If you’ve decided to take the plunge and get yourself an electric bike, you’re in good company.
One of the most integral components of e bikes is the battery, and with so many variations out there it can be difficult to choose the best one. Understanding how they work will make the difference between a leisurely ride and a horrible experience!
Batteries are so commonplace that many people don’t know how they work. Here are a few terms to ground you in the science:
- Amps: How much power can flow from the battery (think pipe diameter for water flow)
- Volts: How fast power can be transferred (like water pressure from a pump)
- Amp-hours: How much “storage” in a battery (10Ah equals 1 amp for 10 hours or 10 amps for one hour)
- Watts: The basic unit of measurement for electricity (like gallons of water, the more the better)
- Watt-hours: The number of watts used in a particular amount of time (200Wh = 100W used over two hours)
When looking at battery labels, the higher the wattage the more power it can provide, and usually the more expensive the battery.
As a quick overview of differing technologies, this list will go through the strengths and weaknesses of each type.
Lead Acid: This is by far the cheapest type of battery, they’re found as starter devices in cars or for deep-cycle use like in wheelchairs or golf carts. The trade-off is a large, weighty battery that isn’t the best for riding. Also, if you’ve found e bikes for sale at prices that seem too good to be true, it could be thanks to a cheap lead acid battery.
Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd): While these can hold a lot more power than their lead-acid counterparts, these batteries are extremely hazardous to recycle and are becoming quickly outdated. Steer clear of these as well.
Nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH): The power difference between these and NiCd batteries is negligible, though they do last longer and are easier to dispose of. These are also getting phased out thanks to a high expense and the success of the next type.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion): By far the most popular battery in all electronics, Li-ions are efficient and lightweight, but are extremely difficult to manage on the manufacturing side. This contributes to their high price, which some see as an adequate trade-off.
Lithium alternatives: As the demand for more efficient batteries increases, there are several new contenders for the most popular. Some of the best hybrid bicycle batteries use new technology, but none of these have been tested in the long-term.
The kind of battery you choose greatly depends on how you want to use your e-bike. If it’s only for quick jaunts around the block or up to the corner store, you might get by with a clunky lead-acid type. For more serious riders and commuters, getting your hands on a reliable NiCd is your best bet, even though it comes at a much higher cost.
Make sure that when choosing a new battery you look into reviews and shop online for sales. Getting the best battery will help you enjoy your electric bicycle for years to come!