If you’re one of the people who have a penchant for riding eBikes, or you’re new to the game and looking to buy your first electric bike, you’ve probably asked yourself this question before. How far can electric bikes go on a single battery charge?
The definitive answer is . . . it depends.
The exact distance that you can ride on a single battery charge will vary based on several factors. Riding terrain. Rider weight. Battery capacity. Motor power. Tire inflation. Even something as seemingly innocuous as the strength of headwinds or tailwinds can have significant impact over the maximum distance.
So how can you know how far an electric bike can travel on a single charge?
Start with the Basics
Wanting to know how far an electric bike will travel on a single charge? The most obvious place to start is with the seller or store that’s selling the bike. Most reputable sellers and manufacturers will have a spec sheet for the eBike. This will contain valuable information including IP water resistance ratings, weight capacity and, yes, the travel distance per charge.
But these are estimations based on tests performed under optimal road conditions. They might not reflect actual real-life use. Consider them “expert estimations.” Check product reviews and see if they corroborate or contradict the manufacture specs.
But why might the specs be off compared to actual usage?
Remember, so many variables determine how far your eBike can travel on a single charge. From environmental conditions to how much throttle you use. Keep reading to see this explained in detail.
Consider Pedal Power
Most electric bikes are designed to augment your pedaling effort, not totally replace it. So the more effort you put in, the less power is drained from the battery and the farther distance you can travel. This is even more the case when you’re accelerating or climbing steep hills.
It may be tempting to rely solely on your eBike’s throttle. But this is a surefire way to quickly consume your battery power. With this in mind, it’s important that you pay close attention to how much and how hard you pedal, because that is directly proportional to your speed and mileage.
Consider the Design?
The design of electric bikes also determines how far they can go. For example, fat tire eBikes are good on sand and in snow, but they have low mileage. This is because wider tires have larger contact area and requires more torque — and therefore, energy — to move. On the other hand, the beach cruiser hybrids have a medium range. Thin-wheeled bikes have the highest range because their weight and rolling resistance are lower
Some eBikes — like our Swagcycle models — are throttle-only. They look like a traditional bicycle, but they ride more like an electric scooter with a seat. With those types of eBikes, make sure you buy from a brand that’s known for using highly efficient battery and motor components. This will help you maximize mileage.
Consider the Motor and Battery
Your electric bike motor and the size of its battery must match to get an optimal vehicle range. Look for a set up where the motor capacity in watts is equivalent to the battery capacity in watt-hours. With this, the motor will not strain the battery, and this will allow for an optimal range.
You’ll definitely want to find eBikes with at least a 250-watt motor and 36-volt battery.
Battery capacity is the most important of all the factors that determine how far you can go on your electric bike. If you get one with high watt-hours, the bike range will be correspondingly greater. The battery type is also crucial. For instance, if your electric bike is using a lithium-ion battery rather than a nickel-cadmium battery, the bike will go farther. Why? Because Lithium batteries have a higher energy density than nickel-cadmium batteries. Lithium batteries store more energy and handles energy dispersal more efficiently.
Consider Rider’s Weight
Another important factor that determines how far your electric bike can go is how much it’s carrying. The weight of most electric bikes ranges between thirty to sixty pounds but an average person will normally weigh more than that. This is why your weight is a crucial factor in determining the bike’s range.
Also important? The weight of the items you’re carrying on the eBike. If you don’t have much load on the bike, you’ll be able to go farther. There won’t be as much drain on the battery. But if there is heavy load on the bike, the battery will have to work harder to move the bike. That means energy will deplete sooner, reducing the distance the bike can travel.
Get It Right
Now you know that it’s not easy answering the question, How far can electric bikes go on a single charge? There are, after all, so many variables. But now you’re in the know. And knowing is half the battle. Look at the specs provided by the manufacturer. Read up on reviews. But take them both with a grain of salt.
And be prepared to put in some work on your end, because nothing compares to experience. Once you’ve ridden your electric bike for some time, you’ll get a feel for how far you can travel before the battery fully drains. By then, you’ll have a better grip on what your own personal effective range is on that vehicle. You can shift gears (or speed modes) to maximize efficiency. You could keep your speeds low. Or you could pedal more.
There are ways to squeeze every little bit of power out of your eBike. Get all these right and you’ll find yourself going farther than ever before with electric bike.
Last Update: June 10, 2019