How Long Will an Electric Bike Last? Batteries to Brakes!

Maybe you’re thinking about buying an ebike and wondering how long with this ebike last anyway?  How long will the motor last?  How long will the battery last?  What about the breaks?  I had these same questions and wanted to find the answers.

In this article I’ll go through each major component of an ebike and drill down into what I’ve found about the longevity of these components and some tips to help keep these parts running smoothly and last longer.  These numbers are more geared toward an urban or commuter ebike user as opposed to an electric mountain bike where wear and tear on components can be different or more severe.

Here’s the condensed version of what you’ll find in this article.

  • The Battery – when talking about lithium batteries, they will typically last about 1000 charging cycles or 3-5 years before battery capacity begins to decline.
  • Motors will generally last longer than most of the other ebike components, however proper care and maintenance will help with the longevity of electric motors.  
  • Normal wear and tear on quality tires will result in 1,000 – 3,000 miles
  • Brakes can last quite a long time, but are dependent on a larger number of factors like weather, road conditions, riding style, quality of components, etc. Quality rim brakes can last up to 3,000 miles (5,000 km) before needing to be replaced and disc brakes can last up to 6,000 miles (10,000 km), with normal commuting wear and tear (downhill biking will have different results!)
  • Generally, chains would need to be replaced every 2,000 – 3,000 miles but this number will likely be reduced with a mid-drive motor and more stress on the chain and sprocket. 

The cost of an electric bike doesn’t stop at the checkout counter and just like a car, there are ongoing maintenance and replacement costs to consider when using an ebike regularly for commuting or riding around town.

How long will the battery last?

The battery is probably the most common component cyclists think about when considering how long an ebike might last.  Most components will wear out proportionally to how much you use your bike (number of miles), however, batteries have the added drawback of also losing capacity simply with the passage of time even if it’s seen very little use.  So if you buy your brand new battery today and store it in your attic for a year, it won’t be quite the same battery it was when brand new.

Unfortunately, batteries in today’s ebikes are often about a third of the total cost of the bike, running about $700 +/-. Taking care of your battery properly will help extend its life.  Here are three tips for increasing the lifespan of your battery.

  1. Store your battery in a cool dry place, keep it between 59 F (15 C) and 68 F (20 C).  For longer periods, try not to store it fully charged, but between 40-80% capacity.
  2. Avoid using “ultra-fast” chargers which claim to charge batteries in less than an hour, this can put undue stress on the battery and reduce its capacity.
  3. Avoid fully discharging your battery regularly.  It is better to do more partial recharges than a charge from 0% to 100% all the time.

Check out Battery University for more information on how to prolong Lithium-based batteries.

How long do electric bike motors last?

Electric Bike motors will generally last a long time and some types of motors, like the direct drive hub motor can last upwards of 10,000 miles or more.  You’ll probably be replacing brake pads and tires multiple times, chains, cassettes, and the battery before the motor.  However, that doesn’t mean that proper care and maintenance can be ignored for your motor. Below are some tips for extending the life of the three main types of ebike motors (Direct Drive Hub, Geared Hub, and Mid-Drive).

Direct Drive Hub

A direct drive hub is a motor that is mounted on the front or back wheel and provides propulsion through magnets on the inside surface of the hub and stator windings attached to the axle.  This type of motor essentially has no moving parts except the bearings which can be a big advantage in terms of durability.

Two things that can affect the lifespan of direct drive motors is overheating and rust.  By running too much power through a direct drive hub, the motor and components can get too hot and melt, this shouldn’t be an issue with a properly calibrated motor / controller / battery setup.

Water can be an issue, especially in wetter climates and if riding in the rain.  For longer life of the bearings and other components, keeping the motor dry is important or at least drying it out after riding in wet conditions.  One interesting method for drying out a direct drive hub I’ve come across is drilling small holes in the casing to allow water and vapor to escape more easily as you ride.

Geared Hub

A geared hub motor has a motor that spins faster than a direct drive motor and this energy is transferred to the wheel by using gears to step down the higher speed of the motor into torque for starting and climbing hills.  These gears will create friction and wear, which will result in a shorter life span for a geared hub vs a direct drive hub.  The gears in the hub will eventually need to be replaced and based on this info I would estimate 3,000-10,000 miles.  For serious commuters who put a lot of miles on their ebike it may result in new gears 2-3 times over the life of the bike.

Mid-Drive

Mid-Drive motors are connected to the crank and provide power directly to the chain.  This type of motor will put more stress on the drive chain, sprokets, and derailleur system since the motor and rider are applying force to the same system and a motor is capable of sustaining much higher sustained power (250W+) versus a typical rider at 100W.  This additional stress will wear out these components faster.  Many retail mid-drive ebikes will come with upgraded chains due to these issues, but DIY or kits may not have that in the box and result in shorter chain life.

Tires

Bike tires have a very large range of life, depending on the type of tire, and can range from 1,000 – 3,000 miles (1,600 – 4,800 km), to even 4,000 miles (6,500 km) for tough touring tires. A few tips for getting the most out of your tires:

  • If you’re still in the market for new tires, consider puncture resistant tires to reduce flats (Kevlar belted or double shielded)
  • Use a tire liner between tire and tube
  • Seal any punctures that do occur with super glue or flat sealant
  • You can consider swapping front and rear tires to balance the wear since the rear tire will wear more quickly than the front

Brakes

Brakes are another component where the lifespan can vary widely based on the rider, quality of equipment / brake pad, weather conditions (rain, sand and grit can really accelerate wear on brake pads), terrain, and general care and maintenance of the bike.

Because of the added weight and speed you’ll likely have to change your brake pads more often than a regular bike under similar conditions.  High quality rim brakes can last up to 3,000 (5,000 km), where high quality metal sintered disc brake pads can last over 6,000 miles (10,000km).

Chains & Sprockets

Chains and sprockets generally wear out faster with ebikes due to higher speeds and longer distances ridden.  Generally, chains would need to be replaced every 2,000 – 3,000 miles but this number would likely be reduced with a mid-drive motor and more stress on the chain and sprocket.  Replacing your chain regularly will prolong the life of the sprocket and drive train and you can monitor your chain health by using a chain-checker.   

Sprockets should last 2-3 times longer than your chain, especially if the health of the chain is monitored regularly and replaced when needed.  Note that these numbers of very general, so your mileage will vary depending on the quality of components, the particular ebike setup, weight, speed, and type of riding.

Conclusion

Hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and info, and whether you already have an ebike, are considering buying one or still have a regular pedal bike, the best bike is the one you have and use!  So enjoy the day and get some miles in!

Riding your electric bike in winter? Check out a few more tips to consider when caring for your ebike in harsher/colder conditions.

Comments 1

  1. I got a cheap ebike in the Philippines for around 307 USD. I’ve clocked in over 1000 KM in just under 3 months and it’s doing great. All parts are working despite the harsh roads here. This is even despite having hit a myriad of potholes. My front LED headlight went out at around 400 KM but I have connected two bright lights to the 48V power supply so now I can see the potholes now.

    You’d be surprised how far these cheap Chinese ebikes can take you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *