Guide to e-cycle batteries
On new or recent e-bikes you invariably get some kind of lithium-ion battery. Older second-hand e-bikes may have other chemistries; the earliest e-bikes featured very heavy lead acid batteries.
Then came nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal hydride, both of which were lighter and can still be found to retain a useful amount of capacity for shorter runs – perhaps useful if you are looking for a cheap and cheerful second-hand ‘hack’ e-bike. Giant’s Lafree model and some Heinzman kits were highly regarded at the time and still turn up second hand with these nickel-based batteries.
However, despite the extra expense and complexity, a good-quality, decent-capacity lithium-ion battery is undoubtedly the most practical option. It will give you the best range, reliability and longevity.
You might read all kinds of claims for different variations of lithium-ion e-bike battery, with cobalt, manganese and more included in the mix. Don’t worry! There doesn’t seem to be any great expert agreement on which of these formulas is superior.
For now it’s more important to get a well-made, high-quality lithium-ion battery, regardless of the chemistry used. In practice this means batteries with cells – cells are the individual components of batteries – from reputable makers like Sony, Panasonic and Samsung.
Equally important is to buy an e-cycle with a high-quality electric drive system as this helps ensure the batteries have been assembled to a high standards. Well-known drive-system makers include Bosch, Brose, Fazua, Mahle, Shimano and Yamaha. All these manufacturers keep close control of the batteries used in their systems – in the vast majority of cases they will be own-brand batteries.
Guarantee small print
Remember to check out the particular terms of the battery guarantee.
Shimano’s e-bike batteries (select the battery capacity section) are guaranteed by charge cycles (full charges, so two charges of half the battery capacity would equal one full one) – at least 60% of capacity is guaranteed to remain after 1000 full charge cycles. Riese Muller guarantees that the Bosch batteries it uses will still have a capacity of 60% after two years or 500 charge cycles, depending on which happens first.
Your dealer should be able to determine the remaining battery capacity for you. Note that a good quality battery is still able to be used at below 60% capacity – probably for a good few years, it is just out of warranty.
For a very approximate idea of your e-bike battery capacity you can try the home test method.
Rear rack, frame-integrated or frame mounted?
There are three common mounting positions: rear rack, on top of the downtube or totally integrated into the frame.
The first option is OK for lighter batteries on lightly loaded bikes intended for more gentle riding and also causes fewer problems on e-bikes with smaller wheels, as the weight of the battery sits nearer the ground. If ridden heavily loaded the extra weight at the top and rear of the bike can start to affect handling, though.
Rack-mounted batteries are found on some good-quality budget e-bikes, however, and shouldn’t be discounted. Gazelle’s Paris C7 HMB is one good example.
Downtube-mounted batteries are still very common, but are slowly being overtaken by frame-integrated batteries. It’s somewhat ‘horses for courses’ which of these options you might choose.
Those mounted on top of the downtube can be less fiddly to get on and off the bike, but integrating the battery into the frame gives more protection from knocks and looks more aesthetically pleasing to many. Downtube-mounted and frame-integrated give better handling than rack-mounted batteries as the weight is kept low and central.
The tide certainly seems to be moving in favour of frame-integrated batteries, with many budget brands and online discount sites even selling such models, where once upon a time they were only to be found on premium-priced e-cycles.
What capacity do you need?
As a general rule it’s best to get the largest and best quality you can, as this will mean an easier life for your battery (fewer charge cycles) and also more range per charge.
Battery capacity is measured in Watt-hours (Wh) and 400Wh, 500Wh and 625Wh are fast becoming standard sizes. In 2022 Bosch announced its biggest battery yet: a 750Wh frame integrated model to be used only with its new ‘Smart’ system. Note that this battery is not backwards compatible, even though many earlier batteries were interchangeable.
You might want to go small, though. For example, on an extremely lightweight efficient e-cycle or a folding bike that needs regular lifting, to keep the purchase price down or if you simply know you’ll only be making short trips. The Cytronex C1 system is a good example of a lightweight, efficient system that can achieve impressive ranges on lightweight e-bikes from its modest 198Wh battery.
E-folders often use smaller batteries to keep overall weight down and keep them portable. The new Brompton Electric is actually one of the larger batteries found on a folder at 300Wh and neatly removes in a jiffy to help carrying.
Conversely, if you are after maximum distance on a single charge there are dual battery systems out there that mean you don’t even have to swap batteries. Bosch’s own dual battery system gives up to a massive 1250Wh capacity – enough to ride all day on high power settings – and it automatically draws power from both batteries at an even rate, the optimum method for giving your batteries an easy life.
