How Far Can You Go on an Electric Bike?

We cover everything you should know about the range an e-bike can go on one charge and how to increase it
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Last updatedLast updated: September 11, 2022
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Compared to a regular bike, electric bikes may be more convenient for daily use, especially if you’re not looking to work up too much of a sweat as you run your errands. Sure, they can help you exercise a bit, but they can also help you get to your destination even if you don’t feel like cycling. But how far can you go on an electric bike? This is a question often asked by potential buyers, and with manufacturers sometimes listing lofty and seemingly unrealistic performance figures, it’s understandable.

Fortunately, there is a way to calculate just how much range you get out of your e-bike, depending on several factors. These include your size, weight, the size of your tires, the terrain, etc. With that, you may notice that even bikes with similar specs may vary regarding the range they offer.

What Is the Common Range Most e-Bikes Can Go?

The range for most e-bikes varies widely and could be listed as anywhere between 15 and 100 miles. That said, one of the biggest determining factors is the price, with the most expensive e-bikes also tending to have the most range. Some e-bikes that cost thousands of dollars will even go past the 100-mile mark.

Cheaper e-bikes, on the other hand, typically have between 15 and 30 miles of range. As for electric bikes that cost about $1500, you’ll often get between 25 and 55 miles of range. If this is right up your budget range, you may want to compare the different options available before deciding on the best electric bikes under $1500 for your money.

Is There a Difference Between Different Class e-Bikes?

How Far Can You Go on an Electric Bike?

Electric bikes are generally divided into three classes. Class 1, class 2, and class 3 and these can be influential when calculating the actual range of an e-bike. Class 1 e-bikes are the most basic and typically come with pedal-assist with a 20 mph maximum speed. They also don’t have a throttle in the design. According to most reviews, the Co-op Cycles CTY e2.2 Electric Bike is one of the best class 1 e-bikes thanks to a Shimano motor and battery, which are some of the highest-quality components in the bike market.

Class 2 e-bikes include a throttle system with the controls included on the handlebar. Nevertheless, they’re still limited to a 20 mph maximum speed. Lastly, class 3 e-bikes are the fastest of the bunch, capable of going up to 28 mph. That said, like the class 1 alternatives, these electric bikes are pedal-assist only.

For the most part, class 1 e-bikes were allowed everywhere you could go with a regular bike. This includes even bike-only paths. However, the other two classes were fairly limited. Class 2 e-bikes, for instance, were prevented from going onto mountain bikes due to the damage caused by throttle actuation. However, multi-use OHV trails were no problem.

As for class 3 e-bikes, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Trusted Source E-bike Rules and Regulations | WA - DNR Electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) are increasing in popularity and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is in the process of assessing changes to how they are managed. E-bike means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric motor may not have a power output more than 750 www.dnr.wa.gov notes that they can only be used on trails and forest roads that are open for motorized use.

What Are the Factors Affecting an e-Bike Range?

How Far Can You Go on an Electric Bike?

As for the factors affecting e-bike range, they include tire size, terrain, weather, the size, weight, and riding capacity of the rider, age of the bike, presence of a throttle, and battery capacity. With regard to the battery capacity, bigger is generally better, although the total range you get out of your e-bike will also be affected by the terrain.

For instance, if you have two e-bikes moving on smooth terrain at the same speed, then a bigger battery will take you further. However, if you’re riding on difficult terrain, the motor will have to expend more power which drains the battery quicker.

Consequently, you may notice that whenever you go hunting, you don’t have as much range as when you ride on the streets. That said if you’d rather have the help of an e-bike when you go hunting, comparing the best electric bikes for hunting before you make a purchase may be a good idea. It’ll help you pick something that works for the terrain you’ll encounter.

Also, the terrain may be affected by the weather. If it’s windy, rainy, or snowy, with less than ideal riding conditions, your bike may face more air resistance when going forward, which means your motor has to work harder. With your battery having to provide the necessary energy to the motor, you’ll likely have reduced range.

Something similar happens when you have wider tires.

Additionally, if you’re cruising along at a higher speed than your counterpart, you’ll drain your battery faster, therefore, eating into your battery capacity advantage.

Notably, batteries also tend to lose their capacity bit by bit the older they are. Consequently, even if your e-bike was rated with higher capacity when new, this may have changed over time. Ultimately, this will result in reduced range each time you go for a ride, although the differences may be minimal between rides.

Next, if you have an e-bike with a throttle on the handlebar, you may have noticed you don’t have as much range as riders with pedal-assist e-bikes. This is likely because you often leave the heavy lifting to the bike when you’re tired, a luxury those with pedal-assist e-bikes don’t have. They either pedal, or their motor and battery won’t help them out.

Speaking of pedalling, your efficiency and technique while riding should matter. If you’re a more efficient rider, you reduce the load on the motor and, subsequently, the battery. With that, where you’d normally get 25 miles of range, you’ll find you’re getting between 27 and 30. The reverse is true when you don’t have a good pedalling technique.

