Charging an electric bike
There are important factors which must be considered when charging an electric bike to ensure the best overall performance from your new ride.
Follow these best practices to charge an electric bike and follow these guidelines to properly maintain your electric bike battery and get the most out of its potential range and longevity.
Charging an electric bike battery
How you go about charging an electric bikes battery will vary somewhat depending on the manufacturer of the battery and the battery’s chemistry and size etc. but there are some guiding principles that will help you to get it done correctly 99% of the time.
When you purchase an electric bike, it will come with a battery pack that houses the electric bikes battery (multiple cells connected in series) inside of a weather proof case. Integrated into the battery case you may notice some or a combination of; a USB port, on/off switch or ignition, LED charge indicator, a locking mechanism to secure the battery to the dock and most importantly a charging port The electric bike battery case will be interconnected to a dock which is anchored or bolted to the electric bike frame. The dock may be mounted in a variety of locations on the frame and this location will vary from bike to bike - generally these docks are placed in the middle of the bike to maintain a decent center of gravity for the weight of the battery (incidentally this is the best location for the handling of your electric bike), and sometimes the battery dock is located just behind the seat.
In addition, most electric bikes come with an independent battery charger which consists of a power supply with two ends. One goes to a grounded three prong plug which plugs into a 110V outlet and the other will have a male charging connector which marries to the female charging port found on your electric bike battery case.
Most electric bike chargers will have a red/green or go/no go LED light integrated into the battery case. Red represents a charging condition for the battery and the color green represents that your electric bike is fully charged.
When the charge on your electric bike becomes low you will need to remove the battery from the dock which is mounted to your electric bike frame, turn the battery on/off switch to the “off” position then connect the charger to the battery via the charging port and plug the charger into any 110V electrical outlet.
On an Unconquered Custom electric bike, removing the battery from the dock is an unnecessary step, as you can plug the charger directly into the port located below the gas tank while the pack remains mounted to the bike frame
For more on our batteries housed within custom gas tanks see the video below
How long does it take for the complete charging of an electric bike?
The time that it takes for the battery to charge will vary depending on the amperage of your charger, and the size and chemistry of the battery incorporated into your electric bike build. But it is safe to say that most electric bike batteries take between 2 and 6 hours to fully charge from root to fruit. The unique combination of smart charger BMS technology and lithium-ion polymer battery chemistry found within an Unconquered Custom electric bike allows for charging an electric bike much quicker from zero to full charge in 4hrs!
Once charged, to prolong the lifespan of your electric bike battery endeavor to charge your battery at least once a month, even when not in use and/ or make an effort to ONLY charge your battery when the LCD battery level indicator (on the case or dashboard) shows <3 bars of charge or less.
Something else to keep in mind once you become familiar with charging your electric bike battery, is your particular battery recharge rate. If the charging time for your electric bike is 4 hours and your bike has a 30-mile range then it will have a recharge rate of 7.5 miles per hour of charging.
For instance, an Unconquered Custom takes four hours to 100% fully recharge the battery from zero to full, but it has a 60 mile range once charged so this electric bike has a recharge rate of 15 miles per charging hour.
Does any electric bike charging occur during operation i.e. pedaling etc?
Some electric bikes have a regenerative braking feature which allows a modest backflow or charge of electricity to flow from the motor to the battery while you are riding the electric bike. This function requires us of a direct drive motor and the charge occurs when you apply the brakes during operation. It can under ideal conditions extend the range of your battery by 5%-10%. However, the overall range benefit is dubious as regenerative braking also causes friction and resistance offsetting most if not all gains in range vs a free-wheeling geared motor with no regenerative braking potential. Also direct drive motors are generally heavier and more expensive than geared drives and it can often cause pedaling your electric bike to be more difficult.
Note* If you have range anxiety over extremely long journeys a better bet may be to pack an additional battery for your trip.
Do I need to wait for the battery to fully discharge before charging my electric bike?
No, As mentioned before once initially charged, to prolong the lifespan of your electric bike battery endeavor to charge your battery at least once a month, even when not in use and/ or try to ONLY charge your battery when the LCD battery level indicator (on the case or dashboard) shows <3 bars of charge or less as this promotes longevity (more charge cycles) within the individual battery cells. In the overall scheme of things, it won’t hurt to simply charge your electric bike after each use.
