Just how far can electric bikes go? As with electric cars, range anxiety is a common thing experienced by electric bicycle riders—no one wants to be halfway to their destination only to have the battery power run out!
The ranges offered by different electric bikes varies significantly but generally speaking can be considered about 20 miles for budget models, 50 miles for mid-range models, and above 100 miles for top-end models (32, 80, and 160 kilometres, respectively). While different factors will play a role in the range offered by an electric bicycle, battery capacities are the most important.
Some top-end electric bicycles are capable of ranges as far as 200+ miles (320+ kilometres). This is due to a battery with more than 3000 watt-hrs of power. It’s important to remember that when looking for a new electric bike, the ranges listed by the manufacturers are ideal and most likely won’t be achieved during your trips.
We’ll help you on your search for an e-bike with the best range by letting you know how you can calculate the bike’s battery capacity. We’ll also explore some of the best models and go into the other factors that can influence range. Let’s get cycling!
What’s the Range?
When it comes to electric bicycles, this might be one of the most difficult questions—how far can an electric bike go? This is because the range is dependent on a variety of different factors, so it’s difficult to provide just one answer.
Even with the same model, the range of the bicycle will vary tremendously. We’ll explore this a little bit more, but the conditions in which the bike is being ridden, the rider itself, and how much the battery was charged will all play a role.
When you’re on the market for a new electric bike, you’ll notice that manufacturers list range figures in their product specifications. It is important to note that these are based on ‘ideal’ ranges—those where all conditions are perfect. In practice, it’s difficult to achieve these ranges, so always expect to not be able to travel as far on a single charge.
Bikes with Best Range
The ranges for most electric bicycles vary significantly. However, due to recent Innovations, some ranges offered by some models are very impressive.
- With 3072 watt-hrs of battery, the Delfast can travel an impressive 236 miles (379 kilometres) between charges.
- The Stromer ST3 and QWIC MN7 W – Premium are both capable of 100+ mile (160 kilometre) ranges.
- The Schwinn Monroe 350 packs a punch in terms of range and affordability. It’s capable of 45 miles (72 kilometres) without pedalling and generally retails for around $1000.
Understanding Battery Capacity
Generally speaking, a larger battery and motor will typically mean a larger range. If you want a lot of power that lasts a longer time, look for batteries 52 volts or more. Some manufacturers include their battery capacity in their specs—these are measured in watt-hrs. You’ll likely want to find an electric bike that offers a minimum of 200 watt-hrs.
Curious about how to measure your own battery capacity? Here’s how you can do it.
The voltage (V) amount listed your electric bike’s specs lets you know how much power it has. The listed amperage (Ah) amount deals with capacity and lets you know how far you can ride. If you multiply the amperage by the voltage, you’re left with the watts (watt-hrs). This indicates how far the bike can be ridden (kilometres per hour) in just one charge.
For example, say you have a bike battery with 36V and 6Ah. Your quick calculation of 36 x 6 would let you know that this bike’s battery could produce 216 watt-hrs, or roughly 216 kilometres (134 miles) per charge. This number will be much lower when the following factors are taken into consideration but could be expected to allow you to only have to charge every couple of days or so.
Other Factors that Affect Range
- Age of Battery: Ever had to replace a mobile phone? Most likely this was a result of a faulty battery. Like with other types of technology, the battery will age over time and will become less effective as it goes. This means that your range will decrease, and your battery will require more frequent charging.
- Terrain: When electric bike manufacturers test the ideal range, they’re doing so on flat smooth pavement. If you’re using your electric bike off road or on gravel, be prepared to experience a much shorter than advertised range.
- Rider’s Size: The rider’s weight and size will impact the range of the electric bicycle. Heavier riders will require more power to move which means a shorter range. In addition, taller riders will experience more wind resistance, which will also negatively impact range.
- Weight: Similar to how the weight of the rider will impact the range, so too will the weight of an electric bike and any car cargo that’s being transported.
- Level of Assistance: Different electric bikes offer different types of pedal capacity and the combination of human power with motor power will impact the range. If you are able to supplement the power coming from the motor with that of your legs, you can anticipate a greater range.
- Speed: If you can make do with a slower steadier speed, you’ll likely experience a greater range than if you were to try to go as fast as possible on your journey. More power produced by the motor (for greater speeds) requires more battery power.
- Stopping and Starting: If you’ve ever gone on a run or a ride on a normal bike, you’ll realize how difficult stopping and starting can be and how this can impact the range of your electric bike in the same way. Particularly when stopping right before a hill, your bike will require more power to get going and therefore will eat up some of the battery range.
- Hills: If you’re traveling through city streets that are flat and smooth, you’ll experience a much larger range. But if you’re traveling up multiple hills, it will require more power to be produced which will take away some of the range.
- Weather Conditions: Wind will obviously require more power to get through and will therefore reduce your range. It might also come as a surprise to also find that sunny days are not only more enjoyable for you but are also better for the battery. On average, you can expect 15% more range during a sunny summer day than during a cold winter day.
- Tire Pressure: Just like with a car, your electric bike has an optimal tire pressure. Tires that are too flat slow down your speed, making your bike less efficient while also reducing your range.
While it’s nice to have the assurance of an electric bike with a significant range, if you’re just doing some light traveling to and from work every day or to local places in your area, you most likely won’t need to invest in a fancy bike with significant range. When looking for a new e-bike, make sure you take all of the listed factors into consideration as your typical journeys will most likely be far different than those that determined the ‘ideal’ range provided by the manufacturers.
Maintain your bike well, keep your tires pumped up, and use human-power if you’re able to. Over time, you’ll learn how to charge and use your bike more efficiently and sustaining longer ranges will be a breeze!