Electric bikes are everywhere. Just yesterday I was walking up a mountain in Scotland, and was passed by a constant stream of electric mountain bikes.
Gravity meant nothing to those riders!
Whilst battery life and performance are important, another important consideration is electric bike weight limits.
Typically, eBike weight limits are between roughly 220 to 300 pounds (100 to 136 kg). You can normally find the total weight limit for a specific model on the manufacturer website – but there’s a bit more to unpack when it comes the electric bike weight limits than that.
In this article, we’ll be covering how to find eBike weight limits, what happens if you exceed them, and give you some tips on how to choose an electric bike for heavier riders.
What Is A Typical Electric Bike Weight Limit – And Why Do They Have A Limit?
There is no single answer for the electric bike weight limit for all eBike models.
Electric mountain bikes and touring bikes tend to have higher weight limits than electric commuter or road bikes, just like their mechanical equivalents, while cargo eBikes can have even greater weight limits.
The weight capacity of an electric bicycle is governed by many factors.
Some of these are exactly the same as you would expect for a normal, mechanical bike such as the bike frame design and composition (aluminum, steel, or carbon), the efficiency of the brakes, and the robustness of the wheel’s rims, spokes, and tires.
But unlike mechanical bikes, electric bikes also have to think about the battery capacity and pedal assist motor and the effect that extra weight will have on their performance.
Too much weight and all the added benefits of having a motor go out the window, as the performance and range would drop significantly.
Weight limits for electric bikes tend to be in the range of 220 to 300 pounds (100 to 136 kg) although this range can vary quite considerably depending on the type of eBike and between manufacturers.
Electric cargo bikes, that is bikes that are specifically designed and built to carry loads are capable of shifting around 550 pounds (250 kg).
The latest electric road bike from Scott, the Addict eRide Premium, has a total combined weight limit of 265 pounds (120kg).
The bike itself weighs a paltry 25 pounds (11.5 kg), comparable to conventional road bikes, so that means that it can safely carry a total load of 240 pounds (108.5 kg) comprising of the weight of the rider and any luggage.
At the more gnarly end of the market, the top-of-the-range Focus Jam2 SL 9.9 electric mountain bike has a weight limit of 298 pounds (135 kg).
With the bike tipping the scales at 42 pounds (19.2 kg) this leaves around an extra 256 pounds (116kg) of total load, again made up of the rider and any cargo.
This just goes to show that there is not much difference in cargo-carrying capability between electric road and mountain bikes. The lower frame weight of the electric road bikes compensates for the overall lower weight limit.
As you move away from performance-inclined electric bikes towards those specifically built for lugging cargo, the weight limits improve dramatically as you would expect.
These cargo eBikes are allowing people to ditch their cars altogether and even the United Parcel Service (UPS) has started to use them to deliver goods to places where cars can’t go. It is hard to imagine a more perfect marriage than electric motors and cargo bikes.
Take a look at the Specialized Globe Haul ST for example. It can haul around 419 pounds (190 kg) of cargo (including the rider) whilst still being a fun and responsive ride.
Carrying Loads – What To Look For In An Electric Bike
It is not just the overall weight limits that you need to look at it if you want an electric bike that can heave an entire week’s worth of grocery shopping.
Electric cargo bikes are a perfect heavy-duty option if you want to ditch the car and they tend to come in two varieties; longtail cargo bikes where the cargo (or passengers) is transported on an extended tail or a front loader that puts the load out in front of the rider on a low platform.
Longtail cargo bikes tend to be a bit more agile than front loaders.
Electric cargo bikes tend to have wider handlebars and a longer wheelbase compared to electric road and mountain bikes to give extra stability when carrying a heavy load.
Although great for carrying cargo, the longer wheelbase can make it difficult to park and store the bike so it can be worth finding a compromise in this area.
Electric cargo bikes also tend to have smaller and wider wheels. The higher volume tires help to smooth out the ride in the absence of suspension and the small wheel makes it easier to step through the frame when mounting the bike.
Since they already look quirky, electric cargo bikes don’t need to go to any bother in hiding the battery and motor.
This gives scope for larger batteries since they don’t have to be placed inconspicuously in the frame as is the case on many modern electric road and mountain bikes.
