Watt hours per mile - road ebikes

Captain Slow

Active Member
I'm quite interested in a number of the road ebikes hitting the market. Ones like the Specialized Creo, Orbea Gain, etc ….. these bikes come with smaller batteries. I know they're lighter and generally should be more efficient, but I wonder about the range claims of these bikes. Obviously if you don't use the motor you can ride an unlimited range and the bikes are light enough and promise no drag when the motor is off. But then why have an ebike?

I'm curious if those who have a road ebike can tell us how many watt hours per km or mile are you using? Information such as total weight of bike and rider, terrain i.e. how much elevation gain, and other relevant factors would be appreciated.
 

Solom01

Active Member
I have an Orbea Gain, and live on the SW coast of Florida, so it's flat as a board BUT it's near the beach of there is an almost constant wind. I'm 6-2" and weigh 170. If I keep it on level 1 constantly I would get 20-30 miles of range. At level 2 about 20 miles. At level 3 which I rarely use it be lucky to get 12-15 miles. The reason I wanted a bike like this is because it's light and nimble like a normal bike. If course I could have purchase a bike with more range and power for less but I have another ebike and it feels heavy and ponderous in comparison. Another reason for the Gain is that I am basically lazy... If I had the power and it was a typical 90 degree humid Florida day I would tend to take the easy way out and let the bike do all the work. So basically the Gain works for me because I want the exercise and feel of a lightweight bike for as long as my age and health allow. It's definitely not for everyone, it's not for people who want to go 30 mph on battery power, our lug around 60 pounds of stuff. It's the exact opposite of a R and M, and that's cool, it's not that one or the other is right, it's just great to have a choice.
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
Wow, 30 miles max on level 1 sure isn't much. I'm thinking of getting an e-road bike next year and thought that keeping it in eco mode, to cancel out the extra weight, would still allow me to get 50 miles on a single charge.
Most of my rides are in the 30 to 40 miles range and I thought I would be able to finish the ride without completely depleting the battery.
 

Solom01

Active Member
Well that's if I use the battery the entire time, which is kind of defeating the point of these types of bikes. Normally I use battery power less than 50% of the time. For me the electric part is more like a back up in case I get too tired or the headwinds get too strong. If you plan on using it on battery power all the time these bikes probably aren't what you want. Unless you get the optional external battery they only have about 250 watts of battery power. Having a larger battery, motor, etc would get the weight up to the 50 pound range where you have to use the battery because the bike is so heavy, it's just a choice on the type of biking you want.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
Wow, 30 miles max on level 1 sure isn't much. I'm thinking of getting an e-road bike next year and thought that keeping it in eco mode, to cancel out the extra weight, would still allow me to get 50 miles on a single charge.
Most of my rides are in the 30 to 40 miles range and I thought I would be able to finish the ride without completely depleting the battery.
Deacon, let me reassure you. I'm 173lbs on my Gain averaging 15/16mph I get around 100 miles to a single charge on rolling roads. In between charges the highest milage has run too 124 miles, the least distance covered 81.
 

Solom01

Active Member
So Jaxx, I agree with you in terms of the real world, but I also don't want folks who haven't had a chance to try an Orbea Gain to get the wrong impression. The internal battery is 242 wh and it has a 250 watt motor. You have some control of the amount of power put out at each level (you can change each level from 0-100% so if you lowered the level from 100 to 50% you would probably get more range), but if you used power 100% of the time and were able to go 100 miles the math doesn't add up. Normally with a 250 watt motor you would calculate mileage at 20 watts per mile, giving you about 12.1 miles of range. By using only level one and adding power yourself you can obviously extend that, but to get 80 miles the power from the motor would have to be less than a 6mph tailwind. To be clear, when I say that the range is 30 miles I'm talking about leaving 25% reserve (to me going below that stresses the battery too much) and going at about 18mph with the motor running 100% of the time. There is probably some difference because in North America the power cuts off at about 20-21mph while in the EU it cuts off at 15.5 or so mph, so even if you have the power on if you go above 15.5 or so the motor cuts off. But because these bikes are much lighter than most electric bikes and meant to be used under human power I doubt anyone who has one is going to be using electric power 100% of the time. To me the target audience for these bikes is someone who likes regular biking and wants a real workout on a nimble bike, not someone who is looking for a scooter like experience or to ghost pedal, but someone who wants the electric power for going uphill, fighting headwinds or keeping up on group rides. If you have any opportunity to try one give it a go. It's not subtle, you'll know right away if you want this type of bike or not. Of course you can always buy the battery extender which will basically double the range of the bike, but it's about $650 so it's not cheap. I find myself using the motor less and less as I ride it more because it's an easy bike to use under human power so it hopefully weans you away from motor assist. And unlike every ebike I've ever had I don't have range anxiety because if I did deplete the battery I'm not stuck with a behemoth to try to get back home.
 

