The Best Ebike Battery: A Beginner’s Guide
Ebike’s need batteries. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it (I hope)! But this raises the question, what kind of battery do I get for my ebike? What is the best ebike battery?
If you’re confused about words such as lithium-ion, DC, volts and amps, then you’re in the right place!
Keep reading and we’ll take you from know-nothing-Noel to extensive-expertise-Edith.
Common Terms Glossary
It’s true. There are so many different terms you need to know to navigate the world of ebikes.
I want to make sure you know all the high tech lingo. So you too can speak the ebike language. If someone doesn’t know what watt-hours means, throw these definitions in their face. Yeah!
We’ll be likening a lot of these words to an analogy to better understand them. We’ll be using the water-flow analogy.
We use this analogy to relate electricity to water flowing through a pipe.
Volts (V) are the international standard unit for electrical potential difference.
In our water-flow analogy, volts are equivalent to the pressure of the water flowing through a pipe. A higher voltage means a “higher pressure” flowing through the pipe.
Common voltages for ebikes are 36V and 48V. However these are called “nominal voltages” which we’ll explain a little later in this article.
Amperes, (the actual name for Amps) are the international standard unit for electric current.
Amps are equivalent to the diameter or size of the pipe with water flowing through. So more amps means a larger pipe and more water flowing per second. Assuming the pressure (volts) remains constant.
Amp-Hours, or Ampere-Hours (Ah), is the measurement of amps multiplied by time. This gives us an indication of capacity.
A battery with 10Ah can discharge 10A continuously for an hour. Or it could discharge 1A continuously for 10 hours.
Watts (W) are a unit of power! You may be familiar with cars outputting horsepower. 150 horsepower is equivalent to 111 kilowatts. Kilo watts! That’s 111,000 watts.
One watt is one volt multipled by one amp.
watts at once equals more power and therefore more fun!
Most ebike motors define their output power in watts.
Watt-hours is a unit of power per a specified amount of time. Compared to watts which measure power in a single moment.
Think of it like speed and distance. The speed of your car would be watts, whereas the distance travelled would be watt-hours.
If your ebike battery is discharging at 200W for an hour, it’s used 200Wh. If that same battery is discharging at 200W for 2 hours, it’s used 400Wh.
Now you know the important terms let’s learn some more about ebike batteries!
Picking The Type Of Battery
There’s quite a few types of battery that you could power your ebike with.
Some of the most common battery types include:
The names of these batteries come down to the chemistry used inside them. What makes them work is a combination of different chemicals. These interact to produce electricity! (Very simplistic view, but we don’t really need to know much more than that.)
So how do you decide what type of battery to use?
Here’s a quick rundown on each type and their uses.
Lead acids batteries are known for being economical and robust for bulk applications. However they’re also known for being very heavy, and not as power dense as other battery chemistries. High power density means that for a specific weight and volume it has higher capacity. Low power density means the opposite. For the same size and weight battery, it has less capacity.
There’s 3 main uses for lead acid batteries.
They can be used for starter motors in cars. They’re also beneficial for stationary applications like power backup. Lastly lead acid batteries are great for deep-cycle applications (most often wheelchairs, scissor lifts, golf carts, house bus batteries and more).
Deep-cycle lead acids batteries are like these ones here!
Is this the best ebike battery?
We all know that more capacity is good in the ebike world, right? So we probably don’t want to use an overweight, clunky lead acid battery.
We’re not going to get very good range because we need to make our bike so heavy!
Nickel-Cadmium batteries are very rugged and forgiving. This allows for large cycle counts if maintained correctly.
They’re able to be ultra-fast charged without compromise, and have great load performance. Meaning they won’t sweat it if you punch the throttle!
Nickel-Cadmium is most often used in the airlines. Yet it has some drawbacks.
It has low power density. Has a memory effect so needs to be discharged (fully!) periodically. Plus it has a very high (shockingly in fact) self-discharge rate. Nickel-Cadmium batteries will self-discharge 20% over the first 24 hours after being charged.
