Long Range e bike riding, what I have learned

K PierreR

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Long Range is a very subjective title, so I will try to nail that down first. Long Range on an e bike, for me, is having a bike with the capability to go the distance that I want to go in a single day, complete the mission at speed that I have set for the day, not have to compromise much to complete it and not worry too much about range anxiety. That seems simple enough. What works for me, does not necessarily work for you. What does not work for me, is having some e bike manufacturer, trying to convince me that my ideas of what long range are, is not realistic and what their offering is long range. You, might be able to purchase long range off the shelf right now, but its not available yet for me.

The number one issue that I have found is: You are first and foremost limited by the seat of you pants on the saddle. If your saddle does not measure up to your definition of long range then you are stuck in mud until you solve that issue. There is no point in spending on extended range if you butt cannot take it. Over and done with, end of story. That issue took me three agonizing years to solve. I finally found Infinity saddle and that solved the range issue.

Once the saddle issue was solved, I found I had two avenues. Approach one, in the range u to 70 mi (112Km), going light, slow and attention to rolling resistance issues or approach two, heavy with fast speeds or very long distance greater than 70 Mi (112 Km).

My experience with the first avenue was partially successful and would work for a lot of people. The whole idea is to make the bike roll easy and pedal easy at speeds up to about 14 mph (22 kph). The biggest improvement that I found was finding tires that roll exceptionally well. What you have to realize here, is that if you want to go about 13-15 mph (21-24 kph) and you can presently ride your bike at 11 mph (18kph) you are making up the difference with power. Say you want 15 mph (24kph) and you can ride without power at 11mph (18kph). The difference you have to make up is 4 mph (6.4 kph) with power. Now if you can improve rolling resistance so you can pedal that same bike at 13 mph (21 kph) you now only have to make up about 2 mph (3.2 kph). What you will find is that your range improves by a whopping 40% or so.

What I am saying is that at the slower speeds of e biking, you can improve the range dramatically by paying attention to details of how well the bike pedals and how well the bike rolls. Do not assume that because its and e bike, it does not matter. I really matters a lot for range at slower speeds. A pig with power is still a pig.

I was okay with approach one for a while but increasing range only opens more doors of opportunity and you start to realize that touring and the likes are just at your finger tips, but just out of reach due to time constraints. Well, just pile on the batteries right? Not so fast, the problem is its a bicycle, Not a motorcycle. Let's take the solution that Delfast came up with. Pile on a 3 Kwh battery and call it a day. The problem is the Delfast ended up NOT a bicycle no matter what the power the manufactures says it has. The minute you take a Defast on a bike path, you will hear " Ahhhh---Sonny, That there's a dirt bike not a bicycle, you can't ride it here." And you know what, they are right, it is not a bicycle any longer. The point is bicycles and bicycle components have weight limitations and run into handling difficulties rather quickly when you get a lot of battery range capacity on them.

My experience into the heavy side is that you have to pull all the stops out to still have a true bicycle in feel, looks and good handling. That means attention to rolling resistance, aerodynamics and weight. All are all important and nothing can be assumed. If it does not feel like a bicycle to me, then I am not done with the job, simple as that. I am getting close but I am still not really there. My bike is pretty nimble and handles well on pavement, but not so much on technical single track. Its a pig on tough single track but that is a compromise I am presently willing to live with for long range. I will continue to look for solutions.

On my present bike, I have played around with many options and explored the ranges with those configurations. My bike is a titanium fat bike frame with 150mm/197mm spacing, Bafang BBSHD 120mm mid drive. I have four 52 volt batteries in parallel for a total of 49 Ah or 2,538 Wh. Jones high rise loop bars, Lev dropper post, Infinity saddle, Sram GX 11 speed, 11X46 cassette, Liekie 42 tooth chainring and Guide brakes with 203mm rotors. Total weight with Axiom rear rack is 81.5 lbs 37 Kg. I have 15 amp fast charging.

I am finding that I can realistically pull about 2080 Wh out of the batteries with 29" tires and speeds of 16-20 mph (26-32 kph) on pavement or 1,980 Wh out at the same speed with fat tires on dirt.
Me and the bike with a day pack weight pretty close to 300 lb (136 Kg).
Speed of 20 mph (32kph) Flat pavement no wind room temperature is a range of about 175 miles (280 Km) with 29X2.25" G One tires.
Same with 10 mph headwind and range drops to 125 miles (200 Km)
Add in the head wind and 4,000 feet (1,212m) of climbing plus descending and the range drops to about 100 miles (160Km)

If I want the 100 miles (160Km) range on dirt with wind plus climbing and I have to back off the speed to about 15-16 Mph (24-26 kph)

In extreme situations of high head winds and lots of climbing, all bets are off and I would need to use extreme caution with plenty of range anxiety if I wanted 100 miles. I would be slow and putting plenty in from my own two legs like everyone else. I find to stay in the bicycle category, you can't have it all. In my opinion, that requires a jump to the motorcycle category.