Deacon Blues

Active Member
I do most of my rides with a group of seniors. Presently, I ride a Giant Defy Advanced Pro 0, which weighs around 19 pounds with pedals and a small seatpost bag.
Considering there is about a 10 pound weight difference between a light e-road bike and my carbon Defy I figured I'd need a bit of boost to keep up with the group.
I know I wouldn't need boost on any downhills, but I'm not sure if I could get away with not having the boost on while on the flats.
I guess the only way to find out is to do a test ride.
 

Captain Slow

Active Member
I'm curious about the same thing as Deacon. Solom when you're not using the motor, how much drag is there? If there's none at all then I can see the extra 10 lbs. probably doesn't make much of a difference on flat ground.

I'll have to take a test ride on these bikes when they're available. To be honest I'm not sure what I really want. I commute on my Juiced and I have to say that it's not that enjoyable a bike to ride. It's big, heavy and just lacks the responsiveness that I get when I ride my Cervelo.

I'm wondering if I'd like riding the Gain or a Creo any more than my Cervelo.
 

ZJarvis

New Member
I've also got an Orbea gain. It's the cheapest aluminum frame version and weighs about 38 pounds on its own, plus I am a significantly heavier rider than Jaxx at 270 pounds (losing a big chunk of that is the reason I got this bike!)

I did this ride last night. A couple of notes about the data shown there: foremost, I have the assist ranges turned down from default and use half the level 1 boost, 75% of level 2 and all of level 3, next-- for whatever reason -- the eBike Motion software doubles the altitude, It also uses weather data from some aggregated weather source rather than local measurements. The actual temperature averaged around 53 degrees.

So, the quick summary there is this is a very bad scenario for a bike like this -- that is, smaller battery, weaker motor, etc -- I treated this as a recovery ride since I've been trying to reestablish a regular schedule of rides and wasn't feeling fully recovered from the previous, so I liberally used the assist. I had 24% of the battery remaining when I got home.

There is no resistance when riding without assist, though because the sensor is cadence based, it can sometimes feel like there is. What happens is it can take a few moments for the motor to shut off when you stop pedaling. Those tenths of a second where the bike is actively pushing forward without any help from you give a false impression of the normal level of resistance, so when the motor does shut off it feels like you've ridden into sand. Once you understand what's happening you can sort of mentally compensate and it's not a problem.

When I ride on flats I can run in assist level 1 (at half normal power) and it gives me just enough push that the bike feels no heavier than my aluminum gravel bike, use more juice for the few hills, and still get about 1 mile per percent of battery used. At my weight. I don't actually have the eBike Motion recording with battery levels for any of my flat rides because I haven't done them on this bike, only the carbon demo bike that lead to buying this one.

The bike does not remove the workout from climbing hills (or even riding flats if you want to go fast), but at my current weight and level of fitness, I simply wouldn't be able to do the ride I linked here on even my carbon bike, and I can do it without pushing myself very hard on the Gain. I assume any of the eBike Motion-based bikes will be similar.

Edited to add: eBike motions' cadence numbers are also... Uh, wrong. My average cadence was 75 or 80.
 
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Jaxx

Well-Known Member
So Jaxx, I agree with you in terms of the real world, but I also don't want folks who haven't had a chance to try an Orbea Gain to get the wrong impression. The internal battery is 242 wh and it has a 250 watt motor. You have some control of the amount of power put out at each level (you can change each level from 0-100% so if you lowered the level from 100 to 50% you would probably get more range), but if you used power 100% of the time and were able to go 100 miles the math doesn't add up. Normally with a 250 watt motor you would calculate mileage at 20 watts per mile, giving you about 12.1 miles of range. By using only level one and adding power yourself you can obviously extend that, but to get 80 miles the power from the motor would have to be less than a 6mph tailwind. To be clear, when I say that the range is 30 miles I'm talking about leaving 25% reserve (to me going below that stresses the battery too much) and going at about 18mph with the motor running 100% of the time. There is probably some difference because in North America the power cuts off at about 20-21mph while in the EU it cuts off at 15.5 or so mph, so even if you have the power on if you go above 15.5 or so the motor cuts off. But because these bikes are much lighter than most electric bikes and meant to be used under human power I doubt anyone who has one is going to be using electric power 100% of the time. To me the target audience for these bikes is someone who likes regular biking and wants a real workout on a nimble bike, not someone who is looking for a scooter like experience or to ghost pedal, but someone who wants the electric power for going uphill, fighting headwinds or keeping up on group rides. If you have any opportunity to try one give it a go. It's not subtle, you'll know right away if you want this type of bike or not. Of course you can always buy the battery extender which will basically double the range of the bike, but it's about $650 so it's not cheap. I find myself using the motor less and less as I ride it more because it's an easy bike to use under human power so it hopefully weans you away from motor assist. And unlike every ebike I've ever had I don't have range anxiety because if I did deplete the battery I'm not stuck with a behemoth to try to get back home.
Pretty much nailed it Sol. It's a regular road bike WITH a battery. I can speak with a certain authority. Cycling and racing since the 60's having and still owning £10,000 road bikes, the Gain is my go-to ride. Anyone who struggles, carrying an injury, handicap or is unfit will benefit greatly from owning a Gain. Regular riding of this machine will build confidence and strength, equalls improved fitness and wellbeing. After my transplant it just wasn't possible for me to ride an unassisted bike.
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
My heavier than normal, full suspended ebike, with me at 215 lbs., averaging 17mph, at moderate assist level (50/50 eco/tour on a Bosch system), with me averaging 110 watt output, on an open with 2000 foot elevation gain and loss over a 40 mile ride uses a little under 2% of a 500 watt hour battery per mile. This is a very reliable number proven over many miles.
 

