It’s all about the batteries


I have two of the same e-bike batteries for one bike. I don’t ever expect to use them in the same day. But, should I set one aside until the one in use dies or use them alternately?

We would tend to alternate them, as we do with all products we have that use batteries. Each battery gets a certain number of charge cycles until it starts losing capacity. Partial charges count as a partial number of those cycles. If you do store one of the batteries, discharge it to about 40 percent, then check it every few months. If it goes to 20 percent, charge it back to 40. This is where most experts say is the optimal state of charge for storage. 

A good thing for people who have long winters to remember is, when checking the battery, maybe set a reminder in your phone’s calendar to check the number of bars that light up. If your battery has five bars, two lit up is 40 percent. If it goes to one bar, charge it until it has two to three bars.

These are examples of an external and internal battery.

Also, try not to run your batteries below 20 percent on rides. This is where carrying a spare can come in handy on a long ride. The idea is to keep your batteries as healthy as possible at all times to keep your battery life as long as possible. Battery prices keep coming down, but none of us want to buy another battery if we don’t have to. 

“Boy, if we had a nickel for every time someone asked us that, we’d be rich!”

That said, there are a lot of new battery and charging technologies that we think will improve massively in the next few years, because the automotive industry is heavily investing in it and have set a goal of 2035 for switching to full-electric production. Expect huge changes in the next five years, and the next batteries you buy will be even better than the ones you have now.


What will happen to electric batteries when they are no longer used? Can we just put them in a landfill? Do we have to dispose of them as e-waste? What about all the raw materials?

Boy, if we had a nickel for every time someone asked us that, we’d be rich! That’s seriously one of the most asked questions we get, and among the negative comments about e-bikes and EVs in general. And, do we ever have some good news for you. 

But first, let’s look at another complaint. At the moment, making batteries leaves a large footprint. Raw materials—from gold to copper to cobalt to nickel, etc.—are mined in separate parts of the world. They have to be shipped to a battery manufacturing plant in one place. That all requires a fair amount of energy.

What if you could reuse the materials from already manufactured, yet no longer
useful, lithium-ion batteries? Well, thanks to companies like Call2Recycle and Redwood Materials, they can get up to 96–98 percent of those materials back to reuse. And, they can do it from any battery—from cell-phone packet batteries to the ones used in bikes and cars—then use that to make new batteries.

These 18650 cells are the most common cells used in e-bike batteries.

Battery scientists, like Professor Jeff Dahn and his team at Dalhousie University (they’re responsible for Tesla’s new battery technology), are working on ways to make use of  different, more abundant materials to make batteries. Other companies are looking at ways to get materials closer to the factory. In the Salton Sea, in Southern California, there is a rich deposit of lithium, and there are 12 geothermal powerplants that are working on a clean way to extract that while they produce energy. And, there’s at least one Gigafactory being built next to it to build lithium-ion batteries.


If you have any tech-related questions about the e-bike you currently own or are thinking of buying one, feel free to send your query to [email protected]