A handful of brands have developed ‘range-extender’ batteries – smaller batteries that clip onto the bike frame ready to feed their power to the motor. Specialized has been using such a system for a few years on its lighter e-bikes, the Turbo SL range.
How many miles will I get from my battery?
How long is a piece of string? A very rough rule of thumb is to divide the Wh capacity of a battery by 15 to give a very rough estimate of the range (for example, giving an estimate of around 33 miles from a 500Wh battery).
Actual range depends on power level selected, rider weight, terrain and weather and can vary massively. Bosch’s Range Assistant is a useful guide to likely range as it lets you estimate the effect of various factors on range, though I have always found it a little on the optimistic side.
You can get many times more mileage than you might expect. For example, Cytronex has reports of fit road riders using their system and getting 50 miles plus to a charge on a 180Wh battery – less than half the capacity of many standard size batteries.
Conversely, an e-MTB ridden on high power settings over very challenging off-road terrain with a heavy rider could easily return a range of fewer than 20 miles on a complete charge of an average-capacity battery.
Tips for extending battery range include conservative use of the power settings and using the gears to keep the pedals spinning at a fairly fast cadence, as well as moderating your speed. Riding at 13mph instead of the max assisted speed of 15.5mph will usually save a good amount of battery capacity.
How to look after and store lithium ion batteries
There are a few basic but important tips you can follow in order to keep your battery in tip top condition:
- Batteries have an optimum operating temperature – around room temperature. So charge and store the battery indoors in very cold or hot weather; avoid keeping them in direct sunlight.
- If you are riding all year round and often in sub-zero temperatures it could be worth getting a battery cover. Fahrer makes a variety of covers from neoprene and cordura.
- All batteries will be damaged if persistently over-charged or over-discharged. Use the correct charger for your battery; in particular never use one that wasn’t specifically made for your battery. If you buy a good-quality e-cycle in the first place they are more likely to have reliable battery management system (BMS) units in the battery which also helps prevent over-charging and.discharging.
- Don’t leave a lithium battery connected after it has achieved full charge.
- Be wary of cheaper batteries with suspiciously high claims for battery life and the number of charge cycles they will last – it may have been set close to the limits for under and over charging which could lead to premature failure.
- Avoid vibration and shock to a battery through rough handling or careless treatment as this can lead to a shortened life, too.
- Try to avoid long periods of storage as lithium batteries degrade slowly; but surely over time, whether used or not. If you do need to store one for a period of months, check what the maker’s recommended discharged state is for storage. For example, Bosch says that a charge status of approximately 30-60% of full charge is recommended for its batteries and that they are ready for use when they come out of storage.
End of life
Good-quality batteries are now more reliable than they have ever been. But even the best ones suffer a gradual decline in capacity over the years and so the range may eventually diminish to the point where it is unusable.
There three broad options if you need to replace a battery:
- Replace under guarantee. This only really covers the situation if a fault develops – a good-quality lithium ion battery should last more than a couple of years if used properly, two years being an industry standard for a reasonable length battery guarantee.
- Replace by purchasing a new one. If a battery is out of guarantee and at the end of its life then the industry advice is to replace it with one that comes from the same manufacturer and is of exactly the same spec. This is because battery, controller and motor have all been designed to work safely together and using a ‘non-original’ replacement pack introduces the potential for things not working as they should. Unfortunately, there are no common interconnectivity standards across the e-bike battery industry, with a multiplicity of computer chips and connectors used. One upside of total replacement is that you may have the option to upgrade to a larger-capacity battery from the same manufacturer.
- While option 2 may be the ideal and is certainly the ‘official’ advice, there are an increasing number of e-bikes around that are many years old and for which the original battery is no longer made. There may be third-party batteries available for the commoner makes of e-cycle battery that you could buy off the shelf.
Recelling by an expert company may be an option. This is certainly the case in continental Europe where e-bike use dwarves that in the UK and where e-bikes have been around in large numbers for much longer, giving rise to a second-hand battery industry where a number of expert companies can supply replacement batteries or recell your old one.
In the UK the industry is younger and there are less expert companies around. They do exist, though, and London’s eBike Batteries often gets good feedback.
However, official industry advice is not to go down this route: non-expert, incorrect recelling or repair of a battery is most certainly a fire safety risk. However, there will be an increasing need for this service as the number of second-hand e-cycles whose original batteries are no longer made will increase dramatically over coming years and replacement batteries will be needed to avoid scrapping an otherwise perfectly good e-bike.
