There is only one sure fire way to increase range of your ebike and that is adding more battery (more amp hours). Amp hours (Ah) are a precious commodity for an ebiker, and this article is how you can get more range from the amp hours you already have.
In case you didn’t know, I started Luna Cycle last year which has finally brought high quality 18650 ebike batteries to the market place at the most affordable pricing ever seen. However, I want you guys to do the right thing, and increase your range without buying more lithium. You can do this by increasing your efficiency without adding bulk and size, and that’s a more worthy option.
Adding more battery does has its drawbacks:
- Adding battery is expensive (quality 18650 batteries are expensive)
- Batteries add weight,and make your bike feel like less of a bike
- Batteries take away from any ebike builders most precious commodity…SPACE
- Larger ebike batteries make your bike look less like a bike
Don’t let any slick-talking ebike salesman fool you with exaggerated range numbers. Be realistic about what range to expect, based on the battery size you have in watt hours, and think of ways to increase the miles you get per watt hour.
Here are some huge factors that affect range besides, the size and bulk of your pack:
How much you pedal
The #1 factor…you can get 100 mile range on any ebike if you pedal enough. This is how many ebike manufacturers are able to grossly exaggerate range and get away with it.
If you want big range, and also to get in shape at the same time…pedal more!
Do you use pedal assist mode or throttle?
If you use a pedal-assist system (PAS) and do not have a throttle…you will be forced to pedal your bike more, and laziness will disappear from the equation. This will automatically increase your range. If you want to increase your range, get an ebike with a pedal assist option, and then try to forget you have a throttle and you will pedal your bike more, guaranteed.
How hard you apply throttle
Hard throttles (especially on start up) really suck up juice, and cost you range. If you want more range, help your bike get to speed and then gradually apply throttle.
How efficient is your ebike motor
Not all ebike kits are as efficient as others,and many efficiency numbers are grossly exaggerated. For example, most hub motors efficiency is calculated when the motor is at high speed where its at its peak efficiency. Since most ebike motors are rarely operated in their peak efficiency, efficiency numbers are usually wrong or exaggerated.
Keep in mind…all electric motors are most efficient when spinning fast. That means that if you want peak efficiency in any ebike system, you must have some kind of gearing to keep that motor spinning fast.
Mid drives are more efficient than hub motors because you can use the bicycle gears to have them in the proper gear and spinning at their peek efficiency RPM’s.
Planetary gears in hub motors and also mid drives are both more efficient because they allow the ebike motor to spin faster. Geared motors, in case you don’t know are brushless motors with planetary gear reduction built into the motor to increase the revolutions the motor spins (typically 5:1, the motor spins five times for every turn of the wheel).
Are you wasting any of your precious amp hours, by turning it into heat?
If any of your components are heating up bad…battery, motor , or controller? You are wasting precious watt hours to heat and are losing efficiency. Try to figure out a way to keep your system from heating up. (back off the throttle)
How hilly is your terrain
Nothing kills range like a hilly commute. Things that might help is a regen braking system (on a hub motor) or picking a route that is less hilly. Large hills will sap your juice and stress your electrical components like no other. A mid drive shines with hills because of the ability to shift gears into an ultra low gear so the electric motor can continue to spin fast at peek efficiency even if you are climbing the hill slowly.
The weight of the rider
Yes that is right…if you want to increase range on an electric bike, it’s not going to be so easy. Losing some pounds will greatly increase your range. If you are a 250 pound rider you can’t expect to even have close to the same range as your 110 pound super-model girlfriend, no matter what the ebike salesman tells you.
In the picture is Cedric Lynch, riding his aero recumbent ebike
This is a huge factor especially on high poweedr ebikes. Above 30-MPH, aerodynamics plays a huge role, and on an upright bicycle?..most of your energy will go to wind resistance. Maybe that fat bike you are considering is not such a great idea, and maybe its time to consider a recumbent or a bike with 20-inch wheels. How you ride will play a big factor too…at 30-MPH for example, it might be better efficiency wise to tuck-in your posture, rather than to pedal more. Even consider a Velo bikes…people have pedaled velos to 100-MPH!…a feat only possible because of cutting the air like a knife. Imagine a velo with an electric motor and you start to get into the zenith of efficiency and speed.
The speed and the direction of the wind
If you don’t think wind makes a huge difference…try turning off the power to your ebike and pedaling against the wind…..it sucks. Wind speed greatly reduces or increases your aerodynamics depending on if your flying with or fighting against the wind.
Tire pressure and the thickness of your tires
Fat bikes are all the rage but they have twice the rolling resistance of a regular mountain bike tire. Think about tread patterns and tire thickness if you want to increase your range. Also tire pressure…of course you want those tires to be as hard as the muscles in your calves if you are expecting amazing range numbers.
Invest in a watt meter
Amp hour gauges like the Cycle Analyst, the wattmeter, and the Batt-man do an excellent job of keeping track of the amp hours you burn. In fact, if you attach a speedo to the Batt-man or Cycle Analyst, it will calculate your watt hours per mile which is an incredibly useful tool to have.
Read this post where users compare their watt hours per mile for some informative real life range efficiency and range expectancy.
Calculate your watt hour per mile and then try to get that number lower
Using the amp hour gauges mentioned above, figure out what your average “watt hour per mile” is and then try to get that number lower. Watt hours per mile will tell you how efficient you are on your ebike.
Here is a forum post where users compare their watt hours per mile. See how efficient (or inefficient other riders are and what you can expect)
Guerrilla Charging Mid Ride
Adding amp hours during your ride is one of the sure fire ways to add range with only adding a bit of additional weight for a fast charger.
Any public electric outlet will do for this…and you get the extra thrill of knowing your grabbing a “little bit” of free juice.
If all this fails and you still don’t have the range you want, its time to see me at this website and I will be happy to sell you MORE BATTERY.
Written by Eric, June 2016