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Did you know the battery in your Pedego electric bike is made of the same material that’s in your laptop, cell phone and electric car? Lithium battery technology has come a long way in the past decade and it’s now what powers many of our electronics. What you might not know is there are easy things you can do to maintain lithium batteries and prolong their lifespan. In most cases, you can expect a battery to last between 3 and 5 years if it is well maintained. (A lithium battery will slowly lose its capacity over time, even if it’s not used.) Pedego offers a full 2-year replacement warranty on all its batteries, which is testimony to how well we believe our lithium batteries are made. But obviously it’s preferable to have your lithium battery last a full five years.

In this “How To Take Care Of Your Lithium Battery” article, we’re going to look at easy things you can do to help improve the performance and lifespan of the lithium battery that powers your electric bike (and all other lithium batteries for that matter).

Don’t Let Your Lithium Battery Get Too Hot

It’s important you avoid storing a lithium battery in the direct sunlight or in very hot places, such as the interior of a car during hot whether, for long periods. This rule goes for all lithium batteries, whether they’re in your computer or your electric bike. In short, heat hurts batteries. Likewise, extreme cold isn’t great for your lithium battery but it’s not as problematic as extreme heat. The lithium battery on your electric bike is designed to go out in the cold and any Pedego electric bike owner in Canada will tell you they work very well in winter weather. However, to prolong the lifespan of your lithium battery, it’s best not to keep your electric bike battery out in the cold for long periods of time. For example, taking your electric bike into town and locking it outside in cold weather for a few hours and then riding home again is fine. But rather than leave it outside overnight, it’s a good idea to store your bike inside (in a garage or basement for example) or at the very least remove the battery and store that inside. The ideal temperature at which to store your lithium battery is higher than 10°C and lower than 20°C. It’s also important to remember to ensure your battery is above freezing before charging, otherwise you could harm the cells.

Don’t Store A Lithium Battery Fully Charged, Or Totally Depleted

Storing a fully depleted lithium battery could be bad because, as mentioned above, a lithium battery will slowly discharge over time even when you’re not using it. If a voltage drops too low, cell damage could occur. Likewise storing a fully-charged lithium battery, or storing it while the charger is connected to it and a power source, has a negative impact on the recoverable capacity; try to avoid leaving the battery on the charger overnight.

If storing a lithium battery for a long period, ensure it has a charge between about 40% and 80% of a full charge. To best accomplish this, charge your lithium battery and then take your electric bike for a short ride to deplete a little bit of energy.  Over the winter months, be sure to check your battery every month or so. Most Pedego lithium batteries have indicator lights telling you how much of a charge it has left. If it’s below 40%, give it a half hour charge. If you don’t have an indicator light on the battery, plug it into the bike to check the voltage.

Don’t Regularly Discharge Your Lithium Battery Fully

Contrary to old beliefs, it’s not a good idea to completely discharge your lithium batteries on a regular basis. This has been proven by various research and you can read an excellent paper about it here. Instead, partial discharges with regular top-ups are recommended to extend the lifespan of lithium batteries. The occasional full discharge isn’t a big problem but doing so regularly will have a negative impact on the cells.

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Bernie M. knows a lot about machinery. In fact, he spent decades as a helicopter mechanic before retiring and then becoming a part-time electric bike mechanic with Pedego Victoria. He’s a delight to speak to and so we caught up with him to ask him some questions about helicopters, electric bikes and the future of the industry. He was happy to chat with us but didn’t want a photo of him used so to see what he looks like, you’ll have to drop in at the Pedego Victoria store at 2039 Oak Bay Ave.

Hi Bernie, thanks so much for speaking with us. How did you get into aircraft mechanics?

I grew up in Victoria and went to the University of Victoria but by second year I was bored. One day I watched an airplane going by and thought, “I wonder if there’s anything for me in that direction.” So I looked into Aviation school and enrolled. That was 1975. We were a bunch of hippies back then (laughs). It was a year-long course and it was jammed packed: we covered everything from hydraulics, engines, welding, electronics. Basically every system on an airplane we covered in a year. I think that same course is spread over three years now with an apprenticeship.

How long were you involved in that industry?

Until about 2012. I was in helicopters for 99 percent of the time. I went to the East Coast for awhile and mucked around in the arctic. Since 1986 I was with Alpine Helicopters out of Kelowna, which does the CMH heli contracts and then in the summer it was firefighting stuff.
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When did you make the jump to the electric bike industry?

I’m on the email list for Pedego Victoria and saw their notice looking for a part-time mechanic. I’m retired but thought that would be a fun thing to do to keep me busy.

“I was looking for an electric bike with everything on it and when I walked into the Pedego Victoria shop and met Charles I thought “Bingo! These are exactly the type of bikes I’ve been looking for.”

