Before embarking on your electric bike ride, it’s important to check 15 things for safety including battery power, brakes and the chain.
It’s one of the most valuable parts of your electric bike. Here’s everything you need to know about taking care of the lithium ion battery on your Pedego.
In a recent post on the Pedego Owners Group, electric bike owners in Canada and the U.S. discussed how Pedego’s pedal assist functionality as well as changing gears during a ride, affects the bike’s battery life.
We got to talking about the whole concept in the office and realized we should write an article about how proper usage of gears can save the battery life of your electric bike so you can pedal father than ever. But first, have a look at our “How To Improve the Range of your Electric Bike” article, which explains why things like terrain, chain lubrication and, very importantly, tire pressure, affect your battery life.
That article also touches on how riding in the “correct” gear can save the battery life of your electric bike. We’ll explore that concept further in this article.
For every ride you do on your electric bike, there are four factors related to riding efficiency that need to be considered. Firstly, let’s chat about the gears. They are controlled by the lever mechanism on your handlebars that shifts the derailleur, which in turn moves to the chain to a different sized ring. Most Pedego electric bikes have one lever that cycles through seven gear options on the rear wheel. The bigger the ring your chain is on (for a rear derailleur), the lower the gear you are in. We could get into some physics here, but the bottom line is a lower gear is easier to be in when riding up a hill and your legs rotate faster for a given bike speed. When you are in a high gear, your legs spin slower but you have less power (torque) for pushing up hills. High gears are needed for when you’re cruising at high speeds on the flat or downhill; otherwise you’d be pedalling like Roadrunner to keep up!
This brings us to the concept of “cadence.” In our “How To Improve the Range of your Electric Bike” article we write, “There’s a term in cycling called cadence, which refers to your pedalling rate, or, more accurately, the number of revolutions of the crank per minute. Efficient cadence falls between about 70 and 90 revolutions per minute, depending on the type of riding. So, if you’re in a really high gear and you’re having to push hard (and slowly) on the pedals in order to get the crank to rotate, then it’s best to change to a lower gear. Likewise, if your pedals are rotating too quickly, you’re wasting energy without getting the benefits of the thrust on the crank – so switch to a higher gear.” A rider will intuitively know this: with cadence too low, it feels like you’re “grinding.” And with cadence too high it feels like you’re “pedalling air.” Bicycle racers spend a lot of time perfecting cadence because it directly impacts their efficiency. Likewise, correct cadence helps riders of electric bicycles maximize their efficiency, which in turn impacts the amount of battery power used. There is a sweet spot!
One of the best things about Pedego electric bikes is they have a pedal assist mode, which is controlled via the computer on your handlebars. You can select multiple power levels, from very low to maximum, and when you start rotating the pedals, the motor will smoothly give you the selected power. On the bottom left of the LCD display you’ll see a number indicating your pedal assist level. A low number reduces the amount of power (torque) delivered and also the top motor-assisted speed. If you are pedalling and reach a speed above the top motor speed, the power will fade out and you will be all on your own. Drop below that speed, and the motor engages again. Usually there are five or six levels of pedal assist, depending on your bike model. One thing to be aware of with electric motors is that they also have sweet spots; kind of like the cadence we mentioned about above. If a motor is rotating very slowly, it is inefficient. If you are riding up a hill under about 10 km/h, you will hear the motor working hard and this is using a lot of battery juice. We’ll talk about the effect of this in our summary below.
The final factor we need to touch on is speed, specifically, what speed do you want to travel at? In Canada, Pedego bikes fall under the federal category of “Power assisted bicycles” and are regulated to travel a maximum of 32 kilometres per hour under motor assistance. (You can certainly roll or pedal faster than that if you want to!) Just like a car, if you travel faster, you will use more energy. The only exception for electric bikes is if you travel too slowly up hills (below about 10km/h) using the motor, you’ll also use more energy.
Think of you and your electric assist as a team: the bike works best when you are both contributing and working efficiently. Here are a some tips for maximum efficiency based the concepts we discussed above:
- Ride slower – or at least be aware that zooming around at max speed will use more energy for both you and the battery
- Change gears – if you are starting to “grind” the pedals as the bike slows down, change into a lower gear. Similarly, if you are starting to pedal like Roadrunner when the bike speeds up, change into a higher gear.
- Pedal to start – When starting from a stopped position, make sure you are in the lowest gear to help the bike start rolling rather than using the motor to grind off the line
- Cruise Control – When riding the flats, select the pedal assist level that matches the top speed you would like to travel at and then leave it there.
- When you’re riding up a hill and start to slow down too much (below about 10km/h) either push the pedals harder or select a higher pedal assist level to maintain speed.
So there you have it. By working as a team with your awesome electric bike, you’ll conserve more battery power and see even more of this great country of ours.
As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below or don’t hesitate to contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time ever, a dedicated music fan will be riding his electric bicycle from Canada to California to attend the Desert Trip concert and see six of the best musical acts of all time. Jon Langille (aged 54) will be leaving his hometown of Nelson on September 3 and riding his Pedego Stretch cargo electric bike over 2,500 kilometres through four US states before arriving at Indio, California, to attend Desert Trip.