Power tools can also use nickel-cadmium batteries like these Tenergy Batteries.
Is Nickel-Cadmium the best ebike battery chemistry?
All of these drawbacks make them not very good ebike batteries. But it still can be done if you were really determined!
Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries can hold about 40% more charge than Nickel-Cadmium. They also have less of a memory effect so don’t need to be fully discharged as much.
However Nickel-Metal-Hydride batteries don’t have decent longevity. They’re also fickle to deal with when charging. Requiring a complex charge algorithm. Nobody wants to fluff around with that!
They generate heat quickly and have high self-discharge.
Ah, good old lithium ion batteries.
They’re in our smartphones, our laptops and our digital cameras. Pretty much everything we use in our day to day lives has a lithium ion battery.
There’s also many different kinds of lithium ion batteries.
In my own ebike battery, I have Samsung 25R 18650 cells. These have lithium manganese nickel chemistry.
Other popular cells are Panasonic GA 18650 cells. These are newer type batteries of LiNiCoAlO2 chemistry (Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminium Oxide). Also known as NCA cells.
Now these are the type of cells you want for the absolute best ebike battery!
A large battery that would be common for an ebike would be something like this 36V li-ion battery for your downtube. Alternatively you can get batteries that mount on a rear rack over your rear wheel!
What Do Volts And Amps Do?
Volts and amps are two very important parts of choosing an ebike battery. They can make or break your build (or set your bike on fire by accident too!)
First let’s start with volts.
What Do Volts Do To My Ride?
Every ebike motor designed will have been made with a specific input volt range.
This means that you cannot power your ebike with too little, or too many volts.
Too little volts means that you won’t have enough pep to give the motor. Too many volts will fry the sensitive electronic components inside the motor.
Most ebike motors will accept either 36 or 48 volts. These are the two most common nominal voltages.
That’s another important thing to know about ebike batteries. They’re most often measured by nominal voltage. Nominal voltage is just a fancy way of saying the average voltage. This is because each cell inside a battery can hold a specific range of volts.
Most Lithium-Ion batteries (Li-Ion) will have 18650 cells inside. Lithium Cobalt Oxide battery cells hold 4.2V when fully charged and 3.0V when discharged.
My ebike battery has lithium manganese nickel cells, which we’ll FOCUS on here.
48V batteries generally have 13 cell clusters. Each cell cluster has a nominal voltage of 3.7V. So we can calculate 3.7V 13 cells = 48.1V or 48V nominal.
When fully charged however, this “48V” nominal battery will actually hold 4.2V 13 cells = 54.6V.
As you discharge the battery, it will drop each cell from 4.2V down to 3.0V – a minimum voltage of 3.0V 13 = 39V.
Volts translate into speed on your ebike. If you juice up your ride with more volts (but still within the operating limits of your motor!!) then you’ll reach a higher top speed. Assuming everything else stays constant.
I have a 52V battery from Luna-Mate (the New Zealand/Australia equivalent of Luna Cycle.)
Fresh off the charger I get 58.8V of jaw dropping power and speed!
Amp Up My Ride?
Amps are the measure of flow at a certain pressure (volts) right?
What this translates to in real life is torque! amps that your motor has available and can handle at once means more wheelie popping torque.
So my 52V 12.5Ah battery can peak at 70A and a continuous draw of 50A.
This is simply the rating of the battery. The motor might not pull that much current.
Motors only pull as much current as they need, so you won’t be able to kill a motor by selecting a battery with too high of a current output.
So if volts are the “oomph” into your ride, amps are how quickly the battery can deliver those volts. volts = more “oomph”. Higher amp rating means more “oomph” per second (or whichever time interval you want to use). So you get more power all at one time meaning more torque.
torque = more wheelies. 🙂
So What Is The Best Ebike Battery?
If you’re after a reliable, safe and proven ebike battery, lithium-ion is the only way to go.
