Electric Bike Performance [Voltage, Wattage, Power, Capacity, Volts, Watts, Amps]

Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt

performant electric bike

Looking at an ebike specification sheet can be a bit overwhelming when you’re a beginner getting your first electric bike. Getting advice from e-bike shop employees and mechanics on what electric bike would be best for you can help, but you should never skip your own research.

In this electric bike performance guide, I’ve broken down and simplified all the important metrics you need to understand to choose the right electric bike for you, and explained them in a way that I wish was available when I was first learning about electric bikes.

Electric bike wattage and power

illustration of wattage

Power, also known as wattage, refers to the power generated by the motor of an electric bike. This metric is measured in Watts.

It plays a major role in deciding the electric bike’s performance, so you should consider it strongly.

The power rating of your electric bike motor will affect the top speed of your bike, the amount of load you can carry on it, and the bike’s ability to climb steep hills.

With a higher-powered motor, you’ll get a higher top speed and will be able to climb steep hills effortlessly. Such bikes, e.g., cargo electric bikes, can also handle heavy loads.

One of the main problems with high-powered electric bikes is that you need a high-capacity battery to power them. Both these things combined add a lot of cost to the overall price of the e-bike. You can expect to spend anywhere between $1,500 to $5,000 and even more in some cases.

A lower-wattage e-bike is fine if you’re just looking for basic commuting and running errands, but such bikes aren’t designed to handle rough terrains. If you ride these bikes on steep hills or with heavy loads, the motor will overheat and, in a worst-case scenario, break down.

Real vs peak motor power

The power rating you get on the specification sheet of an electric bike isn’t always the true power rating.

You may have noticed that some powers have the word “peak” written next to them in brackets, or sometimes two power levels are specified – real/nominal and peak.

Peak power is the maximum power the bike’s motor can generate. What they don’t tell you is that the peak power is short-lived, since the motor will heat up soon after achieving it.

Also, for the bike to generate that maximum power, you’ll need to ride on a smooth, even road without any obstacles and without stopping.

The real power that an electric bike motor can generate and maintain in more practical riding conditions is usually 55-60% of the peak power. This value may vary, but it almost always lies between 30%-90% of the peak power.

If the specification sheet of an electric bike only mentions the peak power, just calculate what the real power would by yourself. Do the same if the power type isn’t specified. The value will usually be the peak power, even if it isn’t mentioned.

How many Watts do electric bike motors have?

On average, electric bike motors usually have power ratings between 250 to 750 watts, but more powerful e-bikes can have powers of over 1000 watts. The most popular power ratings are 250, 500, 750, and 1000 watts.

A 250-watt electric bike is pretty basic and does a decent job climbing moderate hills and serving for casual commutes. 500-watt e-bikes are more expensive but still budget-friendly compared to higher-powered options. Plus, a 500-watt bike can even handle slightly rough terrains so it’s a good middle ground between high-powered and low-powered e-bikes.

A 750-watt electric bike will work great if you mostly need an ebike for off-road riding on rough terrains and climbing steep hills. However, if you don’t mind spending some extra money and need a bike completely dedicated to rocky terrains and thrilling hills, go for a 1000-watt e-bike.

How many Watts is a powerful e-bike?

A power rating north of 750 Watts is considered pretty powerful, but there are more powerful electric bike options as well. For example, the most powerful electric bike right now is the 12000-watt Enduro.

How powerful your electric bike needs to be really depends on what you’re going to use it for. 500 watts is more than enough power for commuting and moderate off-road riding. 

Electric bike battery capacity

person replacing battery on an electric bike

There’s no use for a high-powered motor if your bike doesn’t have a compatible battery capacity. The battery capacity of a bike denotes how much energy the e-bike battery can store to power the motor and the rest of the electrical components. 

The battery capacity of a bike is measured in Watt-hours. Some electric bike manufacturers use Ampere-hours and Volts for the battery capacity in specification sheets instead.

The units are easy to convert in one another. Just multiply the Ampere-hours by the voltage to convert the battery capacity into Watt-hours. Here’s the formula:

1 Wh = 1 Ah * 1 V

The battery capacity of an electric bike plays an essential role in deciding the range of your electric bike. The higher the battery capacity, the further you’ll be able to travel. Some electric bikes even come with a second battery to double the overall range of the bike.

How much battery capacity do electric bikes have?

On average, the battery capacity of an electric bike ranges between 300-700 Wh, but higher-end bikes can have battery capacities over 1000 Wh. 

A 300 Wh battery will get you 20-40 mi / 32-64 km of range on a single charge. With a 700 Wh battery, you’ll be able to travel 40-80 mi / 64-128 km per charge. Do note that these range values will vary depending on the riding conditions and level of pedal assistance used.

Electric bike voltage

yellow voltmeter showing Voltage with cables

The voltage of an electric bike is how fast energy will transfer from one component to another. This affects how fast your bike will charge, power up and accelerate in speed.

Voltage is measured in volts and is of two types: input voltage and output voltage.

A battery charger gets input voltage from the switchboard in your house and then transfers an output voltage to the e-bike battery being charged. For the battery, the charger’s output voltage is its input voltage. 

