One of the most common questions we get is how to calculate the geographic range of an electric bike. Basically, how far will an ebike go before it runs out of battery power? What's its range? There are many factors that affect an electric bike's range, including battery capacity, terrain, and the level of effort of the rider.
If you have a Bosch motor system, then you should probably use the Bosch ebike distance calculator. But the truth is that most ebikes come with a Bafang motor system or its equivalent, since they are the largest ebike motor manufacturer in the world, and have an exceptional reputation. Our calculator has been designed based on the performance of the Bafang system.
For a more precise estimate of electric bike range, we have developed a detailed ebike range calculator which has 16 Separate Inputs and Over 100 Variants. Try it now, and start keeping track of your actual range to help us refine the system. If you want to learn all the details about how far electric bikes can go, and how to get the most range from your ebike battery, skip the calculator and continue reading the rest of this article.
AVERAGE SPEED (mph)
Average speed for the duration of your ride, including regular pedaling and use of pedal assist and throttle.
LEVEL OF EFFORT
Amount of pedal power you supply to reach the average speed. 0 = Throttle Only, 9 = Eco Mode.
TOTAL WEIGHT (Lbs)
Total weigh including bike, battery, rider, and any cargo you are carrying on the bike or in a trailer.
LEVEL OF CADENCE (rpm)
On average, how many times do you make one full rotation per minute when pedaling?
Where is the motor located on your electric bike?
NOMINAL MOTOR OUTPUT (Watts)
What is the nominal motor output rating of your ebike? For dual drives, enter the combined total wattage.
BATTERY VOLTAGE (Volts)
What is the voltage of your electric bike system?
BATTERY CAPACITY (Amp-Hours)
What is the capacity of your ebike battery, as measured in Amp-Hours (Ah)?
What style of electric bike are you riding?
Select the tire tread that most closely resembles that of the tires on your electric bike.
NUMBER OF MECHANICAL GEARS
Select the mechanical gear system on your ebike.
Select the mechanical gear system on your ebike.
Select the terrain that best describes the average terrain for your ride.
Select which best describes the suface conditions you will encounter most on your ride.
Which best describes the weather conditions you will encounter during your ride?
How often stop completely, and start from a standing position? Level 1 = Rarely, Level 5 = Frequently
First, a little electric bike battery myth busting is in order. Every ebike manufacturer should provide detailed specifications for the battery and every other component on the models they bring to market. Many will also provide estimated ranges, but rarely indicate how these range estimates were derived. That is why we built this calculator, so that you could get a fairly precise range based on your ebike specifications and riding conditions.
Estimated ranges provided by ebike brands aren't based on rigorous testing
Next, let's dismiss another obvious falsehood. All ebikes can be ridden like conventional bikes, simply by pedaling and using the standard gears. If the electric vehicle you're looking at does not have operable pedals, it's not an electric bike.
If you ride your ebike with the electronics turned off, there is no loss of battery charge. And if you ride your ebike without turning on electronics, there is no drag or resistance from the turned-off motor.
There is no drag or resistance from the 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. But there are also lightweight ebikes that fold up and are highly portable.
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 ebike brands would use sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries on their ebikes.
You can still find these types of batteries in cars and on mobility scooters. But with improvements in battery technology, the denser and more energy efficient lithium-ion battery has been adopted as the standard for all ebikes. These batteries will vary in their chemistry, as well as their operating voltage and capacity. Do not get a bike that does not have a lithium battery pack.
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 2-4 years to charge and discharge an ebike battery 1,000 times. These timeframes could be greatly reduced if you expose your electric bike battery to extremes in heat or cold. So it's best not to leave your battery in the trunk of a hot car, or in a garage that might reach freezing temperatures overnight.
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.
There are many variables that affect ebike range, including the bike design of bike, rider weight and riding style, terrain, weather, surface moisture, tire inflation.
Bike Design & Maintenance. Electric bikes, like conventional bikes, come in many flavors. You have fat tire mountain ebikes, small folding ebikes, and laid back cruiser style ebikes. There are several key factors in bike design that affect range.
First, the weight of the bike is a major factor, but also the width of the tires. Fat tires, for example, have more surface area in contact with the ground, and more traction (friction) compared to a road bike with narrower tires. This adds resistance which can deplete energy reserves more quickly.
Second, it’s important to note that a poorly tuned or maintained ebike will have a shorter range than a properly maintained vehicle. Low tire inflation, poorly aligned gears and brakes, and high wind resistance due to a lack of aerodynamic design will all contribute to reducing the range of an ebike.
Payload. The weight of the passenger and any cargo will also have a dramatic effect on ebike range. All things being equal, a 225-pound rider with a fully-loaded trailer will place a much higher demand on the battery than a 125-pound teenager with a fanny pack. The distribution of the payload on the bike will also affect range, especially if a bike is unbalanced due to heavy loads placed on the rear rack.
Weather & Terrain. Headwinds and wet roads each will reduce the potential range of an ebike. Likewise, how hilly your ride is, and if you go off-road on gravelly trails will impact how far you can travel on a single charge.
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 are not working properly, it can adversely affect your ebike performance 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.