As more and more people get ebikes and demand lithium-ion batteries, they’re going to become more affordable. At the moment a reputable battery will cost around 500USD.
If you want more capacity or more volts, you’ll be paying much more. If you want less capacity or volts, you can get some very economical batteries.
Even though they are currently the best ebike battery, lithium-ion may not stay that way forever! Which is why you’ll find information on battery updates here!
Lithium-ion batteries need to be cared for in a specific way. We’ll explore this in another post in extensive detail!
If you want to combine your newly picked battery with a kit for your mountain bike – check out this article here!
For now, just keep your eyes peeled for the best ebike battery deals you can. Stores such as Luna Cycle or EM3EV will have great batteries that are safe and reliable.
I hope you’re now more informed about your battery choices! There’s still plenty to learn, but we can learn it as we go.
Have fun and as always, feel free to reach out to me in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев or contact me here!
How to Replace a BMS in an e-Bike Battery
How to replace the BMS of an eBike battery — how to test, buy a replacement, and replace it.
I’m an entrepreneur and adventure traveller. I build software, immerse myself in other cultures and languages @ Discover Discomfort and make fun of the business world @ The Vanity Metric. posts by Dana Hooshmand.
Recently (as in a few months ago) I had a problem with my e-Bike where my battery wouldn’t hold a charge, and wouldn’t accept a charge from the charger.
Normally, when I plug my eBike‘s battery in, the charger’s cooling fan whirls to life and one of the lights changes colour, indicating it’s charging. This stopped happening!
I did a suite of tests, tried a few techniques recommended on forums and by the lead tech at Luna Cycle, and eventually confirmed my BMS was broken and needed to be replaced.
So in this guide I want to outline
- A bit about my bike (as background)
- How to test your BMS to confirm it needs replacing (or whether it’s something else)
- Tests to do on a BMS and battery before you replace it
- Why a BMS might fail
- Where to get a BMS to replace it with — what to look for, and what to pay; and
- How to change the BMS over
About my electric bike
My electric bike is semi-custom. It is built like a custom, but by Luna Cycle in the USA. It has a Bafang (八方电气, “Eight Sides Electrical Appliances”) motor with a 50A controller that Luna Cycle calls their “Ludicrous” controller, though I have it set to operate in 25A mode.
Because this was a crazy year, it ended up being stored fully charged, and allowed to fully deplete, while in storage. This isn’t good for an eBike battery, it turns out, and so a few things needed to be done to get it back on the road.
The BMS — or Battery Management System — of a battery pack is the part that regulates both input (charging) and output (discharge) voltage and current from the cells.
Even though this might appear to be a guide for one kind of electric bike battery, it’s generally applicable to all e-Bike batteries, and even batteries on other devices like scooters and mobility devices.
Why? Because many of these batteries are built with the same underlying technology — a pack of lithium 18650 cells.
How to test an electric bike’s BMS/charging system
When the charging system of an electric bike fails, it means one of a few things:
- Supply failure: The charger might be broken (not delivering voltage or current necessary to charge)
- Mechanical failure: A connector wiring inside the battery might be broken,
- Cell failure: Some of the cells inside the battery may have failed, or
- BMS failure: The battery management system may not be operating
To get to the core of the problem, you have to test everything one by one.
The first (and easiest) thing to test is the charger. You measure the output voltage. For a 52V battery like mine, it should be supplying about 58V. For a 48V battery it should supply around 54V.
After you measure the output voltage, you do what’s called the “light bulb test” — where you use an incandescent bulb hooked up to the outlet. This is easier in America (or Japan I guess) where the voltage supply is 110V, but it still works with 220V bulbs.
You could also test it with an automotive bulb if you have one. But it might blow!
Second, test for mechanical failures. Probe around with a multimeter and make sure you read operating voltage in the places where you should.
