When people start talking about eBikes the first question that they always ask is, “how long will the battery last, how far can I go?” The answer to that question is that there really is no definitive answer! There are just too many variables to take into consideration to be able to give you a solid answer.
To try and get near to an answer you first have to look at the motor and the battery that your eBike uses. Our top of the range INTENSE Tazer Pro and Tazer MX Pro eBikes use Shimano’s EP8 motor (85nM of max torque) with a 504Wh battery. It is hard to offer anything more than a ‘ball park’ figure because, as mentioned, there are many variables to take into consideration when trying to work out the full range of you and your eBike. It could be anywhere between 15-60kms (10-37 miles), so we thought that it might be helpful to pass on some tips and info that has helped us over the years. In no particular order:
1. RIDER WEIGHT
Rider weight is key in determining the amount of miles/kilometers you are going to get out of a single charge of your battery. If you compare a rider who is 50kg to one that is 100kg you will find that there is a big difference in how far you can go. A lightweight rider means more miles/kilometers. The heavier you are the less range you will have, there is no getting away from that fact.
And when we talk about weight we are also talking about the ‘complete system’ weight, bike and rider combined. Our Tazer, with it’s carbon frame and 504Wh battery, is one of the lightest MTB eBikes on the market, but put a heavy rider, with a full back pack, and maybe some new heavy-duty downhill casing tires on (more on that later) and the whole ‘system’ weight goes up. So if you can, shed the lbs/kgs!
2. MODE SELECTION
Mode selection is super important. If you ride everywhere in BOOST mode you will probably have a very short ride! From our experience TRAIL mode is the sweet spot for most riding situations, and if you want more of a workout then go for ECO. But a good thing to learn about and do is...
... 3. TWEAK YOUR MODES, EMBRACE THE TECH
Using SHIMANO’s E-TUBE App and your Smartphone (via a Bluetooth connection) you can really play around with the settings and outputs of your EP8 motor to truly personalize your riding experience. You can adjust and tweak the level of rider support in each mode so that it is just right for you. The most important adjustments for the motor output are the assist characteristic (the amount the motor multiplies the rider input), the maximum torque (the ‘pulling force’) and assist characteristic at the start (how quickly the bike reacts to rider input). You can also program in two ‘profiles’ with specific settings to suit your requirements. For instance, if you have a really steep loop that you ride you may want to ‘up’ the level of support in TRAIL mode, or if you have a long relatively flat loop you may want to drop down that level of assistance. If you get it right and dial it in your battery consumption will be more efficient.
4. RIDER INPUT
That means you. You can ride your eBike with the power turned off completely, but it won’t be much fun. Ride in ECO mode and you can get a real workout, but most of the time you’ll probably be in TRAIL mode. Pick the correct gear and get your cadence right. You don’t really pound the pedals or crunch the gears on an eBike, it’s more of a spin, nice and smooth. Again it is all about finding that sweet spot, where both you and the motor are inputting power in the most efficient way, which leads on to...
... 5. RIDING STYLE
Be smooth like a river, find your flow. To get the most our of your battery eBikes like to be ridden in a smooth and considered way, a ‘stop start’ riding style is not the way forward. The right mode, in the correct gear and a flowing riding style will mean that you will get the most out of your battery.
This is a difficult one, because you can’t really change the terrain you ride on that easily. If you ride mainly on smooth trails with gentle up and downs then you will get a lot out of your battery. But if you ride on rough, rocky, rooty trails, with lots of steep technical climbs and difficult terrain, then your battery may not like it so much.
This one is a bit our of your control, but again it is pretty obvious that if you ride on dry, compacted trails then you are going to get way more miles/kilometers out of your battery than if you are on wet, deep mud, with ruts, roots, rocks, etc. Bad weather ground conditions can really kill a battery. You should notice a big difference between winter and summer riding distances.
8. LOOK AFTER YOUR BATTERY
Your battery is not quite living and breathing, but you do have to look after it. Batteries do not like extremes of temperature. Around 20 degrees is optimal, so try not to leave your battery or bike anywhere where it will be too hot or too cold for long periods of time. A steady even temperature is best. It’s also worth noting that batteries don’t like to be left fully depleted without any charge, so plug it in and charge it up as soon as you possibly can if you end up on zero, otherwise your battery will start to deteriorate.
If you are leaving your bike for any length of time (injury, etc.), it is best to leave it at around 70% charged. And of course don’t overcharge your battery. The Tazer’s charger has an auto cut-off so that you can’t overcharge it, but it is always best to turn the charger off once the battery is fully charged, and never leave it charging over night.
The subject of mountain bike tires is massive, and often confusing. There are so many variables to take into consideration. Firstly you have the type of tire and the tread on it – is it a fast rolling XC style of tire, or a more aggressive enduro/DH style? Then you have to think about tire width – a bigger contact patch will cause more drag. Then there is the casing and compound of the tire, and very importantly the pressure you have in it. All these elements add up to make it very difficult to gauge how far that battery will take you. It is safe to say that a lightweight XC type of tire, with a ‘mellow’ tread pattern pumped up quite hard is going to extend the range of your battery compared to a heavy duty, soft compound DH tire at 20psi! But where’s the fun in that!? You often have to compromise a little to find the perfect balance.
10. LOOK AFTER YOUR BIKE
A well-maintained eBike is an efficient eBike, so make sure you take good care of it. A non-oiled chain or worn brake pads can compromise both your safety and your bike’s range. So keep your eBike well maintained and in perfect working order, and you’ll get the most out of it.
11. TAKE A SECOND BATTERY
Now this may be seen as a bit of an extravagance, but why not buy a second battery as a spare, keep it charged-up and swap it over when you run out of power? Our Tazer and Tazer MX ranges allow you to simply take the battery out and change it over, it takes less that a minute. Just remember to to take your (battery) keys with you… for both batteries!
“What I’ve found that really works to improve the battery range in my Tazer is to play with the E-Tube app from Shimano. I have tweaked one of the two profiles that the app allows you to set, I’ve lowered the Assist and Max Torque by two points from default in all 3 modes. I’ve also lowered the Assist Start to the minimum in all modes, as when I wanted to start a climb from a tricky spot I always found my rear wheel skidding and now those tricky uphills are way easier to do. So playing with the app has really made a difference for me, just as an example with this setup the other day I did a 25km ride with 1400m of elevation and 3 bars of battery were still left at the end of the ride.” Bernat Guardia, former DH World Cup racer and INTENSE Ambassador.