Here’s why you can’t trust electric bike companies when it comes to battery range
It’s a tale as old as time. Man sees electric bike advertisement touting 50-mile range. Man buys e-bike. Man’s first ride gets 25 miles before the battery’s charge dwindles. Man is justifiably disappointed.
So what gives? Why does it seem like you can never trust the range numbers that the electric bike makers tell us?
The short answer is that it seems that way because that’s the way it is. You simply can’t trust the range figure printed on an electric bicycle’s marketing material. At least not most of the time.
There are several good reasons for this, so let’s break them down.
No standard for range testing for e-bikes
First of all, e-bikes aren’t like cars. There aren’t any standards for battery range testing on e-bikes. It’s not like the “EPA-rated 32 mpg” or “NEDC-tested 250 miles of range” you’ll see in car ads.
Range ratings for e-bikes aren’t determined by outside agencies. They are determined by the bike makers themselves. In the best case, the printed distance figures come from real-world range testing. Some companies like Aventon and Lectric eBikes have stepped up with real-world range data on their sites for each level of pedal assist or throttle riding. That’s the best case. But in the worst case, some companies just give us numbers that they pull out of a hat or theorize that their bike can probably achieve.
Which companies are which? Without hard data displayed on the company’s site, it’s hard to know. That’s the problem. Unless a company puts real-world testing data out there, we’re left to guess.
Range varies WIDELY based on a number of factors
This is actually the single largest reason that you almost never actually achieve the range quoted by the e-bike manufacturer. There is a huge variance in the real-world battery range of an e-bike on a single charge. There are literally dozens of factors that have significant impacts on range.
Even if an e-bike company wanted to give one number as the ultimate, end all and be all, certified range of their e-bike – a number that they are confident you can achieve – they simply wouldn’t be able to do it. It just depends on too many factors.
It’s amazing how many factors can have a measurable impact on e-bike range.
Are your tires low on air or pumped to the max? Are you riding uphill or downhill? Tailwind or headwind? Brake rub? Crouched or sitting up tall? Is the road wet? Did you eat a big lunch? Have you eaten big lunches for the last 30 years? What gear are you in? What power level are you in? Knobby or smooth tires? Are you wearing a backpack or carrying cargo on a rack or basket? Any passengers with you? Are you riding on asphalt? Concrete? Dirt? Gravel? Sand? The list goes on and on.
Depending on the answers to those questions, the exact same electric bike could travel 15 miles or 60 miles on a single battery charge. Yeah, it’s wild.
Many people expect e-bike ranges to be more repeatable, similar to car mileage. But then again, consider that unlike cars, which often outweigh their drivers by 20 to 1, you probably outweigh your bike by 3 or 4 to 1. So changes in you or your environment have a much bigger impact on range than they do for other larger vehicles likes cars and trucks.
All of these factors make it harder for e-bike companies to offer a realistic range, and so they usually test for the best-case scenario. That means a lightweight rider (often listed at 150 lb., even though the average American adult female and male each weigh 170 and 200 lb., respectively) riding on a pancake flat and smooth surface with ultra-high air pressure in the tires and with the bike set into its lowest power mode. It’s not “cheating,” assuming they provide the real test data. It’s just putting their best pedaling foot forward. But in the real world, most of us won’t be riding in the same ideal conditions. So the “maximum” range that most e-bike companies quote simply aren’t realistic for most of us.
Throttle versus pedal assist range
This is another major factor affecting range. Any Europeans reading this, you poor things can ignore this section since your governments don’t believe you can be trusted with throttles. For the Americans, Canadians, Australians, and civil-disobeying Europeans still here with me, listen up.
The general rule of thumb is that throttle riding will nearly halve your range compared to pedal assist. That’s why most e-bike companies will list their maximum range based on pedal assist. When you see an e-bike listed as having a “50-mile range,” that’s almost certainly the pedal assist range. The throttle range is probably closer to 25-30 miles, depending on conditions. A true 50-mile throttle-only range would usually require having a battery of at least 1,300 Wh, or around twice the size of an average e-bike battery.
Some companies like Rad Power Bikes are pretty good about listing a range of ranges (get it?) instead of a single number. For example, they tell us that the RadRunner 3 Plus’s range is “Estimated 25-45 miles per charge (40-72 km)” in the specs section of the product page, though they’re still guilty of the slightly misleading “Up to 45 miles per charge” phrase in larger font on the main page.
How can you know an electric bike’s ‘real’ range?
