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Like the battery in your car, an electric bike’s battery has a useful lifespan that only lasts so long before its performance begins to deteriorate.
So how long will your electric bike’s battery last? In most cases, a good rule of thumb is 2-4 years — though maintenance, storage and how often you use the battery will have a direct effect on your e-bike battery’s useful lifespan.
Though thinking of a battery’s lifespan in terms of years makes sense to most people, time is not really the most accurate metric. Instead, battery life is more accurately described in charge cycles, or the number of times an e-bike battery can be depleted and then fully recharged before it begins to lose efficiency.
A Bosch PowerPack 500 battery on the Tern HSD S11.
Most lithium ion batteries you find on e-bikes today are good for about 500 to 1,000 charge cycles, depending on the make and model of the battery. Keep in mind that one charge cycle is from full charge to full depletion, so if you deplete your battery to 50 percent on a ride and recharge it from there, that counts for half a charge cycle — so 500 to 1,000 cycles realistically goes a long way for most riders.
But knowing your battery’s charge cycle rating will only take you so far, how you take care of your battery, store it and how often you ride it are all factors that will have an outsized impact on how long your e-bike’s battery will last.
How to make your e-bike battery last longer
The first piece of good battery hygiene is to always store your batteries in a cool dry place. Extreme temperature shifts — especially high heat — are not your battery’s friend, so try to store the battery in a place that’s dry and consistently at room temperature.
Avoiding storage at extreme temperatures is a good rule of thumb for your entire e-bike, not just the battery. All your componentry will last longer and perform better if stored properly.
Always use the manufacturer-provided charger, no matter what. Many e-bike chargers are proprietary to the battery they charge, so the odds are high that your battery won’t play nicely with just any charger. Mixing and matching batteries and charges doesn’t just run the risk of overcharging or short circuiting, it can actually pose a fire danger.
Don’t leave your battery plugged in for long periods of time. This is another crucial one to protect your battery’s longevity, as most batteries will gradually discharge a certain amount of energy during prolonged storage. If it’s still connected to the charger, the charger does it’s job, tops off the battery and the cycle begins again. Over a long period of time, this repetition of bad charging cycles can degrade the battery.
Timers or power strips with an automatic shutoff are your friend in helping you remember to disconnect your battery from the charger. We’ve heard horror stories of people leaving their bikes on the charger over a winter, only to discover the next summer that they’d fried their battery.
If you’re planning to leave your bike for the season, don’t store the battery empty. Conventional wisdom is that storing your battery at 40 percent to 70 percent capacity is best, though guidance on this varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Lastly, avoid running your battery completely dead. Lithium Ion batteries prefer short charge cycles, and frequent use until depletion can actually reduce the battery’s capacity quicker. So charge your battery frequently and keep an eye on your battery levels.
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