It’s a new day, and electric bike technology has come a long way. The electric bike has emerged with its quiet, whisper-like sound, promising the masses a new way to experience a bike ride. However, if you’re anything like me, you go right to the point of asking how far an electric bike can take you without pedaling.
I will break this open like a coconut to give you the sweet milk of truth about our favorite new electric 2-wheeled companion – the e-bike.
Generally speaking, today’s e-bikes have some reasonably decent range. Most models promise a distance of between 25 and 45 miles (that’s about 40 to 75 kilometers, give or take) to a single charge.
Notably, we consider the two most common types of e-bikes first. That is the pedal-assist style or the throttle style. If you want real meat and potatoes explanations of how these bikes differ, check out my article, ‘Which is better: pedal-assist or throttle ebike?’. In a nutshell, the two types are as follows:
Pedal-Assist (aka Pedelec) E-Bikes – This electric bicycle utilizes a sensor to ascertain the bike’s speed. The user will have selected an assistance level determining how much power the motor puts into its assistance. Furthermore, these e-bikes require you to pedal; they will not work independently without pedaling, hence the name.
Throttle E-Bikes – Also called ‘throttle-on-demand,’ these e-bikes have a handlebar-mounted throttle control. When you activate the throttle, the motor starts to work, propelling the bike forward; no pedaling is required.
These e-bikes are more like a moped than a bike but also lack the range achievable on a pedelec bike.
Ride eMTB Tip: I’ve got a guide that teaches you how to calculate the range of your eBike. 👉 How to Calculate an eBikes Range
The average distance that a pedelec will go on a full charge is significantly more than a throttle-controlled e-bike. Assuming you pedal the same on a pedelec and a throttle e-bike, the pedelec will have a greater distance or range than the throttle style.
The reason for the difference concerns how the motor applies power. With a pedelec, the motor only works when you work, so if you are not pedaling, the motor isn’t working. On a throttle-style e-bike, the motor works when you press the throttle. It does not make sense or care that you pedal.
In fact, you don’t have to pedal at all with a throttle-controlled e-bike, meaning that the motor will work harder to get you going. However, several factors affect the range of your electric bike. Let’s take a deeper look at the factors that play into the scenario.
I never knew how important the pedals were on my eBike until I swapped them out. read 👉 The Best Pedals for an eBike
As mentioned before, several factors affect the distance you’ll get on a single charge riding your e-bike. Here are the major factors in great detail:
The battery is the most significant factor in determining the overall range of the electric bicycle range. That’s because the battery, measured in watt-hours, provides the power for the motor. Therefore, a battery with a higher capacity will be able to power the motor for a longer period. Conversely, batteries with low watt-hour ratings will perform well for less time, lowering the range.
The age of the battery has some effect as well, albeit indirectly. You see, batteries degrade over time, even the good lithium-ion ones. So, with time, a battery’s capacity drops relative to its degradation. So, with an older battery, you can expect less range than the same battery in a new condition.
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)
When it comes to electric bike motors, there are a few different types. First, there are the direct drive motors. You’ll find these on a couple of brands of bikes that boast regenerative braking. However, don’t be fooled by companies that boast regen braking because they are basically ineffective, only able to regenerate 5-10% of the battery’s charge at best. That makes them an inefficient waste of money, in my opinion.
The other essential types of motors include the hub motor that mounts inside the wheel’s central hub and the mid-drive motors that are typically mounted as a part of the bike frame’s bottom bracket assembly.
The range your e-bike motor can get will depend on its efficiency. Not all motors are created equal; some will get better mileage than others. As a general rule, you get what you pay for with the higher-end models typically utilizing higher efficiency motors when it comes to range and motor type.
Have you ever seen someone overload a car or truck, and the suspension is nearly bottomed? It’s crazy to see, but people do it. The point is that the vehicle is overloaded.
Electric bikes are no different from any other vehicle because if you overload them with weight, they must work harder to move the bike. In other words, if you’re pulling a bike trailer and have a heavy backpack or saddle bag on yourself or the bike, the added weight will decrease your bike’s potential range.
Most people who get into electric bicycles consider uphill and downhill riding when considering how hard their e-bike will have to work. Although this is true that the motor works harder pushing your bike (or assisting) with inclines, did you know that the softness of the ground also plays a big role in range?