There’s a messy, overgeneralized rule of thumb that I created to quickly judge approximate bike range. But be warned: It requires a small amount of math. Don’t worry though, you can handle it.
At 20 mph, my messy rule of thumb is 25 Wh/Mi for throttle riding and 15 Wh/Mi for pedal assist riding. This is for a decently powerful level – we’re not talking Eco Mode or Level 1 pedal assist here. At very low-power pedal assist where the rider does most of the work, it is possible to even achieve closer to 5 Wh/Mi.
For anyone who uses a more sensical system of measurement, that means when riding at 32 km/h, you can generally expect somewhere around 15 Wh/km on throttle and 9 Wh/km on pedal assist, though it can drop as low as 3 Wh/km on really low power pedal assist.
So to use my rule of thumb, simply divide the watt-hour capacity (Wh) of the battery by my efficiency numbers and you’ll get the rough range. An e-bike like the RadRunner 3 Plus mentioned above with a 624 Wh battery should get roughly 624 Wh ÷ 25 Wh/Mi = 25 miles of range on throttle-only riding. In sensical measurements, that’s 624 Wh ÷ 15 Wh/km = 41 km. That number actually aligns nicely with Rad’s published figures. Go figure.
Like I said though, this is a rough approximation. It can vary based on many factors. If you’re a heavy rider, you might even use slightly higher constants than I mentioned, such as 30 Wh/Mi instead of 25 Wh/Mi. Other factors like terrain and tire width make a big impact on this guesstimate system as well.
Top comment by Alejandro Mallado
Very interesting article! I commute on my Lectric XP 2.0 from Brooklyn to Manhattan, about 13 miles round trip, and I’m sadly force to charge it every day. I tried once to do 3 trips and could make it, so around 20 miles are feasible (mostly throttle but I try to pedal as much as I can). I’m now in search of a mid-drive ebike, cause I’d like to pedal all the time, and better battery life. But I fear that I’d get one before a potential rebate program in NY so I’ll wait a bit.
For science, I once took an e-bike with a teeny tiny 180 Wh battery on a long ride at the lowest possible power setting and with significant muscle effort on my part. I got a range of 56 miles (90 km), or close to 3 Wh/Mi. It was grueling, but it showed what is possible, and how companies can get away with claiming sky-high ranges that may be possible, even if unlikely.
So sure, my generalized rule of thumb above uses fuzzy numbers. But they aren’t anywhere near as fuzzy as the ratings from most e-bike manufacturers.
In conclusion, I don’t intend to claim that there is malice on the part of most companies that market e-bikes. Their goal isn’t to mislead. They’re just caught in an unfortunate system where people want a short and pretty answer to what is under the surface actually a long and ugly question, “How far does it go on a charge?”
So until people are prepared to receive a table of data in response to that question, companies are basically forced to choose between giving an unimpressive albeit more honest range spectrum like, “It can go 20-45 miles per charge,” or to just give the rosier answer of “It can go 45 miles.” With millions of dollars on the line, you can guess which one they prefer to choose.
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What Happens When An Electric Bike Runs Out Of Battery?
Electric bikes make commuting to work or the grocery store a breeze, providing plenty of power to keep your wheels turning. Depending on your e-bike, you might not even need to pedal at all!
But what happens when an electric bike runs out of battery life? Does it stop working entirely?
This article will answer this question and discuss ways to extend your electric bicycle’s battery life. That way, you can be prepared to handle sudden battery failures and enjoy the longest-lasting battery life!
Do Electric Bikes Stop Working When They Run Out of Power?
No, your electric bike will not stop working when it runs out of battery power. Unless you’re riding an electric motorbike, which is more similar to a motorcycle or scooter than a conventional bicycle, you’ll still be able to use your e-bike when the battery runs out of power.
After all, nearly all electric bikes have pedals, and these pedals function normally, with or without battery power. That said, depending on the size and weight of your e-bike, pedaling it home after it has run out of power can be challenging.
Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your bike’s battery is always properly charged. This means connecting your electric bike’s battery to a reliable and safe power source after each ride.
But what if your bike’s battery refuses to charge? Does that mean you need a new e-bike battery?
Do You Need to Replace an Electric Bike’s Battery?
Like car batteries, e-bike batteries eventually need to be replaced. Most electric bicycle batteries last between three and five years.
If your current e-bike battery no longer accepts a charge or runs out of power early on during your rides, you might need to replace it.
Of course, you might be able to extend your bike’s battery life to the maximum threshold by following a few maintenance tips and tricks.
