How to charge an electric bike

John Clark, Velospeed
John Clark 19.06.20

With all the e-bikes we sell we are used to being asked a wide variety of questions on maintenance, riding practices and so on. The most common question however is always how do I charge my electric bike? If you’ve looked through or even bought an electric bike from our best electric bike list, this may be the first question you have too…

So how do you charge your new electric bike?

Typically there are two types of battery packs, removable ones and fixed ones depending on the manufacturer and model of your e-bike. Even the fixed ones can typically be removed, but are designed in a way that makes removing them a bit more of a process.

For the removable ones you first want to locate the battery pack. This is usually just behind the seat or on the frame itself. To charge an electric bikes battery, first you have to remove the battery pack from the bike, making sure that you switched the battery off first. Then plug in the charger provided to your mains outlet, and connect the charger to the battery pack, only then switch on the plug socket.

For fixed battery packs you do the same thing, except you bring the charger to the bike, making sure again the battery pack is switched off before you connect the charger.

Normally there will be an LED light on one or both of the battery pack and charging unit that will turn red to show that the battery is still charging. It will then normally turn green or white (check your manual) when it has finished charging.

A typical charge time for most electric bike’s is between 3-6 hours. Roughly speaking for every 15 mile range your bike has you can expect an hours worth of charging time. So a normal routine for a commuter would be to put the batteries on charge before bed, just as you would a mobile phone ready for the next days ride.

It’s important to read the manual your e-bike comes with as this will often tell you the average charge time for your bike, however once you get into the routine of using your bike for a few days you will soon come to grips with how long you need to plan for charging.

A few electric bikes have features that enable you to recharge your battery whilst you are out riding. Often this is done when you use your brakes (regenerative braking)and can help extend your batteries range by 5-10%. This often comes with an additional price tag vs it’s competitors but is an option worth considering if you are keen to get the most our of your batteries. The downside is that some methods can make peddling a little more difficult than they would be without the features, so always make sure you know the full picture before deciding.

Depending on the type of battery pack you have (removable vs fixed) some cyclists elect to take along a second battery if they are going on a particularly long ride or their specific bikes battery capacity is not very large. This is more commonly done on things like cycling holidays or mini tours where you may be cycling for several hours per day. It’s an option that is worth considering, but for most people who will just use their bike recreationally or for commuting it’s often not required.

Another common question we get asked, often a follow up is whether or not you need to wait for your batteries to fully drain before you recharge them. The answer is simply, no. You do not need to wait for the battery pack to fully drain before recharging them. Modern battery technology means this concern is a thing of the past and not something you need to worry about. So after you’ve used your e-bike, don’t be scare to plug it straight back in and recharged to full capacity for your next ride.

Alongside this question you may be thinking, ok great I can charge my batteries even if they are only down to 60%, but what If I want to use my bike and it’s not fully charged yet, can I do so? Again, with the way lithium ion batteries are designed, there is no reason for you to be concerned if the batteries are not fully charged. The only real concern you should have is if there is enough charge in the batteries to complete the journey I am thinking about taking with my e-bike.

Lastly we get asked a lot if you can replace your batteries should they get damaged or loose capacity over time? The answer has kind of already been addressed, as mentioned before, many people opt to have a second battery pack if they are planning longer journeys, so of course, replacing your battery pack is the same as having a second battery pack.