Electric bikes are on the rise and we are soon starting to see how they have the potential to reshape urban transport as we know it. Not only is it convenient and can reduce traffic...
You will undoubtedly have realized over multiple adventures on your ebike that the range will fluctuate. You and your partner or a friend may have the same ebike and ride together at the same pace but one of you runs out of juice faster than the other. So what gives?
The truth is that multiple factors affect an ebikes range, some of them are mechanical, some of them are electrical, and many of them are external factors.
The external factors affecting an ebike’s range are plentiful and some of them can be altered to improve how far an electric bike can travel on a single charge.
The heavier an object is the more force it takes to move it. Thus, the heavier the load on the ebike the more the motor has to exert itself, the more the motor exerts itself the more power it uses. This all results in a shorter electric bike distance traveled. This isn’t only down to the rider’s weight but includes the cargo they may be carrying too.
Going uphill requires using more energy as the motor is working against both friction and gravity in this situation, rather than just friction when traveling on flat ground. This is compounded by the weight factor above i.e. more weight going uphill requires even more power. Terrain doesn’t just mean hills, and traveling over dirt and gravel, i.e. less grippy surfaces requires more power than traveling on smooth pavements.
3.Wind and Weather
A tailwind can help to buoy you along, assisting you and increasing your range, whilst a headwind does the opposite, forcing you and your ebike to work harder; thus reducing your range. Wet surfaces, from paved roads to dirt, are also less grippy, meaning that the ebike has to put out more power to push the rider along.
Ebikes take much larger amounts of energy to attain a top speed versus what it take to sustain speed. Once you’ve stopped and lost your momentum, the motor is going to have to exert energy to accelerate off the line and get you back up to the speed you want to travel at.
How hard you pedal directly correlates to how much energy the ebike uses. The more energy you put into the system the less the ebike has to put in. This increases your range. Conversely, the laxer you are with your energy input the more the ebike compensates, increasing its energy input and reducing your range.
The first and most obvious range factor on an ebike is its battery capacity, i.e. how much power it can hold, and we can use this to calculate an ebike’s range.
After about 1000 charge cycles, around the 2-year mark for a daily ebike user and up to the 5-year mark for infrequent users or “weekend warriors”, you’ll notice that the battery won’t fully charge. This is a natural part of the lifecycle of all lithium-ion batteries. The electric bike battery life’s capacity won’t drop by a large amount but a reduced capacity means a reduction in available power and, thus, a shorter range. When this happens it’s about time to consider purchasing a replacement battery.
How much you choose to use the electric element of your ebike to assist or power you in your ride has a direct effect on your range. Zip-around using the throttle and you’ll gobble up power very quickly. But, if you use your pedal assist you’ll get a greater range. If you learn to optimize your use of pedal-assist with your gearing you can extend your range even further;
If you’re in too high a gear for your situation you and/or your motor are going to have to put in extra effort, burning more watt-hours and more calories. Getting the gearing balanced with your pedal assist level helps you, your motor, and your range!
9.Tire Choice and Pressure
Slimmer, smoother tires, like commuter tires, are much better at transferring energy into movement than their off-road cousins; especially if those tires are fat tires. Tire pressure also plays an important role and under-pumped tires can harm your ebike range score too.