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E-bike batteries: innovations and optimal use

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26 June 2024

E-bike batteries are diverse and differ in their chemistry, capacity and shape. Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries are currently the most popular, but new developments such as calcium-air batteries could shape the future. Discover the different types of batteries, their advantages and disadvantages and valuable tips for longer life and optimal use.


Battery types

There are various types of batteries for e-bikes, which differ mainly in the type of battery chemistry used, their capacity and shape. The most common battery types are currently

  • Nickel-cadmium batteries (NiCd)
  • Nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH)
  • Lithium polymer batteries (Li-Po)
  • Lithium-ion batteries (Li-Ion)

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries are the most widely used and most powerful batteries today. They are characterized by a longer service life, can be recharged more quickly and are relatively light even at high power.


Developments

In addition to conventional rechargeable batteries, significant progress has been made in recent years in the development of calcium-air batteries with the aim of improving performance and efficiency. 


There are now promising alternatives to the lithium-ion battery, such as the calcium-air battery. This innovative technology has the potential to play a significant role in the energy transition, as calcium is around 2,500 times more abundant than lithium, making it a much more sustainable resource.


Scientists have discovered that calcium-air batteries have the potential to rival the storage properties of lithium-ion batteries in the future. In the latest tests, calcium batteries demonstrated an impressive storage capacity of 500 milliampere-hours per gram in numerous charge and discharge cycles, which is around 50 percent more than current lithium-ion batteries.

Smiling man in a suit locks e-bike
Frame of a blue e-bike

Position of the battery
It should be noted that the position of the battery on e-bikes has a significant impact on the riding behavior and handling.


Centered on the frame (down tube or bottom bracket area): This position provides optimum weight distribution and balance, which improves stability and handling. It is particularly advantageous for sporty riding and off-road use.


On the pannier rack: This position makes it easier to access and replace the battery, but can affect weight distribution and therefore handling, especially when carrying an additional load. It is well suited to city and leisure bikes.


Integrated in the down tube: This aesthetically pleasing placement better protects the battery from the elements and provides good balance and riding stability.


Charging recommendation 
Before charging the e-bike battery, we recommend checking the battery for visible damage and allowing it to cool down. To avoid damage caused by incorrect chargers and to ensure optimum charging performance, the charger recommended by the manufacturer should be used. It is recommended that the battery is charged at around 20-30% residual capacity. The e-bike battery only needs to be fully charged when necessary. After charging, the battery and charger should be disconnected from the power supply.

Avoid discharging the battery completely while riding, as deep discharging can shorten the service life of the battery. It is also important to ensure that the battery is not charged at temperatures below 0 °C or above 40 °C, as this can damage the cells and shorten the service life. Direct sunlight should also be avoided. If possible, do not charge the batteries near flammable materials. Do not leave the battery unattended during the charging process in order to recognize and avoid possible safety risks at an early stage.

Woman riding an e-bike in the housing estate

Storing the E-Bike battery
It is recommended to store the battery in a cool, dry place, ideally at temperatures between 10 °C and 20 °C. Storing the battery in the cellar or garage is better than storing it indoors due to the cool temperatures. If the e-bike is not used for a longer period of time, the battery should be kept at around 50-70% charge, removed from the e-bike and stored separately. A charge level between 30 and 60 % is ideal.

Cleaning & care
Clean the battery regularly with a damp, soft cloth to remove dirt and moisture. Make sure that the contacts are clean and dry.

A regular inspection of the e-bike by a specialist dealer is also important!

Environmentally friendly disposal
Old or damaged batteries should be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. Many dealers and recycling centers offer special programs for the return and safe disposal of lithium-ion batteries.

Conclusion
E-bike batteries have evolved significantly through advanced technologies and offer impressive performance and longevity. Future innovations such as calcium-air batteries promise an even more sustainable and efficient energy source. Proper positioning, care and charging practices are critical to maximize battery life. Through careful maintenance and environmentally friendly disposal, e-bike owners can not only enjoy their ride, but also make a contribution to protecting the environment.