise being conservative with the motor and using pedal assist instead of throttle whenever possible. The strain on the engine is considerably less when in pedal assist mode, it may not feel like you are doing much of the work but the force that you apply to the pedals goes a long way in saving battery life.

It is important to be aware of the conditions that you are riding in, particularly on long journeys. It’s obvious that hilly terrain will drain your battery quicker than when riding on flat ground but another factor to consider, which is often forgotten about, is the wind. When the wind is going with you it is easy not to notice it and we all know that cycling into the wind is no fun. While riding an ebike in a head wind will be easier than physically cycling, the strain that your legs would be under just gets transferred to the battery instead.

A factor that will cause your battery to drain, is tire pressure. Tyre pressure won’t have as much of an effect on battery life as the other factors mentioned above but is worth noting. If you’ve ever tried to cycle a bike with flat tires you’ll know the amount of effort you need to put in to get it moving, well this is the same on an electric bike, and as with cycling into the wind, the strain is put on your battery instead of your legs. An important note is that deflated tires don’t provide the same amount of grip as fully inflated tires do. This generally isn’t a problem when riding in a straight line but when it comes to cornering, soft tires can fold under the rim and cause you to lose control. So in terms of both safety and battery efficiency - keep your tires pumped!

Finally, much like a car with a large gas tank, the greater your battery capacity the longer it will last. As a general rule you can expect to travel between 12-30 miles on a single charge depending on the brand and quality of your battery and the factors listed above.

See this article on lithium ion battery safety precautions