Cowboy bikes have a sleek, modern, road-ready design that's made them one of the most popular e-bikes in Europe. And the battery that fuels each ride is one of the most interesting and important elements of the design – both for how it works, and how it helps make each ride the best it can be.
Unlike most e-bikes, Cowboy's battery is integrated into the bike's design and is removable. “It snaps into the bike, and then you turn the key and it jumps back out,” explains Brent Verhaegen, a senior Cowboy electronics engineer. “The whole docking and undocking of the battery is patented by Cowboy. It's a unique, easy, and very well-thought-out in-house design.”
That removability transforms life with your Cowboy, because it makes recharging a simple, everyday action, not a chore. For almost every other e-bike, the entire bike has to be at the recharging source because the battery is a fixed part of the chassis.
Not with Cowboy. Just pop off the lightweight battery and take it with you – up to your apartment, inside your house, your office, a friend's place, even the pub – wherever you're recharging. When you're ready to ride again, snap it in and you're off. No more lugging a bike inside, upstairs, down hallways. No more extension cords out the window and down to the street. No more hassle.
A short 3.5 hours later, an empty battery is fully charged and you're ready to head out on your next adventure. With the new Performance models, that's shaved down to just over 2.5 hours, so you're ready even sooner.
And you don't need to wait until the battery is drained before you can charge it, says Verhaegen. “Just plug it in whenever you have time, even if it's just for a quick 10 minutes of extra charge,” he says. “It's much better to keep the battery topped up with small recharges than letting it go all the way to the bottom and do a big recharge.” Let it run down and then fully recharge, recalibrating the batter, every month or two, Verhaegen says.
Its portability makes it easier to charge, so it's easy to keep ready to go. There's never a delay when you want to head out, which adds an incredible level of convenience to your experience. The battery fits right into your Cowboy bike, and the bike fits right into your life.
Getting the most out of your Cowboy bike means understanding how to use the battery and how to care for it. The first question people usually ask is “How far can I go?”, referring to the battery's range. There's a short answer to this question, but there's a longer one that's more interesting.
Cowboy estimates a range of 40-80km for its batteries – so that's the short answer and an easy gauge for starters. The 80km high end of the range is typical for a new battery on a ride going at a consistent speed on a smooth, flat road carrying moderate weight, with moderate outside temperature and little wind. In other words, fairly ideal conditions.
The lower end of that range, around 40km, is where the longer answer comes in handy. That's because your bike battery's range is affected by many factors, including how much power you need in addition to your pedaling, and environmental conditions. Each can affect your battery's life in different ways.
It's probably no surprise that the steeper the climb your bike has to make, the more your range will be reduced. So, a hilly route is going to drain more energy than a flat road will. And the quality of the surface you're riding on can make a difference, too. Gravel roads or uneven paths – the sort you might find on a path through the forest, for example – can reduce your range more than a smooth, well-maintained road surface will. The same is true for heavier loads – the more you're carrying, the harder the bike must work to maintain riding flow, reducing the battery's ultimate range.
Then there's the weather while you're on the road. As the wind picks up, the battery must supply more power for a smooth, steady Cowboy ride. So the stronger the wind, the shorter the range. The temperature you're riding in changes the calculation, too. Colder surroundings make your battery drain faster, so much so that during the winter it's best to store your battery inside for maximum performance (another reason the removable battery is so convenient).
“Temperature impacts the range more than most people think,” Verhaegen says. “Batteries are like people. They don't like being cold, and they don't like being hot. They just like being at 25°C – that's when they work the best. Anything outside that and your range will go down.
There's another way of thinking about battery range once you're exploring in the wild: Can I still get there and back? That's where the Cowboy app can be especially helpful. With your phone snapped into position front-and-center on your handlebars, the app presents a dashboard of information about your bike and your ride, including a constant assessment of your battery's capacity. This feature makes it easier to plan as you go and course correct if necessary. Your predictive battery range is always displayed on your dashboard, with your feed telling you how many kilometers you have left. Now you know if you can get there and back with your current charge. And our new Performance models feature charge reminders, too, eliminating even more guesswork – the bike tells you when it's running out of juice.
“At Cowboy, we really try to be sure that the range you see in the app is the range you'll get,” Verhaegen says. “Because everything is connected, we know where you are. We know the temperature outside. We know the health of the battery and how fully charged it is. So our software does its best to tell you the range you'll get, and it won't be much less or much more. It's an honest estimate.”
Be aware that if you're not using your Cowboy bike regularly, you still need to periodically recharge it. Letting the battery get to zero and leaving it for long periods can permanently affect its capacity. Leaving it empty and unused for more than 6-8 weeks sends it into “deep discharge” mode, a zombie state it can't recover from. So give it a regular charge and get it out on the road as often as you can – that's the reason you have a Cowboy, right?
When Cowboy develops an improvement or a better algorithm for the battery, the app will tell you. Just start a firmware update through the app, and a few seconds later your battery has the same intelligence as a brand new Cowboy e-bike rolling off the production line.
If you haven't tried one of the Cowboy models yet, it's easy to schedule a test ride to see what you're missing. Just go to the Cowboy website and click on “Book a test ride” to get started. You'll be able to take the bike for a spin, get more of your questions answered by a Cowboy expert, feel the lightweight battery and see just how easy it is to remove and recharge. You'll be on your way to a new experience on the road, powered by Cowboy.