How Does the Regenerative Braking System Help Increase an Electric Bike’s Range

If you tend to travel across town for work, school, or to meet up with friends, you need to invest in an electric bike.

Not only will it allow high-speed travel, but your reduced dependency on a gasoline-powered car or public transport will lead to a massive reduction in your carbon footprint.

Although many inexperienced riders are skeptical about an electric bike’s range, there are always ways to reduce battery consumption to keep the traveling range high.

One such way that not only reduces the battery’s energy loss but also helps increase an electric bike’s battery charge is called the regenerative braking system.

Which Electric Bikes Come with the Regenerative Braking System?

Although a brand-new electric bike may sport a high price tag in the USA, its multiple benefits and modern features make the purchase price completely worth it, especially in the long run.

People who have invested in an electric bike benefit greatly from its futuristic technology, eco-friendly mode of running, and high speed.

However, just like different car brands and models come with their own set of unique features that help set them apart from the competition, many modern electric bikes also come with a highly modernized and unique feature called the regenerative braking system.

Since increasing an electric bike’s range without increasing the size and weight of its lithium-ion battery is every electric bike manufacturer’s goal, the invention of the regenerative braking system is truly a breakthrough in electric bike technology.

Not only does the regenerative braking system minimize an electric battery’s energy loss, but it also helps reconvert any wasted energy back to chemical energy, which can be restored in the electric bike’s lithium-ion battery.

All the rider has to do is press the brake of their electric bike to activate the regenerative braking system into action.

If this is your first time investing in an electric bike, you need to ensure you purchase an e-bike that comes with a pre-installed regenerative braking system.

Many of the newly designed and manufactured electric bikes do come with a regenerative braking system; however, it is still better to check before you buy the electric bike so there are no regrets later.

Some of the electric bike brands and models that come with a built-in regenerative braking system are as follows:

  • RadCity4
  • Cooper Electric Bikes
  • RadWagon4
  • Stromer St1
  • Brompton Electric Bikes
  • Turbo Creo SL Expert
  • Turbo Como SL 4.0
  • The Stealth F-37
  • The Stealth B-52
  • The Stealth H-52

Although the list of electric bike models and brands with regenerative braking systems is much longer, this modernized feature is still a rarity in the electric bike industry.

Moreover, only new (and usually, the more expensive) electric bikes come with this built-in braking system.

However, if your electric bike does not come with a pre-installed regenerative braking system, fortunately, there is a way to have this braking system installed on your own.

Although the regenerative braking system you purchase separately will not be cheap, it is still an addition you must not pass on due to its fantastic benefits.

Continue reading the article to learn in greater detail about the regenerative braking system and how it helps an electric bike increase its battery’s range while reducing overall energy loss.

Moreover, the article highlights the importance and value of the regenerative braking system, along with shedding light on additional tips that one can follow to reduce overall battery usage and energy loss to keep the traveling range high.

Furthermore, the article also elaborates on why not many electric bikes come with a built-in regenerative braking system, especially in the USA.

Let’s get started!

What is the Regenerative Braking System?

In the 2000s, Toyota was the first to invent and introduce the groundbreaking regenerative braking system or regen brakes in its hybrid vehicle, the Prius.

Soon enough, the global popularity and demand for this braking system grew, which led to several other brands introducing it in their electric vehicles. 

Although the regenerative braking system is extremely common in the electric car industry, it is still seen as a rarity and an extremely special feature in the electric bike community.

However, electric bikes that do come with this highly innovative braking system are seen as superior and preferable to all other kinds of electric bikes.

The traditional braking system used in older or simpler electric cars and bikes uses the hydraulic pressure system, which clamps the brake pads onto the vehicle’s steel disk rotors to reduce the rotation of the vehicle’s wheels.

Moreover, the harder the pressure systems clamp the brake pads, the higher the drop in an electric vehicle’s speed. If the driver or rider keeps exerting pressure, the vehicle will eventually slow down and come to a full stop.

Due to this process, friction converts the rotating wheel’s stored kinetic energy into heat energy. This heat energy is released into the atmosphere as a wasted byproduct of the process.

Eventually, the more the electric bike’s rider presses on the brake pedal, the more stored kinetic energy will be wasted as heat energy.

As a result, the bike will endure more energy loss and the battery’s range will drop. However, this is where the regenerative braking system is designed to play an extremely vital role.

If an electric bike comes with a built-in regenerative braking system, all the rider has to do to activate this system is press the electric bike’s brakes.

As soon as the regenerative braking system starts operating, it begins to siphon some of the heat produced by the brakes and begins converting it into chemical energy to recharge the battery.

How Does the Regenerative Braking System Increase the Battery’s Range While Reducing Energy Loss?

The newly produced electric energy does not get wasted in the external environment and is instead fed back to the electric bike’s main lithium-ion battery.

As the electric energy passes through the traction battery’s cells, it gets converted into chemical energy for storage.

Hence as more chemical energy is returned to an electric bike’s lithium-ion battery, its overall battery charge increases.

As a result, due to the use of the regenerative braking system, the battery’s range also goes up, and the electric bike rider can cover a greater distance on a single battery charge while also being able to hit higher top speeds.

