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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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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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Riding a Pedego Electric Bike
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.
Gears

GEARS

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!

Pedego Throttle

CADENCE

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!

Pedego Pedals

PEDAL ASSIST

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.

Cadance

SPEED

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.

SUMMARY

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 info@pedegocanada.ca.