One of the most often asked question we get is, “how far will my bike go?”. To figure out how far your bike will go in one charge, there are quite a few things to factor in. First off, a lot of sites will advertise inaccurate ranges, or, as we’ve unfortunately seen, will blatantly exaggerate the range of a bike. In fact, there have been times we’ve seen sites that will advertise, in some cases, more than three times the actual range. To help you figure out what the actual range of an electric bike is, we’ve put this guide together to help you.
Factors to Consider
Generally, when you see the range of a bike listed, that is supposed to be a pretty accurate range but you must consider many factors that lay into the variance of that number,
- How hard you pedal
- How fast you’re going
- Your weight
- The terrain you bike on
- The age of the battery (you’ve probably seen this with your cell phone!)
- How many times you start and stop
- Outside temperature - You will get about 15% more range from a battery on a warm sunny day than you would on a cold day.
- The type of battery you’re using
- Size of your motor
A good example of this is, you could be on a long, flat ride and barely use any motor power which could easily get you over 100 miles if you were up for it. But if you are on a mountain bike and using a lot of motor power to get uphill or ride through sand, your ride is going to be much more limited in terms of battery life that day.
Also, if you have a nickel-cadmium battery, your time will be more limited that a bike with a lithium battery which has higher energy density.
Motor Power vs Battery Size
Your battery size and your electric bike motor have to be well matched in order to get optimal range. Look for an e-bike setup in which the battery capacity in watt hrs is equal to the motor capacity in watts. This will give you the greatest range because the motor will not over-tax the battery.
The Most Important Factor Is Battery Capacity
Think of the size of your e-bike battery like the size of your car’s gas tank. Some manufacturers describe capacity in watt-hours (Wh). In order to compare apples with apples, you will need to divide the watt hours figure by the battery’s voltage (V) (which is also usually stated prominently in the e-bike’s specifications). The majority of modern e-bikes run on 36 volts. As an example, an e-bike with a 36V/400Wh system from Bosch has 11.6Ah.
Watt-hrs is important, because watt-hrs determine the range of your bike, that is, how far you can go.
- Bike A has a 24 Volts and 20 AH battery = 480 watt hours.
- Bike B has a 48 Volts and 10 AH battery = 480 watt hours.
- Bike C has a 24 Volts and 6 AH battery = 144 watt hours.
Bikes A and B have a similar amount of energy. If Bike A and Bike B have equal motors and riders, they will perform in a very similar fashion. The bike with the higher voltage battery will accelerate faster and climb better – but that will be at the expense of some of that energy. On the other hand, Bike C will not take you nearly as far.
Bearing all of the above in mind will help you to evaluate manufacturers’ advertisements and claims for their batteries. In general, you want a battery with a minimum of 200 watt-hrs.
The most important thing to remember when factoring in the range you are looking for in an electric bike, always assume that the range is lower than the manufacturer is advertising. As you read above, there are just too many factors that affect this rate and most of the test these companies do are in laboratory conditions. And make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer.
Things To Factor In When Choosing A Dealer
- What does their web-site look like? Is it well put together? Do they advertise a variety of brands?
- Do they have customer service? Always look for a phone number.
- Are they an authorized dealer?
- Do they have reviews on their product pages?
- Do they have policy listings such as refunds and shipping?
Most brands have what they call Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP). What this means is the dealer cannot advertised below the MAP price. So if you see an electric bike advertised on most sites for the exact same price but find it on one site listed below that price, BEWARE!