Is a bigger battery capacity the only way to increase the range of your E-MTB? Not quite – with the right technique while riding and a few choice tricks, you can make a real impact on the potential range without having to invest a penny. Here’s our range-boosting compilation of the most important tips.
Once you’ve caught the bug for e-mountain biking, then there’ll only be one thing on your mind: higher, faster and further! But there’s a hitch: the battery’s range just isn’t always far enough. One option is to buy a spare battery but this comes with a hefty price tag. However, there are certain tricks that can significantly improve the range of your battery without immediately having to remortgage your house. As E-MTBs rely on a hybrid of power sources (the motor and your muscles), you need to suss out the ultimate synergy of human and machine. What follows is a list of tips for setting up your bike, and re-learning how best to ride so that you’re not the one to blame for its limited range.
1. Less tire pressure, more traction
A common myth that continues to make the rounds claims that very high tire pressures leads to less rolling resistance – but once you’re off-road, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The correct pressure is crucial on the climbs in order to transfer the motor’s power to the ground. Loss of traction and skidding are going to sap your range. Depending on your riding style and weight, we’d recommend 0.9 – 1.3 bar for plus-size tires and 1.6 – 2.0 bar for 2.4″-wide tires.
2. Open your mind – open your suspension
The concept of suspension lock-out is redundant when it comes to E-MTBs. It won’t just reduce comfort, it’ll also eat into your range. Open and correctly set-up suspension enables the bike to roll over obstacles without even really perceiving them as obstacles. So keep off the lock-out lever!
3. No tube, fewer problems
With a conventional tube in your tire there’s a higher chance of puncturing and also a decrease in the range. By going tubeless, your tires are more capable of adapting to the terrain and soaking up uneven trails so you’ll simply roll-over bumps better.
“Every momentary lapse in momentum costs battery range.”
4. Choose the right Mode
As little as possible, as much as needed,” is the unofficial mantra when it comes to picking your level of pedal-assist. Riding in Eco for the whole ride just isn’t that much fun. But don’t expect much range throughout the day if you’re going to haul your ass up every climb in turbo mode.
5. A big cassette for a big impact
A large cassette with a 46 or 48t sprocket won’t just make the climbs more bearable, they’ll also nudge you towards the right cadence – this is a decisive factor on E-MTBs in order to weasel out the optimum efficiency from the motor.
6. Well oiled
Friction is the enemy of range, especially if we’re talking gears. Why risk losing power from the motor to the rear wheel just because your chain isn’t running smoothly? A clean and well oiled drivetrain is essential. Pat the chain with a dry cloth after every ride and lightly oil it.
7. Optimal cadence
As mentioned, cadence is crucial. Most motors are at their most efficient with around 75 pedal strokes per minute. The fewer pedal strokes and slower the cadence, the earlier your ride will come to an end. If this occurs, you’ll have to adjust your cadence to suit the cadence zones set by the motor manufacturer so that you end up with the maximum efficiency.
8. Eyes up. Pick your lines
Looking ahead and anticipating hits on the trail isn’t just important for your safety, but also for the range. Learn to pick your lines and avoid hitting every single root and rock. It’ll take time to learn how to read the terrain like a pro, but as a rule try and keep your gaze fixed down the trail, not at your front wheel.
9. Hit the corners at speed
You expend less energy exiting corners if you hit the corners at speed and on the right line, which will save battery power in the long run.
10. A circular pedal stroke
Driving with your foot intermittently on the gas is a waste of fuel. The same applies to E-MTBs. A more consistent and circular pedal stroke with even pressure throughout will transfer a balanced signal to the motor and save energy.
11. Less weight, more range
The total system weight, which consists of the E-MTB, all the components and the rider, plays a major role in the range. One easy way to reduce weight is to take a critical trawl through your riding backpack – what do you really need for the day’s ride? We wouldn’t recommend shedding grams on the actual bike, but what about yourself?
However, here’s the best news: e-mountain biking keeps you fit so your range will increase as your own physical condition improves. Have a great ride!
Words & Photos: Christoph Bayer