Cycling has been evolving over the last century, with the latest trend being e-bikes. The introduction of electric bikes has made it easier for cyclists to use a bike for general transportation like commuting and sightseeing.
When looking at all the options regarding batteries and motors, the voltage often bubbles up for debate. What voltage? 36v, 48v or more?
Picking the right option between the two can be challenging. There is an ongoing debate on 36v vs. 48v e-bikes; which is better?
From our research, we have confirmed that the 48v ebike is the better option. Please keep reading for more details on this debate and the pros and cons of these e-bikes.
RIDE eMTB tip: A always tell folks that ask me what voltage to get the biggest battery you can afford. If a choice between 36v and 48v choose the 48v. An eBike battery is one of the most expensive components, the reason being bigger is better.
But let’s explore this a little more because both 36v and 48v have pros and cons.
Use the 36v ebike if:
- You are a newbie and can’t handle a powerful ebike
- You plan on covering short distances without recharging the battery.
- You plan on riding on flat terrains.
- Your goal is a lighter ebike.
- You don’t mind using more muscle to cover more distance at an average speed.
If you live in a less hilly place or within the city, the 36v ebike might be your best option. It can efficiently serve as a commuting vehicle that you can use for tackling some small errands.
Use the 48v ebike if:
- You plan on covering more distance.
- You plan on tackling hilly terrains.
- Your priority is high speed.
- You don’t want to use more muscle power while commuting.
- You are experienced and can handle a heavier and more powerful ebike.
Despite being more powerful than the 36v ebike, the 48v ebike is perfect for experienced cyclists. So if you plan on tackling rugged terrains, you should go for the 48v ebike.
More eBike Battery Information
- Can you overcharge an eBike battery? Read more 👉 Overcharge battery for eBike?
- eBike Battery Charts, did you know your eBike battery cuts-out before it dead? Read more in this article 👉 eBike Battery Charts 36v, 48v and 52v
- What is BMS on an eBike? Learn more about it. 👉 eBike BMS (Battery Management System)
Since they have a low power range, you’ll have to use more muscle to attain high speeds when riding a 36v ebike. After all, this battery uses a low current of approximately 15 amps.
Plus, they’re a tad lighter, which makes them the best option for beginners.
The types of e-bikes with 36v batteries are Pedal-assist only (pedelec proper) bikes. The pedal-assist e-bikes use low-powered motors that don’t exceed 250W. (source) Plus, they can attain a maximum speed of about 16 mph, making it the best option for a 36v battery. And anything more powerful can end up overloading the bike’s systems.
- Can provide the needed workout
- The best option for a short distance
- Not ideal for hilly terrains
- Less power
The 48v e-bikes use 48v batteries and powerful motors whose power ranges between 350 to 500w. (source) These e-bikes generally have built-in regulators to cap them at 20km/h, but they can attain a maximum speed of about 40 km/h.
The 48v e-bikes can cover more distance and easily handle challenging terrain. So you’ll never have to worry about pedaling too hard when climbing hills.
Unlike the 36v ebike, the 48v powered bikes are more powerful. Therefore, they’ve classified under class 3 e-bikes, a great example is the s-pedelecs. Unlike the pedelec, the S-pedelec has a powerful motor exceeding 250w.
In fact, the motor doesn’t stop assisting you after exceeding 25 km/h. Therefore e-bikes usually are classified as mopeds. Class 3 e-bikes are powerful and limited to a maximum of 750w and over 45km/h.
- Can cover long distances
- Sturdy bike
- Ideal for tough terrains
Generally, these bikes are regulated to never exceed 20 km/h and with a range of between 25 to 50 km per charge. (source) But the range of each bike is determined by its battery’s capacity. For instance, the 48v e-bikes offer more range when used at the same speed as the 36v option.
The 48v battery produces more power which means more speed and range than the 36v. Therefore, if you plan to cover more distance, you should go for a 48v ebike. Regarding range, the 48v ebike is the winner; it offers more power.
When picking your next bike, there are several factors you have to consider. Sure, the 48v can give you more power, but is power the only thing to consider when looking for the right option for you? Remember, having a bigger battery and powerful motor ranging between 350 and 500W means that they can be pretty heavy.
When using electric mode without pedaling, you’ll never have to worry about the weight of your bike. After all, you’ll never have to use too much effort when cycling around town. But there are several ways the e-bike’s weight can affect the quality of your ride.
For instance, whether you’re using a complete electric or electric-assisted mode, you must be able to maneuver easily, especially when cruising at top speeds. Unfortunately, you have to deal with sharp turns on the trail where the weight of the ebike can become an issue.
