Regenerating Braking or commonly referred to “Regen Braking” and is most likely to be seen on battery powered vehicles such as electric cars and requires a direct drive motor. It means the electric motor fitted in your vehicle will slow you down while braking and generate electricity which is then supplied to the battery thus increasing your total battery backup and range.
The Regen braking system provided in the electric bike is not as efficient than the one which is provided in an electric car or some other vehicle. It seems very great on paper and you might think it’s very cool to have it in your electric bike but the reality can be a little different and today we are going to talk about just that.
So, in this article, we are going to find out what regenerating braking really does for your electric bike. There are already a ton of information out there which makes it very difficult to find out which one is true but don’t worry because you have visited the right place. Keep on reading to find out the history behind the regenerating brakes and how does it for your vehicle.
Why braking waste energy?
It is very obvious to know that braking wastes a lot of energy.Take a look Every time you ride a bike, once you apply the brake it’s a huge waste of energy. You have to pedal hard and keep going to gain momentum and every time you apply the brake the energy becomes zero. The bike stops and you lose all your momentum which you have gained by pedaling. When you want to move you have to start pedaling and do everything all over again.
Where the energy is lost? Well, the answer is the air. every time you hit the brake while riding on an electric bike, the rubber pads touch the wheel and create friction between the rubber and metal. This converts the energy you have gained into heat which then disappears into the air. You can also try putting your hand somewhere near the rubber pad and you will get to know.
This heat can be much bigger when it comes to cars. It does not waste any physical energy because it runs on fuel. The heat energy loss can be huge sometimes although we cannot see or test it as it is hidden somewhere out of our site, according to the manufacturer a formula 1 race car brake heats up to 1000°C.
Now let’s check out what is regenerating braking and how does it make the brakes better.
What is Regenerating Braking System?
The Regen braking system was first patented by Martin Kubieschky back in 1092. He was based out of Berlin, Germany and he wanted to save 40% of the actual power consumption. The very first Regen brake was integrated into a Car and it was demonstrated in a Salon Du Cycle Show in Paris back in 1897. The implementation was same just like a modernday regen brake but at that time it was claimed to save around 30% of the actual energy consumption which is actually 3 times than a modernday regen brake.
Regenerating braking system is usually found in electric vehicles. Vehicles such as electric trains, cars, and some other vehicles like an electric bike. Here, the electric motor is connected to a battery. When you drive the energy stored in the batteries flows to the motor which then turns the wheel.This converts into kinetic energy and makes the vehicle move.
When your vehicle has Regeneration brakes and you hit the brake, the process is kind of different here. What happens here is the system cuts the power to the motor, your wheels which are already into momentum turns the motor instead. The motor then works as a generator and starts producing some electricity. The created energy then transferred to the batteries from the motor so they charge up. This makes sure that some of the energy which you have lost is then produced back by braking and then returned to the batteries so you can use them again.
Efficiency, Wear and Drag.
As you know it all depends on how you actually ride the vehicle. It also depends upon the environment you are riding, how often do you hit the brake and most importantly how hard do you hit the brake. So, estimating the efficiency rate on regeneration brake is not accurate. Still, if you are curious to know then it adds up to 5% to 20% efficiency and you may get 5 to 10% extra distance range on every battery charge for an Electric Bike.
The Drag here also decreases the efficiency a little bit. It is so small that the positive effect of the efficiency of the Regen brake outperforms the very small negative effect caused by the drag. The drag is created even when the brake is not in use because of the motor which is always turning. One more advantage of the Regen brake is it can reduce the wear of your brake by a huge margin. It also keeps your brake from getting hot when riding down the hill.
Regenerating brakes in electric bike.
A lot of electric bikes out there in the market comes with the Regenerative braking feature. The feature doesn’t actually do a much of a difference as it sounds like and when comparing it to another vehicle which comes with the same feature. It is mostly seen on bikes which are gear less and comes with a direct drive motor. The motor on those bikes has a series of magnets covering the outer ring. When the energy passes through, the magnets spin the wheel and that’s how it works.
The most important factor is the combined weight of your bike and you. The weight is not a lot and because of that, the regenerating brakes don’t do a lot even you are riding down the hill. The one area where it can be useful is saving your brake rubber pads. Usually, the rubber pads wear after a long use so Regen breaks in addition to the motor which helps you stop. The Regen brakes also come with some problems with it. It creates some amount of heat while charging and also while you are riding down the hill and use the brake, the energy which goes back to the battery creates some of the heat within the battery.
So, whenever you see an electric bike featuring a Regen brake then don’t take it into consideration that much, it can help you save energy like 1% to 5% which is not a lot and it’s just going to help save your brake rubber pads. Let us say you ride around 20 miles per hour so it will only give you back 5% of its which is 1 Mile.
Another thing you have to keep in mind that the heat generated is not so good for the lithiumion batteries fitted in the Electric bikes. It may affect the overall life cycle of the battery so it’s not good either.
How does Regenerating Brakes feel?
Let’s talk about the feeling which rider gets when he has a regeneration braking system installed on his electric bike. We are generally talking about the sensation he gets after he applies the brake.
On the regular bike once you hit the break, you a get quite a heavy and rough impact which sometimes pulls yours toward the back. On the other hand, A regen brake on an ebike doesn’t have any kind of impact, it goes smooth instead.
Regenerating brakes in some other vehicles.
Electric Cars Regen brakes are widely used in Electric cars. In an Electric car the Regen brakes are very efficient, almost double that of an Electric bike. It charges the battery and extends the overall distance range it can cover.
Electric Trains Electric trains which are powered by the power line running alongside the tracks works in a completely different way. It doesn’t send the energy back to the batteries, instead, it sends the energy back to the power line. Regen brakes in electric trains are also very effective. it saves around 20% of the total energy used.
Elevators Yes! you heard it right. Elevators also come with Regen Brakes. The first elevator with a Regen brake was introduced by the company Otis back in 2011 and they claim to save around 75% of the energy used which is a huge number. The system here sends back the energy to the building power system.
So, does regenerative brakes works in an electric bike? Yes, it does but one thing which is common in regenerative braking system is that they help us save some energy. The extra energy can be used to extend the actual riding distance.
When it comes to buying best electric bikes with Regenerative Brake, you can take this as a grain of salt because the energy saved is very less and it is completely a marketing gimmick. Though it helps you extend your ride by a little bit but if it’s costing you a lot more then you can simply ignore it as it is not as important as in other vehicles.