While there’s many similarities between traditional, non-motorized bicycles and electric bikes, one of the major differences is how to recharge and maintain the battery. Furthermore, while there are some similarities between normal batteries and eBike batteries, there are some unique quirks that you should be aware of as well. EBike batteries and electric bike systems are really a class of their own when it comes to maintaining them, and there’s a lot that newcomers to eBikes won’t know that can lead to problems down the road. So, here are some of our top tips and key pieces of information that you should be aware of in order to properly charge your eBike.
Tip #1: Charge Your eBike to full out of the box:
While you are probably pretty excited about riding your brand new eBike, we suggest that you let it charge to full before you ride it once it shows up at your home. While most eBike charging sessions will only take four to five hours, we suggest letting your battery charge for ten to twelve hours for the first session, or just leaving it charge overnight. There’s a few reasons for this:
Your eBike battery will probably only be at 50% once it arrives at your house.
The first charge will often be slower as the battery hasn’t been inactive for a while.
The extended charging time will help configure and prepare both your battery, charger, and eBike electrical systems.
You can also test and verify out of the box if all of your gear is working before you get out on the streets and find yourself stuck due to a malfunction.
Patience is a virtue, and if you take the time to make sure that your gear is working and give your equipment a good initial charge, you’ll help your eBike equipment work much better in the long run!
Tip #2: Recharge daily, and don’t run your eBike battery to empty.
Most eBike batteries are built with lithium cells, which will last longer and hold a charge better if you make sure to do two key things: top off your eBike battery daily, and try to avoid letting your eBike battery life fall below 30%.
Lithium cells that aren’t recharged and powered after a while can enter into a faulty charge state, causing the battery to drain and lose power or even lose the capacity to fully recharge. The best way to prevent this issue is with daily use and recharging, which will keep the lithium cells active and ready for use whenever you want to ride. If you haven’t been able to turn on or charge your eBike battery in a while or have other difficulties, plugging it in and letting it charge for twelve hours like you should when you first get it should resolve many of its fault charge issues.
It’s also important to not let your eBike battery drain too much, especially to empty. The less charge that is in an eBike, the more strain it will be on the battery to bring it back up, along with the greater potential for developing a faulty charge state. While letting your eBike battery charge longer will generally resolve this issue, it will decrease the overall lifespan of your eBike battery. As such, unless you need to for a long, extended biking trip, try to cut off your motor and power assist once you get to the 30 to 35% power level on your battery.
Tip #3: Only charge to 100% when you really need the extra mileage or to fix a faulty charge.
So remember how we just said that charging the eBike battery from zero is hard and straining on the eBike battery? Charging the eBike battery to 100% is also hard on the battery, though not as harmful as charging it from zero. For most eBike batteries and chargers, there’s little to no battery cellular degradation from the 30% to 90%, but that last 10% to top off the battery does require an extra level of power and energy to recharge and will cause the battery to degrade faster.
However, we made this a separate tip because there are going to be times when you want to charge to 100%. When you just receive your eBike, or you feel the battery and motor haven’t been used for at least a week, charging to full will help clear most faulty charge issues in the battery. Additionally, if you are planning a longer trip and want as much motor power assist as you can get, charging to full is much for the batter than going from 85% and dropping below the recommended 30% level. You also might be leaving your battery alone for a few hours, and so might not have the ability to take it off the charger right when it hits that 85% level.
As such, whether you should or shouldn’t let a battery charge to full is going to depend on your circumstances and situation. If you do remember to take the charger off at about 85% consistently, you can expect to find that your eBike battery life will double. However, you are sacrificing extra miles and distance, forcing yourself to cut off your motor earlier than you might want or need. We also find its good practice, for the overall health of the battery, to charge it to full once every couple months to fix any faulty charge issues.
We also suggest upgrading your eBike battery to the largest Watthour (Wh) battery that is compatible with your eBike. Doing so will maximize the value, power, distance, performance, and of your eBike while also providing you with a battery that should last you longer overall.
Tip #4: Charge on or off the eBike, but make sure it’s in a good, safe climate.
One of the more popular questions when it comes to eBike is whether it’s better to charge an eBike battery when it’s attached to an eBike or in doors if you had to choose between the two. The answer is that, overall, there is little difference between charging your eBike battery while it’s on the frame or off of it, outside of the fact that you want to charge your battery in a safe environment.
