Last week my friend and I were talking about electric bikes as they have become quite phenomenal over the years. While discussing, a particular question came to mind: do electric bikes charge when you pedal? Bikes generate energy when you pedal and use that energy to move forward. So in theory, you should be able to charge your e-bike battery while pedaling using some excess energy.
But unfortunately, not all electric bikes can charge when you pedal. To do this, you need to have the regenerative braking system. This system allows vehicles to trap the energy produced when you hit the brakes and recharge the battery in the process.
However, some other theories say this isn’t quite possible for e-bikes. Why? Well, this article covers that too. So, let’s find out in detail whether electric bikes charge when you pedal or not.
- You can charge your bike while pedaling, but you need to have the feature of regenerative braking.
- According to some other theories, the Regen feature isn’t efficient for e-bikes.
- The charging time depends on the battery type, size, age, existing charge, and temperature.
- The battery helps your e-bike move forward. So it’s essential to detect any problems and act accordingly ASAP.
- For a percentage of charge worth 1 km, you need to pedal 10 km on average.
- Do Electric Bikes Charge When You Pedal?
- What is Regenerative Brake?
- Common Electric Bike Battery Issues and Quick Troubleshooting
- 5 Tips to Efficiently Charge Your Electric Bike Battery
- How Long Does It Take To Charge An Ebike Battery?
- How Do Electric Bikes Charge When You Pedal?
- Final Words
Do Electric Bikes Charge When You Pedal?
Electric bikes do charge while you pedal, but it’s more complicated than that. E-bikes don’t really charge when you “pedal“, but rather when you “hit the brakes“. Some e-bikes come with a feature called regenerative braking system that allows the battery to charge when you ride the bike.
Now the question is, what is a regenerative brake?
What is Regenerative Brake?
When you hit the brakes while riding a bike, the kinetic energy you create gets lost through wind resistance and the brake pads’ heat. Regenerative braking is a technology that traps this excess energy, and either stores it or uses the energy for some additional purpose. For e-bikes, the kinetic energy transfers into electric energy to charge the electric bike.
To be more precise, when you pull the brakes, the bike sends the motor into reverse gear, which slows down the bike. Once the motor runs backward, it transforms into an electric generator that produces electricity and then feeds it back to the battery to charge. That’s basically what is known as the regenerative braking system.
Is Regenerative Braking Effective for E-bikes?
Regenerative braking is effective as long as you put it to appropriate use. Like if you are going for leisure riding, the chances of using a regenerative brake are scarce. You won’t be using the brake much. But if you are traveling for your regular work around the city, the brake is more.
This way, you will generate almost 8 to 14 percent of energy for your battery to charge. Although this is a sustainable process, the amount produced is not that high. So, the effectiveness of regenerative brakes depends on the conditions you are driving the e-bike.
However, compared to wasting this excess energy, the regenerative braking system seems a prospective choice.
Effect on the Rider
As we know, the regenerative brake uses the kinetic energy that we produce while using the pedal to brake. The good thing here is you can burn some calories and get leg exercise at the same time. But if you want to fully charge the battery, you need to pedal pretty much the whole day. This neither sounds very healthy, nor economic.
Still, it’s a good way to burn some calories and sustainably reach your destination simultaneously.
The Bad Side of Regenerative Brake
So far, we know Regen technology can be a sustainable prospect for e-bikes. However, the downside is, if you have the regenerative braking system in your e-bike, then you’ll use brake pads more frequently than usual. This means that your brake won’t last for a long time compared to regular brakes.
Problems also arrive as regenerative braking is not fully suitable for a two-wheel-drive motor system. Two-wheel drive applies the negative torque only in the rear wheel and not in the front. So, this feature is not as effective on e-bikes as it is on four wheelers like electric cars. At least, not yet. Again, due to this reason, the rider might get a different feeling compared to traditional braking.
Some theories say charging an e-bike while pedaling is more like a ploy than a fact. In addition to destroying the feel of riding an e-bike, regenerative braking loses more energy than they can gain by the exchange.
So, do electric bikes charge when you pedal? The facts suggest the answer would be both yes and no. If we think theoretically, it is accurately possible to charge an e-bike while riding, hence pedaling. But in reality, some specific facts hinder that the whole idea is a work in progress and require further development.
Common Electric Bike Battery Issues and Quick Troubleshooting
E-bikes use batteries, and can die out any time. Without the battery, you can’t charge your electric bike, so it is essential to detect, solve any battery problems. But how are you supposed to do that? Well, you need to follow some simple instructions to do so.
Are you getting worried why your battery isn’t working? Have you checked how much it has left? Well, you must check it. This can happen if the battery hasn’t been charged for a while or there were some issues with the outlet. So without wasting time, get it charged. And do check after charging whether your e-bike starts or not.