Also, open up your e-bike battery and check all the wires are intact, and that none of the solder joints have broken. Bikes get beaten up and it’s possible — likely — that a joint will fail at some point, especially if your battery has gone flying across the road because you forget to lock it (guilty! Actually I lost the key for a while. )
Finally, you have to test the internals of the battery.
I did a suite of tests that Luna Cycle said I should do
- Opened it up and tested all the wires and connections
- Did a BMS battery reset
- Tested voltages across the pins — making sure every individual cell was operating correctly
One trick for testing voltage across the pins of the BMS is that they’re often coated with silicon. You should scrape it away gently before checking the voltage.
How does the BMS of an e-Bike battery fail?
A BMS is a delicate issue. There are actually people who believe in charging batteries without a BMS, like this guy on YouTube:
If “jumping” your BMS is unsucessful, you can do more extensive testing on your battery pack and on your BMS.
Watch the video below. The core of it is to check individual cell voltage (confirming they’re in the 3.6-3.8V range), making sure no cell is dead. If it’s dead, you can replace it, probably for about 15-20 of parts (and. a spot welder and some nickel strips).
Look at the number of pins and the style of connector at the top of the BMS.
It seems a lot of BMS manufacturers have an informal agreement as to what the connector should look like. This is good news!
The second rating to look for is the current rating. My bike is rated for 50A peak, so I found a controller that promised to get to that spec.
I would treat current ratings on eBay with a grain of salt. It’s possible they might be truthful, but it’s possible they’re wildly exaggerating. Given they’re so cheap, get the biggest spec one you can reasonably afford, assuming it’ll be a weak point.
Installing the new BMS
There are three steps to installing the new BMS.
Firstly, remove the connector at the top. Mine is a 14-pin connector; you might have 10 or 12 pins or some other number. This should be a plug-and-play replacement for your current BMS.
Secondly, use a low-power soldering iron to de-solder the three connectors at the bottom.
Finally, use the soldering iron to connect the wires to your new BMS.
You should now be ready to power up and give your repaired battery a go. If you’re lucky, like I was, then your charger will whirr to life and your battery will take a full charge.
Optional — I realised, as I was writing this, that there was a chance I could have destroyed the BMS again! The battery was discharged, and a surge might have fried it.
Luckily, this didn’t happen. But you should consider perhaps directly recharging each cell of the battery pack if you have a 3.6V battery charger available.
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Best Electric Motorcycles
Love them or hate them, electric motorcycles are fast becoming a reality. From daily commuters to enduro and race bikes, we’ve seen all kinds of electric bikes hit the road over the past couple of years, and it’s about time we accept that we’ll have to eventually switch to one soon too. Lucky for us, there’s a vast array of electric bikes catering to riders of all shapes, sizes, and kinds. Here are our top 15 picks in the e-motorcycle space.
Updated March 2023: New electric motorcycles seem to be popping up every month these days! In an effort to keep our readers up to date, we’re updating this article with all the latest and greatest models available on the market.
Sondors had recently made waves by dropping the pricing on the already affordable Metacycle by more than a few pennies. That’s an astonishing tactic in a market where most electric motorcycles cost more than your average Harley-Davidson. It’s a handsome bike, with some nifty features, like low seat height and weight.
The 60-mile range will get you to work and back, provided you’re not too heavy on the throttle. The brakes are a little bland and the rear shock may be inadequate, but even all those caveats aside, you simply can’t beat that price. And if all you’re doing is going to and from work, it may just be the best vehicle for you, hands down.
Super Soco TC
As much as we love high-performance bikes, an electric motorcycle will probably spend most of its life in the city. And, this is why the Super Soco TC is on our list. The Super Soco TC not only looks retro in a stylish way, but it also makes for a great commuter electric bike. With a top speed of 75 mph, it comes with a single or a double battery pack setup, claiming an impressive range of 78 Miles (with the dual battery setup), which is more than enough for city duties. Meanwhile, features like LED lights, an anti-theft alarm, keyless ignition, and a semi-digital instrument cluster top off the package. It’s pretty cheap, at approximately 4,140, but here comes the bad news. You can’t get it in the U.S.
