Despite what you may have heard, there are plenty of ways to increase your electric bike’s range. Much of it comes down to proper planning. If you want to increase your electric bike range, you’ll have to think about all the ways in which you’re wasting precious battery energy. There are plenty of preventative and active strategies you can take while cruising around on the weekend or fighting those steep hills on your daily commute. Regardless of whether you’re sailing down smooth bike paths amidst morning traffic or you’re out for a weekend ride through uneven terrain, there are plenty of ways to improve how many miles you can get out of your e-bikes’ battery.
And while we’ve covered a variety of topics to consider when buying an electric bike before, in this article, we’re going to focus on range and battery life and how you can make those two things come together in a beautiful symphony of enjoyable long-distance electric bike riding.
1. Take good care of your battery
Taking good care of your electric bike’s battery should be the number one priority if you’re looking to squeeze more mileage out of every trip. Here are some great battery management tips to accomplish exactly that.
- Try to store your battery at room temperature when possible.
- Batteries don’t like cold temperatures, so try and keep them away from cold as much as possible.
- If you don’t use your bike during colder weather, store your battery somewhere relatively warm and recharge it every few months to keep it alive.
- Try not to leave it plugged in for more than 24 hours. However, many modern batteries have smart controls built in to prevent this kind of degradation. They will automatically shut off charging when the battery hits 100% and only top up once the battery discharges to a lower rate.
2. Keep your tire pressure up
This strategy may not provide you with as comfortable a ride but just like with cars, ensuring that your bike tires are inflated to their optimum pressure will increase overall rolling efficiency. The increased rolling efficiency will, in turn, increase the range for your electric bike as the battery and motor won’t have to work as hard to get your bike moving.
3. Find a Comfortable Riding Speed
Riding your electric bike as fast as you can is seldom the most optimal way to preserve battery life and increase range. Find a comfortable riding speed where wind-resistance is reasonable but not too challenging. The more wind resistance you encounter, the harder the battery will have to work to keep your electric bike going, thereby reducing its charge and range.
4. Use the Regenerative Brakes
Most electric bikes now have a regenerative braking feature. Functionally, it turns the motor into a generator when it senses braking resistance. While the amount of energy captured through regenerative braking is relatively minor, if you’re looking to maximize your electric bike’s range, every little bit counts. So make sure to turn this feature on and use it as much as possible.
5. Maximize Your Bike’s Gearing
This is an extremely important tip. Most electric bikes still come with some set of gears, whether it be 3 or 21. As a result, you have to think about what drains an electric bike’s battery the most. It’s almost always situations in which the bike has a low cadence and high torque. So if you encounter situations where you find yourself starting and stopping a lot, or you’re fighting some major inclines amidst your city’s hilly areas, you’ll want to get your bike into a lighter gear and get your cadence to between 60-80 rpm. Reducing situations where your bike is in a harder gear and is starting and stopping is ideal for increasing your electric bike’s range.
6. Consider Your Tires
While this tip is highly dependant on where you’re riding your electric bike as far as the terrain goes, if you’re still riding around on generic thick treaded mountain bike tires while mostly using asphalt or smooth roads, you should consider switching to road tires. The tire compound will also make a difference. Bike tires with stickier compound will provide you more grip but also reduce your electric bike’s range. Additionally, your suspension pressures (stiffer is better) will also impact your electric bike’s range.
Of course, if you are taking your electric bike off-road, you’ll want to heed the opposite advice. Loss of traction can be a real electric bike battery drain, so make sure that your bike tires are slightly underinflated so that the electric motor can transfer power to the ground without wasting energy on tire slippage.
7. Oil Your Electric Bike’s Chain
Friction is bad. Smoothness is good. Don’t lose power from your electric bike battery’s motor and energy just because your chain is constantly fighting friction. Make sure that your entire drivetrain is clean, well-oiled, and running as smoothly as possible. Trust me; it makes a real difference to how much range you’ll be able to squeeze out of one charge. A well-oiled machine is much more efficient than one that has to deal with poorly moving parts due to a lack of lubrication.
8. Plan Your Route
Know of any particularly smooth or newly paves streets you can take without sacrificing overall route efficiency? Know how to avoid massively hilly areas, roads, or paths? How about planning a route that avoids starts and stops as much as possible. These are all optimal ideas for reducing how much power demand your electric bike will require. Also, try to avoid bumps and potholes as much as possible. It’s not only good for your bike’s overall health but also ideal for improving your electric bike’s range.
9. Lay off the Throttle – Try Coasting More
Those with hybrid cars and electric cars have been engaged in hypermiling competitions for many years now. There are entire websites, forums, and subreddits dedicated to the art of hypermiling. Many of those same principles can be applied to electric bikes as well. Here are just a few of them:
- Avoid hills where possible
- Avoid uneven roads
- Coast as much as possible
- Avoid hitting your breaks unless necessary
- Try to stop entirely as much as possible – reduce to a crawling roll instead
10. Get a Second battery
Yes, this seems obvious, but it’s probably the easiest and most effective ways to increase your range. Most electric bikes allow you to remove and replace your battery with the turn of a key. Take advantage of this feature and simply buy a second battery, throw it in your bike’s saddlebag or your backpack, and boom, you’ve effectively doubled the range of your electric bike.
11. Reduce the Overall Weight
Carrying stuff around in your backpack or cargo bags while riding your electric bike that isn’t absolutely necessary? Perhaps you’ve equipped your electric bike with tons of additional gear that you may not use every day. Consider that lightening the overall weight your electric bike has to carry will have a significant impact on what kind of range you can expect.
12. Take it out on a full charge
Believe it or not, many people don’t do this. But if you’re looking to get the absolute maximum range out of your electric bike, make sure your battery is charged to 100% right before you go out. These days, lithium-ion batteries have gotten quite good at holding their charge, but if you leave one lying around for a day or two, it will discharge slightly.
13. Try to pedal when you’re accelerating
Going from zero to something is the hardest work your electric bike motor will ever do. Thus, requiring the most energy from your battery. The second hardest thing your electric bike will do is assisting you or using the throttle to move from one speed to a faster pace. This simply means that one good way of extending your electric bike range is to reduce the number of times your motor and battery have to work hard in these situations. Instead of using the throttle, try to pedal instead from a dead stop.
14. Get a Wattmeter
Investing in a proper wattmeter, if your electric bike’s onboard computer doesn’t come with already, is a great investment. A wattmeter can tell you in real-time how much energy you’re using at any speed. This information can help you adjust your behaviour in real-time. Keeping a close eye on when your battery uses a ton of energy will give you some more insight and hints as to when and where you can save more energy, thus extending your electric bike’s range.
If you’ve picked up any handy tips along the way while trying to extend the range on your e-bike, give us a shout, and we’ll make sure to add it to this article.