I have not covered class three riding as that is really not consistent with my ideas of long range or the type of riding that I do. 25mph (40 kph) consumes much greater battery capacity and range can easily drop well under 100 miles (160Km), even on pavement. If I wanted to go that fast, a motorcycle is more appropriate but that is only my opinion.

All said and done the result feels like total freedom and wide open possibilities for travel. I am well pleased with the direction so far. Post probably to long. I have too much passion on the subject. Grin. I hope this helps somebody.
IMG_1913.JPG
 

Luto

Active Member
I would add that the only seat I could do a 200 mile day was a leather Brooks that was broken in to my anatomy. That and it breathes.

Also your form makes a huge difference. Some people slouch and sit on their seats. Others ride their seats, using their legs, torso and ankles to support, even for a 1/2 second 30% of their weight on their seat.

Something to try: Watch your ankles and see if they are flexing as you cycle. Where are your feet on the pedal? Ball of foot over spindle, or mid foot over spindle and ankle frozen in space.

Just like walking or running, form makes a huge difference over time.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
@K PierreR; Thank you for your extensive and wise post! I agree with most of your observations.

Now, I have ridden 75 miles twice, 70 miles twice as well, and I had six metric centuries. My way is simple: A 604 Wh battery in my Vado and a spare 604 Wh one in my pannier. 75 miles ridden at average speed of 26.5 km/h (16.5 mph) in 4 h 37 min net.

This ride on Strava

I could probably make 100 miles on a perfect day if my butt would stand sitting in the saddle for a long time. No doubt, the average speed should be lower to ensure proper range from both batteries.
 

K PierreR

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I would add that the only seat I could do a 200 mile day was a leather Brooks that was broken in to my anatomy. That and it breathes.

Also your form makes a huge difference. Some people slouch and sit on their seats. Others ride their seats, using their legs, torso and ankles to support, even for a 1/2 second 30% of their weight on their seat.

Something to try: Watch your ankles and see if they are flexing as you cycle. Where are your feet on the pedal? Ball of foot over spindle, or mid foot over spindle and ankle frozen in space.

Just like walking or running, form makes a huge difference over time.
Ball of the foot and my ankles are flexing. For me, the fat bike frame has the perfect Q angle.
 

CdnShaun

Active Member
K PierreR, you just might be my ebike soul brother. :cool::cool::cool:

In 2019 I built up a new Giant Toughroad SLR 2 with a Bionx D500 motor. I added a rear rack with panniers and attempted at one point to carry 6 +1 of the 11.6AH batteries (Yes I own 7 Bionx batteries from 2019, lol) but it caused front wheel wobble. I had to settle for 4 in the bags plus one on the downtube giving me 58Ah/2850Wh of battery. The longest ride I did on that bike in 2019 was 163kms (101 miles) with 1,100m of elevation.

Note I'm 6'0 and 270lbs of rider on top of that setup, lol.

As for the seat conversation - I discovered SMP Avant seats are my perfect fit. So much so I bought 6 of them and have one on every bike (acoustic and electric) in my fleet. I 100% agree with you about having not only the right seat, but proper fit to the bike - I had my 3 primary bikes professionally fitted and now I know to the MM how to setup any bike I ride.

My 2019 long distance bike had a failure in summer of 2020...motor? No. Electronics? No.

A 2 cent screw.

The screw holding up the rear trunk and panniers failed on a trail bump...sending the trunk arm into the spokes. My ride was done and thankfully (during Covid) a nice gent saw me from his driveway and offered to drive me back to my car to return, pick up my bike and head for home.

Plans I had to build a true long distance ebike got accelerated with this experience. What I built is....I confess....borderline ridiculous. It however is truly in the same spirit of what your build and story here you have shared (thank you) and hence I wanted to reply.

I will write up my own project build story and be sure to tag you when I do. For now, I will just list off the components and some stats, to share with you that like you, I too saw the value in building a true long distance ebike.

The Parts:
-New 2020 Surly Big Dummy Cargo bike with 200lb payload rear capacity, 26" x 2.35" tires, 48T triple chain ring and Jones 2.5" lift handle bars.

-2 x 9C 212 class motors for a 2WD setup. Grin Cycle Analyst with dual Phaserunner controllers and new in 2020 dual controller cable adapter. Erider torque sensing bottom bracket for PAS.

-6 x 23.8Ah 52V batteries (installed) providing 7,200Wh of capacity. Currently configured for single battery per motor and manual cable change during the ride. Plan is to parallel these batteries and two motors into a single system.