 Did you ride an ebike before you started at Pedego Victoria?

My wife and I bought Pedego electric bikes about two and a half years ago. I’d been on the search for a long time and nothing really impressed me. I was looking for an electric bike with everything on it and when I walked into the Pedego Victoria shop and met Charles I thought “Bingo! These are exactly the type of electric bikes I’ve been looking for.”

What are the similarities between helicopter and ebike maintenance?

(Laughs.) Nothing! If your electric bike breaks, you can walk it home. But you don’t have to worry about that with Pedego bikes because they have top-end components. You have to be nuts about the hardware, like me, to fully appreciate how great they are.
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What’s your favourite part about working at Pedego Victoria?

When a potential customer comes back from a test ride, they are grinning ear-to-ear. There are very few jobs that allow you to see that regularly. You can sell someone a new car but they’ll never have that big of a grin on their face. It’s so great to watch them take part in something that really excites them. Many can see themselves doing things with a bike that they never thought they’d be able to do again. ‘Cause, you know, some of us aren’t 20 anymore.

How do you think electric bikes are going to change?

Anything that can happen to make the overall weight of a bike go down will be great. And extend its range. Battery technology is improving so fast! As for the local electric bike scene, many of the roads here in Victoria are getting bikes lanes, which makes the experience riding an electric bike that much more enjoyable.
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How many times have you jumped onto your electric bike and gone zooming off down the street? It sounds innocent enough but before taking that first pedal stroke, there are important things you should check before every ride to ensure the electric bike is operating safely and you don’t hurt yourself.

It goes without saying that the most important thing you can do before any ride is don a certified helmet that fits your head perfectly. It’s like having a seatbelt for your brain and you wouldn’t drive without a seatbelt would you? Plus in most places in Canada it’s the law to wear one. Aside from that, there are a number of other quick, but important, checks you can perform on your electric bike before you go riding.
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Before embarking on your electric bike ride, it’s important to check the following for safety:
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Battery:

Check the indicator on your battery to see its level of charge. If you’re going on a long ride (60+ kms) consider taking the charger with you just in case.
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Helmet:

It’s the law in most provinces to wear a helmet while riding an electric bike. Ensure yours meets the approval of such safety organizations as ASTM, ANSI or CAN-CSA.
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Lights:

Many electric bikes have lights that run off the battery. Ensure yours are working properly. If not included, be sure to attach both a front and back light to the frame of your electric bike. To engage the lights on your Pedego electric bike, power the LCD meter on and then press the power button quickly again. This will backlit the screen and turn on your front and rear lights. For more about the LCD meter on Pedego electric bikes, visit: pedegoelectricbikes.ca/electric-bike-lcd-console.
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Water:

It’s a good idea to always ride with a full water bottle either in a bottle cage on the frame of your electric bike or in a pannier or other bag.
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Clothing:

Secure loose clothing, especially on your right side, so it doesn’t get caught in the chain. Where reflective clothing at night.
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Gloves:

Although optional, gloves can help protect your hands and improve your grip.
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Brakes:

Squeeze the brake levers of your electric bike to ensure they engage. Visually inspect the brake pads for wear. For more about the brakes of your Pedego electric bike, visit: pedegoelectricbikes.ca/electric-bike-brakes-tutorial
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Tires:

Inflate your tires on a regular basis to the recommended pressure as shown on the tires. Check for, and replace, loose, bent or broken spokes. For more about how to change the tires on your electric bike, visit: pedegoelectricbikes.ca/how-to-change-electric-bike-tire.
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Handlebars & Stem:

Adjust handlebars so they are at a comfortable height. Ensure stem is fastened tightly by putting your legs on either side of the front wheel while facing towards the bike and twisting the handlebars. If there’s movement, be sure to tighten.
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Seat:

Ensure it’s at the right height by sitting on it with the balls of your feet on the pedals. At the bottom of your pedal stroke, your legs should almost be straight with your knees slightly bent. Check the clamp or bolt to ensure the seat post is tightly held.
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Chain:

Inspect your chain. If there’s any rust or if it squeaks when you turn the crank, be sure to lubricate it.
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Axles:

Check the quick release levers or nuts on your axles to ensure they’re tight. This is especially important for the wheel with the electric motor as it exerts a higher force than a normal bike.
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Phone:

A cell phone is a useful safety device and many electric bikes offer USB charging ports in the console to ensure yours can be charged. For more about how to use the LCD meter on your Pedego electric bike to charge your mobile device visit: pedegoelectricbikes.ca/electric-bike-lcd-console.
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Bike Lock:

Remember to bring a sturdy bike lock with you to secure your electric bike when you step away from it while out and about. For more about bike locks for your electric bike visit: pedegoelectricbikes.ca/best-locks-for-your-electric-bike/
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