E-bike battery care: Balancing speed and battery life
Nearly all of cycling’s large bike manufacturers are now offering a range of electric bikes for road and off-road use. From cargo-hauling commuter e-bikes to slick carbon-fibre electric road bikes nearly indistinguishable from their non-motorised counterparts, e-bikes are now a substantive category in cycling, having transcended from novelty to utility.
As anyone who has invested in battery-powered consumer electronics will attest, the depreciation of the battery’s performance over time is quite significant, and therefore, for anyone considering buying an electric bike, as well as existing owners, e-Bike battery care is a worthy consideration.
With development continuing apace, the fear for some potential e-bike owners is that what they pay a premium for today, will be annoyingly outdated in a few months. This is not an entirely accurate logic and is heavily dependent on your usage profile.
Take e-bike motors, for example. Mid-drive motors have settled on two power output ratings: 250- and 500W. The more powerful motors will appeal, but they also use a great deal more battery energy. For active commuting, the 500W motor is almost entirely superfluous.
As more RD resources are scaled into the e-bike market, mid-drive motors might gain a touch more efficiency, or become lighter, but there is no rider demand for more output power.
What you should be thinking about, is battery technology and how your e-bike usage influences battery life.
Learning lessons from other digital devices
Battery suppliers to the e-bike market have settled on lithium-ion as the standard chemistry. This battery composition has been proven in consumer electronics and the automotive industry. As such, there is a meaningful amount of user data relating to lithium-ion battery health.
Your e-bike motor will last a very long time, with comparatively few moving parts to trigger breakages or burdensome maintenance. Where there is potential for e-bike performance loss, over time, is the battery pack.
Most smartphone or laptop users have experienced battery fade over time. But how significant the loss in energy capacity is can be mitigated. The most important influence on your e-bike’s battery health is how often it is recharged from very low energy levels.
If you are running the battery nearly empty on most rides, the potential for notable degradation is very real. Ideally, you want to minimise the time spent at zero charge, likewise time spent at 100 per cent.
Most e-bikes work on a tri-mode configuration, roughly divided into thirds. The lowest pedal-assistance function uses a third of available motor power, the mid-setting two thirds, with full power being available in the third setting. By using the eco mode as a default, you should finish an e-bike ride with the greatest possible battery capacity.
Use as little as you need
Limiting depth of discharge is the most important way of preserving your e-bike’s battery health.
Although we are all given to that occasional bout of maximum motor assistance, it is quite senseless, especially considering the low 25km/h e-bike system disengagement limit for EU/UK bikes. The only time you should be using full e-bike motor power is to conquer the steepest pitch on a vicious climb.
By mindfully using only as much e-bike battery capacity as you need, instead of overindulging on all those additional watts, you will enjoy much better and consistent battery health over time.
E-bike motors prefer a consistent cadence too, close to the 80rpm range. To best match your inputs with the motor’s outputs, it is best to ride at a higher cadence and lower gear.
If you are regularly riding your e-bike to full battery discharge, you might wish to consider a model with more battery capacity. Or the option of plug-in range extenders, to balance the overall load on your e-bike’s energy system.
Here at Epicenter Cycling, we offer the newest Trek electric mountain bike and Electra urban commuter e-bike models to cover all your e-cycling bases. Click here for more info on our e-bikes. And just a reminder: when you buy your e-bike from us, we offer free test rides and unlimited free tune-ups for the life of your bike.
Both Trek and Electra e-bikes are powered by Bosch motors and rechargeable batteries. Bosch offers a competitive edge with some of the most durable batteries on the market. With Bosch’s updated software on the Performance Line CX, experience a ride with more flow and control than ever before. Learn more about Bosch motor, display, and battery 2021 updates here.
Before Your Ride
It’s so easy to hop on your e-bike and feel tempted to start your ride “full throttle.” But before you leave, do a quick check on your e-bike’s set up:
Check your tire pressure. Tire pressure greatly influences your ride. Pump up your tires to at least the minimum psi. Doing so reduces rolling resistance. You can find the psi recommendations conveniently located on your tire’s siding.
Keep in mind, the terrain you ride on, your weight riding gear, and the type of tires on your bike, influence your optimal tire pressure setting. Feel free to give us a shout if you need any help determining this.
