From cars to power tools to smartphones, batteries power the modern world, and how far they will run on one charge is a real concern. This is no different for riders of electric bikes, or eBikes – maybe more so, as the eBike is a transportation tool, and with a dead battery hills become much more strenuous and taxing on the legs.
In fact, the most common considerations before buying an eBike, according to the National Electric Bike Owner Survey, are bike type or style (68 percent of responses) and battery range (60 percent).
Here’s the thing, though: There’s no simple answer to how far an eBike battery will take you per charge, because there are so many factors involved, including:
- Assistance level: A rider who keeps the pedal-assist at its highest setting (Turbo) – meaning they pedal less and the bike does more of the work – will naturally drain the battery faster than a rider pedaling in Eco mode – where the rider does most of the work.
- Terrain: Uphill jaunts on an eBike tax the battery more than cruising the flats, so whether you’re riding in San Francisco or Iowa makes a difference.
- Rider Weight: Just like pulling a loaded wagon uphill, heavy riders will drain a battery faster than lightweight riders.
- Ground conditions: Gravel, sand and paved bike lanes affect all bikes differently, and for an eBike, tough ground conditions translate into shorter battery life.
- Wind: A rider’s legs – and their bike battery – need to put in more or less effort depending on which way the wind is blowing and how breezy it is.
- Tire pressure: Tires that aren’t inflated to their optimal pressure may grip the road better and give you a little softer ride, but they take more energy to turn.
However, some best practices can ensure optimal battery range:
Shift those gears. Pedaling cadence between 60-80 rotations per minute optimizes the efficiency of the drive unit. Your bike’s wide range of gears helps you keep in a high cadence no matter what speed or slope you encounter. Ideally, start off and take inclines in a low gear, then shift to a higher gear in accordance with the terrain and speed. If your eBike has an Intuvia display, keep an eye on the arrows in the top-left corner – Bosch’s gear shift recommendation keeps things simple by telling you when to up shift and down shift, just like in modern stick-shift cars.
Extra baggage. If long range is the goal, keep the total weight of any additional carry-ons from being unnecessarily high.
Stay in the flow. As with a car, frequent starting and stopping is less “fuel-efficient” than pedaling long distances at a nearly constant speed.
Remember climates change. As outside temperatures decrease, the efficiency of a rechargeable PowerPack goes down, since the electrical resistance increases. In winter, riders can thus expect a reduction in the normal range.
Treat your PowerPack like a pet. To get the longest service life out of a battery, bring the battery indoors on a cold winter’s night, keep it out of the blazing hot sun, and recharge it at room temperature. If storing for several months, extra care goes a long way: make sure its charge level is 30-60%, and place it in a dry environment free from direct sunlight at room temperature.
An eBikes’s range can be anywhere from 15 miles (24 kilometers) to 140 miles (230 kilometers) on a full charge, with the factors we’ve outlined affecting that range. For help planning a trip, the Bosch range assistant takes into account the different factors and gives you an idea of how far you can expect to travel in the conditions that you specify.