What Are the Benefits of the Regenerative Braking System in an Electric Bike?

Many electric vehicle experts call the regenerative braking system a major breakthrough in the electric automobile industry.

Some of the benefits offered by the installation of the regenerative braking system are as follows:

  • An electric bike has no real value without a fully charged battery. While an electric bike’s battery is big enough to allow commutes of up to 50 to 100 miles on a single charge, it is still possible for the rider to run out of charge during a trip.
  • Hence, if your electric bike is equipped with a regenerative braking system, simple riding can help restore some of the charging back to the battery.
  • As a result, you will be able to travel longer distances without worrying about locating an EV charging station.
  • Moreover, if your electric bike has a built-in regenerative braking system, you will have to recharge your battery less frequently.
  • Not only will this benefit the battery’s health and longevity, but it will also help reduce your average and annual battery recharging costs.
  • Furthermore, for people who heavily depend on their electric bikes for traveling and who have to travel within a strict time limit, the depleting battery charge can cause a lot of range anxiety.
  • However, if the electric bike is equipped with a regenerative braking system, the battery charge will increase while pedaling, which means the rider in the US won’t have to worry about their battery’s range dropping too much.

Additional Tips to Reduce the Overall Battery Usage and Energy Loss of an Electric Bike

Whether or not your electric bike comes with a regenerative braking system, there are still many other ways to keep your battery’s range and reduce energy loss.

Some of these tips are as follows:

  • Always leave your home with a fully charged electric bike battery.
  • However, this does not mean you overcharge the battery, which can permanently damage the battery’s range, capacity, and lifespan.
  • Refrain from frequently riding your electric bike at the highest level of pedal assistance, and try to put in as much physical effort as possible.
  • Physical pedaling will be an excellent form of cardio workout and help your battery charge when you need it the most.
  • Ensure that your electric bike’s battery is not exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Refrain from deliberately riding your electric bike on rough and sloped surfaces.
  • The tip to ensure this is to check online maps for alternative routes before hitting the road.
  • Refrain from riding your electric bike on worn-out, damaged, and poorly inflated tires.
  • Never delay battery repairs and visit the electric bike repair shop as soon as you notice a drop in the electric bike’s range.
  • Refrain from using public EV charging stations for charging your electric bike.
  • Since these stations are usually designed and installed for larger electric car batteries, the high amperage can damage an electric bike’s small battery.
  • Instead, try to use the manufacturer-provided charging cord as often as you can and use the public stations only in cases of emergencies.

Why is the Regenerative Braking System Still a Rarity in the Electric Bike Industry?

As explained above, the regenerative braking system is an excellent mechanism for increasing an electric bike’s battery range and reducing overall energy loss.

However, not many electric bike brands in the USA incorporate this system into their e-bikes. At least, not yet in a more commercial setting.

Why is that?

One of the main reasons behind the regenerative braking system being a rarity in the electric bike industry is that this system requires a special kind of motor called the Direct Drive Motor, which is rarely ever seen in basic electric bikes.

Direct Drive Motors are significantly heavier than regular electric motors, and hence they add to the electric bike’s overall curb weight.

Since an electric bike is already much heavier than a traditional bike, the Direct Drive Motor’s added weight results in a greater battery charge being used up to cover the same distance.

Moreover, another disadvantage of the Direct Drive Motor is that it limits an electric bike’s freewheeling mechanism.

This means that while a simple electric bike that lacks the regenerative braking system can be pedaled like a regular bike once its battery has run out of charge, the same cannot be done with an electric bike that comes with the regen brakes.

Instead, once the battery has completely discharged, the rider will have to push and pedal against the resistance of the electric motor.

This can be extremely tiring and may make getting to the destination almost impossible for someone who does not have a lot of leg strength.

Furthermore, although the regenerative braking system helps convert the wheel’s stored kinetic energy to electric energy, as the electric energy is reintroduced to the electric bike’s battery, a lot of heat is produced.

Since lithium-ion batteries are extremely temperature sensitive, the heat produced within the cells damages the battery’s components.

As a result, the overheated battery begins to permanently lose some of its charge-storing capacity, traveling range, and expected lifespan.

Lastly, although the regenerative braking system increases the electric battery’s charging, the add-back is usually just 5%.

Although this does allow the rider to cover a greater distance on a single battery charger, according to some electric bike manufacturers, the benefit offered is not too significant.

Hence, for these reasons, not all electric bike brands and manufacturers are interested in installing Direct Drive Motors and regenerative braking systems into their electric bikes.

Electric Bikes Come with a Regenerative Braking System
Electric Bikes Come with a Regenerative Braking System

Final Thoughts

For someone who rides their electric bike a lot to get to work or school, the regenerative braking system is an absolute must.

Not only does it help restore the electric battery’s level to boost the electric bike’s range, it also helps reduce the average electric bike recharging costs.

However, if your electric bike does not come with the pre-installed regenerative braking system, installing it into your electric bike perhaps may not be the best idea.

Not only will you have to buy a new motor, but your electric bike’s body may also not be designed to adapt to this new braking technology.

Instead, you can work on reducing your battery usage by pedaling more, riding on properly inflated tires, and charging the battery using the manufacturer-provided charging cable.

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