The Specialized Globe Haul ST provides a stated range of 60 miles on a fully charged battery, more than enough for running errands.
Electric Bike Weight Limit And Battery Life
It should be clear that the more weight on the bike – rider weight plus bike weight plus any cargo weight – the more demand on the battery.
A bit of simple math here can help to illustrate this.
Let’s assume a typical rider weighs around 200 pounds (just over 90kg) and a total bike weight of around 66 pounds (30kg) and is climbing up a hill with a 10% gradient at 12mph.
This works out at a required power of approximately 632 Watts, drawing a current of around 13 Amps from a 48V battery.
Whilst the battery will be able to handle these sorts of loads, a typical 15 Ah battery will last just over an hour with this stress. Adding 10 kg of cargo will pull an extra 1.25 Amps of current and will reduce the battery life further, as well as the acceleration and top speed.
How to find the weight limit for Electric Bikes
It is important to know the weight limit of any electric bike before you start loading it with cargo.
Exceeding the weight limit will seriously degrade the performance of the electric motor and battery, potentially leaving you stranded with no power assistance many miles from home, and could even damage the frame or components.
Electric bike manufacturers will state the maximum weight limit in their specifications online or in the owner’s manual. Always check if this maximum safe weight limit includes the weight of the bike and components.
If it does, and it is usually the case, you will need to subtract this from the maximum weight limit to find how much extra load the bike can take in terms of rider weight plus cargo weight.
Although more common when discussing cars, I have seen some cargo bikes listed as having a “curb weight”. This is just the weight of the bike when it does not have any passengers or luggage.
How To Choose An Electric Bike For Heavier Riders
If you’re on the heavier side and you want to get into cycling, this is where electric bikes come into their own.
They can help take some of the strain as you build up the power and lose the extra weight. The extra wattage from the motor will keep you motivated and want to keep getting out.
As long as you are within the maximum weight limit specified (and remember this will include your body weight plus any equipment) then there is no issue.
If you are still concerned then look for an eBike with a strong frame, one made of aluminum or steel compared to modern lightweight carbon fiber.
Wider tires – such as those on fat tire eBikes – allowing a lower running pressure, will help to absorb the bumps in the road and make for a more comfortable ride for heavier cyclists.
Mid-drive motors are also likely to be better able to take the extra strain of a larger rider than hub motors, though this is more a trend than a rule. Dual battery eBikes are also likely to cope better with heavy riders thanks to the extra capacity.
What Happens If You Exceed The Weight Limit on an Electric Bike
Exceeding the weight limit of an electric bike has the potential to compromise both safety and performance. The weight limit specified by the manufacturer is usually determined based on the design and structural integrity of the bike.
Here are some issues that could come up if you exceed the manufacturer’s weight limit:
- Excessive weight could put more stress on the frame than it can take, causing it to bend or crack.
- You’ll put additional strain on the motor and battery, potentially reducing their range and lifespan. The motor may have to work harder to propel the extra weight, leading to increased heat generation and wear.
- Braking systems on electric bikes are designed to handle a certain weight. Going above that could increase stopping distances and reduce overall safety.
- Going over the limit can accelerate tire wear and increase the risk of punctures or blowouts.
- Going above the weight limit will negatively impact the bike’s handling and stability. This can be dangerous, especially while cornering with high weights or high speeds.
- Most importantly, exceeding the weight limit may void the manufacturer’s warranty. If any components fail due to overloading, you may be responsible for repair or replacement costs, and you’re unlikely to be covered if you injure yourself.
Obviously it’s up to you whether you ahere to the weight limit of an eBike, and it’s true that manufacturers likely err very much on the side of caution to protect themselves legally, but even so, we’d still recommend you follow the official guidelines to stay safe and ensure you’re covered in case of an accident.
Now You Know About Electric Bike Weight Limits…
Just like mechanical bikes, electric bike manufacturers also specify a weight limit. Not only will this take into consideration the frame design and composition but also the battery and motor specifications.
As always, if you are planning to carry a bunch of cargo out into the wild on your electric bike then make sure you take it for a quick local test ride to make sure you can still handle the bike.
There is no doubt that as battery technology matures, electric bikes will become lighter giving more scope for carrying cargo.
We would love to know your experience of eBike weight limit and how you work around it to carry your loads!