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How Far Can You Go on an Ebike In One Charge?

How Far Can You Go On An Ebike In One Charge

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If you’ve decided to pick up an ebike, one of the first things you’ll probably want to know is just how far you can go on it. Your ebike’s range determines exactly how well you can use it; if an ebike won’t get you to work and back on a single charge, you might want to think twice if you intend to use it for your daily commute.

While range can be a make-or-break feature when buying an ebike, it is often the case that manufacturers are optimistic about their product’s capabilities. Though a bit of overestimation is to be expected, it makes your job of figuring out whether an ebike is suitable for you a bit more difficult. So, how exactly can you determine what an ebike’s range really is?

Figuring out how far you can go on an ebike is a lot easier if you keep a few things in mind. You’ll be able to get a better estimate for yourself, making it easier to spot when a manufacturer is overselling the range of their ebike, making sure your new ebike reliably gets you where you need to go.

Also Read: How To Charge an Electric Bike

What impacts the range of an ebike?

The main reason why manufacturers overestimate their ebikes’ range is that there are a whole lot of variables in the equation. Some are within the manufacturer’s control, such as the capacity of an ebike’s battery. Others vary between riders or locations, such as pedal strength and terrain. When shopping for a new ebike, you’ll need to consider these variables and how well the ebike is suited to your area and what you have in mind. Specifically, you’ll want to take a look at the following variables:

  • Terrain – Inclines and rough surfaces are going to be one of the main drains on your ebike’s battery, especially if you use a high level of pedal assist or are throttle-only. As a side note, this variable is much less important in the EU, where ebike throttles aren’t widely used. Additionally, hill starts are going to drain your ebike’s battery quite a bit if done regularly. If your route has a lot of rough terrain, you can expect your overall range to decrease.
  • Tire size and pressure – If you’ve had a vehicle of any kind before, you probably know that tires with low pressure are much less efficient. Letting your tires get soft will mean worse performance overall, and a higher drain on your battery. The tire type also has an effect, with fat tires offering more stability but less range.
  • Weight – Naturally, the amount of weight your ebike carries will have a bearing on its range. If it has to support a lot of weight from you and whatever you intend to carry, your ebike’s range will suffer.
  • Size of the motor – Motors are another influential factor on your ebike’s range. Big motors mean more speed, but are almost always less efficient than their smaller counterparts. If you need your ebike to get you somewhere fast, you’ll need to balance motor size with the next variable.
  • Battery capacity – Lastly, you’ll need to pay close attention to the capacity of an ebike’s battery. You can optimize the other variables all you like; if your battery doesn’t have the juice, it won’t get you where you need to go. You should also have a look at the type of battery; while most ebikes sport a comparatively efficient lithium battery, some use a nickel-cadmium battery instead. In most cases, you’ll want to go with the former.

Also Read: How To Make an Ebike Faster

Calculating the range of an ebike

If you consider the variables outlined above, you can eyeball the capabilities of an ebike and whether it has what your situation demands. If you’ve got a long distance to cover over rough terrain with a heavy load, a small battery and soft tires aren’t going to get the job done. Though this general idea can be enough to decide whether or not a particular ebike is up to the task, there is a way to get a more precise estimate, if you’re willing to do a little math.

Thankfully, it’s not nearly as bad as it might seem at first. First off, you’ll want to calculate the Watt Hours of an ebike’s battery. Most batteries have the voltage and amperage information readily available, but you won’t be able to calculate the range with that alone. To make the conversion from voltage and amp hours, all you need to do is multiply the two together. What you get is the Watt Hours.

The next part of the calculation isn’t an exact science, as you’ll be using averages instead of precise numbers, but the calculation is enough to give you a solid idea of what a particular ebike is capable of. To finish the calculation, take the Watt Hours figure you got earlier and divide it by the average Watt Hours per mile, which is 20. As an example, say your new ebike’s battery has 36V and 10Ah. 36V x 10Ah = 360 Watt Hours/20 Watt Hours per mile = 18 miles. If this figure is close to the one touted by an ebike’s manufacturer, you can safely assume it’s pretty accurate.

The importance of pedaling

While crunching the numbers can give you a good idea of what an ebike can do, it omits one of the most important factors – the rider. If you’re buying a throttle-only ebike, you can take this number as gospel, more or less. However, if you’re looking at an ebike with pedals, you can dramatically increase your range the more you use them. Sticking to a low level of pedal assist for most of your ride will consume fewer Watt Hours, though you’ll be making up for it with sore legs, at least until you get used to it. As a side note, manufacturers boasting overly optimistic ranges get those figures by expecting riders to work up a sweat.

As a middle ground, switching between levels of pedal assist will decrease the overall amount of Watt Hours you spend during a ride, while not taking as much of a toll on your legs. However, you won’t get anywhere near the level of efficiency as you would by sticking to a low level of pedal assist for the whole ride. Even still, if you save a few Watt Hours per mile, you’ll get a lot more out of your ebike.

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