-Burly Coho XC single wheel trailer with 60lb (real world tested) payload to carry camping gear.


My rides on this bike/build late last summer before I took time off due to a health issue were mind blowing. Using a Polar M650 bike computer and chest strap I kept my heart rate in my targeted 125-150bpm rate at all times while riding. Hills of 14% grade were no issue for the 2WD motor setup with temps never exceeding 50C.

Without the trailer I was able to ride 190kms (118 miles) and 1,200M of elevation using just 4 of the 6 batteries capacity with some juice to spare. With all 6 batteries combined I can confidently plan for up to 300km/180mile rides this year.

I have other bikes to ride trails as this bike/build is purely for the road. Weighing an estimated 160lbs it does very much ride like a small motorbike....one that I still get to have a 3,000-4,000 calorie burning session each time I go out.

For the exercise alone I love this long distance bike. Adding this year my hopes to bike camp with it - bring the chargers and stay at camp grounds with electricity including in the nightly fee - I am targeting 400km+ 3 day weekends of riding and camping.

Your post inspires me to finish my build (parallel wiring is the last decision and step to be taken if I do) and get a few more rides on it soon so I can share the details and photos of the build I have of my own.

Thanks K PierreR!
 

K PierreR

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Okay guys, back from the major test of the long range e bike. A max ride showing what is possible. The ride was a major success on all levels and performed as hoped.
So now, everything is still go for a long desert remote ride.
Friday I started at 8:20 and rode to the South Side of Columbus Oh from home. 128 miles (205Km) I got there at 7:45 PM
Stats were a headwind of 10-20 mph (16-32kph), 4,931 feet of climb (1,495m). Average speed was 15.4 mph (24.6 kph)
Watt hours used 3,354 (63.1 Ah) 26.2Wh/mile (15.7 Wh/Km) Charged twice. First time was at a e bike shop while talking and the second time was at a train stop pavilion on the rail trail. Last 30 miles was very slow, stop and go with lights. I was not wasted when I got there.
Saturday worked all day on fixing home problems for my friend.
Sunday, this morning I departed again at 7:45 Am and got back home at 7:45 Pm Distance was 132 miles (211Km). Average speed was 14.7 mph (23.5kph). Climbing was 5,192 ft (1,573m). The first 25 not much wind. Next 67 miles was 8-20 mph (12.8-32kph) cross wind and last 40 miles was on the nose at 10-18 mph (16-28.8 kph). Use 3,024 Wh (57.5 Ah) or 22.9 Wh/Mile or (13.7 Wh/Km) I charged twice. Once back at the same train station and the second and another train station further north.
Again, here I am typing and not wiped out. Very much a success. but it looks like my max range is probably around the 130-150 miles/day (208-240 Km/day) in real world conditions. I can really comfortably do 75 mile/day. (120Km)

Got one hole in the front tire, put a plug in it and went on. The charger worked flawlessly and gave me a charge rate of over 800 Wh per hour. Total enroute charging was probably about an hour and a half per day during travel and then in the evening.
 

RabH

Well-Known Member
@K PierreR Quite a setup you have there, I loved reading your very interesting post! :) I have managed 152 miles on my Giant Road E+1 Pro with a single 500wh battery, I picked the perfect day to ride with a 10-15mph tailwind for the first 70 miles with no assist! Having 22 gears certainly helped, it meant my average was way down but still a respectable 14.3mph! My assist cuts off at 15.5mph so that certainly helps with range! On the way back I had a headwind to contend with but I made it with about 3% battery left! I now have 2 x 500wh batteries but due to circumstances my longer rides have been curtailed for now, I would love to see how far I could really go but will have to wait until things change!

Stats from my ride which took place on August 5th 2018!

1619432959012.png
 

CdnShaun

Active Member
@K PierreR - Well done!!!

Do you get the feeling now that going for a ride of anything less than 75 miles is a 'shortie' ride and you always want to try and make your schedule work to be near or over the 75 mile target? :):)

I have other ebikes designed for trail riding and if I don't have time to do at least 100kms on my large capacity bike I just go ride them to get some time outside...love our long haul ebikes and hope you keep sharing your of your stories about yours!
 

john peck

Well-Known Member
Long Range is a very subjective title, so I will try to nail that down first. Long Range on an e bike, for me, is having a bike with the capability to go the distance that I want to go in a single day, complete the mission at speed that I have set for the day, not have to compromise much to complete it and not worry too much about range anxiety. That seems simple enough. What works for me, does not necessarily work for you. What does not work for me, is having some e bike manufacturer, trying to convince me that my ideas of what long range are, is not realistic and what their offering is long range. You, might be able to purchase long range off the shelf right now, but its not available yet for me.