The battery then transfers its output voltage to the motor. This voltage is input for the motor, which does not transfer the voltage any further.

Most manufacturers only mention the voltage of the ebike’s battery to give you an idea of the bike’s acceleration performance.

Overvolting an electric bike

Overvolting an electric bike means modifying the electrical system of a bike to get extra voltage. You can overvolt an electric bike by replacing the original battery with a higher-capacity one or adding a second battery to the first through a serial connection.

Watch the following video for a better idea of how overvolting is done. I don’t recommend trying it yourself, but the video will clarify the concept.

How much voltage do electric bike batteries have?

The vast majority of electric bike batteries have a voltage ranging between 24 volts to 52 volts, but higher-powered ebikes have batteries with more voltage than this. The most common battery voltages in e-bikes are 36 Volts and 48 Volts.

Vintage Electric Bikes is a brand known for their range of 72-volt electric bikes, including the 72 Volt Roadster, 72 Volt Shelby, and the 72 Volt Scrambler.

Electric bike torque

The torque of an electric bike is the rotational force with which the motor turns the wheels. Not many manufacturers mention this parameter, but it’s important to know if you’re mainly getting an electric bike for off-road riding or riding on mountains and steep hills.

Torque is measured in Newton meters (Nm). A high torque value means you’ll be able to ride rough terrains and climb at higher climbing angles easily.

On average, most electric bikes have a torque ranging between 50-70 Nm. Electric bikes with throttles and ones dedicated to off-road riding usually have a torque rating of over 100 Nm.

Electric bike charging time

illustration of how long does an electric bike charge last

Charging time is an important aspect to consider when buying an electric bike. If you’re getting an electric bike for daily commutes, but it takes too long to charge, it will defeat your whole purpose of getting it.

The charging time of an e-bike battery is the time taken to go from empty to full. This time may increase as the battery degrades and goes through more charge cycles. 

Your electric bike’s battery capacity will also contribute to the charge time. The higher the battery capacity, the longer it will take to charge. 

Most manufacturers mention the charging time of their bike model. If they don’t mention it, you can always check out user reviews online for the information. Another way of finding the charging time of an electric bike is by calculating the value yourself.

It’s pretty easy. Just input the battery energy capacity in Ampere-hours, the charger current in Amperes, and the percentage of charging efficiency in the following formula:

Charging time (h) = Battery energy capacity (Ah) / [Charger current (A) * Charging efficiency (%)]

Most electric bike batteries are equipped with lithium-ion batteries that typically have an efficiency of 80%-90%. I recommend using 90% for the formula because it’s used more often, and even if the efficiency varies a little, the offset won’t be too big.

How much time does it take to charge an electric bike? 

On average, a single electric bike charge can take 5.5 hours to go from empty to full. The charging time of most electric bikes ranges between 2-8 hours. 

This can vary depending on the age of your battery, how many charge cycles it’s been through, your charging habits, and the type of charger you use.

A fast charger from the same manufacturer as your electric bike can decrease the charging time significantly, whereas an incompatible charger can speed up your battery’s degradation.

The big picture of electric bike performance

The working of an electric bike can be observed in the diagram below. It shows the direction in which power flows from the electrical source all the way to the motor.

illustration of electricity flow in electric bikes

Electric bike top speed

person going fast on an electric bike

An electric bike’s top speed is the highest speed it can achieve in ideal conditions. Ideal conditions would include riding on an even, smooth road without any obstacles or stops for which the bike would have to decelerate.

The advertised top speed of a bike by its manufacturers is often different from its actual top speed. This is because while the bike does have the potential to achieve that speed, practical riding conditions won’t allow it. With obstacles like traffic, rocks, potholes, etc., accelerating your bike to top speed is too dangerous.  

Even if you do find a smooth, long road without any obstacles, riding at maximum speed requires a lot of motor power. So, if you manage to achieve maximum speed, it will likely not last for long because the motor will heat up.

The country or state you live in may have top speed limits for an electric bike, so it’s important you consider those as well before you get one.

How fast can electric bikes go?

Most electric bikes have a top speed of around 20-28 mph / 32-45 kmh, but this can vary depending on your electric bike’s motor power and battery capacity. Excessive weight on the electric bike and the condition of the terrain can bring this speed down. 

Riding on rough terrains and climbing steep hills require more motor power for pedal assistance. This means the motor will have to decrease the bike’s speed to compensate.

Electric bike range

An electric bike’s range is how far it can travel on a single charge. The manufacturer’s specified range is often different from the electric bike’s actual range. This is because the range given by the manufacturer is calculated assuming that the bike will be in power-saving mode the entire time it’s being used.

The range is usually misleading to make the bike look good. In a real-world scenario, you’re not going to ride your bike in power-saving mode all the time, and there will also be other factors affecting your electric bike’s range.

These factors include weather conditions, battery capacity, level of pedal assistance you use, terrain condition, the overall weight carried by the bike, etc.

How far can electric bikes go on a single charge?