Lubricate your chain. Making it a habit to do so after cleaning your e-bike is a small task that can save you from spending more on bike maintenance due to chain wear. Chain wear can also cause wear on your cassette and front chainring.
The chain transfers energy from your pedal stroke to your e-bike motor. Getting regular checks for chain stretch, at least every 3 months, will reduce the need to replace your drive train. And if not more importantly, the checks help ensure your e-bike motor stays in superb condition.
We also suggest checking the tightness of the bearings on your e-bike just like you would with any other bike before your ride. Carry a multitool with you in case any mechanical issues occur.
And of course, make sure your e-bike battery is locked into place and you have plenty of battery power to reach your destination.
For more information on mountain bike maintenance: epicentercycling.com/resource/blog/mtb-care
How to Clean Your e-Bike
Before getting busy hosing down your freshly muddied e-bike, remove the battery and the displays located on your handlebars. Bosch e-bike Systems have a Removable Integrated Battery (RIB), a one-piece battery that can easily be removed and reinstalled into the bottom-bracket of the frame with no tools and no struggle.
While spraying off your e-bike, don’t aim for the electrical contact points. A light wipe around the plug pins with a cleaning solution appropriate for e-bikes will be sufficient in preventing build-up or corrosion. Keeping these plug pins free of build-up helps transfer power from the battery to your e-bike motor. Now, if your bike is washed off, use a soft towel to dry it off.
Once your frame is squeaky clean, don’t forget to lube your chain! A rusty chain will mess up your cassette, and rust looks awful on a beautiful e-bike …
Lastly, grab your battery and reinstall it into your bike frame. Or, if you see that your battery power is running low, refer to our section on how to properly charge your e-bike battery.
Bosch Motor and Battery
Taking care of a bike with a motor and battery may sound complicated, but they are designed to be downright intuitive. All of our models are pedal assist, meaning that the motor is powered by your pedal stroke. The battery and motor are installed on the bottom bracket of your bike’s frame. This placement ensures optimal balance and stability.
Bosch lithium-ion batteries are powerful, ranging from 400 Wh to 625 Wh of energy. Not to mention, they are one of the lightest e-bike batteries on the market, weighing 5.5 lbs. With such battery efficiency and lightweight design, you’re guaranteed maximum miles per charge. If you’re curious about ride factors that influence efficiency of battery charge, check out Bosch’s e-bike range calculator.
Here are some tips to optimize the lifespan of your e-bike battery:
- Store the battery in a space that is 50-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Like humans, e-bike batteries like it “not too hot and not too cold” when parked in the garage.
- Keep the charge between 30%-60% when stored for extended periods (1. 5 months).
- Do not park your e-bike in direct sunlight.
- Cover your battery in a neoprene sleeve during rainy and wintery rides. Doing so protects it from the elements and improves battery efficiency in cold temperatures.
- Remove the battery from the bike frame before washing your bike.
- Store your battery in your vehicle when transporting your e-bike.
- The level of pedal assist you select determines how quickly the battery charge decreases during your ride.
Just know that every battery naturally degrades over time. But following these tips will set you up to extend your battery’s life as much as possible.
What is a Bosch Electric Bike Battery?
Bosch electric batteries are chemical lithium-ion batteries designed to be low weight with an ergonomic design for easier handling.
Bosch has been designing lithium-ion batteries for many appliances and devices, and it started making electric bike batteries as soon as the industry gained popularity.
Today, Bosch is one of the biggest and highest-selling companies for electric bike and scooter batteries.
over, due to the lithium-ion composition, a Bosch electric bike battery can deliver high-quality performance and offer long-lasting durability.
As mentioned above, a Bosch electric bike battery comes with at least 1500 to 2000 charging cycles. This means that the Bosch battery can be fully depleted to 0% and fully recharged to 100% almost 1500 to 2000 times during its lifetime.
As a result, the Bosch electric bike battery can usually outlive the electric bike itself.
Although lithium-ion chemical batteries are notorious for being excessively sensitive to extreme internal and external changes, Bosch has successfully managed to counter this limitation through decades of battery-making expertise and intelligent engineering.
Furthermore, Bosch designs lithium-ion battery packs in various sizes and shapes.