If the more modern styling excesses of electric motorcycles are too much for you (and your wallet won’t stretch to a Curtiss One!) and what you really feel you need is a flat-track-inspired electric bike, then the Pursang is the best ev motorcycle for you. Taking its name from an old Bultaco model, the Pursang E-Tracker is a relatively normal-looking electric motorcycle, featuring a tubular chrome-moly tubed frame and carbon-fiber bodywork.
The range is quoted as 74 miles, but recharge time is a bloated six hours, which rules it out for any sort of competition riding, if that was ever a goal. It boasts a full-color TFT display that shows speed, range, riding mode, engine power regeneration, and of course, battery life. It even features smartphone connectivity and can be connected via the Bosch mobile app. It’s now available in Europe for roughly 10,052.
From the fertile engineering brain of Erik Buell comes the Fuell Fllow. Featuring a magnesium monocoque chassis and housing for the battery, the electric motor is housed in the rear wheel and produces a quite frankly astonishing 553 pound-feet of torque! Twist the throttle on this, and you don’t move forward, the earth rotates underneath you. The top speed is 85 mph (max sustained) and a range of 150 miles. Regenerative braking is employed, and using a CCS Type 2 charger gives you a full charge in 30 minutes. There is 1.76 cubic feet of storage in what used to be the fuel tank, which Fuell claims can take a full-face helmet and a soft bag. Unusually for Buell, he has not fitted the rim-mounted brake rotors that were such a feature on his gas-powered sport bikes.
The good thing about electric motorcycles is that there are plenty of start-up companies that are manufacturing new models that have no corporate design language to adhere to and the results are refreshingly different. Swedish company Cake set out to create the ultimate, spare-no-expense, lightweight, high-performance electric dirtbike. Having done this, it then turned its attention to a street-legal version.
The oddly-named Kalk is the result, and you could be forgiven for thinking it is a glorified bicycle, such is its skimpy design and construction. Skimpy it might be, but there is nothing skimpy about the specification: extruded, forged, and CNC-machined 6061 aluminum chassis, Öhlins suspension front and back, and bespoke forged and machined wheels. It’s not cheap, but if you are looking for personal transport that is light and agile, then the Cake might just be what you are looking for.
LiveWire Del Mar S2
Designed around a modular Arrow platform, the Del Mar is the first of a series of models that will be released in the coming years and is certainly aimed squarely at the mass market of electric bikes. The platform includes batteries, electronics, a motor, and can have different steering heads and swing arms bolted to it to create the different variants.
It is due to arrive in showrooms by the second half of 2023. The power output is a claimed 80 horsepower, while it weighs in at 431 pounds. The city range is expected to be 110 miles, with a 0-80% charge time in about 75 min.
Do you like sporty naked motorcycles? Let us introduce you to the newly launched Damon Hyperfighter. Unveiled in early 2022, the Damon Hyperfighter is an epic all-electric naked motorcycle that has a rather striking design. This radical design is complemented by equally striking numbers including a peak power of 200 horsepower, 170 mph top speed, and a 146-mile claimed range. The bike also packs a unique Shift technology, that lets the rider adjust the handlebar and footpeg position on the fly, along with 360-degree cameras to warn the rider about potentially dangerous objects and vehicles.
Looking for a do-it-all e-motorcycle? Well, we believe it’s the Zero SR/F. Sure, its price of nearly 23,795 isn’t for everyone, but this is one of the most sought-after bikes out there. It comes equipped with a powerful motor-battery combo that has a claimed top speed and range of 124 mph and 187 miles (city) of range, respectively.
