“How far or how long can I ride with an eBike or e-bike kit?” is one of the first questions a cyclist will ask when selecting and eBike or e-bike kit.
Most of us are familiar with automobile EPA fuel economy ratings. The automobile industry imposes controlled conditions in a laboratory setting to measure estimated fuel economy. Specialized measurement tools such as a dynamometer are used when simulating typical city and highway driving conditions. The EPA reviews and confirms the manufacturers’ published rating through its own independent testing.
In the case of eBike, the manufacturers provide estimated distance ranges, yet there are no standardized testing criteria to fairly compare one brand of eBike against another. It’s up to the consumer to be able to do the math and understand exactly what they are purchasing.
A good indication of the range is the capacity of the battery, rated in watt-hours or Wh for short. The voltage of an e-bike battery alone is not indicative of either power or range. A common misconception is that a 48V system is twice the capacity of a 24V system. This is not the case.
The same is true for the amperage or ampere-hour rating of a battery. The true measure of battery energy capacity is the watt-hour rating (Wh) which is the nominal voltage of a battery or battery pack multiplied by its ampere-hour rating. For example, a 24V, 10Ah battery will provide 240 Wh when fully charged and will be able to deliver 240 watts for 1 hour or 120 watts for 2 hours. Simple enough right?
Unfortunately, the X factor in the mathematical calculations of the actual driving ranges also must include things like total weight of the bike, weight of the rider, cargo, riding speed, wind and wind direction, riding position, frontal area of the rider, road grade or incline, type of tires, inflation pressure, start-stop patterns, traffic conditions, battery capacity, efficiency of the motor and drive system, and also the effort provided by the rider.
Riders can get some relief from range anxiety in the fact that their e-bike will ride almost like a regular bike if the battery is discharged, only slightly heavier. Some better e-bike systems will completely disengage when the battery is drained offering zero resistance and a natural bike feel or offer regenerative braking that can help recharge the batteries when coming to a stop.
New smaller more compact batteries reduce weight, and can be easily removed and recharged at work or school for convenience and a secondary battery that can effectively double the range of the e-bike.
Although e-bikes typically allow cyclists to significantly increase riding range while reducing travel time and exertion when compared to a regular bike, it is important to consider all these important factors when selecting an eBike or eBike kit.