How Do You Charge An Electric Bicycle?

Electric bicycles are essentially the same as any traditional pedal bicycle except for one thing. That being that it has an electric motor that runs off of a rechargeable battery.

The best thing about electric bikes is that you can travel the same distance and much further than you could on a traditional pedal bicycle using much less effort. This, however, depends on if you keep your battery charged, which brings us to our main question, how do you charge a battery for an electric bicycle.

The process is quite simple. First, remove the battery from the bicycle, and make sure that the battery is entirely off. Then you will need to use the charger that comes with the bike and plug it into the main outlet, then connect the battery to the charger, and voila, your battery is now charging!

However, there are quite a few things you can do with your battery to allow it to serve its purpose for as long as it possibly can. As you continue to read this article, we will go more in-depth on extending your battery life for as long as possible.

How To Charge An Electric Bicycle Battery?

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When it comes to charging the battery on an electric bicycle, the process will vary depending on the manufacturer of your particular bike. The differences mainly come down to how exactly the manufacturer wants you to charge their bicycle.

Some manufacturers will supply you with a battery bay you set the battery into, while others only require you to plug it into a central outlet with the provided cable. Other electric bicycles can still be charged without taking the battery off or having a removable battery.

When you buy your electric bicycle, you must know exactly how to charge your battery regardless of the manufacturer. All electric bicycles come with a user manual that will describe all of the functions of your new electric bike, along with the ever so essential instructions on how to charge your battery correctly.

Something to keep in mind is that most, if not all, electric bicycles come with a battery charge indicator. These typically look like a line of bars that indicate how much charge is in the battery.

As you use the bicycle, these bars will slowly deplete until they turn red, which will mean that the battery is almost empty. Vice versa, these lines on the battery will fill up and go from red to green, and you charge the battery. 

How Long Does It Take To Charge An Electric Bike Battery?

The time it takes to charge your battery entirely depends on quite a few things. Firstly, the main thing that will extend the charging time of your battery is the size of the battery, or rather the number of miles you can get out of it. 

Some batteries will only last you roughly 20-25 miles before they need to be recharged. However, some much larger batteries can extend your mileage up to 40 miles or more. These batteries will take much longer to recharge to full. 

Something else to keep in mind is the quality of the charger cords you are using and the age of the battery. Charger cords for electric bicycles, or any charger cables, mind you, decay with age and use.

Have you ever bought a brand new charger cable for your phone, and a few months go by, and you notice that the cord does not stay in very well or your phone takes longer to charge? That same effect can happen with charger cords for your electric bike.

The age of the battery can also affect the recharge rate and mileage. The older the battery, the less overall mileage it can have. The age of the battery can affect the charge time of said battery as well.

Keeping that in mind, you can expect newer batteries with a small amount of mileage to take around 2 or 3 hours to charge to full—up to 6 hours for the larger batteries.

Older batteries and charger cables can also affect how long it takes for a full charge. If this is the case, you can expect to add 1 or 2 hours on top of the previously expected times for a full charge.

Do I Need To Wait For The Battery To Fully Charge Before Use?

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This is not the case for the vast majority of electric bicycles. Electric bikes tend to use lithium batteries, which allow the batteries to be removed from their charger without a full charge without causing damage to the battery or its lifespan.

Typically most electric bicycle batteries have a two charge system. While charging, if the battery is less than 90% full, the battery will charge much quicker. After that 90% threshold, the battery charges much slower to avoid overcharging, damaging battery lifespan.

With that in mind, it is relatively common for users to remove the battery roughly 30 minutes before the battery truly has a full charge. However, when this happens, the battery usually is very close to the total charge anyway.

Should I Wait For The Battery To Fully Drain Before Charging?

© Electric Bicycle Planet

No, if at all possible, never let the battery drain completely. Manufacturers recommend that you never do this—allowing your battery to drain before charging adds a considerable amount of strain on your battery and lowers its overall lifespan the most fully. 

The best thing you could do is possibly recharge the battery after every use. However, if you use your electric bike for short commutes to work, say around 5 miles, then it is safe to say that you can recharge the battery every time you get home.

This will drastically increase the lifespan of the battery cells inside of your battery when compared to letting your battery drain completely.

Something to keep in mind is, almost all electric bicycles can be used as traditional bicycles. That being said, if your bike is running low on battery life, just turn off the electricity and pedal your way to your destination and recharge the battery there.

Do Batteries Recharge While You Pedal?

There are some electric cycles on the market that have an advanced form of braking called regenerative brakes. These brakes will convert some of the excess kinetic energy expelled from the brakes into mechanical energy that recharges the battery.

While that may sound nice, being able to ride further without recharging this braking system comes with a few downsides. Firstly the most critical issue, electric bicycles with regenerative brakes are vastly more expensive than those without.

For comparison, a regular e-bike without regenerative brakes can cost you anywhere from $600 to $1,400 or more, depending on the brand. However, electric bikes with regenerative brakes start around $1,500 to $1,800, but they tend to cost much more, even costing more than $10,000 for some. 

The second downside to bicycles with regenerative brakes is the overall battery life. Whenever a battery is recharged, it loses some of its maximum charge capacity. This effect occurs even with small amounts of recharge, which is what this braking system does. So regenerative brakes will have you buying replacement batteries more often. 

If all of that was not bad enough, all of those downsides to regenerative brakes would only increase the maximum mileage your battery can provide by roughly 10%. So until manufacturers come up with a way to produce these braking systems more reliably and cheaper, it is probably best that you stay away from them for now.

Can I Replace My Electric Bicycle Battery?

© Epic Cycles

Of course, you can! Just like any other battery, these are meant to be recycled and replaced towards the end of their lifespan. Electric bike batteries will typically last anywhere from 2 to 3 years before they can not hold a charge for very long, and their overall mileage per full charge is drastically reduced. 

When your battery life starts to wane, you will need to replace it; otherwise, your electric bicycle will be a bicycle. When you need to replace your battery, the best place to look is the same place you bought your electric bicycle or the manufacturer’s website. These places will typically have battery replacements that you can purchase in-store or have delivered to you.

These batteries can cost you upwards of $500 depending on the brand and size of the battery you need to replace.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to charging a battery for an electric bicycle, the process is straightforward. Just be sure that you read the user manual that comes with all-electric bikes; there will be the instructions you need to know to charge your battery.

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