As e-bike owners, we like our bikes. We like the impact they have on our own health as much as their impact on the environment and we love the fact that we get some help from the pedal assist and different riding modes through a rechargeable battery. The only problem is that the batteries seem to have a shorter lifespan than they should be. Are we doing something wrong with them?
To help you figure out what the problem might be with your battery, here’s what you can do to maximize its lifespan from the moment you take the battery out of the box.
Know Which Battery You Have
The first thing you need to do is find out what kind of battery your bike uses. This will help you understand how much wattage (electrical power) it can store, the potential for the energy inside to move (volts), and the amount of flow of the electrical current per hour (amps/hour) through the components.
Why does that information matter? Well, watts are easy. You want your bike’s battery to be capable of storing enough electrical power that you can ride for miles without having to recharge, volts are important because the circuits inside the battery won’t work without the proper amount of voltage, and amps are the amount of charge flowing through the entire battery. All of these are important for your battery to work right.
There are three kinds of batteries that best e-bikes commonly use:
- Lithium-Ion battery (Li-Ion)
- Lithium-Polymer battery (LiPo)
- Lead-Acid battery
If you live in Europe or in the United States, you’re most likely going to have a Li-Ion or LiPo battery. Both of them are rechargeable batteries, so to tell the difference between the two, look for a soft polymer casing. LiPo batteries have this kind of shell.
Don’t Charge the Battery 100% Every Time
When you have a brand new bike with a brand new battery or just a new battery, it’s a good idea to charge it fully to allow the charge to flow properly throughout the entire battery and make sure the cells in your battery are balanced and operating efficiently. This is called, “battery balancing,” and should be done each time after your first three rides or after a battery has been stored for a long time without use.
After your third ride, it’s not advised to charge your battery to 100%. No one ever catches the battery when it’s just reached 100% charge, and if it stays connected to the charger for too long it will overheat the battery and damage the components inside.
When you do charge the battery, try to always use the original charger it came with, since they were literally made for each other. There might come a day when you have to replace the charger, and when that happens just be careful to find a replacement charger that was meant for your specific battery so that you minimize the risk of damage to the battery through improper charging.
To help you out a bit, radpowerbikes has a convenient table that lets you know how long to charge your battery after riding different distances. For your convenience, a few are:
- 10 miles (16km) = 1.5 hours
- 20mi (32km) = 3.5h
- 30mi (48km) = 5.5h
Switch Your Riding Mode
Electric bikes will usually come with three main modes you can ride with:
- Manual cycling
- Assisted cycling
- Fully electric cycling via the throttle
Various advanced e-bikes can have 6 or even more modes that let you vary the amount of electrical assistance you get from the bike as you ride.
This is important regarding how long your battery lasts you as each mode requires more or less electricity to perform as intended. Obviously, the full use of the electric throttle will use up your battery’s charge the fastest, but the charge is one thing. How does it affect the battery’s lifespan?
The more a battery is used, charged, and recharged again, the lower the battery’s capacity and performance. It’s a very gradual process though. Still, you can make the consumption process even slower if you rely less on the pedal assist where you don’t really need it.
Store Your Batteries Properly
Batteries don’t function well under extreme conditions, such as in extreme heat or cold. So you can take your double As out of the freezer now.
When a battery is charging or under intense use are the times when it can overheat easily and damage the parts inside, so don’t ride continuously for too long with the electric assistance, and when you charge the battery it’s best to charge it in a room that’s somewhere between 60 and 70 degrees F (15.6 to 21 degrees C).
During the colder months of the year, we tend to put our bikes in storage. When storing your battery, make sure it’s charged somewhere between 40 and 75%. The battery will lose charge during storage through its own consumption, so you don’t want to store an empty battery.
Find a Reliable Replacement Battery
No lithium battery, however good, will last forever, but you shouldn’t replace your old battery with just any other. When the time finally comes where you have to throw away your lithium battery and get a new one, look for a new battery from a highly-respected brand.
Not all brands take great care to make sure their batteries work properly, and those that are well known usually get their good reputation by making quality batteries with consistently long lifespans.
In fact, if you can find a reputable brand that offers a 1-2 year warranty on their batteries, it’s a good sign the company is confident in what they make, and if anything does happen to the battery in that span of time, you can just get it replaced.
The average lifespan of an e-bike battery is typically between 2-4 years. You can reach the higher end of 4 years if you maintain your battery properly and follow the tips we’ve shared with you today. This lifespan doesn’t account for the odd faulty battery with poor connections, or those that eventually develop discharging issues.
About the author:
Trevor Fenner is the founder of Electric Bike Paradise, the #1 online retailer of electric bikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs, and electric golf caddies. Trevor has been selling bicycles, electric bikes, and electric scooters online since 2010 and eventually established Electric Bike Paradise in late 2013 when he happened to meet a car enthusiast that introduced him to electric bikes. Trevor spent time searching for electric bikes online but couldn’t find a website that offered a wide selection of electric bikes, scooters, and informational articles. That is why he decided to start a website where everyone can shop conveniently, browse buying guides, and read educational posts. The website is called Electric Bike Paradise.