After nearly nine months and 15,432 kilometres of full-time e-bike cycle touring across 13 countries there is one question we get asked more often than any other, “how and where do you charge your Bosch e-bike batteries every day”?
Given that our Haibike Trekking xDuro e-bikes are no more than extremely heavy bicycles without the benefit of battery power – a fact made all the more real by the fact that we are also towing Tout Terrain trailers packed with 40-plus kilograms of gear – the need to find a mains power outlet to charge our four batteries on a daily basis has been, to say the least, vital.
In other words the equation is: no battery power = no kilometres cycled!
Unlike past self-supported long distance cycle tours Gary completed on a traditional non-electric Trek 520 touring bike, wild camping on a nightly basis as we cycle to a new world e-bike long distance record is unfortunately not an option.
So it has been campgrounds, friendly farmers, coffee shops, some of the many new friends we have met along the way and – in Germany, Holland and Belgium at least – e-bike charging stations scattered along some of the many cycle tracks we have used.
On a daily basis we continually monitor our battery usage to ensure we have enough power to reach our planned destination for the day.
This has meant that in places such as Cumbria and Devon in England, Wales, Ireland and the Alsace region of France limiting the kilometres we cycle each day to 60 or 70 due the constant drain on our batteries from having to climb unrelenting hills.
But in places such as Holland, along the Loire River in France and Rhine River in Germany where the terrain has been completely flat, we regularly cycle well in excess of 100kms each day before needing to find a suitable campground to charge our batteries at the end of the day.
So clearly after having to monitor our battery usage so closely for so many months we have, we believe, become experts at judging the range our batteries should achieve depending on the terrain being cycled.
Was a Battery Problem the Cause of a Drop in Kilometres Achieved?
So when we started to notice that two of the batteries were achieving less kilometres on a daily basis than the other two batteries, the obvious thought was that they were faulty.
But if we did have two faulty batteries why did they start playing up at the same time and why did they both consistently achieve the same lesser number of kilometres every day?
These were clearly questions we did not have answers to, but after reading various posts on e-bike forums, blogs and from discussions with other e-bike owners it seemed that we were just “unlucky” to have two batteries that were for whatever reason faulty.
No problem, we thought, wait until we are back in London and get our sponsor Martin Brown from e-bikeshop.co.uk to check both batteries out, confirm our findings and, maybe, replace them.
But, you guessed it, both batteries when they were checked out in the e-bike shop workshop failed to throw up any error codes and for all intents and purposes were in perfect working order.
Confused, we continued on to Portugal where we have now cycled another 3500kms while continuing to monitor the performance of all four of our batteries – surely no e-bike batteries anywhere in the world have been the subject of such close attention over so many kilometres on a daily basis.
And the conclusion? As was determined in the e-bikeshop.co.uk workshop there is nothing wrong with the charge carried in any of the four batteries, but there IS a problem with one of the battery chargers.
Consistently the faulty charger provides 15 to 20kms less range – no matter what battery it is used on – than the second charger, a fact we have proven time and time again.
With the answer to our ongoing riddle finally solved a new replacement charger has been ordered from e-bikeshop.co.uk that should hopefully arrive in the next week or so.
The moral to the story for any e-bike owner who believes he or she is not getting the mileage they should from their e-bike battery is to borrow another charger for a week or so, completely discharge your battery, top it up with both chargers and cycle the same route.
You may very well be amazed at what you discover!