How to Increase your Range on your Ebike

June 3, 2016
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 kingfish lihtium

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.

Read our story on ebike math

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).

(read this article on explanation of geared motor).

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.

Aerodynamics

cedric lynch

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

hanebrink

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

cycle analyst
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

guerrila ebike charging
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.

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Written by Eric, June 2016

Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


7 Comments

  1. I like your postings very much!

    René from holland

    • thank you 🙂

  2. I got a 5.2 ah samsung 10k ebike kit 24volts 250 watts. How can I increase its range, I get about 5 without pedal assist to 9 miles with, I don’t know how to do it. Is there a crash course I need to take? I would like to get about 30 miles or so. Where can I get the batteries.

    • You would have been better off buying a Baffang 8fun, I bought the 500watt, 36v, 14ah mid drive kit to put on my Carerra Subway & I get at least 25 miles even when my battery still shows 3 bars on the power. 5 miles Sucks you should get more milage than that. Do you live near the Alps or any other mountainous region.

  3. Most of these tips to add range, simply aren’t practical for the average e-biker who most often is buying them for the recreational aspects. I’m speaking strictly US markets.
    Actual regular ‘commuters’ buying these ebikes are not a high percentage right now. Thus the tips suggested are more time consuming, requiring too much thinking and tinkering for the recreational rider. For the vast majority of people, the range on these e-bikes is plenty far enough. 17 AH batteries, and 21 AH batteries are becoming more common every day these e-bikes are sold en masse here in the US. Next year you’ll start seeing ebike mfg’s offering the 2170 batteries, which will have a energy higher density for a given space. 21 AH batteries, frame integrated, will become more common and fit in the space formerly occupied by 17 AH batteries and so on. Initially price per watt will be higher, but like everything technology-wise, they will drop over time. You’ll see more 48V batteries coming on the market, while the 36V batteries will become even cheaper.

    • Its never easy…

  4. Hello, My name is Dan Sotelo. I find it very interesting that no one ever pays attention to rotational wheel balance on e-bikes. ?…Think about it for one minute….? Now lets review Newton’s first law, A MASS THAT IS PUT IN MOTION WILL CONTINUE IN MOTION UNLESS INTERRUPTED BY AN “OUTSIDE FORCE”, OR AN “OSCILLATION”.. Now think about a bicycle, 50% is static (frame, fork, h-bars, saddle), and the other 50% spins at a high rate of speed (spokes, spoke nipples, rim, air-valve, tube, and tire). Funny how everyone bathes the static parts with endless Technology, mechanical & Aerodynamic etc.. But the poor ol wheels just get the scraps of technology. And the most essential technology that should be given to those large rotational things called wheels should be “ROTATIONAL WHEEL BALANCE”!

    Have you ever put an electric bike on a rack and spun the rear wheel?!? E-bike wheels are extremely heavy, and some wheels are off balance by as much as 1/4 ~1/2 pound! In theory, if you spin a out of balance e-bike wheel up to 25 mph the oscillating wheel causes such a violent shaking forces, that it would take over 3,000 lbs of solid steel at the axle to stop the rear wheel from shaking!

    Here comes the second whammy of technical reality! That is just the rear wheel! The front wheel is also doing the same thing!

    As both UN-balanced wheels spin at 25mph, that is like two 25lbs sledge hammers swinging from the front and rear axles!

    Here comes the third whammy of technical reality! Things go from bad to worse when both sledge hammers start to swing in harmony together, I call it “Synchronized Oscillation”, this is when the POO HITS THE FAN, causing incredible danger to bike & rider, and worst yet SUCKS A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF BATTERY ENERGY, thus greatly decreasing battery range.

    Un balance wheels go right in the face of destroying battery range and it goes right back to Newton’s first law “OSCILLATION”…
    The mass in motion, which are your tire tube & rim, if they are not balanced it causes Oscillation Correct? I call it interrupted inertia. Now your battery and motor has to work hard to compensate to keep those two heavy unbalanced wheels moving, and both battery and motor really struggle when the two unbalanced wheels get into synchronized oscillation.

    BUT IF YOU BALANCE YOUR WHEELS, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS?!?!
    No Oscillation, No interrupted inertia..! Wow! So all that you see above is GONE! Balanced wheels will definitely increase battery and range as now these heavy wheels will spin effortlessly like giant fly wheels using very little power to keep those two large fly wheels spinning.
    It would be like balancing two massive 4 ton generator wheels balanced perfectly, you can easily spin them with the touch of your fingers.

    I think you get the picture… !BALANCE YOUR E-BIKE WHEELS & INCREASE YOUR BATTERY RANGE!
    visit dynamicspeedbalance.com and click on HOW DSB WORKS

    Sincerely,
    Dan Sotelo

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