Jon says ever since he heard about the concert (which will feature the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Neil Young and The Who) he knew he’d attend with his wife Laurie but wasn’t sure how they would get there. When it was obvious she wasn’t going to be able to take weeks off in order to enjoy a leisurely trip south to attend, Jon said in frustration, “Fine, I guess I’ll just ride my e-bike down there and meet you.”
He then looked it up on Google maps, discovered a workable route, calculated the number of hours involved and realized he in fact would be able to ride his bike there. He gave his wife the pitch and she said he should do it. (She’ll be flying down the day before the concert begins on October 7.)
“I have some flexibility with my work and am able to take the time off,” Jon says. “My wife then encouraged me to do it and finally I contacted Mike at Pedego Canada about the logistics and whether the bike was capable of the journey. He was super supportive and I realized I really could do this thing.”
Mike Clyde is the owner of Pedego Canada and is offering extra electric bike batteries, maintenance supplies and ongoing support for Jon’s trip. “This is the first time a Pedego Stretch electric cargo bike will be ridden from Canada to the southern United States and I’m really excited to see how well it performs. Plus I give Jon full props for taking on a journey of this magnitude: Pedego to Indio. It’s going to be epic!”
Jon says he has bike toured before (in Asia, Australia and the UK) but this will be the first time he’s done it in decades. He feels confident though, thanks to the added boost he’ll get from the electric bike’s 48V battery. It will give him some pedal assist so he can go further without expending as much energy. (One battery will last approximately 100 kilometres depending on the terrain and he’ll then charge them back up to full power in the evenings.)
“This is going to be a really fun adventure,” Jon says. “I’m looking forward to meeting my wife at the Desert Trip concert after having ridden about 2,500 kilometres and thanking her for encouraging me to do it in the first place.”
Pedego Electric Bikes Canada is a proud supporter of Jon’s adventure as well as a proud distributor of North America’s #1 selling electric bicycle brand. It is our belief electric bikes transform people’s lives by getting them off couches and out of cars and having fun – lots of fun!
The first question we’re always asked about our electric bikes are “How far do they go?” This is a difficult answer because of all the variables involved including the terrain, the weight of the rider or cargo, wind resistance, how much the rider pedals, etc. As a general rule of thumb, however, we tell people that Pedego electric bikes can travel between 40 and 100 kilometres on a single charge. In order to maximize your efficiencies and easily travel 100 kilometres there are some obvious and not-so-obvious ways to improve the range of your electric bike.
First, the obvious:
- Make sure your battery is fully charged at the outset of your ride (and make sure it’s in excellent shape by following our guidelines for prolonging the life of your battery)
- Pedal more
- Use the throttle less and/or use a lower pedal assist setting
And now, here are six less-obvious ways to improve the range of your electric bike.
#1. Avoid Stopping & Starting a Lot
As with your automobile, you’ll get better energy economy by travelling at a constant rate over time versus starting and stopping a lot in city traffic for example. That said, obviously we do not recommend you ignore traffic signals and cruise through stop signs. But if you’re on a ride and can avoid pulling over many times, then you’ll increase the distance you can travel on a single battery charge.
#2. Pedal off the Start
Aside from pedalling more, it’s also important to pedal at the right times. It takes a lot of energy to accelerate from a complete stop and so the more energy you apply through your legs, the less energy will be syphoned from the battery i.e. get the bike rolling a bit before the motor engages. Additionally, hills take a lot of energy so if you pedal a bit harder when going uphill, this will help improve the range of your electric bike.
#3. Use the Correct Gear
There’s a term in cycling called “cadence,” which refers to your pedalling rate, or, more accurately, the number of revolutions of the crank per minute. Efficient cadence falls between 80 and 100 revolutions per minute so if you’re in a really high gear and you’re having to push hard on the pedals in order to get the crank to rotate, then it’s best to change to a lower gear. Likewise, if your pedals are rotating too quickly, you’re wasting energy without getting the benefits of the down thrust on the crank – so switch to a higher gear.
#4. Keep Your Tire Pressure Up
Mechanics always recommend you maintain the pressure of your automobile’s tires to maximize fuel efficiency and the same goes for your electric bicycle. Low tire pressure means more surface area of your tire is in contact with the ground and the result is a sluggish ride. For normal electric bikes, we recommend a tire pressure of 50-60 psi and for our Ridge Rider and Trail Tracker bikes, we suggest lower pressures of around 35-45 and 20-30 psi respectively.
#5. Lube Your Chain
It’s a good idea to clean your electric bike regularly to ensure grime and dirt doesn’t wear down your componentry. It’s also important to lube your chain often using a lubricant specifically designed for bicycle chains. (Don’t use WD-40 for instance as it tends to collect grime.) By lubricating your chain, you will improve its performance and therefore improve your pedalling efficiency. How often you lube your chain depends on usage but it’s a good rule of thumb to wipe it down with a rag at least once a week, apply a small amount of lubricant, let it stand for a few minutes and then wipe off any excess with a cloth.
#6. Keep Your Bike Tuned Up
The most effective way to lessen the efficiency of your electric bicycle is by having brake pads that drag or rub on your discs or wheels. Even if it’s just a slight rub, the distance of your ride on a single charge will be compromised. Make sure your wheels are true (in alignment) and your brake pads are in good condition and not rubbing. The best way to ensure this is the case is to take your ebike into a mechanic regularly to be tuned up. They’ll have access to spoke wrenches and other tools that will help keep your electric bike running smoothly, efficiently and far.