How to Extend an E-Bike’s Battery Life
There are several ways to keep your electric bike’s battery in tip-top shape and ensure it holds its charge. Some of the best tips include:
- Don’t travel at top speed
- Utilize pedal assist modes
- Store your bike indoors
- Charge the battery after each ride
- Avoid exposing the battery to heat
Let’s explore these tips to ensure your e-bike’s battery enjoys a long lifespan!
Don’t Travel at Top Speed
Though you might want to crank your electric bike to its top speed while cruising around town, it’s often far wiser to only go as fast as you need to.
Keeping to a mid-range temperature (about 10 mph or 16kph for most e-bikes) helps reduce the power you use during each ride. It can also ensure you have plenty of battery power to overcome steep inclines or transport heavy groceries home.
If your chosen electric bike doesn’t have a display screen that shows your current speed, you might want to add one to your bike. Some e-bike brands sell optional display screens as accessories, but you could also choose a widely compatible option that suits most models.
The HUDAMZKY Ebike LCD Display Mini Meter is a worthwhile option for those without built-in display screens. It’s compatible with 24V to 52V bikes and clips directly onto your bike handle for convenient reading. In addition to displaying your e-bike’s speed, this device can also help you adjust your speed settings!
Utilize Pedal Assist Modes
Another fantastic way to extend your electric bike’s battery life is to utilize its pedal assist modes. These modes add extra power to your pedaling, reducing the strain on the battery while still helping you get to your destination without expending much effort.
Some e-bikes are either zero-power or throttle-only, meaning they lack a pedal assist mode. If this applies to your electric bicycle, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your average speed and try to pedal instead of using the throttle (whenever possible).
Ensuring you charge your battery after each ride is also a fantastic way to extend your bike’s battery life.
Charge the Battery After Each Ride
Each time you return home after riding your e-bike, you should immediately roll into a cool indoor area and charge the battery.
If you enjoy short-range rides, you might be tempted to neglect post-ride charges, as your battery might still have plenty of power. But getting into the habit of charging your electric bike battery each time you’ve finished riding is an excellent way to avoid fully depleting your battery.
A fully depleted lithium bike battery can struggle to receive a charge. If you accidentally let your e-bike’s battery die multiple times, it might only function at a fraction of its original capacity.
Avoid Exposing the Battery to Heat
Like electric vehicles (EVs), most electric bikes use lithium batteries to power their motors. These batteries are long-lasting and easy to charge using electrical outlets. But they are sensitive to high-heat conditions.
Now, it might not always be possible to avoid exposing your bike’s battery to heat, especially when riding during the summertime. But keeping your bike indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned space, can help negate damage caused while riding outdoors on a hot day.
After all, when a lithium battery is exposed to high-heat conditions of 122°F (50°C) for hours at a time, it can begin to develop internal signs of damage.
These damages can result in a lower battery capacity, meaning that each subsequent charge will produce less power. Over time, your e-bike’s battery might even refuse to accept any charge, necessitating a full replacement.
When an electric bike runs out of battery, you’ll still be able to pedal it to get it moving again. However, you won’t be able to utilize the electric power via pedal assist or throttle-only modes.
If you’ve noticed that your e-bike’s battery isn’t providing as much power as it once did or fails to accept a charge, you likely need to replace it.
To help your electric bicycle’s battery last longer, keep it away from high-heat areas. You might also want to charge the battery after each ride and avoid riding at the bike’s top speed.
Jason Hawkley is a biking enthusiast, which is a nice way of saying he’s a total nerd when it comes to bikes. One day while mountain biking through the woods in New Hampshire, the idea came him to create Our Streets as a way to share his biking passion with you.
What’s driving the battery fires with e-bikes and scooters?
An electric bike parked near a Bronx supermarket that was destroyed in a fire that officials say was caused by a faulty lithium-ion scooter battery.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
As firefighters battled a five-alarm fire at a supermarket in the Bronx earlier this month, New York City officials gathered beside what they said was the cause of the fire: the blackened shell of what was once a sit-on electric scooter.
Officials said that a faulty lithium-ion battery in the scooter had suddenly burst into flame, as captured on surveillance video. The resulting fire was so intense, they said, that it enveloped the building in a matter of minutes.
“There is extraordinary damage. This entire building behind me is completely destroyed. The roof is caved in. There is nothing left. And it is all because of this one single bike,” said Laura Kavanaugh, the city’s fire commissioner.
Last week’s blaze joined the more than 200 fires in New York City last year caused by batteries from e-bikes, electric scooters and similar devices. Lithium-ion battery explosions are now the third leading cause of fires in the city, the fire department says.
