Electric pedal-assisted bikes, or as we call them, E-bikes, offer a spectrum of benefits for different kinds of rides and riders, and aim to break down barriers that prevent us from taking longer, faster rides. E-bikes come with a pedal assist motor that runs on a frame-integrated, rechargeable battery. The question that always comes to mind is: how long will my E-bike battery last on one charge?
And the not-so simple answer: It depends.
We know that’s not always helpful, but there are a lot of factors that affect just how far you can go on a single charge, and once you understand them, you’ll be better at estimating how many kilometers you have before you need to recharge. Watch this video for a better idea of what conditions affect battery range, and keep reading for how to push it furthest!
Before you can get a clear picture of how to maximize your E-bike battery life, you’ll need a brief understanding of the tech that goes into making your E-bike.
For everyone’s sanity, we tried to put our tech jargon into simple terms here. Read on for detailed descriptions of each Giant model of battery and motor, and how they interact on your bike.
GIANT’S BATTERY OPTIONS
Giant E-bikes are built with one of three batteries that power the motor: the EnergyPak Smart, the EnergyPak Smart Compact, or the EnergyPak Side Release. Also available is the EnergyPak Plus, a small backup battery. All four rechargeable batteries detach from the frame and can be plugged in either on or off the bike, depending on how accessible your outlet is.
The strength of each battery is measured in watt hours (Wh)—a unit totally different from watts, which many cyclists use to measure their own power output at any given moment as they ride. But importantly the higher the watt hour of your bike’s battery, the more power it can hold.
The EnergyPak Smart is the highest-capacity battery available for the Giant E-bikes, ideal for long, intense rides where you’ll be using a large amount of pedal assistance or encountering a lot of loose gravel, snow, mud, or other unpaved terrain. The slim, streamlined battery is integrated right into the frame of the bike for a clean look and feel. It comes in three different watt hour (Wh) versions: 625, 500, and 400 (if the bike you buy comes with the 400 or 500 Wh battery, it’s compatible for an upgrade). All three Wh levels of the battery charge from dead to 80 percent in under three hours.
The EnergyPak Smart Compact is Giant's 500 Wh electric road bike battery, which has the sleekest profile designed to help your E-bike blend in with a fleet of non-electric road bikes. Both the EnergyPak Smart and EnergyPak Smart Compact have aluminum casing to help prevent overheating, for both safety and battery-life extension purposes.
The EnergyPak Side Release comes on many Giant commuter E-bikes and entry-level electric mountain bikes, shaped specifically to fit into step-through models. It’s available in 500 Wh and 400 Wh and slides into the side of the downtube, rather than removing from the bottom the previous two batteries listed. EnergyPak side release’s waterproof rating is IPX5, slightly less than the rest of Giant’s batteries (IPX6, which can withstand a bit more pressure).
If you’re taking an extra-long trip where you might need extra battery life before you reach a place you can recharge, the EnergyPak Plus, a 250 Wh backup battery, is available. It’s small, lightweight, and can be mounted directly to your downtube to add more miles to your ride. It charges relatively quickly, up to about 80 percent capacity in just two hours, so you can change up your main battery and this one in a single evening.
GIANT’S MOTOR OPTIONS
Giant E-bikes have a motor located near the bottom-bracket that gives you assistance in turning the pedals, also called pedal assist. The three motors were developed in cooperation with Yamaha, and includes the SyncDrive Pro, the SyncDrive Sport, and the SyncDrive Core. All three motors are equipped with multiple sensors that detect even the slightest change in your cadence, power input, and speed. This allows the motor to blend the assistance it’s giving you into your pedal stroke in the most natural way possible; it engages smoothly and gradually, increasing input to match yours. Our E-bikes are designed to emphasize and support your own power and fitness, so there is no throttle you can push to make it go. You have to pedal—but how hard you pedal is up to you.
Giant's top-end E-bikes come with the SyncDrive Pro. It’s the most powerful motor with the fastest engagement, meaning it feels the most touchy of the three, so it’s great for intense bursts of power to get through tricky uphill sections or steep punchy climbs on a mountain bike. The highly sensitive motor engages even if you’re pedaling super lightly and quickly (up to 170 rpm).
The SyncDrive Sport motor comes on most of Giant's mid-priced bikes, and offers a less-punchy engagement than the Pro. Since it’s more conservative with its power, it tends to use less battery over time than the high-powered Pro as well.
The SyncDrive Core is the lightest-duty motor that comes on many of Giant's E-commuter, and entry-level E-mountain bikes. It offers the smoothest engagement with the most gradual increase of assistance, so it is the most battery-conserving option of the three. And—bonus—it’s also the quietest.
TIPS FOR EXTENDING YOUR E-BIKE’S RANGE
The biggest variable that impacts battery range is the motor on your bike. If you’re riding a bike with a SyncDrive Pro motor, which produces punchy bursts of power, it will drain the battery faster. The lowest-power option, the SyncDrive Core, uses a much more conservative amount and will keep your battery lasting longer.
Different batteries have different ranges, so you can extend your battery life by purchasing one with generally higher limits.
E-bike battery range is also highly affected by which mode you’re riding in. All three motors have five modes: Power (the highest), Sport, Active, Tour, and Eco. The higher level of assistance you’re using, the faster it will sap your battery power. In Power mode, the SyncDrive Pro motor takes your pedaling input and offers a 360 percent boost to the force turning the pedals (the Sport and Core offer 350 and 300 percent in Power Mode, respectively). As you lower the assistance mode, the less power the motor offers, meaning the rider would need to pedal harder to maintain the same speed as they could with less effort in a higher assistance mode; in its lowest mode (Eco), the SyncDrive Pro still provides a 100 percent boost.
Other factors that influence the battery life basically all have to do with how hard you’re having the motor work. If it’s having to overcome a strong headwind and lots of punchy climbs to keep up it’s speed, that’s going to require it to use more juice at a faster rate. Rider weight and cargo load also play a role, so if you’re loaded down with groceries or a big backpack, that will require extra work for the motor as well.
In addition to considering factors like weight, wind, elevation, and acceleration, you can increase battery range with good bike maintenance and tire choice. Fully-inflated tires and a clean drivetrain will mean less resistance for the motor, as will a smoother tire, as opposed to a knobby, grippy one.