Consider riding your bike in sand, mud, or other soft/loose ground types. The motor must work much harder to help you through soft terrain conditions. The range will affect mud, sand, snow, or other soft ground types.
I talked about terrain conditions, but did you know that temperature can also play a role? Batteries that are too cold or too hot tend to underperform. I’m talking about below 40 Fahrenheit (5 Celsius) or above 113 Fahrenheit (45 Celsius).
Unless you live in California or the South, you aren’t likely going to go out in such heat. Still, if you’re in the country’s top half, you’ll see winters drop below the lower threshold. Don’t expect a significant loss of range, but there will likely be some minor range loss.
The tire pressure of your electric bike plays a significant role in determining the range. Like sand, mud, or other soft ground types, mushy tires will similarly lower the bike’s range. Also, mushy tires make your electric bike handle poorly, providing ‘slushy’ steering.
How you maintain and ride your electric bike will both play a factor in determining how far your electric bike can go without pedaling. Remember that a pedelec won’t go anywhere without pedaling, so if we assume light-duty pedaling, you can assume that your e-bike will outperform a throttle-style under the same conditions.
Ride eMTB Pro Tip: I’ve got a couple great articles about eBike batteries. You might be wondering this 👉 What’s the Best Voltage for an eBike
If you let your battery go all the way dead, then leave it to sit for a while, you risk damaging your battery which may decrease its ability to hold a charge. You’ll notice a drop in range when it loses its ability to hold a charge.
In the realm of e-bikes, power isn’t just a number. It’s a feeling. It’s the surge you get as you accelerate effortlessly up a steep…
It’s a new day, and electric bike technology has come a long way. The electric bike has emerged with its quiet, whisper-like sound, promising the…
Picture this: you’re out on the trail, the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and beneath you, your trusty e-bike, humming along…
Don’t feel bad for wondering if you can use pedals on an electric bike. I asked the same thing before I rode an electric bike….
To get a pedal-assist or throttle ebike, that is the question. Or, at least, it was for me when I decided to get my first…
Considering how popular electric bikes have become, you may wonder what difference they have from conventional bikes. One of the most notable differences is the…
When your battery dies, there are really only a few options. First, you can pedal the rest of the way (obviously, you don’t have power, so two feet and a heartbeat are what you need here). Second, you can carry a spare battery. Carrying a spare is a great idea, even though you would add weight to the entire system. Let’s review a few other things to consider to avoid this situation.
- Plan Ahead. I think this is the smartest move of all. Plan your trip to ensure your ride is within the battery’s capacity.
- Carry a Spare. I mentioned this, but it really is the best option. Just like keeping a spare inner tube in case of emergency, carrying a spare battery effectively doubles your bike range.
- Habitualize Checking The e-Bike. I make it a little ritual to give my e-bike a once-over before going for a ride. I recommend you do the same. Check your battery charge, tire pressure, and weather conditions, and plan your route for success.
RIDE eMTB Tour Tip: Grab this FREE PDF Checklist containing a list of items to consider before an eBike Tour. 👉 eBike Tour Accessories Checklist
You can do several things to increase the range of your e-bike. Here’s a list of the best practices you can use to keep your ride going the distance.
- Inflate Your Tires – Properly inflated tires will decrease roll resistance and increase your bike’s range capability.
- Don’t Speed – How you handle your bike plays into the range. If you speed on your e-bike, the motor has to work much faster to be of value.
- Watch Your Settings – If you like pedal assist but want greater range, try keeping it to the lowest assistive level. This act will help preserve battery power and increase overall range.
- Watch Your Acceleration – If riding a throttle-style electric bike, watch out for acceleration. In other words, try not to ‘burn rubber’ off the hop. If you hit the accelerator, the bike will go, but if you’re at a stopped position and hammer down the throttle, it can burn through energy faster than ramping it up to speed.
Sources for More reading
- How Far Can Electric Bikes Go? by Electrek: <https://electrek.co/2020/06/12/how-far-can-an-electric-bicycle-really-go-on-a-charge/>
- Electric Bike Range: How Far Can They Go? by Pedal Electric: <https://pedalelectric.com/blogs/journal/electric-bike-range-how-far-can-they-go>
- How Far Can an Electric Bike Go? by QuietKat USA: <https://quietkat.com/blogs/articles/ebike-range>