Checklist to go through when browsing ebikes to estimate its likely real world range?

ebikebob

New Member
Hi, I'm interested in finding an ebike with a long range. I'm not sure how to prioritize what to look for. Besides battery capacity and how powerful the motor is, I am not sure how I put all of these variables together. I don't really believe what the manufacturers say, per se.
I am fine pedaling with assist...but in general terms, will a bike without a throttle (I guess that means pedal assist) give me better range than a bike with a throttle? Will a mid-motor be more efficient than a rear hub? What about a bike with a torque sensor? I'm not sure what are the main drivers of range in real life are. I've seen a Giant ebike mid motor that looks to have only 350 w motor but it's a mid drive motor , and then the battery doesn't look all that huge, yet the bike is thousands of dollars. Yet there are other bikes with 1000 wh batteries and 500w motors that I would imagine would outperform the Giant range wise, but I bought one of these and it's heavier, has a throttle, and the range is about half to a 1/3 of what the manufacturer claims. There is only one gear and it's nearly useless, so you can only ride full throttle all the time. I did not realize that the throttle seems to eat the battery 3 times as fast, yet for this bike that's all that can realistically be used. So, back to the drawing board.

I don't mind pedaling. If it doesn't have a throttle I'd be fine with it, provided saving that throttle will really up the range and reduce recharge frequency. It seems that many efficient bikes have small batteries, but are there efficient bikes that also enable large batteries to really up the range? What specs should I really pay attention to when browsing online?
 
Last edited:

Adrian.s

Member
choose a great company first ,closet possible for parts and service or advice you can get, easiest to control not complicated, I bought a radrunner 2 weeks ago only to cancel 2 days later, now I'm waiting for a mission,, rover was too much bike i m 5.7 with 22-24? steps to my place, now I'm looking like radmini would of been the best choice for me ?weeks after researching it had all my checkboxes 😂will see in spring what's available :oops:sure amazon got a great deal ?but no sales or reviews ? myself found it hard to choose a 7 speed seems like fun but not interested in shifting down or up and back down before i come to a stop constantly ,more parts more problems i say stick to the basic, what's legal in your city? the need the necessary sure looks are great but comfort comes before and of course price 1500$ -2000 is an ok price in Canada anywhere but in BC its -40 c 4-5 months of the year, good luck choosing after awhile they all look alike lolls!!!!:cool:🚲 if ever i do pick up a second bike i ll have the second battery for the longer rides, the batteries eat up most of the cost of bike happy trails buddy
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
Generally speaking you can use 15 watt hour per mile for a class 1 & 2 with a 20 mph limit. I've done some flat rail trail tours on a 350 watt drive, averaging 13 mph and gotten <7 watt hour per mile. I would be confident using 10 to 12 watt hour per mile. When I've done fast road rides with rolling hills I can burn 20 watt hour per mile. Class 3 speeds (20 to 28 mph) will require a lot more battery.

Mid drives are generally more efficient, but not for every rider in every circumstance. A direct drive on flat terrain can be very efficient. A geared hub can be the lightest system and offer the best of both worlds. A mid drive will be the most efficient of all on hills. Maintenance is different for all three.

Throttles. If you know the bike really well, and you know your strength and abilities really well, a throttle can be fine. Throttles by themselves don't make a system less efficient. It's the rider using the throttle that makes it less efficient. To be efficient with a throttle the rider needs to constantly adjust the power to match the effort of the rider. PAS is more efficient only because the system does all the adjusting automatically. A stronger experienced rider will get better range with any system.

A throttle for the rider that wants to pedal is like a manual pedal assist system. PAS is an automatic pedal assist system. The one thing a throttle can do better than some PAS systems is the rider can add less assist than the lowest setting in PAS. You can cycle between zero assist to say 20% assist, when a PAS might start at say 30%.

