This new addition to Currie Technologies line-up hit the market a ways back. I have been wanting to get one to see if it is a good up-grade for our eZip E-bikes. I knew if it worked well, it could eliminate some of the drawbacks of this inexpensive bike. I took delivery of my NewLife battery a few days ago, and this is what I found.
Most every electric bike on the market offers one of the several types of lithium batteries as its power source. It is a very efficient and light-weight battery for E-bike use. The battery in the NewLife is the LiFeP04 (lithium-ion phosphate) style. This is one of the more popular lithium batteries for the E-bike manufactures. A definite improvement over the supplied SLA (sealed lead acid) that comes with the eZips from the factory.
So what are the reasons you would want this more expensive battery? They are, better power delivery, lighter weight, lack of leakage, and lack of damage when left not fully charged. Let me explain each one of these qualities in a little more detail. They are all very important to the owner of a Currie RMB (rack mounted battery) E-bike.
A lithium battery is known to give a more constant delivery of power as it discharges. That allows the user better power and torque from the motor as the ride continues. This is a great quality, but not the number one reason to have one. It is nice though, to have this feature on your bike. In testing this battery, I found this was quite noticeable as my ride continued.
The much lighter weight of this NewLife up-grade makes a very obvious difference in the agility of your bike. And if you use up the power and have to pedal with no motor assist to your destination, the lighter weight makes for a big plus. Also, when removed from the bike, to take the battery inside for charging, it is almost feather like. On my (not so precise) scale, the SLA battery is about 15 lbs. The NewLife is closer to 4 lbs. If you ride with two batteries to get maximum range, you are removing about 22 lbs. of dead weight. That is more than the total weight of some complete bicycles.
The SLA battery that comes with the eZips is basically two motorcycle batteries inside the plastic casing. It also has a fuse and the needed wiring tucked in there. One battery is right-side up, while the other is not. Even though the liquid acid is sealed in each battery housing, the chance of leakage is always present. During charging, the pressure inside the battery builds. Normally, the battery housing will retain the acid, but as time goes by, or with the bad luck of a poorly made battery, it can leak out. The sulfuric acid is quite caustic and dangerous.
The first of the three leaking batteries I had, was not noticed as quickly as it should have been. It burned off a little paint on my frame, and corroded the freewheel gear. After that first experience with a leaking battery, I have been much more conscience of the problem. My wife and I have four batteries for our two bikes, that adds up to a total of eight batteries that could fail. I keep a closer eye on them for any signs of moisture or leakage now.
The final thing I want to avoid is one of the bad characteristics of a SLA battery. If you do not start the charging process immediately after use, the internals of the battery will start to deteriorate. This shortens the life many times over. When used for commuting, this wasn’t that big of an issue. We would make the ride, and then get the batteries on the charger right away. But what if you are on a fun ride and you aren’t near an electrical outlet while you are stopped for an extended time? You got it, the battery life starts going away. A lithium battery is not subject to this problem. It is able to sit in any state of charge with no damage. It is recommended not to store it fully charged for an extended time.
The NewLife battery comes with the correct charger. Both units work together with some solid-state components to protect them. This circuitry will protect the battery from over charging. They will also protect it from over discharging. These are both very important features that make a lithium battery safe for use. It includes a short-circuit protector that appears to be a fuse like the SLA batteries use. I installed a self-resetting circuit breaker in a couple of our SLA batteries. I hope that is what is in my NewLife battery.
Even though it is not mentioned in the paper work that came with this battery, there is a certain procedure to follow when recharging any lithium E-bike battery. You want to plug the charger into the battery first. This allows both of the circuits to communicate with each other before you plug the charger into the wall outlet. Then wait for 5-20 seconds before you plug the charger into the wall. And for the same reason, when the charge is completed, unplug the charger from the wall, and wait for a short time before taking the plug out of the battery. This will protect the battery and charger from voltage spikes that could shorten their life’s.
Let’s talk performance. I took several rides with my new battery. Other than the lighter feel of the ride, I couldn’t really tell any difference. I didn’t run the battery all way to empty. It is a good idea to not run it all the way down every time you use it. I did notice there was still plenty of power as the battery was closer to empty. I also noticed it was a tighter fit in the rack then my three (plus) year old batteries. In fact, a very tight fit. It should loosen up as it is installed many times, but I think I might sandpaper the plastic housing where it contacts the rack’s rails a little, so it slides in and out easier. I will be careful not to overdo it.
I am so glad to have this new addition to our eZips. I plan on ordering at least one more, and maybe more than that. The range of this new battery was much more than our old batteries. With two NewLife batteries on each bike, we should be able to make longer rides than ever before. This is a must have up-grade for any eZip or IZIP bike with the RMB system. The factory should have included these on our bikes, but they weren’t available when we purchased our bikes.
You can see the full line of Currie Technologies’ products on their website. They offer many different bikes and some conversion kits. Also, if you haven’t read my multi-part article on our eZips, you might consider doing so. You don’t have to spend a bundle to be part of the electric-motored bicycle crowd. One way or the other–ride a bike. See you on the bike path, Turbo Bob.
“So ardent a cyclist must be full of good health.”—Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist.