Has the idea of using an electric bike piqued your interest? If so the e-bike Challenge is coming to Minneapolis March 23-24.

Maximizing the distance your electric bike can travel on a charge

The distance an electric bike will go on one charge of the battery is called range. This is an important specification to pay attention to when comparing e-bikes, to your desired riding style. For example. if your commute involves big hills you don’t want to run out of juice halfway up. Without power, an e-bike can be a heavy mode of transportation that demands more energy on the cyclist’s part to pedal. So the range of an electric bike generally depends on the following:

The electric bikes battery capacity

Conservatively, lithium-ion batteries are typically said to last for 1,000 full charge cycles. Now think of a volt as the “force” pushing an Amp through the system. The higher the voltage the more energy can be moved, or the faster it can be transferred. So, a higher voltage system can send more energy through the circuits to the motor. Most common are 36-volt batteries, but more bikes are using 48-volt batteries and some high-performance bikes with additional voltage. All else being equal, a higher voltage system will deliver more torque for quicker starts, but it will drain your battery faster.

The voltage output of the motor

Because most e-bike systems are standardized; what you want to look for, to maximize your total range, is the time it takes before you need to recharge the battery. To do that, look for an e-bike battery with a high Watt-Hour rating.

The average speed you travel and cadence

The average riding speed is a part of the equation to your preferred riding style factoring in varying conditions (hills, paved to unpaved or irregular surfaces, and wind resistance). If your overall comfort level, riding a bike, is at 13-miles per hour (mph) average. Your speed range may vary down to six mph on a climb and 20 mph, with a tailwind, zooming down hills.

For maximizing your e-bike range – knowing how much pedal assist to apply to your favored cadence is important to your average speed riding an e-bike.

A better understanding of cadence

Commonly talk about for measuring performance rather than the actual speed, cadence can also benefit your e-bike range. Measuring the number of times your pedal rotates per minute (RPM), cadence for the average cyclist is somewhere between 70 and 100 rpm. With a regular 9none-motorized) bike this is achieved by using the bikes gears so your cadence stays in the desired range. By using this same practice on an electric bike you will be decreasing the demand on the motor, as it assists you for a longer sustained range.

Switch gears to make it easier

Shifting into high gear will give you greater resistance on the pedal. This will also slow your cadence down making the pedal-to-wheel ratio closer to even. When shifting into lower gears there will be less resistance on the pedal so it turns faster (called spinning). So, by shifting your gears appropriately, your legs will maintain the same average pace, regardless of how fast or slow you are physically moving. The end result of maintaining your cadence on the e-bike, there will be less strain on the motor which will extend your pedal assist range from the battery.

Your weight

The load your e-bike is expected to carry or pull will also be a factor on the range you can expect from a trip.

Plan your ride to extend your range

If you are able to define a specific route you want to use for the commute, it will help you better predict the distance you will be able to safely travel between charges. Then, knowing how many hills there are to climb will further help you define the workload you will put on the motor.

Properly inflated tires

Regardless if you are driving a regular bike, electric bike or an automobile having your tires properly inflated will improve your performance. An under-inflated tire adds more friction against the road or trail surface. In this case, your e-bike motor will work harder.

If you’re only going to do six to ten miles of daily commuting, you don’t need a battery and motor system for a 50 to 70-mile range. However, you should buy a bike with a higher range than you currently need because the range will drop as the battery ages and loses capacity.

For more information

Be sure to mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis. 

Or visit a local bike shop in your area that sells and services electric bikes.

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