Last Updated on May 17, 2023 by Matt
Imagine you’re only halfway to your destination, and the battery of your electric bike runs out. It’s always frustrating when things don’t go according to plan.
Fortunately, you can avoid this scenario by increasing the range of your electric bike.
In this guide, I will share the techniques I’ve found to be the most helpful.
How to increase the range of an electric bike?
Follow these tips to increase your ebike’s range:
- get an electric bike specially designed for long distances with an efficient motor
- upgrade your electric bike battery to one of higher capacity
- reduce any unnecessary weight on your electric bike, including accessories and other objects you carry on your electric bike
- avoid discharging the battery completely
- connect a second battery
- maintain your electric bike by inflating its tires and keeping it lubricated
- avoid riding your electric bike in the winter
- ride at a moderate speed
- stay light on the pedal assistance and throttle
- opt for a shorter route with less traffic
- avoid stopping too much
- start with a full charge
- clean your bike regularly
Tips to increase the range of an electric bike
These are my favorite methods you can use to extend the range of your electric bike, compiled after several years of experience. Some of these methods involve upgrading your electric bike components, while others are simple riding habits.
Get the right electric bike
If you know you’ll be traveling long distances on your electric bike quite often, you might as well get an electric bike specifically designed for that purpose.
Touring bikes are designed with features to maximize the bike’s range. They have high-capacity batteries so you can use more assistance for a longer time, and they are equipped with comfortable seats to reduce discomfort or fatigue.
Mountain bikes are mainly designed for rough terrains, but thanks to their high battery capacities and efficient motors, you can use them for long distances as well.
Other types of long-range electric bikes that you can go for are road bikes and hybrid bikes. These have lightweight frames that help reduce the overall weight and extend the range of the bike.
Use a higher-capacity battery
If you don’t want to get a new electric bike, you can upgrade your old bike with a new, higher-capacity battery. Just make sure the battery is compatible with the rest of the electrical components of the ebike, especially when it comes to voltage.
A high-capacity battery is usually more expensive than an average battery, but I’ve found the price to be worth it.
This is a more practical option that won’t cost you as much. Extend the range of your electric bike by reducing any extra weight it needs to carry.
This includes removing any unnecessary electric bike accessories and other objects you carry on your bike.
Avoid discharging the battery completely
Even though modern lithium-ion batteries don’t suffer as much from complete discharges as older batteries, it’s still not recommended to do that. By avoiding complete discharges, you will prolong your battery’s lifespan, and keep the range of your ebike at a high level over prolonged periods of time.
Connect a second battery
Some electric bikes come with a built-in battery and have a separate compartment for a second external battery in case you choose to get an extra one. If your electric bike doesn’t have a separate designated compartment for an extra battery, see this video on how to install one and add a dual battery connector to attach a second battery to your bike.
Maintain your bike
Believe it or not, just simple electric bike maintenance can help you increase your bike’s range.
Check to make sure that the bike’s brakes are not dragging or rubbing. If they are, the increased friction can reduce the range of your ebike.
Keep the bike lubricated to reduce friction, and always inflate your tires to the right pressure. This helps your bike move easily and efficiently for longer distances.
Avoid riding in low temperatures
It’s best to avoid riding your electric bike in the winter, especially if the place where live you get lots of snow. Not only does the snow act as resistance, but the low temperature decreases the battery’s efficiency and ability to hold its charge.
The extra snow gear adds to the weight of the bike as well. If you do have to ride the ebike in winter, try to pedal more to assist the motor and conserve the battery.
Ride at medium speed
When riding your electric bike at a moderate pace, the motor won’t have to work as hard to maintain a high speed. This significantly decreases the load off of the battery, improving your electric bike’s range.
This will also make your ride more pleasant because you won’t have to pedal too hard, but also you won’t fatigue as much and will be able to pedal for a longer distance.
Getting the chance to enjoy your surroundings more is an added benefit in my opinion.
Stay light on pedal assistance and the throttle
Using too much throttle or high levels of pedal assistance on your electric bike puts a considerable load on the ebike’s battery. Try adjusting your assistance level according to the condition of the path you’re riding on.
For example, you don’t need high pedal assistance when riding on a smooth road. Use the throttle only when you need a boost uphill, when you’re too tired, or when you’re near the end of your ride.
Choose a shorter route
Be smart about your traveling route. Always look up multiple routes that can lead to your destination and choose the shortest one. Prefer routes with designated bike lanes so that you won’t encounter any unexpected rough roads.
Don’t forget to consider any traffic conditions. The shortest route isn’t always the quickest one.
