3 reasons why electric bikes don't recharge batteries when being used
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Why Electric Bikes Don’t Recharge Batteries When In Use

March 8, 2016

The second most popular question we’re asked about Pedego Electric Bikes in Canada is, “Does the battery recharge while I’m riding it?” The short answer is no. Most every other electric bicycle in Canada does not have a battery that recharges while you ride it (industry speak is “regeneration” or “regen”) and that’s due to various factors. It’s not clear why most people believe bicycles should have regenerative capabilities but perhaps it’s because there are automobiles on the market that do. These vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, have an electric motor that is used to slow you down when stopping and this generates electricity, which is harnessed and diverted back into the battery. So the common belief is that electric bicycles should apply that same technology to recharge the lithium battery. But this isn’t the case. In terms of Pedego, here are 3 simple reasons why electric bikes don’t recharge batteries when being used:pedego-canada-battery1-sm

#1. You Don’t Really Need It

The most popular question we’re asked about Pedego Electric bikes is related to how far they travel. This is subject to a number of factors but the range tends to fall between 40 & 100 kilometres depending on head winds, terrain, the weight of the rider or cargo, etc. Thanks to improvements in motor and lithium battery technology, this distance far surpasses what batteries could do on a single charge a decade ago. The reason regeneration was originally considered was because engineers were trying to come up with a way to lengthen the duration of a single ride. However, most casual rides and commutes fall well short of 100 kilometres.

#2. Regen Doesn’t Give Much Back Anyway

Even under ideal conditions, you’re only likely to get about 10% recharge back on your battery. The reasons for this are complex but include the fact that braking periods are short and batteries like to be charged at low currents for a long time. But don’t just take our word for it. Experts have done studies regarding regeneration and come to this same conclusion – for proof of this, read Brent Bolton’s excellent paper “Is Regenerative Braking Useful on an Electric Bicycle.” He applies numbers to the theory and concludes that for some common riding scenarios there will actually be a net loss of energy out of the battery with a regen setup!

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#3. Regen Requires A Less Efficient Type of Motor

The direct drive type of motor that is required for a regen system always has a very slight drag when riding and is less efficient than other more commonly used types of motor such as geared hub and mid-drive motors. All Pedego electric bikes have geared motors that enable the motor to spin faster than the axle – this ensures you’re getting more power and torque because the electric motor is always in the “sweet spot.” Our motors also “freewheel,” meaning they don’t create any drag when not in use. You will notice that direct drive motors are often a lot bigger in diameter (and heavier) than a geared motor in order to supply more torque. In short, using a more efficient motor is likely to give you similar or greater distance gains than a regen system – and more power!

Hopefully our summary above helps you understand why most electric bikes don’t recharge batteries when in use. However, we’re always happy to talk about regeneration as well as more efficient forms of e-bicycles, namely Pedego Electric Bikes in Canada. Please drop us a line any time to chat: info@pedegocanada.ca or 1-888-777-2066.