Therefore, the heavier 48v bike may not offer sharp turns like the 36v option. Regarding the e-bike’s weight and maneuverability, the 36v is the winner.
Generally, the weight of the ebike is on the lower side of the bike, which makes controlling the bike easier. So if you want to take sharp corners, and accelerate and stop several times, then the weight of the 36v ebike won’t be an issue.
After talking about the range and weight, the next point to consider is terrain compatibility. After all, e-bikes are designed for certain terrains; fortunately, they can guarantee excellent performance on flat roads. So the performance of the 36v and 48v bikes will be similar when commuting in the city.
You can’t tell the difference between the two when cruising on flat roads where you can’t use the top speed.
A 36v ebike cannot disappoint when climbing the trails all over the country, but it cannot match the power of a 48v bike. The 48v has more power and can easily tackle the hills; plus, its battery doesn’t drain faster is a bonus. Its 48v battery will let you play more at a higher speed than a 36v option.
Remember, when tackling hilly terrain, you need a powerful bike. So if you live in a hilly place, you should go for a 48v ebike. But if you live in an urban area, you can thrive with a 36v ebike which is easier to maintain.
When comparing these two bikes, you can’t dismiss the price difference. These bikes come with sturdy constructions that can serve you for years. Even though they are high-quality options, you’ll notice a considerable price difference. We’re talking about a difference of up to 15% of the cost of the 36v bike.
For instance, the Veloware Rover step-through ebike goes for $1,499, more than the Ghost 500, worth $1,299. These two are 48v e-bikes, but their price varies thanks to their power output and quality. On the other hand, the 36v will cost about 15% less. And that’s because of the components it comes with right out of the box.
For instance, the 48v has a powerful motor to match the battery output. You’ll have to pay more for the extra power and matching components. Even when upgrading your current 36v to 48v bike, you must change most of its parts to fit a 48v option. With the suitable kit, you’ll transform your 36v ebike quickly, but you have to be careful and not short-circuit its system.
Therefore if you’re working with a tight budget, you should go for the 36v ebike, which is a clear winner in terms of price.
When purchasing these bikes, you have to ask yourself a couple of questions, with the main one being where you plan on using the bike. Sure, you can use them for commuting around town, but if you want a bike that can tackle challenging terrains on the weekend, you should go for the 48v option.
The 48v can easily support your weight and luggage while climbing the hills on rough terrain. But if you plan to tackle short distances on flat roads, you should get a 36v ebike.
In terms of application, the winner will depend on your needs. For hilly terrains, 48v wins, but on a flat road, they can both work perfectly.
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The 48v ebike is way more powerful, producing more power and guaranteeing higher speeds and range. So a 48v bike will be way faster than a 36v ebike, even on rugged terrains where the latter will struggle a bit.
If your plan is tackling these trails at high speed, then the 48v is the best option. Remember, they do have powerful motors. A 1000w motor can get you a maximum of 45km/h, so you’ll need a powerful battery to power it.
The 48v ebike is a powerful option for most terrains, which means it uses high-grade materials. After all, it will have to handle more pressure on challenging terrains, meaning it has a longer lifespan. But, the longevity of any bike will depend on the rider and the maintenance process.
If you have a larger-framed body, you need a 48v ebike with a carrying capacity of about 350 pounds. Therefore, you can comfortably carry some luggage without overworking the 48v bike. On the other hand, the weight capacity of a 36v bike is 250 pounds.
- Wikipedia Contributors, Electric Bicycle, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle/Accessed February 19, 2023.
- Quentin Perrot, The Emergence of Electric Bikes in China, http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2015/ph240/perrot1/ Accessed February 19, 2023.
- Jonathan Weinert et al. The Transition To Electric Bikes In Chine: History and Key Reasons For Rapid Growth, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjIr4bd96r9AhWDUsAKHWKHBrkQFnoECA0QAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fitspubs.ucdavis.edu%2Fdownload_pdf.php%3Fid%3D1045&usg=AOvVaw0Bmm4wGiugQWV6iokD3QO5/ Accessed February 19, 2023.
- Velowave staff, Rover Step Thru Ebike, https://www.velowavebikes.com/products/velowave-rover-fcty4-fat-tire-electric-bike/ Accessed February 19, 2023.
- Velowave staff, Ghost 500, https://www.velowavebikes.com/products/velowave-ghost-mtb3-electric-mountain-bike-500w-ebike/ Accessed February 19, 2023.