How to Charge an Electric Bike

Should you be considering getting an electric bike or have literally just clicked ‘purchase’ then you will want to do your research. This is a changing technology that has changed the way we commute to work and can mean you finally that steep hill on an especially long ride.

Before you take it on a ride, you need to take some time to read the instructions and put down that cycle helmet.

How to Charge an Electric Bike

Going out for a ride is exciting enough though you should charge the battery of your electric bike first. Similarly to when you first receive a new cell phone, to get the most of your rechargeable battery means giving it a longer charge than you normally would.

You may have to wait until the next day for that ride as that initial charge could take as long as eight hours.

The possibilities of charging your electric bike battery are more open than you may have imagined. As long as you have your charger with you and access to a mains outlet, you should be able to charge your battery on the go.

However, you also need to know how to safely and securely charge that electric bike battery at home. 

Charging An Electric Bike Battery For The First Time

Once you receive your electric bike you will be keen to take it out on a ride. Have some patience though as you will need to take care of your battery first. That first charge can make a real difference to how the battery performs over time and over the lifespan you have it for.

Get the charging right the first time and you will have the confidence to do it properly every single time after that too. There are several factors that are worth thinking about before you even plug in the charger including how long it should take to charge and how you should charge the battery itself.

The environment in which you charge your electric bike battery can be important. Opt to do it indoors where it is dry and away from direct sunlight or any dirt with a temperature range of between 10 and 25C. With any electric bike, there should be a battery key which is typically used to prevent theft but also to provide safe access to the battery.

When you are ready to charge the battery for the first time, make sure that the batter is off, turn the key, push the battery from the rear and you should be able to remove it from the electric bike. 

Your electric bike will come with a battery charger which is formed from two components; the AC adapter and the power cord. Grab the power cord of the charger and plug it into your wall outlet first.

Make sure that the charger is not connected to the battery already as you may see sparks when you let the electricity flow and that can quickly cause a hazard. The battery should ideally be placed on a clean, flat surface so you can safely remove the rubber cap that covers the charging port then connect the charger to your battery so it should begin to charge up. 

There should be at least one light to indicate how the battery is charging. A green or red light indicates that the electric current is being received though check the instructions as the green light may only indicate that the battery has reached a full charge.

Leave your battery to charge for the prescribed amount of time, which is typically over an hour for a regular charge though up to eight hours for the first charge.

Do I Need To Charge Rechargeable Batteries Before First Use?

Yes, you should charge your rechargeable bike battery before you use it. Though this is not vital, you do not want to risk jeopardizing the performance of your battery simply because you were too impatient to wait a few hours on its first charge.

You may even be advised to give the battery an even more substantial charge than you would on a regular basis. That could mean charging the battery for around eight hours before you first take it out on a ride, even if a light indicates it has fully charged. 

It is worth noting that a new electric bike battery should come with around 50% of a full charge, maybe even 75%. It is worth remembering that though there is some juice available you should be topping that up and not depleting it.

Just like a new laptop or cell phone, you will be expected to give it a long initial charge for the benefit of the battery cells. That first charge should aid the battery’s conditioning and allow it to reach optimal performance, however, try not to go beyond charging the battery for longer than 12 hours at a time as this may do more harm than good.

Electric Bike Charging Time

That initial charge is recommended to be for around eight hours yet on average a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that is found on electric bikes should have a charging time between three and a half and six hours. That may mean having to plan your rides accordingly, especially if you get up early in the morning for a ride or commute to work on your electric bike.

If you do tend to go for long rides at the weekend, try to get into the habit of charging it as soon as you get back as even a partial charge can mean that the total charging time is reduced for those impromptu rides with friends. The final hour of your charging is essential to top off the cells so if you wanted around a 90% charge, that may be achieved after just two and a half hours. 

How you ride your electric bike can have an impact on how the battery gets used up and how long you have to charge it for. These factors typically mean that the motor on your electric bike is working harder than it should be expected to.

Perhaps the increased weight of the rider or what they are carrying. If the tire pressure is low then the motor has to push that bit further to counter the rolling resistance, just as it would when riding into a strong wind. When you switch on the motor to tackle a hill, the steepness of the incline can use up more energy, certainly more than it would on flat ground.

For an efficient way of moving your bike, try to keep to a consistent cadence. This is the pedaling speed and around 80 to 90 RPM is an efficient range that you should be able to reach. If you do want to pedal hard, do so with little pedal assistance and that should offer more range while protecting your battery.

Alternatively, the slower you pedal, the more you rely on the pedal-assist mode and thus the battery. Just like any bike riding, use your gears efficiently so go up and down gradually when you feel you need to.

Efficient riding also means less stop-start riding as the motor uses up more energy if it is used to prompt the bike to move from a stop.

Maintenance is also important and you should calibrate your battery on an annual basis to ensure that the capacity is correctly displayed on the console so you are not caught out. Keep the battery in a temperature-controlled environment and you should find a reduction in battery discharge.  

How Many Hours Does An Electric Bike Battery Last?

Like any rechargeable battery, different models and how you ride the bike can make a difference in how long the battery lasts. However, there is a way to calculate the range of an electric bike in Watt-hours.

That figure is calculated by multiplying the volts by the amp hours so a battery with 36 volts and 10 Ah will have 360 Watt-hours. On average, an electric bike battery should complete a mile every 20 Watt-hours which would mean a range of 18 miles. 

If you were going at 9 MPH without pedaling that would mean two hours of battery life. However, electric bike batteries can have larger capacities so should have a longer range.

You should also consider that using pedal-assist mode or the throttle is only advised when you really need it, such as attempting steep hills. To get the true experience of an electric bike you should still pedal as often as you can then use the motor when you feel it is necessary.