Throttle just takes a lot more effort to be efficient. With PAS it's just like riding a bike ;) You just ride without even thinking about it.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
Yet there are other bikes with 1000 wh batteries and 500w motors that I would imagine would outperform the Giant range wise, but I bought one of these and it's heavier, has a throttle, and the range is about half to a 1/3 of what the manufacturer claims. There is only one gear and it's nearly useless, so you can only ride full throttle all the time. I did not realize that the throttle seems to eat the battery 3 times as fast, yet for this bike that's all that can realistically be used. So, back to the drawing board.
1000WH is a 48V20Ah battery and since you're in China, you probably bought it there? When I look on aliexpress.com, 20AH batteries are everywhere, most of them appear to be the size of 10AH batteries, and they carry 6AH pricing, so I always assume most are fake. Winnow your searches to reputable sellers.

I also agree with JR. At 13 mph, 7-10 WH/mile is about right, Higher speeds eat power. So does wind and your weight. My wife uses 30-40% less than me.

Seeing as how you're based in Chna, Is it possible to get a Euro/US branded ebike, even though they are made there?
 

Gordon71

Active Member
I would think weight and speed would make the most difference. I can't do much about the former but I do find my range increases a lot the slower I ride.
 

legsofbeer

Active Member
I am fine pedaling with assist...but in general terms, will a bike without a throttle (I guess that means pedal assist) give me better range than a bike with a throttle?

Not really, unless you mean a bike with throttle-only (no PAS). The range problem with throttles is that it is quite hard to apply a fixed amount of lower power: eg. a constant 250W on a bike capable of 750w, so you keep applying more power than you want. At least, that is my experience. There may be higher-end throttles out there that handle this better.

Will a mid-motor be more efficient than a rear hub? What about a bike with a torque sensor?
Not necessarily. I'm told the way the mid-drives achieve max range is low speed pedalling in higher gear. This may not be a comfortable cadence for you. But understand that many mid-drives that are described as 250w, actually have a higher max wattage (such as 600w) and of course higher torque in certain pedalling siutations.

I'm not sure what are the main drivers of range in real life are.
Absense of hills and absense of stops, and absense of high power drains. In my impression, using a full 750w via throttle for 2 minutes drains more charge than using 375w for 4 minutes. I never use throttle unless I am showing off the bike's capabilities, or escaping an intersection, or about to bonk on a hill.

Yet there are other bikes with 1000 wh batteries and 500w motors that I would imagine would outperform the Giant range wise

The sweet spot for good range and pleasant riding, in my experience is a 200-300w PAS draw. I weigh 180 lb and that gets me up to cruising speed of 20mph reasonably quickly, and gives me 35-45 miles per charge. I've gotten 55 miles out of the 670WH battery but that was all on 175W and lower as the battery discharged. If you ride rural with rare stops, 200w is fine. If you ride urban with more stops, you will want to use more power to get back up to cruising speed more quickly.

I don't mind pedaling. ... What specs should I really pay attention to when browsing online?
Buy the best battery you can. That's the heart of the bike. The rule when I bought was only Sanyo, Sony, or Panasonic cells, everything else is craaaaaap. I don't know if that still applies.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Efficiency varies between different bikes but as a general rule, bigger batteries will get better range. The way the battery is discharged will also have an effect on how far it will take you. The best overall battery efficiency is obtained by draining it evenly without sudden current surges. These can be caused when using PAS by uneven pedal pressure, coasting, changing gears, sudden acceleration, etc. These surges, however small, generate minute amounts of heat which wastes energy.

I did a recent experiment with my hub drive bike and found I could get a 14% increase in battery range by using my throttle. I set it at a fixed speed and applied a comfortable amount of pedal pressure. In this way, I was assisting the bike rather than the PAS assisting me. With an ammeter, I was able to compare current surges of throttle vs PAS and found far fewer using the throttle.

The efficiency gain is similar to that obtained by using cruise control on a vehicle.

Obviously, this is only possible with throttled bikes and the results will vary between different brands.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
If you are looking at mid drive bikes, like the Giants and are curious about range, Bosch has a range assistant web page that allows you to plug in variables about weather, road condition, specific Bosch motor & battery, rider weight & effort and bike type & speed. I have had six different Bosch powered bikes and find their topography, range assistant to be very accurate.