The 5 best tips to get the most e-bike range

Need more range from your battery for big rides? Here's how to get it.

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Whether you have a small or a large ebike battery, there are certain tips you can follow to maximize your range.

Whether you have a small or a large e-bike battery, there are certain tips you can follow to maximize your range.

Whether you have a 500wh battery or 700wh, there are situations where you simply want to get more range out of your e-bike battery. If it’s a big, weekend ride or an exploration adventure, these tips will help you avoid that red flashing battery warning or worse, the motor shut down before the last climb.

And we’re not just going to tell you to ride in Eco Mode instead of Turbo since that is too obvious. We’ve compiled an insightful list to help you get the most range out of your battery.

Related: Specialized Levo SL vs. Levo – Which one is for you?

In the most demanding climbs, help your ebike battery out by shifting to lower gears before it's needed.

In the most demanding climbs, help the motor out by shifting to lower gears before it’s needed.

1. Get in a lighter gear at start-up and on the steeps

What consumes the most battery for most e-bikes is low cadence, high torque situations. This demands the most watts and torque from the motor and generates the most heat. Instead of cranking on a heavy gear on a very steep hill or a switchback, shift to a lower gear and get your cadence going to about 50-80 rpm. This will allow you to do more work and save the motor from the most battery hungry zone. As you get the speed going, shift up to a higher gear but always try to maintain a high cadence.

Related: Specialized Levo SL: Everything you need to know

To get the most out of your ebike battery, use e-mtb mode or configure your motor settings to have a similar mode that uses the entire motor capacity.

Use e-mtb mode or configure your motor settings to have a similar mode that uses the entire motor capacity.

2. Use an e-mtb mode or a simulated all-in-one mode that uses the motor’s range

A couple of years ago, Bosch came up with the e-mtb mode that allows the rider to get 100% of the motor’s power if the rider worked hard enough. This was a revelation since traditional modes on all motors only gave 100% motor power if the user went into the highest mode, called Boost or Turbo. This is the main reason riders go into these modes, on steep or fast sections, as eco mode only allows 30% of the motor’s power usually.

The revelation is this single mode is more usable and it saves about 20-30% battery capacity. The user has the power when they need it but they don’t get sucked in or stuck in Turbo mode, which admittedly is addicting.

Related: First Ride: Specialized Levo SL

Some bikes like the Levo SL support an external range extender battery.

Some bikes like the Levo SL support an external range extender battery.

Not all motors support this but it is available with different terminology. In Specialized bikes, the user has full control of each mode with 2 variables called ‘support’ and ‘peak power’. By default, Eco mode is set to 35/35 and Trail mode is set to 35/70. The great news is the user can set their own e-mtb mode by setting Eco to 20/100 for example and then Trail to 40/100. Eco will give the rider 20% support but go all the way to 100% peak power when called upon. The rider just has to work for it and it is configurable through the app. Trail mode is the same but gives the user more support. With this mode, the user rarely has to go to Trail mode or Turbo mode but still get the full benefit of the motor. This increases range and usability quite a bit.

As soon as you get home, charge your ebike battery indoors to ensure it is 100% topped off when you're read to use it.

As soon as you get home, charge your battery indoors to ensure it is 100% topped off when you’re read to use it.

3. Charge the battery as soon as you get home

With most e-bike batteries, charging is fairly quick to get to 90% but it slows down quite a bit to get to 100%. This protects the battery at the most critical part of charging since they batteries really do not like to get overcharged or charged too quickly at the limits.

Thus this piece of advice is to charge the battery as soon as you get home so it gets the full 3+ hours to get it absolutely topped off before the ride. It’s safe to leave it charging overnight as well and unplug it right before your ride. If the battery has been sitting for a month or so, plug it back in even though it was fully charged, just to ensure losses during storage are replenished.

Understand that components, especially tires affect ebike battery range, just as they do on an unassisted bike.

Understand that components, especially tires affect range, just as they do on an unassisted bike.

4. Optimize your bike, tires and pressures

If range is of primary concern to you, it’s important to remember that your bike setup matters, exactly as it does when there is no motor assist. And the component you can control the most is your tire selection and tire pressures.

Rear tire selection has the most effect on range so choose it wisely. A Minion DHF 2.8 in their sticky compound will crush your range while a 29er trail tire with a consistent center knob will add miles to your range. There are many options here so choose wisely for your trail conditions and the type or range you’re trying to achieve.

The front tire, suspension pressures, and settings can affect range as well.

Don't get your ebike battery internals wet or expose it to extreme temperatures.

Don’t get your battery internals wet or expose it to extreme temperatures.

5. Battery care

And of course, most essential of all is long term battery care. Some key things to note is don’t leave the battery dead or fully charged for extended periods of time. If you’re gonna leave it unattended for say 6 months, a storage level is preferred which is about 60-70% charge. This allows the battery to drop or increase in voltage a bit through time and conditions while still staying in a very healthy range.

Another key is to not expose the battery to extreme cold or extreme heat during storage. Keep it indoors or in the garage to avoid wild temperature swings.

Assist comes in handy in snow conditions. But a frozen ebike battery delivers less range.

Assist comes in handy in snow conditions. But frozen batteries deliver less range.

If in extreme cold or heat, charge or store the battery at room temperature before the ride. Lithium batteries lose a significant amount of their capacity and run time during very cold conditions. If it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you store the bike and battery outside or in a cold garage, then the battery will be at 30 degrees when you start and it will have less run time.

A key trick is to keep the battery inside with you where it is perhaps 60 degrees and take it out when ready to ride. The battery will be at 60 degrees and it will take a while for it to drop in temperature. And since batteries in use keep themselves warm, it will never reach the outside temperature of 30 degrees where it has less run time.

Hope these ebike battery tips help. What did we miss and what can you add to help increase e-bike range?

This post is sponsored by Specialized Bicycles. Click here to check their line.


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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Comments:

  • Jeff B says:

    Francis,

    Thanks for the tips!

    I put a 11-46 Cassette on my Levo Comp to allow me to climb easier in Eco mode…sounds like this will also help save the battery if I keep a high cadence.

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