While eBike batteries are built to handle hot and cold temperatures alike, they are somewhat vulnerable to issues when in their charging state and don’t handle excessive temperatures while recharging. While it’s unlikely that they will break or suffer extreme damage unless in excessively high or low temperatures, recharging an eBike battery in the wrong temperature will likely lead to a faulty charge, limiting your overall performance.
As such, when recharging your eBike battery, try to do so in an environment that is warmer than 40 degrees fahrenheit and colder than 90 degrees fahrenheit. In celsius, this would be warmer than about 4 degrees celsius and colder than about 32 degrees celsius.
We also strongly caution against recharging your eBike batteries when it is raining or in damp and wet environments. These are electrical batteries, and while most cables and wires are protected and insulated it only takes a few droplets to fry not just your battery, but your whole eBike electrical system. If you have been biking in the rain and need to recharge your battery, we recommend taking it off the frame, bringing it indoors, wiping and drying it off by hand, and then giving it fifteen minutes before plugging it in to recharge. While this takes a little bit of time and effort, a bit of caution will make sure that your eBike battery will continue to work well with your eBike as your cruise around cities and back country trails!
Tip #5: Turn off the motor, and battery if possible, before recharging your eBike.
When you want to recharge your eBike, it is important that you do so with your motor turned off. Not only would it take longer to recharge your battery if the motor is left on, but the constant draining and recharging is also very likely to cause faulty charging and even battery damage. While you’ll likely notice or hear if your eBike motor is active as you set up your charger, just double check that everything is off before plugging your eBike or battery in for a recharge.
If you have a removable eBike battery that isn’t built into the frame, see if you can completely turn off the battery before you plug it in for a recharge. This isn’t as big as an issue as the motor, but if you can turn off the battery it will improve the overall charging speed and be less of a strain on the battery itself. No worries if you can’t, but your battery life will be extended overall if your eBike battery does give you an option before plugging it in.
Tip #6: Know when to replace your eBike battery.
This is our last tip, because even serious eBikers will typically be able to enjoy great performance from their eBike battery for a while before they will have to consider replacing their battery. Unless you are going on long thousand mile trips every week, you’ll have at least a couple years before you will even begin to notice battery degradation and have to consider replacing your eBike battery.
Have you noticed the recommended battery rating posted on a website? That number will be in cycles, with a cycle being how much energy it takes to recharge from zero to full. If you recharge from 50% to 100%, you have more or less used up a half cycle of battery life. With eBike batteries, the more cycles that use up, the more your battery will degrade and lose its overall battery capacity. Recharging from zero or constantly topping off your battery will cause this capacity to degrade quicker, but the eBike battery capacity will more or less follow the suggested rating.
The posted rating is not a warning of the max cycles a eBike battery will have, but rather how many cycles it will take for an eBike battery to degrade to 80% capacity. For example, if a eBike battery has a rating of 1,000 cycles and a capacity of 50 miles, then after 1,000 cycles it will have the battery life to go 40 miles now. After another 1,000 miles, it will degrade by around another 20%, and so will only be able to go about 30 miles. To completely use up a battery until it’s useless, you usually have to do four to five times the suggesting cycle rating, though given the decreased battery capacity you will want to replace your eBike battery much sooner.
While there is no easy way to keep track of your overall eBike battery capacity, just keep an eye out on how far you can travel on a current charge. If you’re findinging that you aren’t traveling as far as you’re used to with your eBike motor, that’s a good sign that it’s time to replace and upgrade your battery with something new.
Conclusion: Handle with care, but don’t stress too much about recharging!
Batteries and eBikes are both built to be tough, and are also meant to be easy to use by the general consumer. Even if you don’t remember to follow every tip above every time you recharge your eBike, you’re still going to have great performance and go far with your pedal assist or throttle system. However, by following these tips, you will be able to avoid many faulty charging battery issues, along with extending the overall life of your eBike battery significantly.
One last tip we want to remind you of though is that batteries are built tough, but they are also filled with small and delicate parts that can break when mishandeld! Try to avoid dropping eBike batteries as much as possible, and make sure to clean them when they get wet, muddy, or otherwise dirty. Avoid storing eBike batteries in excessively warm or cold rooms, especially over the long term. Lastly, eBike batteries are electronic and flammable, so when storing make sure to follow proper safety procedures and recommendations.
With that in mind, make sure you use your eBike batteries and motor as much as you can, and have fun riding! Thank you so much for reading, and we hope our article has been helpful to you in learning more about recharging your eBike. If you have any questions about our article or would like to learn more about eBikes in general, be sure to send us an email or leave a comment below.
Otherwise, let us know about your next eBike adventure!