Don’t stop your bike too much
It takes an electric bike a significant amount of energy to start moving after stopping. So avoid stopping your bike unnecessarily, which includes avoiding routes with heavy traffic or frequent stoplights.
If you do see a red stoplight coming at a distance, try slowing down to avoid stopping. Increase your speed once the light is green.
Start with a full charge
I’ve made it a rule to always start long routes on my electric bike with a full charge. This gives me more control over how I want to use the pedal assist levels and throttle without fearing the battery running out.
This doesn’t negate the effect of other factors that can decrease the range of the electric bike, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction to maximize your electric bike’s range.
Clean your electric bike
Making your bike squeaky clean may not directly increase the range of your electric bike, but it will definitely help slow down the battery’s degradation over time. You don’t know what gunk stuck in your bike could be adding unnecessary friction, decreasing its range.
Make sure you get into the nook and crannies of the bike but be careful when cleaning the electrical components. You don’t want to push any water or dirt into them.
If possible, remove the battery from your electric bike and clean it separately. Use a soft-bristled brush to get into the terminals and charging ports.
What does the range of an electric bike depend on?
The range of an electric bike is basically the distance it can travel on a single charge. Manufacturers often give an estimated range for their ebike models in the user manual, but the value can increase or decrease depending on the following factors:
The higher the capacity of your electric bike battery, the more energy it will store. This means the motor will generate more power to travel a longer distance.
On average, electric bike batteries have a capacity between 300 to 600 watt-hours. This will give your electric bike roughly 40-80 miles / 64-128 kilometers on one charge.
Higher-end batteries have higher capacities. A 1000 watt-hours battery can give your electric bike a range of 60-120 miles / 96-193 kilometers, while a 1500 watt-hours electric bike battery can give an estimated range of 90-180 miles / 145-290 kilometers.
Type of terrain
The type of terrain you ride your electric bike on can significantly impact its range. If the terrain is smooth, the motor won’t need much energy to drive the electric bike forward.
However, if the terrain is rough or unpaved, the motor will need much more energy from the battery for a smooth ride. If you live in a hilly area, then gravity can weigh you down when riding uphill. Your ebike’s motor will need more energy to push the bike forward against gravity, decreasing its range.
Depending on how fast you ride your electric bike, the motor will require more power from the battery to maintain the bike’s speed. This will drain the battery much faster, shortening your range. On the other hand, riding an electric bike at a low or medium speed will consume less battery.
Typically electric bikes are divided into the following three classes based on their maximum speed limits:
- Class 1 electric bikes have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph / 32 kmh. The motor of these bikes only assists when the rider pedals.
- Class 2 electric bikes also have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph / 32 kmh, but you can use the bike’s throttle until a certain point to ride without pedaling.
- Class 3 electric bikes have a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph / 45 kmh, but don’t have a throttle feature. You can only get motor assistance for as long as you pedal.
Motor efficiency is the amount of electrical energy your electric bike’s motor will take from the battery to convert it into mechanical power for assistance. An efficient motor uses less energy but provides more power.
A less efficient motor does the opposite. Not only does it use more energy for moving forward, but it also wastes some as heat or friction.
The efficiency of a motor is decided by several factors, including its design, quality, and the type of controller used to regulate its power.
Weight carried by the ebike
The electric bike’s range also depends on the weight it carries. This includes the rider’s weight and any extra baggage they may carry on the electric bike. The good thing is that the motor of an electric bike is usually designed to accommodate the weight of the bike’s components and the rider’s weight.
Any more than that, and the motor will need more power from the battery, decreasing the electric bike’s range. More weight also means more air resistance, wind resistance, and force of gravity. Understandably, the battery will adjust according to these factors and drain more quickly.
Extreme temperatures, strong winds, and heavy rain have been found to decrease the range of an electric bike. Wind and rainfall increase resistance against the electric bike, forcing it to take more energy from the battery for power.
In winter, the electrolyte of the lithium-ion battery becomes more viscous due to the extreme cold weather. This makes it difficult for the ions in the electric bike’s battery to flow freely through the electrolyte. Because of that, the battery fails to generate enough energy to power the motor completely.
Similarly to low temperature, high temperature also messes with the chemistry of an electric bike battery. At high temperatures, the electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries can break down and cause them to overheat.
Level of pedal assistance
Most electric bikes have different levels of pedal assist that a rider can use. For a higher level of pedal assist, the battery will need to supply more energy to the motor, decreasing the bike’s range.
Using a low level of pedal assistance will conserve your battery, but you’ll have to put in more effort to pedal. This can get tiring, especially if you’re riding uphill or carrying weight on the ebike.