Lastly, the size and weight of the rider alongside their cargo also matter. Bigger and heavier riders don’t get as much range out of their e-bikes as their smaller, lighter counterparts. You can also see the same trend when your cargo is heavier. As such, if you plan on using your e-bike for shopping, it’s probably best if you compare the best electric cargo bikes around before choosing a brand and model.

How to Estimate Your e-Bike Range?

So, how do you estimate how far you can go on your electric bike? It all starts with the battery capacity. It may be indicated on a potential purchase in Watt hours (Wh), or you may have to calculate it from the volts and amp hours provided. For the latter, simply multiply the volts listed by the amp hours. A 48V 14ah battery has a 672 Wh capacity. A 48V 10ah cell, on the other hand, is a 480 Wh battery.

By dividing the Wh capacity by the Watt-hours per mile efficiency number, you get the expected range. Typically 500-750W throttle e-bikes will offer around 25 Wh per mile if ridden at about 20 mph. This efficiency number goes up or down depending on the rider, terrain, tire size, and a couple of the other factors mentioned above.

Nevertheless, with a 25 Wh per mile efficiency number and a 672 Wh capacity battery, you get 26.88 miles of range.

Bike manufacturers measure the efficiency number in the ideal conditions; hence their mileage figures may be way more than what you get in daily use. That said, according to most reviews, the Surface 604 500W Shreds is one of the best options for range, thanks to a 960 Wh battery.

If you’re using your throttle, you’re likely getting lower efficiency figures which means you might not get as much range. Conversely, if you use the lowest pedal-assist level at your disposal, you may even get a 10 Wh per mile efficiency range. This, of course, depends on how good a cyclist you are. Nevertheless, with such an efficiency figure, you can even get over 60 miles of range from a 672 Wh battery.

How to Increase the Range You Can Go on Your e-Bike?

If you want to maximize the range of your e-bike every time you sit on it to go shopping, hunting, or sightseeing, there are a couple of things you can try. One is to stick to smoother terrains that don’t require your motor to strain. Think of the bike lane or pavement instead of the hilly mountain bike trail at your local park.

Alternatively, you can up your fitness and improve your cycling technique. If you take some of the strain off the motor and battery, it will last you for longer. This should be easier if you take good care of the e-bike.

Try and keep the brakes, chain, tires, and other important bike components in their optimal condition. If it’s possible to improve the aerodynamics of the bike, do that as well. Additionally, try and use the lowest level of pedal-assist possible and keep your hands off that throttle button if it’s present.

Of course, you should also take better care of your battery. Battery university Trusted Source BU-802: What Causes Capacity Loss? - Battery University BU meta description needed… batteryuniversity.com notes that cells begin fading as soon as they’re manufactured. However, there are ways to expand their lifespan, such as reducing the number of deep discharges. In other words, try not to discharge all the energy in the battery before your next recharge.

Additionally, avoid storing your battery in areas with heat or moisture. Both have been known to reduce the lifespan and efficiency of batteries dramatically, which means a lower range.

Lastly, consider getting a range extender. These are extra batteries that can be attached to your e-bike to improve the range.

How to Properly Charge an Electric Bike?

As mentioned above, battery care is important, and it starts with how you charge and use it. If you want yours to last long, start by only using the original charger. While it may be compatible with other chargers at face value, it can sometimes cause damage due to optimization differences. Even if you lose or damage the one that came with your e-bike, you can get a replacement from the manufacturer.

Additionally, try not to overcharge. In fact, you shouldn’t leave the battery until it charges to 100% percent capacity. According to the Intellectual Property Office Trusted Source Overcharge Protection Prevents Exploding Lithium Ion Batteries - Intellectual Property Office A separator membrane technology to prevent exploding lithium ion batteries and increase cycle life and battery life. Available for license or collaboration. ipo.lbl.gov , lithium batteries which are common in e-bikes, may overheat and explode when overcharged. Also, even with overcharge protection, there’s significant damage to the battery when you leave it charging for too long.

Leaving the battery to drain fully before recharging is also a bad idea. As mentioned above, deep discharges can be quite problematic. In fact, a paper submitted to Research Gate by T. Guena and P. Leblanc notes that deep discharges cause irreversible chemical effects on the batteries.

Final Thoughts

How far can you go on an electric bike? As explained above, it’ll vary widely depending on where you ride, how you ride, whether you’re taking good care of your battery, and whether the battery is old, among other factors. The good news is with the calculator app on your smartphone and an estimate of efficiency numbers depending on how well you ride and the terrain, you can determine the mileage to expect. After that, getting the right e-bike for your needs should be significantly easier.

References

1.
E-bike Rules and Regulations | WA - DNR
Electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) are increasing in popularity and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is in the process of assessing changes to how they are managed. E-bike means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric motor may not have a power output more than 750
2.
BU-802: What Causes Capacity Loss? - Battery University
BU meta description needed…
3.
Overcharge Protection Prevents Exploding Lithium Ion Batteries - Intellectual Property Office
A separator membrane technology to prevent exploding lithium ion batteries and increase cycle life and battery life. Available for license or collaboration.
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