This ensures you’ll have plenty of power to have fun while steering clear of range anxiety. Then, you have high-quality underpinnings comprising fully adjustable Showa Big Piston forks and Showa monoshock, alongside Pirelli Rosso III tires. It also comes with all modern-day features like ride modes, TFT instrumentation, smartphone connectivity, LED lighting, and even a stability control from Bosch.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire features a likable design, which shouts Harley in its own special way while promising a familiar torquey riding experience, too. Of course, there is no glass-shattering rumble here, but you do get 100 horsepower and 84 pound-feet of torque, right on par with Harley’s ICE bikes. Plus, all this power is instantly available and monitored by a handful of electronics to ensure you stay upright.
The LiveWire boasts a claimed range of 146 miles and a top speed of 95 mph, both more than enough for most riders. One item to note is that Harley spun LiveWire out into its own company, and is now producing LiveWire One in addition to the previously mentioned Del Mar.
The main point of EVs is to offer a sustainable means of getting around and if that’s your motive too, it doesn’t get any more eco-friendly than the Tarform Luna. I say this because nearly 55-percent of the bike’s parts are 3D-printed from recycled materials like pineapple-leaf fibers and recycled aluminum. But, Tarform didn’t stop there and threw in an impressive motor and battery combo which gives the bike a claimed range of 120 miles and a top speed of 120 mph. Not to forget, this is accompanied by features like a circular digital instrument cluster with an HD display, all-LED lighting, three ride modes, a 180-degree rearview camera, keyless ignition, and smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth.
Rarely do we see electric cruiser bikes, but the Evoke 6061 happens to be one of them. However, this isn’t why it’s on this list. You see, the Evoke 6061, while being an e-cruiser, can also charge from zero to 80-percent in JUST 30 minutes! That’s just a quick lunch! Before you get suspicious, let us tell you that this isn’t a marketing gimmick achieved by using a tiny battery. In fact, the Evoke 6601 packs a huge 25 kWh battery, giving it a range of 410 miles (city), which is accompanied by a beefy 120kW motor.
If you’re a sportbike fanatic who wants to go electric, the Energica Ego is probably THE best electric motorcycle for you. Not only does it offer sport bike-like performance, 170 horsepower and a limited top speed of 150mph, the Ego also has a claimed range of 261 miles which is a lot more than your ICE sport bike can manage. Along with this, the Energica Ego boasts top-shelf underpinnings comprising a trellis frame, cast aluminum wheels, Marzocchi USD forks, and Brembo brakes at both ends. Not to forget, the Ego was also used in the MotoE world championship up until last year, so it’s safe to say that the bike is well kitted-out to tackle a racetrack.
Verge TS Ultra
One important consequence of the rise of the electric motorcycle is that much of the early development has been undertaken by small, and until now, obscure companies that previously had no presence on the world motorcycling stage. This in turn has led to more innovative engineering solutions than you can shake a stick at.
The specs are quite astonishing: 885 pound feet of torque is delivered instantaneously directly to the road, with no power-sapping chains or cogs to get in the way. Nor does the motor require cooling fluids. Four ride modes configure the power delivery to suit your mood or riding requirements and 80-percent charge is available in 25 minutes with the optional DC fast charger and range is quoted as up to 233 miles.
BMW CE 04
BMW is taking a Smart approach as it dips its toe into the electric motorcycle pool. They know that electric motorcycles are best suited for city commuting, and what better motorcycle to use in an urban environment than a scooter. It’s loaded with premium features like large TFT display and large storage compartments. Its design aesthetic is futuristic. It comes with a 3-year BMW warranty and its pricing is not too shabby either, starting at 11,795. It’s built for urban commuters, with a range of 80 miles. You can pull up to work, plug it and have it ready to take you home when you’re done.
Range anxiety is a major concern for most people planning to go electric. But, there’s a radical solution to it, and it’s called the Arc Vector. The bike offers a range of over 270 miles, and if you still happen to run out of charge, it can be juiced up in just 40 minutes. Apart from this, the bike has a top speed of 124 mph and can get to 60 mph in merely 3.2 seconds. The Arc Vector is built around a unique monocoque chassis featuring Öhlins TTX mono shocks and Brembo Stylema brakes at both ends, making the package ever-so-premium.