E-Bike Battery 101
When it comes to buying an e-bike, one of the most common questions people ask are about batteries.
How long will a battery last? What size should I choose? When / how do I charge it?
They are the powerhouse of the e-bike and if you’re new to electronic cycling this can be a factor that affects your decision to make the change from traditional cycling.
We’ve made things simple and covered some common queries for you, so you can spend more time cycling!
Charging is easy, VOLT™ batteries can be charged on or off the bike, by simply plugging the battery into a standard wall power socket using the charger which comes with the bike.
The batteries are also key locked onto the bike to secure them and to prevent the possibility of theft.
The Science-y Stuff
The UK industry standard voltage (V) for an e-bike battery is 36V, but what you really need to look at is the “Power” of the battery to get an indication of how far it will take you. The power (Watts) of the battery is calculated by multiplying Volts x Amps.
VOLT™’s SpinTech™ Standard 36V battery is 410.4wh which can carry you up to 60miles, whereas the X-Large SpinTech™ battery is 626.4wh battery and can travel up to 90miles before it requires charging. Obviously, these distances can vary significantly dependant on the power assistance level you choose, the efforts you put in yourself, and also the terrain you are riding in.
There are a few different types of battery technology on the market, however the most efficient for e-bikes are Lithium-Ion. They are made up of clusters of battery cells (visually like standard AA batteries) that hold an electrical charge (or volts). It is the same technology that is used in your smartphone or tablet but on a larger scale. Imagine, inside your battery are millions of tiny, dancing volts.
When you turn on your battery, those tiny, dancing volts move together like a huge flash-mob into your motor and propel you forward. The power this creates is called Watts, and Watts/hour is how many tiny dancing volts are in that flash-mob, per hour (on average).
The brand of cell used in the battery is very important, the quality of one cell to another differs massively. Name brand cells like Panasonic, Samsung, Sanyo, Sony are significantly more durable, and safer than non-branded cells which are generally imported from China. VOLT™ only uses major branded cells, primarily Panasonic.
How do I know what size I need?
It all comes down to the distance you will be travelling. If you tend to cycle short distances to work and around town, then the Standard (410wh) should be sufficient.
However, if you enjoy long distance cycles or challenging terrains, then the X-Large (630wh) will mean you have a few more miles and more piece of mind.
Just remember that the suggested distance stated is an average, the distance your battery will get you depends on four factors:
- User input – Whether you choose to manually pedal or how long you rely on the motor for acceleration. Constantly using the throttle will use more power as well.
- Wheel size – smaller wheels like that o the Metro or the Axis, means more ground to cover and more power used.
- Terrain – a more challenging terrain is going to use more power and increase the discharge rate.
- Assistance Setting: the bike has 4 power assistance settings, the higher the setting the less distance the battery will take you.
How long will the battery last?
Assuming the battery has had no major damage, they should last for a good few years with no servicing required. The lifespan of a Lithium-ion battery depends on the number of times the battery has been charged – the ‘charge-cycle’. The batteries used at VOLT™ all have 1000 charge-cycle lifespans.
Over time, the cells in the battery lose their ability to charge to their full capacity, and thus reducing the batteries performance.
You might find that some e-bikes have a Battery Management System (BMS) already built into it. This technology controls the charging so that each cell receives equal volts. The BMS also monitors power distribution so that you don’t experience significant power-loss with discharge (known as a ‘voltage dip’). It’s a great feature that will prolong the life of your battery and can be found on all VOLT™ e-bikes.
A little bit of TLC
It doesn’t hurt to treat your battery with a little TLC – it will only help it to have a longer life. Try to avoid these main culprits:
- Extreme temperatures
Try to keep your battery as cool as possible. Extreme heat causes damage to the cells. Heat is also produced when the battery is charging, so It helps to find a charger with a built-in fan like the one we have at VOLT™. Be sure to take the battery off the bike if it is left outside, so it is not affected by the temperature. If you’re cycling in extremely low temperatures, it might be worth considering getting a battery cover but as long as the battery is in use while its outside, it shouldn’t be subject to damage.
- Cycling in the rain
If you’re someone who likes to cycle regardless of terrible weather then you’re in luck as VOLT™ electrics are ready for this mindset. The batteries are safely housed so you can laugh in the face of rain but it is essential that you remove and dry the battery after you are done using your e-bike with a towel or cloth.
- Complete discharge
Avoid completely discharging the battery and aim to partially discharge or allow it to dip low enough to the cut off point. If you plan on not using the battery for some time, never leave it fully charged. Use it down or partially charge it to around 20%, store it in a cooler area and remember that batteries will wear out despite whether they are being used constantly or not.
Choosing a battery for your E-bike
When it comes to purchasing your VOLT™ bike, there are two manufacturers of motors and batteries – our specially engineered SpinTech™ and Shimano. Some of these batteries are designed to work on a specific bike with their corresponding motors.
The batteries used with SpinTech™ are lithium-ion manufactured my Panasonic, while the Shimano is also Li-ion but produced by Sony. SpinTech™ has two sizes on option:
- Standard – 36Volts – 400wh with an average distance of 60 miles
- X-Large – 36 Volts – 630wh with an average distance of 80miles
These batteries take anywhere from 2-4 hours to charge to from empty to 100% and both have around 1000 charge-cycle lifespans.
If you choose to purchase a bike with a Shimano Steps motor, you won’t have the choice of battery size. But don’t let this put you off!
The 36v Standard puts out 418wh, getting you an average of 70miles before complete discharge!
It, just like the SpinTech™, has a 1000 charge-cycle lifespan and goes from 0% – 100% in around 4 hours!