Range anxiety is the biggest talking point with any new transportation advancement. We are pretty sure back in the day people would have questioned the range of a petrol car and asked questions like 'what was ever wrong with a good horse'. Well, things move on and so is E-Bike battery tech. However, no one wants to be miles from home and have to ride home unassisted. Maybe you have an E-Bike because of a physical condition or need to get the weekly shop. Of course, there are simple answers like use eco modes or carry a charger but easier said than done some times. So here are some tips and tricks to improving your range when you're in a tight spot or just maximising the potential of your E-Bike's battery.
1. Fully Charged
It seems unbelievably obvious but make sure your battery is fully charged before you leave. Don't charge it when you get back from your Sunday ride, leave it in a cold shed till Friday and expect it to be fully charged. Charge it on the day of your ride or the night before you plan to use it. By minimizing the time between charging and usage, you'll be maximising the life of your battery.
2. Right Mode At The Right Moment
Of course, again it seems like an obvious one but it could be the difference between getting home or not. The best thing is to use the level of assistance you need at the time and when you don't need it, reduce or switch it off. Even in ECO you could be using more charge than if you put it into a higher setting for a short period. Spinning and using less torque in a higher assistance mode for a shorter period of time will use less energy than grinding it out for longer in a lower assistance mode.
3. Use All The Gears
All mid-motor drive E-Bike systems use a combination of Speed, Torque and Cadence to work out how much assistance to give you and they are designed to try and teach you good habits. Most systems work on 75 pedal strokes per minute cadence and a smooth pedalling action. Don't worry that is not Chris Froome levels of cadence. So get to know how your gear ratios work with the system and make sure your saddle height is set correctly so you can produce a perfectly smooth and round pedal stroke. The general rule of thumb is bigger gear, higher cadence. Less torque means more range.
4. Drag And Resistance
You don't need to be an aerodynamicist or engineer to understand the effect that drag and resistance have on a bicycle. If you're already a cyclist then you will know most of these but no harm in a refresher.
- Tyres - make sure you have the right tyre for the terrain you intend to ride. Don't think just because you have an E-Bike that running a DH super tacky MTB tyre for a 50-mile road ride will be alright. Less resistance, more range
- Tyre Pressure - Harder isn't always more efficient. If you are riding on a rough, cobbled or gravelly surface this will mean your bike bounces around and skips. This is a waste of energy. Lower the pressure, let the tyre eat up the bumps and propel you forward.
- Lube your chain - E-Bikes increase wear on drivetrain components so look after it, keep it clean and lube regularly. Why not check out our guide to cleaning your E-Bike Here?
Stopping and starting, going around switchbacks or getting up steep inclines all use a lot of energy. Just think about the efficiency of your car in the town centre compared to a motorway run. It is the same thing with your E-Bike. The more you keep the bike moving and the less energy it uses to keep getting you back up to speed, the longer your battery will last. Look ahead, stop pedalling if the lights are red and try to keep moving without having to actually stop. Out on the trail, pick a smooth line and try to avoid big rocks and roots that slow you down. On corners choose the widest or flattest line it might look like a longer distance but it will allow you to hold your speed and requires less energy.
6. Lose Some Weight
Don't worry we are not saying you need to slim down to 60kgs (although if you want to then of course that will help) so there's no need to give up your road dinner just yet! Too often you see cyclists with expensively upgraded bikes (yes we are guilty of that too) immediately losing the benefit because of their luggage! Most of the time it's about how we pack or what we carry on our rides. Go through your pannier, rucksack or even jacket pockets and think about whether you actually need it. Every little helps and a couple of things, even if they only weigh 50 or 100 grams,quickly add up. Think - do I need that today or even this week? Could I leave my shoes at work? What about a bivi or a hammock instead of a tent? Do I need a full coffee brewing set up, or will instant get me to the first nice cafe of the day? All things to think about and all the things that will get you more range.
7. 'Bit Nippy Out'
Last but definitely not least. One of the noticeable effects on battery life in our experience is temperature - and its not just the cold. This obviously doesn't apply just to E-Bike batteries. All batteries have an optimum operating temperature, most of the time between 0-20 degrees. Whilst accurate testing in the UK is hard, you'll most likely see a significant drop off in range when the temperature drops below 5 degrees, with less at the higher end. Be smart, plan your rides and don't try to do your longest ride of the year in the depth of winter or at the absolute height of summer. If you are planning big winter miles, this is the time that you might want to carry that extra battery or your charger.