Hence, different electric bike brands can outsource their batteries to Bosch and get the exact size and shape of the battery that will perfectly fit their electric bike’s unique frame.
Continue reading to understand how a Bosch battery works and what makes a Bosch electric bike battery better than all of its competitors.
How Does a Bosch Electric Bike Battery Work?
Bosch designs various electric bike batteries to meet the needs of different e-bike manufacturing companies and brands.
The most commonly found Bosch lithium-ion batteries used in electric bikes usually have 300-Wh, 400-Wh, or 500-Wh sizes.
This battery range allows both heavy and lightweight electric bikes to cover greater distances while traveling at high speeds.
This is how the mechanism of a Bosch electric bike battery works:
- When a person purchases an electric bike with a Bosch lithium-ion battery pack, they must first charge the battery to 100%.
- This allows electric charge to flow through the 40 round cells of a Bosch battery and get stored as chemical energy.
- When the rider begins to pedal their electric bike, the built-in motion sensors detect the rider’s pedaling motion and pass on the signals to the electric motor.
- On receiving the signals, the electric motor automatically turns on and begins discharging the Bosch electric battery of its stored chemical energy.
- The chemical energy is then converted to kinetic energy, with traces of heat energy as a byproduct.
- The newly produced kinetic energy is finally transported to the electric bike’s tires via the built-in energy transmitters; thus, the e-bike picks up speed and gains momentum.
Most electric bikes with Bosch battery packs also come with a regenerative braking system, which allows the excess heat energy to be converted back to chemical energy for further use.
This way, the Bosch battery’s charging level goes up as the rider hits the brakes of their electric bike.
The table below demonstrates how much power each Bosch electric bike battery can offer, along with highlighting its average charging duration.
What Makes Bosch Better than Other Competing Brands?
Almost a Century of Battery Making Expertise and Experience
Buying an electric bike with a Bosch battery pack gives consumers great relief and satisfaction because of the significance and reputation the name Bosch holds.
A Bosch electric bike battery comes with a century of battery-making expertise and experience that not many brands can claim to offer.
The company has had ample time to correct all operational and technical flaws to produce an electric bike battery that delivers unmatchable levels of durability, resilience, and range.
Bosch Electric Bike Batteries Are Long Lasting and Highly Durable
One of the most outstanding qualities of a Bosch electric bike battery is its high durability and long lifespan.
In general, most electric bike batteries can maintain their quality and performance for 5 to 7 years.
On the contrary, a Bosch battery retains its charge storing capacity and performance for almost 10 to 15 years.
Due to this extensive lifespan, the battery can usually outlive the electric bike and a rider can reinstall the same battery into a new electric bike.
over, due to the battery’s resilience and low sensitivity, an electric bike owner is saved from having to incur expensive battery repair and replacement costs.
Bosch Electric Bike Batteries Are Found in Different Shapes and Sizes
Most electric bike manufacturing companies prefer getting their chemical batteries manufactured by Bosch as they can get a battery made precisely the way they want.
Electric bike manufacturers can choose a frame battery, a rack battery, an integrated battery, or a dual battery.
over, Bosch batteries come in unique shapes, such as cylindrical or triangular, to fit into all kinds of electric bike frames.
Bosch’s Intelligent Battery Management System (BMS)
One key quality that separates a Bosch electric bike battery from its competitors is the Battery Management System (BMS).
Unlike regular lithium-ion batteries that can sustain a lot of damage by poor charging practices, the BMS of a Bosch battery allows the battery to detect any potential systematic errors to protect the battery cells from overloading.
Hence, an occasional mishandling or improper charging incident will not significantly impact a Bosch electric bike battery’s quality or lifespan.
Bosch’s DualBattery Packs
To offer an electric bike owner an unparalleled range to make intercity traveling possible, Bosch has designed DualBattery packs that include two high-wattage batteries integrated to perform as one.
This battery pack doubles the electric bike’s charge storing capacity, increases the e-bike’s top and average speeds, and allows the rider to cover longer distances without worrying about finding a power source to recharge the battery.
over, the Bosch DualBattery packs can drastically decrease a rider’s range anxiety.
As a result, more people have started preferring electric bikes over gasoline-powered personal cars or public transport for their everyday commuting.
