Batteries on new electric bikes can last anywhere from two to five years. The lifespan of an e-bike’s battery is determined by three main factors:
- the type and brand of battery being used
- how many times the battery has been charged during its lifetime
- the battery’s age
A single e-bike battery can be charged thousands of times before a rider needs to replace it, with each charge taking riders ~100 to 120 km on a standard electric bike.
Here’s a quick look at the different types of electric bike batteries, as well as some suggestions for extending your battery’s life.
Why charge cycles are important for e-bikes
The battery life of an electric bike’s battery depends on the number of times its been charged (with each charge known as a “charge cycle”). When the battery is drained from 100% to 0%, that counts as one charge cycle.
Going through these cycles slowly deteriorates the battery, and shortens how long it lasts before needing to be charged again.
Should you charge your electric bike battery often?
You should generally charge your electric bike’s battery when whenever it reaches the 30-60% charge range.
Some people mistakenly think that not using your battery much can make it last longer. In reality, not using your battery does more harm than good.
The battery of your electric bike and other battery-powered devices tend to discharge even when they’re not being used. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as self-discharging. Excessive self-discharging can also render irreparable damage to your e-bike’s battery, so you want to make sure you actively use it.
Types of electric bike batteries
The lifespan and performance of an electric bike battery also depend on the type of battery being used. There are three broad classes of batteries used for electric bicycles:
1. Lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely used battery for electric bikes. They can survive upwards of 1000 charge cycles in a lifespan. Moreover, the new Lithium Phosphate battery has proven to be more durable and safer to use than other types of batteries.
2. Nickel batteries
Nickel batteries have similar power to lithium-ion batteries but tend to self-discharge at a faster rate. They can withstand about 500 charge cycles before dipping in performance.
3. Lead batteries
Lead batteries are the oldest type of battery used for e-bikes. If you buy a new e-bike, its battery will almost certainly not be a lead one. Lead batteries have a charge-cycle threshold of just 300 charges and are heavier than their lithium-ion counterpart.
Also note that your electric bike’s battery life is tied to the quality of its materials and the company that manufactured it. Many times, even a lead battery from a good and reputed manufacturer lasts longer than a substandard lithium battery.
Which battery should I choose for my electric bike?
Regardless of the battery type you choose for your electric bike, make sure it has a two-year manufacturer warranty. Sometimes batteries have been caught discharging much quicker than expected, so it’s best to be safe in the event your battery is defective.
Lithium-ion batteries are the standard for most e-bikes today, but they can end up costing more than nickel and lead batteries. They also must be well maintained — being more sensitive to high and low temperatures than other types of batteries.
When should I replace my electric bike’s battery?
If you’ve had your battery for two years or longer and start noticing a decrease in performance, your battery’s life is slowly coming to its end. A lack of power and even fluctuation in voltages are both signs pointing toward the need to change your e-bike’s battery.
Another sign that your battery is on its last legs is that it needs to be recharged more frequently. If you find yourself recharging your battery more often than in the past, it’s begun to decay and should be replaced.
How to extend your electric bike’s battery life
Your battery’s durability, like any other electrical device, is directly tied to the amount of care you give it. External factors like temperature and humidity can impact your battery’s life, for instance, so you need to make sure you don’t leave your e-bike outside for long periods of time (especially if you live somewhere like Phoenix, Arizona).
Here are a few tips for improving your electric bike’s battery life:
- Use the charger that came with your battery, because it’s optimized specifically for charging it.
- If your battery seems like its overheating, don’t start charging it. Instead, allow it to cool down first.
- Don’t run your battery down to 0% charge. Instead, recharge it when it’s been used about halfway.
- If you plan on going a long period of time without using your e-bike, make sure to take the battery out. Also turn the battery on once in a while to avoid excessive self-discharge.
- Avoid overcharging your e-bike’s battery by unplugging it at 100%. If you charge your battery overnight, make sure you unplug it first thing when you wake up.
- Store the battery in a cool and dry place. This can be done by parking your e-bike somewhere shaded or out of direct sunlight.
- When cleaning your electric bike’s battery, use a dry towel — nothing wet. Water can lead to further corrosion of the battery, so don’t unintentionally shorten its life while maintaining it.