Per FDNY Fire Marshals, the cause of today’s 5-alarm fire at 2096 Grand Concourse in the Bronx was a lithium-ion battery which powered a scooter. piccom/HTifRojiJo
— FDNY (@FDNY) March 5, 2023
As the popularity of so-called micromobility devices has soared across the U.S., so too have risen the number of fires associated with the lithium-ion batteries that power them.
Some lawmakers and federal regulators have taken note. Late last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced it had received reports of more than 200 incidents since the start of 2021 in which micromobility devices caught fire or overheated — incidents that led to the deaths of 19 people.
“Destructive and deadly fires from lithium-ion batteries in e-bikes have reached a crisis level. The tragic loss of life from battery fires is heartbreaking and preventable,” said Commissioner Richard Trumka in December.
Read on for more about why these fires are happening and how to keep yourself safe:
Why are batteries in e-bikes and scooters vulnerable to catching fire?
Lithium-ion batteries power many rechargeable devices that are part of our modern lives: cell phones, laptops, vapes, cordless power tools and electric vehicles of all kinds, from cars to scooters to e-bikes to hoverboards.
They’re small, lightweight and powerful — but they’re also prone to overheating and catching fire, said Michael Pecht, a professor of engineering at the University of Maryland. “Ever since lithium-ion batteries started to be prevalent in products, we’ve seen fires,” he said.
Fires from exploding e-bike batteries multiply in NYC — sometimes fatally
At issue is the high density of the batteries, which is a double-edged sword, said Pecht, who also serves as director of the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering, a university research center that consults with companies on reliability and safety issues, including batteries.
“They can provide a lot of power to our cell phones and to our computers for a relatively long period of time in a very small volume,” he said. “But because we have so much energy packed in that small volume, if there is a problem, then they’re very flammable.”
Defects or contamination in the manufacturing process can eventually lead to short circuiting or other failures.
In 2006, Dell, Apple and other major laptop makers urged millions of customers to return laptop batteries after Sony discovered a flaw in their battery manufacturing process. Chevy, Hyundai and Chrysler have all been forced to issue recalls over battery fires in electric vehicles. The Federal Aviation Administration reported more than 60 incidents last year in which lithium-ion batteries — mostly battery packs, vapes or cell phones — overheated, began smoking or caught fire on airplanes.
Why do there seem to be more e-bike- and scooter-related fires now?
In short, there are more fires because there are so many more e-bikes and scooters these days.
Their small size and low cost relative to gas-powered vehicles have made micromobility devices an attractive transportation and recreation option for millions of Americans. That’s especially true for those living in urban areas where parking and traffic are challenges for drivers. Electric bikes and scooters have also been embraced by delivery drivers.
Safety Agency Opens Probe Into Tesla Fires
The burst in popularity is so recent that there isn’t yet much solid data about how many e-bikes, scooters and other devices are sold each year.
But what information we do have shows that their numbers are growing rapidly. The Light Electric Vehicle Association, an industry group, estimates that about 880,000 e-bikes were imported to the U.S. in 2021. That’s about double the number imported in 2020, and three times the total from 2019.
devices means more fires, experts say, especially since the industry is relatively new and unregulated, and there are a lot of different companies and products on the market.
What’s being done about it?
There’s not currently much regulation of e-bikes and scooters.
Regulation could go in several directions. One would be to require devices be certified under the safety standards recommended by Underwriter Laboratories, a group that has produced safety certifications for electric products for over a century.
Earlier this month, the New York City Council passed a package of local bills that would require all e-bikes and other electric mobility devices sold, rented or leased in the city to be certified under the appropriate UL safety standards.
Half A Million ‘Hoverboards’ Recalled Over Risk Of Fire, Explosions
The legislation also bans the sale of uncertified or used batteries. Retailers found to be in violation of the laws can be fined up to 1,000 per violation.
At the national level, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a letter in December calling on more than 2,000 manufacturers, importers and retailers to voluntarily adhere to UL safety standards for e-bikes and other micromobility devices.
Following the guidelines “significantly reduces the risk of injuries and deaths from micromobility device fires,” wrote Robert Kaye, the agency’s director of compliance and field operations. “Consumers face an unreasonable risk of fire and risk serious injury or death if their micromobility devices do not meet the level of safety provided by the relevant UL standards.”
Additionally, the agency has vowed to pursue penalties against companies who fail to inform the CPSC of safety hazards.
Recommendations to keep yourself safe
The main recommendation that comes from both the CPSC and the FDNY is to be present while you’re charging your device, and to not charge it while you’re sleeping. Unplug the device once it is fully charged.
