Your electric bike is starting to feel a little less efficient and you want to change things. You’re not alone: efficiency is a common issue. In the same mindset that you’d take your car into the shop when something is wrong, you have to perform a bit of maintenance on your bicycle as well.
It’s likely that your battery is beginning to fade and feel the exhaustion of all the use it’s gotten, but you can fix things in no time.
Lifetime of Electric Bike Batteries
Depending on what type of battery you’re using in your electric bike, you’re going to get a different lifespan. The lifetime of your electric battery will also be dictated by use, or a lack thereof.
If you let your electric bike just sit there for a month or two at a time without getting any use out of it, then you’re going to drain the battery of any charge. It’s not as simple as just hooking it up to the AC adapter at the point, either: they might require an entire recharge by a certified battery recharging service.
Trusting that you take care of your battery as much as possible, you should get at least three year of use out of your electric bike battery.
If you’re using your bike every other day and you aren’t overcharging the battery, then you could get up to about five year of use out of a standard lithium-ion battery. But it isn’t that simple. We have multiple battery types that manufacturers use in different styles of electric bikes.
How Expensive Are Replacement Batteries?
Replacing an electric bike battery can be anywhere from $500 to $1,200, depending on the model, what cells are being used, and how high quality the battery is.
There are always new models of batteries being manufactured by different companies, and so older batteries may no longer be supported if you have an older electric bike. You may be chokeholded into upgrading your battery, but there is another option.
You can have your battery rebuilt. There are services that come in at about a quarter of the highest cost that we just mentioned. What they do is they take and analyze your old batteries, and determine how much of a charge is or isn’t being held.
Through testing and commercial-grade analysis equipment, they can quickly determine the state of your electric bike battery and give you a few options on what to do. They may give you a price that starts with a base fee and goes up with the price of each individual cell, which would be in your best interest for cost effectiveness.
Some ebikes are not compatible with some battery types, which can be a real pain if you need a full replacement. If you don’t have your owner’s manual or you are unsure of what type of battery you previously had, you’ll have to figure out what type of battery you have by locating your model number and searching online.
From there, the manufacturer should have information regarding the next generation of battery for a replacement. At the very worst, you’ll find an online forum with a question about your specific model answered.
How Long do They Last?
If you get certain cells in the battery replaced (lithium-ion batteries, SLA batteries will need to be charged or replaced), then you can expect that repair to hold up well for one to two years before you encounter similar issues.
Of course, these new issues will arise due to the old cells that were not switched out, and your new cells will still have some life in them. At this point, you should go with the professional repair service you went with before.
Repairs can extend the life of your battery by about 60% for a fraction of the cost of a replacement. It’s a good idea to get your battery repaired at least once, and sometimes twice. Your electric bike repair guy will be able to tell you if the battery is even worth saving, or if it’s just going to be a money pit. At that point, a replacement will be necessary.
Types of Batteries
The type of battery in your electric bike is a big deal. Thanks to modern manufacturing methods, you’re most likely to see a lithium-ion battery in your ebike, which are the most cost-effective. Even though LIP batteries will last longer, they generally come at a 3x-4x price tag. Find out what type of battery your electric bike has.
- Lithium-Ion — This is the most common battery type that you will see in electric bikes, partially due to their widespread and relatively inexpensive production methods. Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere, on much smaller scales: in phones, laptops, and most rechargeable small appliances found in your home. Lithium-ion batteries tend to last for about three to five years in total before needing to be replaced, at which point they will be at 50% charging capacity.
- Lithium Iron Phosphate — A branch of lithium-ion, lithium iron phosphate batteries have a longer life expectancy due to the chemical nature of its production. These can discharge just about 100% of all retained electricity before taking in another charge, which is one of the areas that lithium-ion batteries begin to fail at towards the end of their life cycle. These can last for five to seven years, and in some rare cases upwards of a decade.
- SLA — SLA batteries are sealed lead acid, and are common in just about all vehicles made in North America. These batteries may be used in ATVs, small motorbikes and other similar vehicles, but rarely in electric bikes. Since your electric bike is designed to be somewhat portable and easy to move around, SLA batteries are not ideal because you will actually move around the sealed acid within the battery. These go by a variety of other names, such as AGM and VRLA.
How to Replace Batteries on Your eBike
Your battery will be centered in some sort of housing. In most cases, it’s a case that’s beneath the bicycle seat or beneath the frame over the rear wheel. It will be easy to spot, and once you’ve found it, unscrew the case.
At this point, make sure that your electric bike is turned off, and that the throttle is off as well. The housing will easily come out of the bike, just be careful of the wiring and don’t put stress on the area that’s still connected to the drivetrain.
Detect the battery or batteries. Some models will use two 12V 12AH SLA batteries, which are usually sauntered into place. If you don’t have experience with removing sauntered items, close the case up and seek a professional. If it’s not, you may proceed.
Notice how the wires are housed and how the battery is connected. Disconnect your old battery from the wiring and remove it from the housing. Place the new battery in the same spot, and wire it the same way that the old battery was. Reverse engineer your steps to secure the housing back together, and in its rightful place.
Will Replacing my Battery Void the Warranty?
You’d have to look at the specific warranty that came with your purchase, but in most cases, this will void your warranty. Most ebike warranties only run for twelve months, and do not cover battery replacement in the first place.
The only time that a manufacturer will be responsible for the battery is if there are major factory defects that caused corrosion, leakage, or an overload of the electric system that led to damages.
It’s important to know that it isn’t the battery replacement that voids the warranty, but rather going into the battery housing.
This indemnifies the manufacturer from any and all responsibility of damages past this point, because there’s no way for them to discern the true cause of the issue.
Take a look at your warranty information before tampering with your electric bike for a replacement, and see if there is a list of certified repair technicians that can take care of this replacement for you.
If they are certified, the warranty should list information stating that the warranty will still be in effect even after repairs.
If You Can’t do It, Seek a Professional
Replacing your battery in its entirety isn’t a difficult task, but if you’d rather not void your warranty or you just don’t have the time to handle it yourself, seek out a professional service to handle this for you.
Your electric bike needs a new battery as soon as possible to maintain operational performance, regardless of how it gets done.
Electric batteries can be expensive, but if you go with a high quality replacement, you should be able to match or exceed the life expectancy of your previous battery. Individual replacement batteries likely haven’t been sitting in a warehouse gradually losing their charge, so they should last you for a very long time.