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Everything you need to know about e-bike batteries

The battery is one of the essential components of an e-bike and one of the most expensive. The battery is a critical deciding factor for the range (how far you can ride on a single charge), top speed, and power of your e-bike. If you consider purchasing an e-bike, you should first know all about the different available types of batteries. Here is everything you need to know about e-bike batteries. 

 

Size Matters. As a rule of thumb, bigger battery capacity (size), measured in Watt-hours (Wh), means more range and power for your e-bike. The lowest class for e-bike battery size is typically 250 Wh. This is suitable for bikes that are primarily used for flatland cruising and will reach a top speed of around 20 mph. An e-bike with a 250 Wh battery will have a tough time going up hills or over rough terrain without a lot of additional pedaling. On the other hand, a 750 Wh battery will give your e-bike better acceleration, a top speed of around 30 mph, and good hill-climbing performance. This is also a good capacity for heavier riders.

Structure Matters. The structure (cell chemistry) is an important factor for the performance of an e-bike’s battery. There are three primary battery structures used with e-bikes.

  • Lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of battery, are very cheap, and are being used less and less for e-bikes. They weigh a lot, charge slowly, and have a short lifespan and a low capacity.
  • Nickel-cadmium batteries have a higher capacity than lead-acid batteries and can last longer. Nickel-based batteries, however, are expensive, have a low power density, and can lose power very quickly.
  • Lithium-ion batteries are by far the most popular and cost-effective battery type used for e-bikes today. These durable batteries weigh less and have the highest capacity and power output of all available battery types. The drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries are that they can be sensitive to extreme temperatures and overheating.

 

Lifespan Matters. An e-bike’s battery is typically worth about one-third the value of the entire bicycle and will last anywhere from 2 to 5 years. It’s important to choose a high-quality battery and take proper care of it to prolong its lifespan. Some tips on extending the life of your e-bike’s battery are:

  • Store your battery in a cool, dry place. Avoid leaving your e-bike out in the hot sun or in wet conditions. Store your bike’s battery in a cool place, preferably below 70° F. If you are going to ride during the winter, the temperature of your e-bike’s battery should be above freezing before charging.
  • Store your battery partially charged. Lithium batteries slowly discharge over time, so storing a fully depleted battery can lead to cell damage. When storing a battery for an extended period, it is ideal to have a charge between 40% and 80% of a full charge. Some chargers have a lower “storage” setting you can switch to before storing your e-bike.
  • Don’t regularly fully discharge your battery. Regularly fully discharging a lithium battery can be harmful. It is better to partially discharge and then top up the battery when needed to extend its lifespan. Lithium batteries operate best in the top half of their discharge cycle. 

Understanding the basics of e-bike batteries will help you determine the size and type of battery that will best suit your needs and how to take care of it. You typically get what you pay for when it comes to batteries, which will have already been factored into an e-bike’s price. Knowing all about e-bike batteries will help you save money in the long run and get more out of your ride!

1 comment

Purchased an ebike kit from ebikeling October 2021. Purchased motor and battery at same time. I’ve not done an initial charge on the battery for a year. Have spent an entire year building my fancy bike. Question……at this point ready to install battery and charge it. I have a 52V battery. My question is this……have I stupidly ruined the battery by not charging it? Will there be a danger in now charging it? How should I charge it, meaning a few minutes at a time, etc. Thanks for any expert feedback.

Nelson

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