The CPSC also recommends that you only use the charger that came included with your device and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper charging.
Fire officials add that you should charge your device away from flammable materials like furniture and pillows, and that you shouldn’t charge or store your device in a location that blocks your access to an exit.
When you’re buying an e-bike or other micromobility device, try to find what battery comes stocked with it, Pecht said. Does the maker of the device state where the battery is sourced from? Is the battery made by a reputable manufacturer? Experts also suggest that consumers look for batteries that have a UL certification.
High demand and for lithium send mines into overdrive
Be warned that some online sellers may falsely claim to have UL certification. Others may sell “re-wrapped” batteries, meaning counterfeit batteries produced to appear as though they’re made by reputable manufacturers.
If your battery starts to fail, it may be safest to buy a new one. “Don’t repair anything yourself, and buy from a company where you know that they’re using brand-name batteries,” Pecht said. It may work best to buy a new battery from the same company that produced your bike or scooter.
To dispose of an old battery, bring it to a battery recycling center or other e-waste facility. Don’t throw away lithium-ion batteries in conventional trash.
Your Official Guide to eBike Batteries: From Cost to Miles
Hunters desire ebikes. While they seem to come from two separate worlds, it’s almost as if they were made for each other.
The lightweight nature, ease of travel, range, lack of sound, and surplus of power are ideal for hunters. They make it easy to get down the trail, hauling you, your gear, and hopefully your take with little to no effort.
Not only that but they are permitted for use in many places where ATVs are prohibited. They make it possible for hunters to go deeper in the woods with no concern of exhaustion, and they keep hunters in the woods long after their joints make it hard to travel on foot.
As with any piece of gear with you, you need to know as much as possible about your ebike. That’s what we’re here to help you with. Our particular FOCUS for this electric bicycle blog will be on batteries.
An ebike battery is the bike’s life source. Without a battery, it’s simply a complicated bicycle that’s over-encumbered by unnecessary gear. It also happens to determine how far your bike will travel on motor power and how fast it can go.
What exactly is an ebike battery?
In some ways, you can think of the battery on an ebike like the fuel tank on an ATV, as they both play a role in how far a vehicle will travel. You can also compare it to the battery as both supply electrical current to the vehicle. That’s where similarities with either end, though.
The battery on your ebike does both of those jobs, while functioning as a defining component of performance. The size of the battery has a direct relation with how powerful the bike is.
Don’t worry. While the battery plays multiple roles and is different from a conventional lead-acid battery, they aren’t hard to understand.
Something that separates ebike batteries from traditional car batteries is that they aren’t just one large battery. It’s the opposite. They are made up of multiple 18650 cells.
Yes, these are the same cells used in your rechargeable flashlight. The difference is that they are wired in series to function as a single unit.
In addition, a balancer inside the battery is also used to ensure that the charge and loads placed on the batteries are equal to promote longer life and better use of stored energy.
What further separates these from car batteries is that they rely on lithium as opposed to lead. The use of lithium does drive up the price some, but it brings several advantages to the table, namely that these are pretty much maintenance-free.
The number one thing you need to be careful of is discharging the batteries completely, as doing so shortens the battery’s lifespan. Thankfully, onboard systems are in place to avoid this.
They work by cutting off supply from the battery when the charge gets too low, leaving just enough to prevent damaging the cells.
Not all eBike batteries are built the same, though, which is why you need to learn even more about them before you invest in these relatively expensive components.
How long do eBike batteries last?
Another advantage that lithium batteries have over their counterparts is that they can supply a superior number of cycles. The cycle of a battery is essentially the number of charges it can provide in its lifetime. If a battery can offer 300 cycles, you can get 300 charges.
Three hundred cycles are about average for a lead-acid battery. Nickle batteries can supply 500, and that’s a significant step up. On the other hand, lithium batteries can provide an average of 1,000 cycles before needing to be replaced.
So long as you practice proper care, eBike batteries can supply around three years of use to the average hunter.
What’s the typical range of eBikes?
Aside from some of the best electric hunting bike options. most can travel around 20 miles on a single charge. That’s a respectable number for most hunters. There are some variables to take into consideration, though.
The maximum range is generally based on a ride that takes place under perfect conditions. Riders can usually achieve that maximum range by limiting the use of the battery. Furthermore, there’s no consideration of rider and gear weight.
In most cases, those numbers come from riders who aren’t hauling gear. weight takes more power to overcome, and you can expect the actual range to be a bit lower when you start piling gear on and hopping on your electric bike.