Captain Slow

Active Member
ZJarvis - so when you say the altitude is doubled does that mean the max grade you rode up was really 15%? Otherwise a 30% grade? Wow, that's steep!

I wonder why some of the measurements are off by so much.
 

ZJarvis

New Member
ZJarvis - so when you say the altitude is doubled does that mean the max grade you rode up was really 15%? Otherwise a 30% grade? Wow, that's steep!

I wonder why some of the measurements are off by so much.
I honestly don’t know what’s going on with with the listed grades. The 30% is, in reality, something like 12-15% and about 20’ long, at least if Strava’s elevation maps are to be believed.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
I honestly don’t know what’s going on with with the listed grades. The 30% is, in reality, something like 12-15% and about 20’ long, at least if Strava’s elevation maps are to be believed.
That's odd? My recorded gradient is more or less correct, as is distance covered, along with altitude in the parish. However as I have mentioned previously? Cadence is amplified by roughly 200%
 

ZJarvis

New Member
That's odd? My recorded gradient is more or less correct, as is distance covered, along with altitude in the parish. However as I have mentioned previously? Cadence is amplified by roughly 200%
Yeah, I'm baffled by it. I have one ride where the reported elevation gain and what I actually did are not very far apart, and the max grade is on the money.

Distance and speed agree closely with my bike computer on all rides, and of course cadence is exactly what you report. When I mentioned my riding cadence, it was based on the dedicated sensor and what my bike computer reports rather than the EBM app.

Unfortunately, I managed to forget to record two rides with the EBM app or I'd have more data. I've got what my bike computer recorded, but that doesn't include some of the metrics the bike outputs (all the ebike stuff).
 

Solom01

Active Member
Hi Captainslow. Nope, when the motor is off I feel no extra drag whatsoever. I feel the lack of power, of course, but no drag from the motor. As you pointed out I'm on absolutely flat terrain, so the only thing that really varies is the wind - which being near the beach can easily exceed 18-20mph.
 

Captain Slow

Active Member
I just picked up a copy of the latest Road Bike Action magazine. In it there is a review of the Specialized Turbo Creo.

They have an interesting tidbit about the motor. They state "The motor has been tuned for riding cadences between 60 and 110 rpm, and maintaining over 80 percent power efficiency throughout the whole range. The optimal and most efficient power range is between 80-90 rpm at 84 percent efficiency, and the most total power output is at 100 rpm. For comparison, the competition has a peak efficiency of only 60 percent and that is in a very narrow and low cadence that doesn't translate to traditional riding."

So maybe the battery at 320 watt hours isn't so small if the motor is that much more efficient than the competition. I have no basis for determining if the statement is true or not. I'm sure some others here have better knowledge and can chime in.
 

Jaxx

Well-Known Member
I just picked up a copy of the latest Road Bike Action magazine. In it there is a review of the Specialized Turbo Creo.

They have an interesting tidbit about the motor. They state "The motor has been tuned for riding cadences between 60 and 110 rpm, and maintaining over 80 percent power efficiency throughout the whole range. The optimal and most efficient power range is between 80-90 rpm at 84 percent efficiency, and the most total power output is at 100 rpm. For comparison, the competition has a peak efficiency of only 60 percent and that is in a very narrow and low cadence that doesn't translate to traditional riding."

So maybe the battery at 320 watt hours isn't so small if the motor is that much more efficient than the competition. I have no basis for determining if the statement is true or not. I'm sure some others here have better knowledge and can chime in.
You have to be turning a low gear for 100 rpm cadence. I couldn't average that. I have raced since the 60's with an average cadence of 68-74rpm.
 

Captain Slow

Active Member
Jaxx, you have raced since the 1960's???? So about 50+ years of racing? Wow!

They do state over 80% efficiency from 60 to 110 rpm, while the competition peak efficiency is only 60% in a much narrower cadence range. That is quite a difference. I'm going to test ride a Creo once they have the aluminum models available.