The number one issue that I have found is: You are first and foremost limited by the seat of you pants on the saddle. If your saddle does not measure up to your definition of long range then you are stuck in mud until you solve that issue. There is no point in spending on extended range if you butt cannot take it. Over and done with, end of story. That issue took me three agonizing years to solve. I finally found Infinity saddle and that solved the range issue.

Once the saddle issue was solved, I found I had two avenues. Approach one, in the range u to 70 mi (112Km), going light, slow and attention to rolling resistance issues or approach two, heavy with fast speeds or very long distance greater than 70 Mi (112 Km).

My experience with the first avenue was partially successful and would work for a lot of people. The whole idea is to make the bike roll easy and pedal easy at speeds up to about 14 mph (22 kph). The biggest improvement that I found was finding tires that roll exceptionally well. What you have to realize here, is that if you want to go about 13-15 mph (21-24 kph) and you can presently ride your bike at 11 mph (18kph) you are making up the difference with power. Say you want 15 mph (24kph) and you can ride without power at 11mph (18kph). The difference you have to make up is 4 mph (6.4 kph) with power. Now if you can improve rolling resistance so you can pedal that same bike at 13 mph (21 kph) you now only have to make up about 2 mph (3.2 kph). What you will find is that your range improves by a whopping 40% or so.

What I am saying is that at the slower speeds of e biking, you can improve the range dramatically by paying attention to details of how well the bike pedals and how well the bike rolls. Do not assume that because its and e bike, it does not matter. I really matters a lot for range at slower speeds. A pig with power is still a pig.

I was okay with approach one for a while but increasing range only opens more doors of opportunity and you start to realize that touring and the likes are just at your finger tips, but just out of reach due to time constraints. Well, just pile on the batteries right? Not so fast, the problem is its a bicycle, Not a motorcycle. Let's take the solution that Delfast came up with. Pile on a 3 Kwh battery and call it a day. The problem is the Delfast ended up NOT a bicycle no matter what the power the manufactures says it has. The minute you take a Defast on a bike path, you will hear " Ahhhh---Sonny, That there's a dirt bike not a bicycle, you can't ride it here." And you know what, they are right, it is not a bicycle any longer. The point is bicycles and bicycle components have weight limitations and run into handling difficulties rather quickly when you get a lot of battery range capacity on them.

My experience into the heavy side is that you have to pull all the stops out to still have a true bicycle in feel, looks and good handling. That means attention to rolling resistance, aerodynamics and weight. All are all important and nothing can be assumed. If it does not feel like a bicycle to me, then I am not done with the job, simple as that. I am getting close but I am still not really there. My bike is pretty nimble and handles well on pavement, but not so much on technical single track. Its a pig on tough single track but that is a compromise I am presently willing to live with for long range. I will continue to look for solutions.

On my present bike, I have played around with many options and explored the ranges with those configurations. My bike is a titanium fat bike frame with 150mm/197mm spacing, Bafang BBSHD 120mm mid drive. I have four 52 volt batteries in parallel for a total of 49 Ah or 2,538 Wh. Jones high rise loop bars, Lev dropper post, Infinity saddle, Sram GX 11 speed, 11X46 cassette, Liekie 42 tooth chainring and Guide brakes with 203mm rotors. Total weight with Axiom rear rack is 81.5 lbs 37 Kg. I have 15 amp fast charging.

I am finding that I can realistically pull about 2080 Wh out of the batteries with 29" tires and speeds of 16-20 mph (26-32 kph) on pavement or 1,980 Wh out at the same speed with fat tires on dirt.
Me and the bike with a day pack weight pretty close to 300 lb (136 Kg).
Speed of 20 mph (32kph) Flat pavement no wind room temperature is a range of about 175 miles (280 Km) with 29X2.25" G One tires.
Same with 10 mph headwind and range drops to 125 miles (200 Km)
Add in the head wind and 4,000 feet (1,212m) of climbing plus descending and the range drops to about 100 miles (160Km)

If I want the 100 miles (160Km) range on dirt with wind plus climbing and I have to back off the speed to about 15-1

All said and done the result feels like total freedom and wide open possibilities for travel. I am well pleased with the direction so far. Post probably to long. I have too much passion on the subject. Grin. I hope this helps somebody.View attachment 85248
Too much information, I can ride with multiple batteries, but at my age anything over 20 mi. a day will be
probably throttle only if at all.😳
 
Last edited:

john peck

Well-Known Member
that spare battery location though.. 😲
I jury rigged an old rack high up with a plywood platform for 2nd battery. Having the rack high prevents
heel strikes from my size 14 feet. I´ve made a foam cowling that fits over the connection to protect it.
PICT0023.jpg