What range does each e-bike battery offer? What should I look out for when making a purchase? What should I do to look after my e-bike battery? We have put together some of the most important questions to give you an overview.

The right e-bike battery

A high-quality battery management system is important, and not only ensures optimum protection for both the battery and its cells but also that it cannot sustain any damage during either the battery charge or the battery discharge process. This type of electronic control makes the battery “intelligent” and helps to extend its service life. Naturally, all Kalkhoff e-bike batteries bear the mandatory CE mark. Among other things, it guarantees that the battery will not overheat when subjected to high loads and that the charging process ends when the battery is fully charged.

Using the battery for the first time

You should use a new, fully-charged battery until it is completely flat and the assistance cuts out without recharging it in between. The battery “gets to know” its capacity as a result of this, and the actual capacity and the charge state indicator both match. This learning cycle should be repeated every six months or 5,000 kilometres, so that the battery’s current capacity doesn’t differ from the charge state indicator. The learning cycle is interrupted as soon as the battery enters sleep mode.

Charging the e-bike battery

When charging your battery, you can either remove it from the bike or leave it attached. As soon as the charging process starts, the battery charge indicator on your battery either flashes or lights up. Once the cells are fully recharged, the charging process is automatically terminated and the battery charge indicator goes out.

Storing the bike

Storage in a dry place – such as a cool cellar, for instance – is a good solution. If you would like to store your e-bike battery for an extended period of time, it should be charged approximately 50%. You should recharge the battery when only one or two LEDs light up or after six months at the latest. Ideally, you should store it separately in a dry place at a temperature of roughly 20°C. Storing your battery properly will help to extend its service life.

Using the battery in winter

20°C is the battery’s ideal operating temperature, so it should not be stored or charged outdoors in winter. It’s better if you only insert the battery when you’re just about to head off on your ride.

Behaviour in case of accident

Batteries that are damaged or suspected of being damaged must not be recharged anymore under any circumstances. Damaged chargers must not be used again either. Contact your dealer to discuss how best to proceed.

E is for easy

Bosch ebike commuter

Everyone could use a bit of extra oomph in their pedalling sometimes and that is exactly what an ebike provides. In fact 250 watts more power – that pretty much doubles the power your legs put out on their own.

“Once you put pressure on the pedal the Bosch eBike System immediately kicks in to provide support; flattening hills or shortening the distances that lie ahead,” explains Cameron Burke, Regional Technical Manager Bosch eBikes Australia.

The very best thing that assisted bikes offer is confidence: confidence that you can take off from the intersection quickly enough to be comfortable in traffic and confidence that you can head off on a day ride with friends or family and you’ll be able to keep up with ease.

“People who test-ride our pedelecs for the first time are always amazed,” says Burke. “It is just like riding a non-pedal assist bike but with the tail wind you’ve always wanted.

“Ebikes make cycling more accessible for people of all ages and fitness levels. There are different ebikes that can be ridden by everyone, irrespective of age, health or fitness. It’s a great way to get ‘back on the bike’ and stay active and mobile.”

Keep fresh

Studies have shown that people with ebikes ride 2–3 times more than people without an eBike. This is because it’s not a ‘race’ but a convenient way of getting around on a day-to-day basis.

“Cruising on an ebike can save commuters time and effort, so you can arrive at work feeling fresh,” says Burke. “With an ebike you can rule out the sweat factor and extra clothes involved with riding to and from work!”

In Australia, ebikes can provide pedal-assistance up to 25km/h, which allows 80–100km riding range on one battery charge. The lower levels of assistance of the power assist function use less of the battery charge. Also keep in mind that hilly terrain and under-inflated tyres make the motor work harder and battery drain faster.

With these benefits, Ebikes are perfect for people who want to take up the healthy option of riding to work.

It’s not cheating

Bosch ebike commuter female

“We see more and more Australians becoming familiar with the concept of ebikes, but there are still some myths we need to bust,” says Burke. “People who ride ebikes are not lazy! Despite the power assistance, ebikers still have to turn the pedals to get moving.”

What’s great is it’s up to you to decide how much assistance you want. Burke finds that people “are pleasantly surprised with the different levels of power-assistance that is delivered from Eco all the way up to Turbo.”

“We understand that many traditional cyclists might regard a motor as cheating, but an ebike is used for a different purpose than the carbon fibre race bikes you see at the Tour de France,” Burke points out.

Craig Richards, Bicycle Network CEO, concurs. “Thirty minutes of moderate physical exercise is enough to make a real difference to your health,” Richards says, “and that’s an average sort of time for a ride to work for the average Australian.”

It’s not about replacing the ‘pushie’ it’s about providing another healthy alternative for people to enjoy cycling, arrive at work without breaking a sweat or to enjoy some beautiful mountain biking and great recreational rides.

Interested in purchasing an electric bike? Here are 10 things you should know!

1. Determine the level of service you want
Start with the level of service you want when your e-bike has a problem, whether it be a flat tire or the need to replace a part. If I get a flat tire on the trail, I put a patch on it, pump it up, and get on my way. I’ve seen others who, instead of carrying a patch kit with them, carry the phone number for AAA.

Additionally, you may want to visit to your local bike shop in advance to determine if they work on electric bikes, so that when a problem arises, you already know where to go. I’ve heard of several cases where someone takes his or her e-bike to the local bike store only to get turned away because that shop does not work on electric bicycles of any type. Some local shops simply don’t service e-bikes.

You might rely on a warranty; however the service level may not be what you expect. I know of one online brand with a 30-day warranty, and if you come to them with a question, they direct you to a Facebook Group of e-bike owners, meaning there is effectively no factory support at all.

You can find a name-brand bike that has local support and service; just be prepared to pay extra for the cost up front.

