E-Bike Battery Fires - Should You Be Worried?

Mar 29, 2024
by Seb Stott  
photo
The biggest risk appears to be for modified e-bikes or DIY conversions.

Battery fires involving e-bikes are on the rise and often in the news. We've reported on electric bikes catching fire on this site. But how common are they? If you own an ebike, how likely is it to catch fire, and what can be done about it?


How do e-bike batteries catch fire?

The lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes, e-scooters and other Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) can catch fire due to something called thermal runaway. Put simply, this happens when a fault within the battery - usually caused by a manufacturing defect, misuse or external damage - creates a short circuit that releases a lot of heat within a battery cell. This heat can initiate a chemical reaction that generates more heat, which causes the structure of the cell to collapse, which in turn creates more heat. This chain reaction can spread to other cells, releasing a large amount of energy and toxic gases over a few minutes. The fire can burn very hot, and because the chemical reaction doesn't rely on oxygen from the outside air, it can be difficult to put out.

Fortunately, thermal runaway is quite rare and largely preventable.

How common are e-bike battery fires?

It's hard to know exactly how many e-bike battery fires occur globally. However, a recent report from Electrical Safety First, the UK’s leading charity on electrical safety, shares what we do know about the UK figures. It says data obtained by Zurich Insurance UK revealed that e-bikes and e-scooters combined were responsible for 167 fires in the UK as a whole in 2021. In 2022, the London Fire Brigade reported attending 87 e-bike and 29 e-scooter fires in Greater London alone.

It's difficult to translate these numbers into the percentage of e-bikes catching fire because we don't know exactly how many e-bikes were in operation in greater London in 2022, or in the UK in 2021. However, according to Cycling Industry News, 160,000 e-bikes were sold in the UK in 2021, along with 175,000 e-scooters. And since sales grew steadily over the previous years, and e-bikes typically last for several years, we can be confident that there were several hundred thousand e-bikes and e-scooters in the UK in 2021, which could be compared to the 167 fires reported in that year.

Additionally, those sales figures don't count ebike conversion kits, whereas the fire report data counts converted bikes as e-bikes.

Helpfully, this study from Sweden called "Fires in electric vehicles in 2022" (translated), from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, MSB, provides information on both the number of e-bike fires and the number of e-bikes sold in Sweden. It states that in 2022 there were 20 fires reported involving electric bikes and 38 for electric scooters. The main report reveals that there were a total of 608,000 electric bikes sold in Sweden between 2014 and 2022. This still doesn't tell us how many e-bikes were in existence in Sweden in 2022 because some may have been disposed of/ recycled, and some e-bikes sold before 2014 could still be in use. But if we use this number as a rough guide, the 20 electric bicycle fires in that year correspond to 0.003% or 1 in 30,000 e-bikes "on the road" catching fire in that year. If only half of those e-bikes were still in use in 2022, the odds would increase to 1 in 15,000. For comparison, the same report states that around 1 in 1,300 cars catch fire each year in Sweden, including from crashes and arson, although electric car fires are much rarer (around 1 in 30,000).

To be clear, the study doesn't say exactly how many e-bikes were in use in Sweden in 2022 so we can't give an accurate figure for the proportion that caught fire, but I think it's reasonable to conclude that the number is in the ballpark of one in 10,000 - it's certainly not 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 100,000.

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Reported EV and LEV fires worldwide in the first half of 2023. Source: EVFireSafe

How dangerous are e-bike battery fires?

Although battery fires are relatively rare, several people have been killed as a result of e-bikes and e-scooters catching fire in their homes. Media analysis from Electrical Safety First recorded 36 instances where an e-bike or e-scooter battery fire led to a property fire in the UK over the 12 months between April 2022 and March 2023. Of these, 81% occurred in domestic accommodation and half were at night. In the first three months of 2023 alone, four people died due to e-bike and e-scooter fires in the UK. In New York City, fire officials reported six such deaths in 2022 and five in the first four months of 2023.

Emma Sutcliffe of EV FireSafe discusses EV and LEV fire safety on the Fully Charged Podcast.