How Do I Know When My Electric Bike Battery Is Charged

How to Charge an Electric Bike

Though you should know how to charge your electric bike, it may be of use to learn how to know when it is fully charged. The easiest way to find out if your battery is fully charged is to look at the lights.

If your charger comes with two LEDs then one should turn green to indicate a full charge has been achieved while the other LED will remain red to show that it is still charging. Once the green LED has lit up you should unplug the charger from the power outlet as the battery capacity is full.

Should I Charge My Electric Bike After Every Ride?

Most of us know the panic of leaving the house having failed to charge up our cell phones. What if an emergency occurs and your battery has run out?

A similar situation can occur with your electric bike if you find yourself midway through a ride knowing that the steep inclines are coming and the battery is depleted. At least you can still pedal yet if you are already exhausted you may be feeling regretful that you failed to charge up the battery beforehand.

Charging your electric bike after you have finished riding is a good habit to get into. Before you get indoors and take a quick shower, make sure you have connected the battery to its charger as soon as you get off the bike.

You can still go about your day and replenish your energy stocks but your electric bike battery should come first.

General maintenance of any vehicle is recommended to prolong its lifespan. That might be cleaning a regular pedal bike for mud and debris or an annual servicing of a gas-powered car.

The battery of an electric bike can be removed to be charged indoors, just as you would your cell phone or laptop. The last thing you want on a long ride is preparing to switch on the motor only to realize you are out of juice so always consider recharging the batteries after every ride as you do not want to be caught out.

How To Charge An Electric Bike Battery Without A Charger?

Several measures can ensure you are able to charge your electric bike battery without using your charger at home. There are purpose-built electric bike charging stations that should have an adapter for your electric bike.

You may also be able to use the regenerative braking feature on your electric bike or use some solar panel charging. There is always the option of carrying a spare electric bike battery with you too. 

How To Charge An Electric Bike Battery With A Generator?

If you really needed to charge your electric bike battery and were without the option of a spare battery or charging facilities then you can use a generator.

This is a tricky option to go for as you would need to ensure that the generator has a higher power output than the electric bike battery itself. Unless this was an emergency and you really needed the charging then you would be advised to try a more conventional method.

This may not be the most helpful of recharging options either but if the generator has enough watts, you can plug one end of a charging cable into an outlet then connect another end to the electric bike battery.

The charging will likely take longer than expected too as the battery will be using power from the generator and itself. Turn on the generator and give it a while to run and it should be charging up your electric bike battery.

How To Charge An Electric Bike At Home?

Try not to think of your electric bike as a fully outside vehicle as the battery can be charged in the home. However, there is a key difference to consider that sets it apart from a laptop or smartphone.

While the battery on an electric bike can be charged while it is still on the bike, you should remove it when you are ready to charge it as it may prove easier to maneuver. Certainly, moving the battery closer to a mains outlet is easier than the entire electric bike.

You will first need to ensure that the motor is turned off and the battery has cooled down if you have been using it on a long ride. Remove the battery from the electric bike by turning the key, pushing it from back to forward, and letting it carefully leave its slot.

The battery charger should work from any mains outlet in your home so plug it in and then connect the battery. You can leave the battery for a few hours as it can take up to six for a full charge. If you only needed a quick charge then remember that the initial 80% of a battery’s capacity charges quicker than that final 20% which is good to know if you needed a boost. 

Where Can You Charge Your Electric Bike?

Once you know how to remove your electric bike battery, the possibilities suddenly open up for where you can charge it. This is especially important to remember when you are in the midst of a particularly long ride.

You may know that there are steep hills ahead, you are a formidable distance away from your endpoint and you really require an extra push to get you through. Being able to charge the battery while on the go can make a huge difference to how you enjoy a day’s riding. 

The locations you decide to recharge your electric bike battery may simply be down to circumstance. If you commute to work then you can simply take the charger with you and use the office’s mains outlet.

Should you ride by a friend’s house then why not knock on their door to see how they are and then candidly ask if you can top up your battery? When riding close to a city, you can quickly check if there are any nearby bike shops as they should be able to help out a fellow cyclist in their time of need. 

There are also several public locations you could use should you truly require access to a mains outlet. These can include a coffee shop, a bar, a restaurant, campground, library, or even a fire station. Obviously, you should explain your predicament first then request permission before plugging your charger in.  

Final Thoughts

Buying an electric bike can be a serious investment that you will want to get the most out of. That should mean exploring your local area including the city and the great outdoors knowing full well that those steep inclines are no match for your motor.

Like any vehicle, you should know how to operate it which means knowing how to charge an electric bike. There are similarities with other rechargeable electric devices such as a laptop or cell phone though there are some key differences too.

Remember to give your electric bike battery a long initial charge to ensure that the cells are powered up to perform at their best. The conditions where you decide to charge your battery are also important as they should be dry and clean to avoid damaging its inner workings.

The one crucial difference between the battery of an electric bike and that of other devices is that it can, and should, be removed. Not only will this make it easier to charge but gets you into the habit of charging it on the go when you may need to.

Knowing how to charge it in your home and anywhere else should let you focus on your riding though how you ride can have an impact on your battery. Try to keep your riding consistent with a steady cadence and only use the motor when you truly need it. That means for steep inclines and not from a stop-start as you will quickly drain the battery’s capacity over time. 

There are other skills to learn on an electric bike that affect the battery and your general riding. These include shifting gears gradually, appreciating which power-assist mode to use and when as well as looking out for the tire pressure. The motor of a battery is a nice thing to have but remember that you will have to use the pedals more often than not.

Tom Davids
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