One of the most common questions we get is how to calculate the geographic range of an electric bike. In essence, how far will an ebike go before it runs out of battery power.
If you’re in a rush and just want to use the calculator, scroll to the bottom of this page. You just need to input the Voltage (V) and Amp-Hour (Ah) rating of the battery on the ebike you are reviewing, and the average range in miles will be the output.
However, if you want to know what goes into calculating the potential range of an electric bike, keep reading.
First, a little myth busting. All our ebikes can be ridden like conventional bikes, simply by pedaling and using the standard gears. There is no drag or resistance from a turned-off motor. That being said, ebikes do tend to be heavier than standard bikes, due to the added weight of the motor, battery and controller.
The lithium-ion battery is the fuel tank for your ebike, not unlike the batteries that power your cell phone and laptop computer. In the olden days a few years ago, some legacy brands used sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries on their ebikes. But with improvements in battery technology, the denser and more efficient lithium-ion battery was adopted as the standard for all ebikes. These batteries will vary in their chemistry, as well as their operating voltage and capacity.
Like the lithium batteries powering your personal electronic devices, ebike batteries will not last forever. After about 1,000 charge cycles, you will notice that the battery is not holding a full charge. For the average rider, it takes about 2 years to charge and discharge an ebike battery 1,000 times.
When you finally need to get a new battery for your ebike, have no fear. Usually replacement or spare batteries are available from the original manufacturer, but even if they are not, there are reputable 3rd party battery companies that can provide a high-quality replacement. Our go-to favorite company for this is the Ebike Marketplace in Las Vegas.
All electric bikes have 3 essential components that set them apart from conventional bikes. These are the motor, the controller and the battery. Each of these electrical components plays a critical role in the performance of an electrical bike, and if any of them is not working properly, it can adversely affect your ebike range.
If you struggle with the concept of electrons running through wires to power a motor, you're not alone. Check out the Water Pipe Analogy graphic below.
We use watt-hours to measure the energy capacity of a battery pack, and this will help you figure out how long you can ride your ebike before fully discharging the battery. But before we get into watt-hours (symbolized Wh), let’s first review what a watt itself is.
A watt (W) is a unit of power, and power is the rate at which energy is produced or consumed. Think of watts as a measure of electrical flow. Does an electrical device need a big flow or a small flow to work? For example, a 100W light bulb uses energy at a higher rate than a 60W bulb; this means that the 100W light bulb needs a bigger “flow” to work. Likewise, the rate at which your solar energy system “flows” power into your home is measured in watts.
A watt-hour (Wh) is a unit of energy equivalent to one watt (1W) of power expended for one hour (1h) of time. A watt-hour is a way to measure the amount of work performed or generated. Household appliances and other electrical devices perform “work” and that requires energy in the form of electricity. Utilities typically charge you for electrical energy by the kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is equal to 1,000 watt-hours.
An ebike battery is measured by its voltage (V) and amp-hour (Ah) rating. To calculate the Wh of an ebike battery pack, we simply multiply its V and Ah to get the Wh.
On average, it's been estimated that the average ebike battery will yield one (1) mile of travel for every 20 Wh of energy.
Now, just plug in the battery voltage and amp-hour ratings below to get an estimate range. And if you want another expert's opinion about ebike range, check out Micah Toll at Electrek.