2. Consider your e-bike’s options for upgrades and aftermarket parts
For the e-bike you plan to purchase, how would you upgrade it later or replace its parts? Can you find parts or pieces for your bike online? Some bikes use generic or name-brand parts like Bafang or Tektro, and you can find parts and pieces for these brakes or motors online relatively easily.

Others use their own proprietary components that can’t be worked on or replaced. If you would like to hot rod your bike and make it go faster, be aware that with some bikes it is easy to do and with others it is nearly impossible.

3. How to buy an e-bike with the right amount of power
Power is probably the first thing people are going to start comparing when they look at different e-bikes. You have 250 watts, 500 watts, 750 watts, and even more combinations in between.

250 watts may not seem like much, but keep in mind that 250-300 watts is the range of power sustained by a professional cyclist, so that’s like having a pro athlete hidden in your bike pedals helping you along.

500 watts is more common in the USA. It is enough power to maintain 20 mph on flat ground and hills are easier to climb.

750 watts is the legal maximum in the United States. With 750 watts, you will be able to fly up most hills on throttle only and get up to top speed very quickly.

There are considerations beyond wattage. Some bikes will claim 750 watts, but use a smaller motor than another bike that also claims to be equal at 750 watts. Advertising claims are not always equal in real-life performance tests.

4. Choose your motor type
There are 3 main types of motors to choose from.

If you want reliability and all-around capability for riding, I would recommend the geared hub motor.

Also reliable are the direct-drive hub motors, but they tend to be heavier and are better for more powerful applications.

The mid-drive is one of my favorite set-ups and what I use on my personal bike, but the downside is that you are running all of the power through your drive train, which means more wear and tear on your chain, your derailleur, and your rear freewheel or cassette.

Read my post Which Motor Should I Choose for My Electric Bike? to learn about each type of motor in more detail.

8000-watt direct-drive hub motor

Image (above): 8000-watt direct-drive hub motor

5. Understand pedal assist and throttle
Pedal assist and throttle are two features that you need to understand. Many people ask me, “Does your bike have pedal assist or throttle?” It is generally not an either/or. In fact, I don’t know of any e-bikes on the market that do not have a pedal assist. Throttles, on the other hand, come on some bikes and not on others. Throttles are not legal in all countries (they are legal in the United States as of this writing).

You have a half-twist throttle, a thumb throttle, or even a full-twist throttle like a motorcycle. I highly recommend testing a bike that has both pedal assist and a throttle just so you can feel the difference. I find that most people prefer to own a bike with a throttle so they have the option. All of the Bolton E-bikes have pedal assist and throttle.

Half twist throttle with key

Image (above): half twist throttle with key

6. Which sensor is better?
You should know the difference between a rotation sensor and a torque sensor for your pedal assist when starting your research on how to buy an e-bike. Both have the same basic function. When you turn your cranks by pedaling, the sensors ‘sense’ the movement and they help to propel the bike forward by telling the motor to go.

Rotation sensors
The rotation sensor knows if you are pedaling and how fast, but it doesn’t know how hard you are pedaling. It is a disk with magnets around it, and there’s a sensor that mounts on the frame.

Torque sensors
Torque sensing can be found on higher-end ebikes. They are typically built into the bottom bracket, so when you are putting pressure on the crank and turning it, it doesn’t just detect that you are pedaling, but how hard you are pedaling. When you pedal with more effort, the motor helps more.

7. Choose your battery quality
The battery is an expensive component of any e-bike. You want to make sure any battery you buy has high-quality cells on the inside. All e-bike batteries use a series of 18650 cells. My preference is to stick with Panasonic, LG, or Samsung, depending on the particular bike, how much power it draws, how much range we need, and which cell best fits the application.

Of all the good lithium batteries available for e-bikes today, I would stay away from old technologies or no-name, generic brand cells.

8. Select a battery style
Electric Bike with Battery

Next, I would look at battery style. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is it proprietary technology?
2. If, and when, my e-bike battery dies, how easy is it going to be to replace it?

If you have a generic-style battery that mounts to the frame, you can likely find the battery from another vendor or source. If you had to, you could unbolt the cradle that comes with this battery and replace it with something entirely new and no one would know the difference.

If you have a brand-name battery that does not have a generic counterpart, you may have to pay a lot more to replace that battery.

To learn more about selecting the right battery as you learn more about how to buy an e-bike, read my post Which Battery Type is Best?

9. Calculate the battery capacity
It is difficult to compare the capacity of different batteries when manufacturers make claims in different units. Some give information about amp hours, and others about watt hours. How do you compare e-bike batteries by their capacity?

Here is the formula I use:

v * ah = watt hours (voltage times amp hours equals watt hours)

Solve for the variable you need in order to get all batteries you’re comparing into the same units. If you have a watt hour rating, and they don’t give you the amp rating, but you do have the voltage, you can solve for the voltage in that formula. This way, you can accurately compare the total capacity, which is the watt hours, of any given battery.

Why does this matter? This goes to the next point.

10. Range claims don’t matter
True story: I’ve seen one bike claim 20-40 miles of range, and another bike claim 80-100 miles of range. After looking at the specifications, and using the formula to calculate the battery capacity, the batteries between the two bikes are the same. So how could one bike be claiming 20-40 miles and the other bike claim 80-100 miles?

Is it going uphill or downhill? How fast is the bike going? How much does the rider weigh? There are so many variables, that the range could be anywhere between 10 miles (full throttle, uphill, with a heavy load, killing the battery as quickly as possible) and 50 miles (if you’re riding it like a bicycle on a low pedal-assist setting and using the motor a small amount).

I tend to be conservative, so I tell people ranges that are realistic based on how the average riders uses the bike.