There’s a lot to consider when picking out a new electric bicycle (e-bike) for your riding pleasure.
Beyond considerations like motor mounting position or power, there’s also the question of what kind of battery you want: integrated or carrier.
An integrated battery is kept conveniently out of the way, but will you be able to replace it when it eventually goes dead?
Well, keep reading, because we were wondering the same thing, and in this article, we aim to find out!
Here’s How Integrated Batteries Work In Electric Bikes:
E-bikes come with integrated and carrier battery options. Carrier batteries clip to the frame and are easily removed. Integrated batteries are positioned inside the bike frame. Some integrated batteries are easily removed, with access built into the frame. Others are much more difficult to remove.
Are There Electric Bikes Where You Cannot Replace the Battery?
In theory, you should be able to remove the battery from any e-bike.
However, in practice, some are much, much more difficult to access than others.
E-bikes built with “carrier batteries” are the easiest to remove, as the battery simply clips onto the frame and can be removed and replaced easily.
Integrated batteries, however, are built into the frame of the bike itself.
This has the advantage of keeping the battery out of the way, so you have room for a bike bag or other accessories; a carrier-style battery would get in the way.
However, this can have the disadvantage of making it difficult to access the battery when you want to remove or replace it.
For example, the e-bike company Gazelle Bikes designs all their batteries to be easily removed.
Gazelle offers bikes with both carrier and integrated battery styles, but even the integrated batteries are built with easy access in mind.
On a Gazelle bike, accessing an integrated battery should be as simple as unlocking a panel that opens up to reveal the battery inside.
This feature is not unique to Gazelle bikes, and other manufacturers also feature easily-accessed integrated batteries, but not all.
In some cases, you might find no obvious means of accessing an integrated e-bike battery.
With some bikes, you might find that you practically have to disassemble the entire bicycle to get at the battery, and you may not have the necessary expertise to do so.
Please read our article about 15 electric bikes with Bosch motors.
How Long Should You Expect Integrated Batteries to Last?
This is a simple question with a complicated answer, owing to the large variety of battery types that exist.
The most common, and arguably best-choice, battery style for e-bikes is lithium-ion. This is an extremely popular style of battery in the modern world for all kinds of devices.
However, lead-acid e-bike batteries also exist, as well as various permutations of lithium- and nickel-composites.
That being said, we’re going to focus on lithium-ion batteries for this analysis, as there would be too many variables otherwise.
Besides this, we recommend looking for a lithium-ion battery in any case; while alternatives may sometimes be cheaper, you will get the best versatility and performance from lithium-ion.
Notably, all bikes available from Gazelle feature lithium-ion batteries.
E-bike batteries are generally rated in “charge cycles,” which indicates the number of times the battery can be charged from empty to full before it begins to degrade.
Lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries tend to be rated anywhere from 400-1000+ charge cycles.
It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t the maximum lifespan; it’s just how long the battery is expected to maintain its original maximum capacity.
To illustrate this, imagine a hypothetical 500W li-ion battery, rated at 500 charge cycles.
Now imagine this battery is depleted and recharged 500 times; what happens next?
Well, the battery should still be functional. But, at this point, it no longer maintains its original maximum capacity, and can probably only store 60-80% of the energy it used to be able to.
You could keep using the battery after this point, and it would still work, but the longer you used it, the more it would gradually degrade.
Eventually, the battery will reach a point where it cannot store enough energy to be useful.
When you account for the average e-bike rider’s usage rate, 400-1000 charge cycles roughly translates to 3-5 years of optimal to near-optimal use.
To get the most use out of your battery, proper care and maintenance are required; this will extend the projected lifespan of your battery.
For instance, it is recommended that when you first get your new battery, you charge it 100%, but only that first time.
From then on, to maximize lifespan, keep your battery’s charge between 20% and 80%.
Can You Replace an Integrated Battery Yourself?
That depends entirely on the model of the e-bike you have, and whether the manufacturer designed it with easy access in mind.
If you’re riding a Gazelle bike or another bike made with easy access in mind, then you should have no problem.
However, some integrated bike batteries will be nearly inaccessible to the home user and will require professional help to access them.
Please also check out our article about things to consider when buying a used electric bike.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace the Battery?
Unfortunately, replacing a high-quality li-ion battery will cost you a pretty penny.
The battery is usually the single most expensive component in your e-bike, so replacing it can cost almost—but not quite—as much as getting a brand-new bike.
To be more precise, they tend to range from $150 to $300.
So by all means, do everything you can to extend the battery’s lifespan; it could save you quite a bit of money!