How much does speed affect the longevity of my battery?
There is no internal combustion engine on an eBike. There’s a motor. They aren’t the same, even if the terms motor and engine are used interchangeably.
An engine runs on fuel. So, even if it’s dependent on the battery to supply small amounts of electricity, burning fuel creates motion.
That isn’t the case with a motor as they are entirely reliant on electricity. For all intents and purposes, the battery is your fuel source on electric hunting bikes.
Just like an engine consumes more fuel to reach higher speeds, a motor draws more energy from the battery. As a result, driving faster drains the charge more rapidly than you would at moderate speeds.
How much is a replacement?
You can find cheap eBike batteries for around 250 from aftermarket suppliers. We caution you against going with this option, though. Those cheap batteries are generally of inferior quality and will fail to live up to many of the promises they make.
Going to a manufacturer of the bike is usually the best bet for the average hunter. They can be four times the price but will be built of far better quality than many of the low-dollar suppliers found on the internet.
Of course, there are exceptions to this concept, and you can very well find a decent battery for a bargain. We advise you to talk to a specialist, particularly someone familiar with your exact model, as their knowledge of the market can help you find the battery that fits within your price range.
Technical Aspects Explained: Volts, Amps, and Watts
When you shop for batteries on your own or talk to a specialist, a few key terms are going to appear.
It’s important to know that all of those terms used to describe a battery are essential as they determine whether or not it is compatible with your eBike.
Can’t I just add a bigger battery?
The size of the battery and the specs above correlate with the amount of power it can supply and the range you can obtain. So, shouldn’t you just add a bigger battery? If a little is good, a lot is better. Right?
Not exactly. You might be able to upgrade the battery to a small degree. However, the components of the bike and the batteries match one another.
While your motor is always dependent on amps and voltage, the electronic parts can only handle so much, and going too big will cause severe damage.
It’s not as simple as buying a cheaper bike and combining it with a more capable battery. If you want more range, more power, or a higher top speed, simply invest in the better bike in the first place.
How about recharging? Any advice?
Charging an eBike isn’t the same as charging an ATV or car battery. Mainly because you don’t want to charge them 100%, that sounds odd, but the explanation as to why is pretty simple.
The major weak point of a lithium battery is that the life of each charge gradually gets shorter each time. When you charge them to 100%, the system shuts off.
If you continue to leave it on the charger, as you would if you leave it overnight, that charge will naturally be lower. When it does, the charger kicks back on tops the battery off.
Over several hours, that accumulation of discharges and recharges can harm battery life. The best way to avoid this is simply charging the battery to just under 100% and only charging up when needed.
Finally. how do I get the most out of my eBike battery?
We know. It’s getting hard to hide those hunting expenses from your spouse. But, between firearms, range finders, and packs, there’s quite a bit you need to stretch the truth on.
Unfortunately, eBike batteries will be something you need to sneak in from time to time. Don’t worry. We’ve got a few tips to help you get the most out of each battery.
Tip #1: Keep it charged in storage
We did say only charge the battery when you need to. However, you don’t want to store the battery with any less than 40% of a charge.
During the off-season, check up on it from time to time to make sure it doesn’t go any lower, as letting it go completely dead for extended periods can cause damage.
Tip #2: Take it to the extreme from time to time
We’re about to contradict ourselves by telling you that it’s a good idea to let the battery discharge completely and charge it to 100% every 30-40 charges. This helps to monitor the battery’s condition by ensuring everything is functioning correctly while giving you the advantage of utilizing the battery in its entirety.
Tip #3: Keep away from water
Avoiding deep puddles on an eBike is a must as it’s simply weather-resistant, not waterproof. Furthermore, submerging the battery in water will allow water inside, which can compromise its condition.
Tip #4: Avoid extreme temperatures
You want to keep your batteries away from too much heat or cold. Cold weather drains batteries faster, and Rapid discharges are an enemy to lithium batteries.
Heat can be equally bad, if not worse, as too much can lead to overheating the batteries, resulting in excessive wear on the system or catastrophic failure.
Tip #5: Throw it in the cabin
Don’t leave the battery on your eBike while you store it in the bed of your truck. All those vibrations can wreak havoc. Take a few seconds to remove it and store it in the truck’s cabin as the vibrations are at a minimum.
At the end of the day, electric bicycle batteries are batteries. While there are some quirks and things you need to know, you’re not unfamiliar with this territory—batteries power your GPS, your opticals, and even your clothing these days.
Making sure you get the most out of them is as simple as treating them with respect as you would any other.