Most electric bikes can travel 20-80 mi / 32-129 km on a single charge. Higher-end electric bikes have higher battery capacities, and they can often have a better range of over 150 mi / 241 km. 

Instead of upgrading to a higher capacity battery, some riders connect a second battery to their electric bikes to increase its range. Here’s a video of how that’s done.

Electric bike load capacity

An electric bike’s load capacity refers to the amount of weight it can carry without compromising on its performance. This includes the rider’s weight, any luggage they might be carrying on the bike, and any ebike accessories.

More load means more force weighing the bike down due to gravity. To support the weight, the bike will use more battery so that the motor can generate the needed power for increased pedal assistance.

How much weight can electric bikes carry?

Most electric bikes can handle a load capacity ranging between 250 to 400 lbs / 113 to 181 kg. Electric bikes specially designed to carry loads, e.g., electric cargo bikes, can even handle loads up to 550 lbs / 250 kg.

Electric bike climbing angle

people climbing hills on electric bikes

The electric bike climbing angle is the maximum angle the bike can climb without losing power or stalling. If you live in a hilly area, knowing the climbing angle an electric bike can handle is vital.

The climbing angle of an electric bike depends on the motor power and torque, among other things. A bike with high torque and motor power will have more chances of climbing steep hills easily.

This parameter is considered problematic because the climbing difficulty of a hill doesn’t only depend on how steep it is. It is also affected by the terrain condition and the total weight being carried by the bike. So, a good climbing angle doesn’t always guarantee the bike will make the climb easy.

Here are the formulas to convert climbing angles between degrees and percentages.

Degrees = Tan-1 (Slope Percent/100)

Slope Percent = Tan (Slope Degrees) * 100%

How much can electric bikes climb?

Most electric bikes have a climbing angle between 10° to 20°, while some higher-end models have higher angles of up to 30°.

Electric bike waterproof (IP) rating

An electric bike’s IP (Ingress Protection) rating tells you how well-protected the bike is from dust and water. An IP rating is made of two digits. The first digit can range from 0-6 and denotes protection against dust and dirt. 

The second digit ranges from 0-9 and denotes the bike’s protection against water. A higher rating means better protection. So, if an electric bike has an IP rating of IP67, it’s pretty well protected against both dust and water.

The IP rating is an important parameter to consider if you live in a rainy or humid area. You’d want to get a bike with higher water protection.

An IP rating of IPX6 means you can ride the bike in heavy rainfall without risking any water damage. An IPX7 means you can immerse your electric bike in a body of water 1 meter deep for 30 minutes without a problem.

High-performance electric bikes

High-performance bikes are those designed to have higher power ratings, amazing climb angles, and increased range without compromising any other major aspect of an electric bike.

An example of a high-performance bike would be the R22 Everest Edition: Adventure E-Bike. Is the bike ridiculously expensive at a whopping price of $18,900? Yes! But its features are worth mentioning if we’re talking about high-performance e-bikes.

You get a 36 mph / 58 kmh top speed and a 300 mi / 480 km range with a 3260 Wh 52V removable dual battery. The motor has a power rating of 1700 Watts and a torque value of 190 Nm. Incredible, right?

Another high-performing bike that is more affordable compared to the above example is the Juiced Closeout HyperScrambler 2 e-bike. It has a range of over 100 mi / 160 km and a top speed of more than 30 mph / 48 kmh. 

With a 998 Wh battery and 1000 watts retro blade motor, the bike gives you a premium riding experience at $1,999.

How to choose an electric bike

Not all bikes have the same performance, but that doesn’t mean a less-performing bike isn’t worth considering. If you want an electric bike for casual rides on smooth roads, paying for a higher battery capacity or higher-powered motor doesn’t make sense.

When choosing an electric bike, consider the following things to help you prioritize certain performance metrics over others:

  • Determine what you’ll mostly use the bike for – commuting, cruising, off-road riding, etc. You’ll need a higher-power motor and battery for rough terrains, and generally better range for cruising or commuting.
  • Decide on a budget and try to look for bikes only within that range. This will help you shortlist your options.
  • Analyze the area you live in. If it has steep hills, you’ll need a bike that can handle the climb without heating up. You’ll need to get a bike with a high IP rating if you live in a rainy or humid area.
  • If you travel a lot and need a bike that is easy to transport in your car, consider getting something lightweight, portable, and foldable.
  • Research reliable electric bike brands that offer warranties.
  • Read user reviews to judge the reliability of an electric bike. You may even find some drawbacks that the manufacturer has failed to mention.

The above steps will push you in the right direction to choose the right electric bike for you.

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Matt standing next to his Xiaomi M365 Pro electric scooter and holding an electric scooter helmet
My name is Matt Trajkovski. I love electric scooters, and electric vehicles in general. I like doing a lot of testing, reviewing, and research on various electric scooter models and brands, looking for great value and performance, both through data and experience. All of the content published on this blog goes through a rigorous review and editorial process, and our product reviews not only include the hands-on experience of our own team members, but the experience of our audience members as well. My goal is to provide you with the best information about electric scooters possible. You can see all of my posts in my articles archive.

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