Can I stop charging my electric bike before the battery is fully charged?
With lithium-ion polymer battery, like the one used within Unconquered Custom electric bike builds, there is no harm in pulling the plug early.
Our battery system incorporates the latest BMS (battery management system) to protect the battery cells from damage caused by being overcharged or over-discharged. Additionally, the BMS calculates the remaining charge, monitors the battery’s temperature, monitors the battery’s health and safety by checking for loose connections and internal shorts. The BMS also balances the charge across the cells to keep each cell functioning at maximum capacity. If it detects any unsafe conditions, the BMS shuts the battery down to protect the lithium-ion cells and the user.
When the batteries are charging, they do so in two cycles. The first cycle is where the battery receives 80-90% of the charge the charging current or amperage is the fastest. With this being the case, if you were to stop charging the battery only 30 minutes before it’s fully charged then you will likely still have charged the battery to 80 – 90% of it’s capacity.
Best spot for charging an electric bike?
Since electric bike batteries are recharged using regular household current via a 110V outlet, you can recharge your electric bike anywhere you have access to this type of outlet.
How much does charging an electric bike cost?
The cost of charging your electric bike battery will vary depending on the capacity of the battery and the price per kilo watt hour of electricity in your area.
Consider a bike with a 500W battery in an area where electricity costs $0.12 per Kilowatt hour. The cost to fully charge this electric bike would be approximately $0.06.
If the range on this bike is 50 miles then your cost per mile is $0.0012, which is extremely cheap! Read how much do electric bikes cost here.
How can I push my electric bike further on a charge?
There are several ways you can facilitate more range from your battery.
The first, and most obvious way, is to throttle less or if you are using pedal assist, dial it down it to a lower assistance setting. If are pedaling more, you are not only getting more exercise – but you are also preserving battery capacity!
In this case gear management also comes into play. Use the right gears based on the situation that you are in. Low gears make it easier to propel the bike when traveling at slower speeds and higher gears make it easier to propel the bike at higher speeds.
Starting and stopping is a huge drain on a battery as is driving using throttle only with no pedaling. If you find yourself with a depleted battery and still have a ways to go consider switching to pedal assist mode and select a higher gear combined with a lower assistance setting for continuous stretches of road.
Can I replace the battery?
The batteries on electric bikes can be replaced at any time. In fact, many electric bikes are designed so that you can unlock and remove the battery case from the dock so that you can charge it. With that being the case, it is common for electric bike owners to buy more than one battery so that they can swap them on longer trips so to eliminate range concerns.
How long do electric bike batteries last?
Even the cheapest electric bike batteries allow for a minimum of 500 full charging cycles before the battery loses more than 80% of its capacity and some like the battery which powers an Unconquered Custom allow for up to 1200 full charge cycles. Since lithium batteries have no memory, it means that if you charge a battery when it still has half of its charge left the battery will accept the charge and return to a state of full capacity. If you regularly ride using pedal assist mode, rather than full throttle then depending on the battery chemistry you can expect the battery to be good for between 10,000 and 30,000 miles, which is great!
Most batteries are made by Samsung or Panasonic and estimate that their batteries are good for 1000 full charges, and they often offer warranties of 2 years of continuous use at the cell level. The cost of replacing an electric battery range between $500 and $800 depending on the size/ capacity of the battery pack and its additional features.
If the battery manufacturer is out of business, then replacing the battery can be somewhat of a challenge. However, it is possible to have your old battery case repacked for around $500.
How do I care for my electric bike battery?
We recommend that you park your electric bike in a spot where the temperature is between 0-40 degrees Celsius which or 32-104 Fahrenheit.
For instance, in colder areas and seasons an attached garage would be more suitable for storage than a stand alone shed etc.
You should also take measures to protect the battery from water ingress. Even though electric bikes can be driven in the rain without any problem it doesn’t mean that their batteries are waterproof so, you should take precautions to ensure that the location that you store the electric bike or individual battery in isn’t at risk of flooding or regular high humidity.
Lastly only use the charger supplied by the manufacturer supplied since it will have been specifically designed to dovetail with the capacity and chemistry of your unique battery. Using a different charger runs the risk of causing a fire or otherwise damaging the battery.