The electric bike is an efficient way to commute in an environmentally friendly way while not breaking a sweat. Whether it is with a throttle or not, the electric motor will greatly assist your pedaling and allow you to not strain yourself too much.
The electric motor needs electricity to run, and for this electric bikes are equipped with battery packs. To make the most out of its useful life span, there are few good habits you should develop when it comes to how to properly care for your e-bike batteries. One of these is to charge it after each ride, just as almost all manufacturers advise.
The life span of a battery pack is often expressed in charging cycles, and many people do not understand what that means, which leads them to create habits that actually decrease the usable life of their battery packs.
What Is a Charging Cycle?
Many people presume that it is a single charging, but it is not. In simplest terms, it is a cycle of discharging the full capacity of a battery and then recharging the full capacity of the battery. In other words, one charge cycle can mean charging your battery several times. For example, if you five times discharge your battery to 80% of its capacity and recharge it to 100%.
The number of charging cycles a manufacturer states as a life span of their batteries is a rough estimate of how many times the battery can discharge its full capacity and recharge for its full capacity. It is not a perfect measure, and very often it is calculated based on tests, so your mileage may vary greatly between batteries with the same nominal life span but coming from different companies.
Today, the most common are lithium-based battery packs for e-bikes. Depending on the exact chemistry, whether they are lithium polymer, lithium ferrite, and so on; they can last 500 or even more than 1500 charging cycles.
How Often Should You Charge Your Ebike?
If you are using it regularly, at least once every couple of days, the best practice is to charge it after every ride. This way it will be fully charged whenever you need it, and you will avoid the state of deep discharge, which actually leads to decreasing the life span of your battery.
Lithium batteries are somewhat sensitive to discharging them fully, which is why most of the electric devices that use them actually have a shutoff point when per cell voltage drops near 3 volts. Such deep level discharges will lead to a decrease in the longevity of your battery pack.
In case that you don’t plan on using your e-bike for a longer period of time, because of the fact that batteries lose charge slowly over time, even when they are not powering anything, you should charge it back to more than 60% every two months. This way you will not have to worry about self-discharge reaching depth that can decrease the life of your battery.
How to Make Your E-bike Battery Last Longer
The best way to make sure that your battery pack lasts its full possible life span is to never expose it to conditions that can cut its life short. The most common error that people make is to discharge their batteries to 0% of their capacity or close to it. Deep discharges are actually damaging to lithium batteries and should be avoided.
If you keep the battery always above 20% of its capacity, it will last roughly the number of charging cycles the manufacturer advertises. Another factor that decreases the life of a battery is heat, if the battery reaches an internal temperature above 104 degrees it will slowly decrease its longevity.
Because the lithium batteries do self-discharge, it is not a good idea to keep it for days on the charger. It will be slowly charging and discharging, thus wasting a useful number of charging cycles you could get from it. The rate of self-discharge does correspond to the charge level of a battery, and the closer it is to its full capacity the faster it will self-discharge.
If you find that your battery is no longer holding a charge very long, or is not charging at all, then it may be time for a replacement battery. We recommend this 48v replacement e-bike battery as they have just about any size battery available to fit your bike’s needs.
Can You Overcharge an Electric Bike Battery?
Overcharging a battery at best will shorten the battery’s overall lifespan, at worst can cause it to overheat to the point of melting of various plastic parts. Luckily, modern electric bikes use mostly lithium batteries, or less often nickel batteries that are equipped with shutoff circuitry which prevents this from happening. In other words, you will not be able to overcharge your e-bike battery.
Some manufacturers design their battery management systems so that they do not allow the battery to be charged above its true full capacity. All batteries lose a bit of maximum capacity with each charging cycle, and this design is intended to postpone the moment when such a decrease will become apparent it also has a consequence that you will never charge your battery near the charge level of overcharging.
How to Maintain an E-bike Battery
Keeping your battery in good health is much easier than many people think. The very first thing to know is that it is a perishable part, eventually, it will fail completely. Before it happens it will be slowly losing its maximum capacity due to the nature of materials used for its construction. Basic rules are to never expose it to environments that can have detrimental effects on it.
When you are cleaning your bike you should remove the battery from it, if you have to clean the battery you should do it with a damp rag never with copious amounts of water. After each ride, you should recharge the battery, which will keep it always ready and will prevent deep discharges which shorten its life.
When you are storing your e-bike for a longer period, such as for the winter, it is better to store it separated from the bike and at around 60% of the charge. This will slow down the rate of self-discharge and avoid the decrease in its life span.
You should also make sure to store it at room temperature, as both below freezing and temperatures above 110 degrees have a negative effect on the battery’s chemistry and health.
An often neglected factor about maintaining the e-bike battery is the strain on the electric motor. So you should avoid putting too much load on your electric motor. This first and foremost means not carrying too much weight, but also keeping your tires properly inflated because deflated tires provide enormous resistance to rolling and load on your motor.
The heart of your electric bike is its electric motor, and that heart keeps on ticking only because there is a battery pack that fuels it with the electricity it needs. Older e-bikes used to have so-called deep-discharge acid batteries which had to be fully discharged before being recharged to avoid memory effects and degradation of their health.
Modern electric bikes instead use lithium batteries, the same as the ones you can find on your smartphone, and they require different care. To get the most out of them, you should avoid discharging them below 20% of their capacity. Thus, it is a good practice to charge them after every ride.
While keeping your batteries at optimum health, this will also provide you with the convenience of having your electric bike topped up every time when you need it.