Everyone wants the eBike they ride to go further on a single charge - but the battery is the most expensive component, so adding bigger batteries isn't always the best solution, because that dramatically increases cost. Larger batteries are also significantly heavier than smaller batteries, increasing the weight of your eBike, making it less agile and slower going up hill.
While adding a larger battery, (or a second battery) is always an option to extend the range of your electric bicycle, there are a few simple tips to increase the life of your existing battery that don't require an additional purchase at all. Let's review some free ideas to get more battery life:
Turn off accessories, like lights
Built-in lights that run off your primary eBike battery are a nice feature to have. It's convenient to never have to worry about charging such lights separately, or changing out disposable batteries. Because integrated lights draw their power from the primary eBike battery, however, using them will decrease the range of your electric bike.
Safety first of course - always use the built-in lights in dim and dark conditions. But when it's not dim or dark, you may wish to disable them to save battery power.
Keep the battery pack at a comfortable temperature
Very cold temperatures can significantly reduce battery runtime, and thus, eBike range. You've observed this effect if you've carried your mobile phone while skiing or snowboarding - the battery simply doesn't last as long in the cold.
If you live in a cold climate (think Minnesota Winters), get your battery to a comfortable, indoor temperature before you depart. Starting with a battery at room temperature can yield significantly more runtime and range compared with starting with a battery stored in a cold garage.
You can also keep the battery warmer ON the bike too - some riders use a "cozy" to keep the chilling effect from wind or wet away from the battery, which can also help conserve that precious battery charge.
Inflate tires to the proper PSI
Just as with an automobile, under-inflated tires create additional rolling resistance that makes your eBike less efficient. Keeping the proper tire pressure is a free and easy way to increase the range of your electric bike.
Check the tire sidewall for the recommended range, then experiment within that range to find the best mix of rolling resistance, comfort, and cornering grip. All bicycle tires lose air pressure very slowly over time (this does not mean you have a flat) and require regular inflation. To keep your tires topped off regularly, use a floor pump with a built-in pressure gauge.
Sounds obvious, right? If you're lucky enough to own a Class II or III eBike with a throttle, your eBike has two primary drive modes - 1: pedal assist, in which the motor turns on only when the rider pedals, and 2: throttle only, which allows you to engage the motor without pedaling.
The more you use the throttle without pedaling, the faster your battery will drain, so contribute with your legs whenever possible to preserve battery life and range. That means using pedal assist instead of hitting the throttle lever/button.
Choose a lower level of pedal assist
Just about every eBike allows you to decide how much assist you want from the electric motor. It might be a number, like "1-5" in which 1 is minimal assist and 5 is max assist, or other models offer modes like "eco", "sport", and "turbo". Whatever the label is, turning it down is an easy to way preserve battery life.
Choose your route carefully
Your eBike is much more efficient on flat terrain than on steep hills, and riding uphill on throttle or max pedal assist is one of the fastest ways to drain your battery. If range is your most important priority, it can make sense to go around hills, even if it means a longer route on flat terrain.
Some eBike models allow you to display the voltage being output from the battery on the display, and you can watch the battery voltage change throughout your ride based on the temperature, battery charge, and load on the battery from the terrain. Savvy riders can monitor the voltage to understand how their riding habits affect range.
As eBike speed increases, air resistance increases exponentially. That means much more motor power (and thus, battery usage) is required to maintain a given speed. Your eBike can travel further at the same speed when the bike and rider become more aerodynamic.
You don't have to be a Tour de France athlete to get aerodynamic. Simple changes anyone can make include:
- wearing closer-fitting clothing instead of loose-fitting pants and jackets.
- reducing your frontal area. Bend your elbows and lower your head toward the front wheel by bending at the hips. Even small reductions in frontal area can be impactful.
- Moving bags or panniers to the rear of the bike, where they can draft the rider, instead of hitting the wind at the front of the bike.