Bosch Batteries Come with Long Warranties
Lastly, all Bosch electric bike batteries come with a one-to-three-year warranty, allowing e-bike owners to get free battery repairs if unexpected damage or error arises.
Certification and charging
All of our bikes at Four Star have batteries with intelligent BMS systems and are certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), a third party that tests batteries for safety and stability. UL evaluates the manufacturing process of the battery, its chemical makeup, and performs tests for battery failure during charging and operation. You can have peace of mind knowing that your UL certified battery is among the most well-tested and safest batteries on the market today.
To charge your battery, first power off the battery using your e-bike display or the power button on the battery itself. Then plug in to the appropriate charger by the same manufacturer. Using off-brand or off-market chargers can cause serious damage to your battery and may void any warranty remaining.
All batteries that come with Four Star’s e-bikes are from high-quality brands that boast the highest safety standards in the industry. With these tips, you know how to best care for your e-bike’s battery, allowing you to enjoy your bike for miles to come! Below is a final checklist of the most important ways to care for your e-Bike battery and links to manufacturer manuals and guides.
- Always power off your bike before plugging in the battery to charge
- Charge indoors, in a well-ventilated area, at room temperature
- Never charge a cold battery—allow it to warm to room-temperature before charging
- For long term storage, keep your battery at 30-60% of a full charge
- For storage between rides, keep your battery (and bike) out of direct sunlight, in an area protected from the elements, and at a temperature above 32°F
- Use a thermal cover for long rides in cold temperatures (below freezing)
Charging your e-bike battery
One of the biggest myths about batteries is that you have to drain it completely before recharging it. Lithium batteries have no memory meaning you can charge it at any time without negatively affecting the lifespan of the battery. Similarly, interrupting a charging cycle will have no impact on the longevity of the battery, so if you have to dash out to the shops mid-charge, feel free!
Most batteries can be fully recharged from empty within four to six hours either on or off the bike depending on your setup. Best practice is to find a space at room temperature where you can keep an eye on your bike as it charges. You should always charge your bike with the supplied charging cable otherwise you risk irreparable damage from unapproved third-party equipment which can also void any warranties.
Store your e-bike at room temperature
Storing your bike between rides
You should always store your bike at room temperature. If that’s not possible (bike sheds tend to be outside and subject to the elements), take your battery inside with you.
If you’re not using your bike for an extended period of time, Bosch and Fazua recommend you store the battery at room temperature at 30%-60% capacity while Shimano suggests 70% capacity or higher for their e-bike drives.
Travelling with your bike brings its own challenges. A lot of airlines don’t permit e-bike batteries on their flights, so you may have to hire a battery when you arrive at your destination. Check with your airline before you fly and make arrangements at your destination. If you’re using a bike rack on the back of a vehicle, remove the battery before you set off and store it inside your car or van to protect it.
Cleaning your e-bike battery
Like it or not, bikes need cleaning and that’s especially true in winter when trails are wet and muddy or when the weather moves in midway through your commute. Cleaning an e-bike is easy but at the very least, it’s important to pay attention to the battery. Most e-bike batteries have a waterproof housing to keep them in good working order. Bosch recommends wiping the battery and contact points regularly with a damp microfibre cloth. Shimano, Bosch and Fazua do not recommend pressure washers, so if you have mud sticks to your bike, you’re going to have to use some elbow grease.
Store your e-bike at room temperature
Extending the lifespan of your e-bike battery
Riding in accordance with best practice is a sure fire way to increase your battery’s longevity. Flat tyres increase resistance and make it harder to move the bike therefore putting more strain on the battery, so make sure you check the tyre pressure before leaving the house. Keeping your tyres inflated properly means you’ll easily glide over the chosen terrain.
Maintaining and cleaning your bike regularly will also improve the battery life. A dirty bike is a slow bike. Over even a short period of time mud, road grime and general wear and tear causes the components to seize up again forcing you to use more power when you ride. This might go unnoticed for a long time before the muck really begins to penetrate the rear derailleur and chainset and slow you down.
Super impressed with the battery life. By the end of the ride, I still had 3 bars left ,and I covered all the trails I normally ride in 1/3 of the time.