Problematic and Designated Charger
If you see that your battery is not charging correctly, there are two reasons behind it. First, check your charge to see if it is working correctly; if it is not working, get it fixed or replaced. And secondly, see if you are using the designated charger of your bike; if you are not, then get the correct charger. Keep in mind, using the wrong charger for a long time can affect the efficiency and power of your battery.
To know the problem more deeply, you need to check the battery voltage. You can use a voltmeter in this case. If the voltmeter is showing a value too less than the designated battery voltage, it clearly explains a problem in your battery.
Battery Life Cycle
Usually, a lithium-ion battery’s standard lifespan is 2 to 3 years. After that, the battery performance will start declining. So do check the battery cycle, and if it expired, then get it checked. Maybe you can revive it if the issue is minor, like a dead cell or circular malfunction. Users usually prefer to get the battery fixed by themselves or by professional instead of buying.
Checking the BMS (Battery Management System) is pretty much the last resort if none of the above mentioned processes work. BMS monitors the balance of the battery cells both while charging and discharging. It also makes sure that the battery doesn’t get overheated. So, if your battery is not charging at all, then think that the BMS is dead because the battery has stopped charging altogether.
Another way is that if you see that the battery is draining very fast even if the e-bike is not in motion, then be sure that the BMS is fried. However, it can be replaced if your battery is non-branded. I suggest taking professional help in that case.
5 Tips to Efficiently Charge Your Electric Bike Battery
Above, I have discussed how to discover the problems with their solutions. But as precautions, you can follow these 5 handy tips.
Charging New Electric Bike
I know you must be very excited to ride your new electric bike as soon as it is charged. The excitement is good but for overall betterment, let it get charged for 12 hours the first time. As it has just come out of the box, it needs a proper boost, and the long charge will do that.
Avoid Extreme Temperature
Try not to get it over-charged or use the bike in extreme weather. Try to charge it at a moderate temperature. The best temperature for charging can be from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
We usually leave the battery for charging overnight and don’t check in for hours. But, this can really mess up the battery performance. You should always check the manufacturer’s guide to see how many hours of charging the battery requires and follow that instruction.
It would be best to set a reminder on your mobile for the battery charge to remove it on time.
Storage of Empty Battery
Going on a trip? Then you might need to store the battery. So don’t store it empty make sure it has 60 to 70 percent of capacity.
Turn Off Motor
Make sure to turn off your motor when you are charging your battery. It will prolong the time for charging, and if the motor is on the system of draining and recharging will be active, which will be very harmful to the battery. So make sure to turn off the battery.
How Long Does It Take To Charge An Ebike Battery?
Commonly, it takes around 3.5 to 6 hours to recharge a battery, but few facts determine the timing.
Type and Size
Two kinds of batteries are used for e-bikes: lithium-ion and lead-acid. Both are different due to their capacity of power and weight. The type and the size of the battery play a role in the timing. Like if we are talking about lead-acid batteries, they might take longer because they have a lot of weight and greater capacity. As for lithium-ion batteries, then it will take less time than lead-acid.
If you plug the battery for charge when it is 30 to 40%, then you can get it fully charged in 2 to 3 hours. But if it is completely drained out, it will take around 6 hours to charge. So if you want to get your battery charged in less time, make sure you leave some charge. Besides, always charging a battery that has been fully drained can also damage the battery and its efficiency.
If you are using a new battery, then it will not take much time to charge. But old batteries will most likely take more time to charge, and with that, efficiency and capacity will also decline.
The temperature at which the battery is charged can also act up the time taken. If you are charging the battery at an extremely hot or cold temperature, it will take more time to charge. That is why you have to get your battery charged at medium temperature.
Lastly, no matter how much time it takes, try not to take off the charger from the battery until it is fully charged. This is just to be safe from harming the overall performance and lifespan of the battery.
How Do Electric Bikes Charge When You Pedal?
Like I mentioned earlier, electric bikes do charge when you pedal through a process called regenerative braking. While using brakes, the sensor triggers the engine to reverse the mode and feed back the excess energy to the batteries.
Generally regenerative braking technology seen on electric cars, but some brands are adapting this technology to electric bikes. However, it doesn’t return that good amount of power. For a 1km charge, you need to pedal 10km thoroughly.
Do electric bikes charge when you pedal? You can charge your e-bike when pedaling if you have the regenerative brake system. But there are some problems even if your bike has the feature. But what matters most is that it is possible, and can be revolutionary to gain power from pedaling.
Hello, this is Evan Larry. The chief editor of this site, “eBikeBuster.” After completing my graduation in mechanical engineering, I worked for a renowned e-bike manufacturing company as a technician. I had worked there for almost six years, and later I quit the job and started my own business where I sell different types of e-bike and their tools and accessories. I created this site, eBikeBuster, to guide people, who are new to an e-bike and don’t have proper knowledge about its tools, accessories, and maintenance.