But to get a sense of how dangerous e-bike fires are, we need to zoom out to the global level. Worldwide data on battery fires is collected by EV FireSafe, a firefighter-led organisation funded by the Australian Government to research electric vehicle battery fires and how to deal with them. Their research is referenced by national fire agencies around the world. While they were unable to put a figure on the total number of Light Electric Vehicle fires globally, they recorded 138 injuries and 36 fatalities due to LEV fires in the first half of 2023.

Thirty-six fatalities in 6 months may sound alarming, but it's worth keeping in mind that there were an estimated 300 million LEVs globally in 2023. By comparison, in the UK alone there were 1,633 road collision fatalities in 2023, plus an estimated 10,000 early deaths due to air pollution, spread among just 41 million road vehicles (cars, vans, buses etc.).
.
So while the fatalities from LEV fires are tragic and growing in frequency, the danger to life from other modes of transport is orders of magnitude higher on a per-vehicle basis*. This is relevant because a significant percentage of e-bikes are used as a direct replacement for cars.

*Sidenote: of course, cycling or e-biking for transport also carries a risk of being involved in a road traffic accident, but according to this Danish study the risk is greatly outweighed by the life-extending benefits of the exercise. Besides, I would argue the danger to cyclists from being hit by a car is an externalised risk of driving, not a risk created by cycling.

Another sidenote: according to the International Energy Agency, e-bikes, electric scooters and other light electric vehicles are already reducing oil demand by 100,000 barrels per day by replacing cars and motorcycles.




Which e-bikes are highest risk?

Electrical Safety First warns against e-bikes, conversion kits and batteries purchased from third-party sellers on online marketplaces, "which may not meet the correct safety standards," as well as "DIY modifications to the electrical systems (to prolong battery life and increase speed)." Another risk is from "universal" chargers which can sometimes over-charge the battery above the maximum voltage, leading to thermal runaway. ESF found almost 60 listings of substandard e-bike and e-scooter chargers for sale through third-party online sellers. This point was also emphasised by EV FireSafe.

photo
According to Electrical Safety First, the biggest risk is for DIY e-bike conversions and modifications. Source: Electrical Safety First.

bigquotesMany conversion kits available online do not include the battery, an essential component of any e-bike. The selection of a suitable battery and charger is left to the consumer to source and ensure compatibility. When a consumer converts a standard bicycle to an e-bike, in the eyes of the law, they take on the role of a manufacturer (perhaps unknowingly), so, take full responsibility for safety and conformity to applicable legislation.Electrical Safety First

It's not clear how many of the LEV fires mentioned above were due to sub-standard batteries, dodgy chargers or DIY modifications, but it stands to reason that e-bikes from reputable manufacturers with the correct charger should have a lower risk of failure than average.

To be clear, this is not to say that everyone should avoid conversion kits or entry-level e-bikes (these are the most accessible, sustainable and affordable modes of transport available to many people) but beware of homemade hacks or dodgy deals on eBay or Amazon.

It's also worth bearing in mind that some bike shops are refusing to service low-quality e-bikes. According to EV FireSafe, "This is leading to ‘Backyard’ servicing, with horrific results."

ESF recommends buying only from reputable retailers, using the correct charger and compatible batteries. If possible, it's a good idea to charge your e-bike outside of the home, in a shed or communal bike store. If charging indoors, avoid charging overnight, do it somewhere away from the exit, and unplug the battery once it's charged. For the full list of safety recommendations, click here.

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Risk profile of different battery-powered devices. Source: EVFireSafe

Why do electric bikes catch fire more often than electric cars?

When talking about e-bikes and e-scooters, EV FireSafe has started using the term Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) instead of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs), to prevent confusion with road-registered electric vehicles, such as electric cars. This is because the batteries in electric cars are much less likely to catch fire than PMDs like e-bikes. In fact, EV FireSafe estimates a probability of 0.0012% for electric cars, which they say is considerably lower than the risk for PMDs or internal combustion cars. This is echoed by the Swedish study mentioned earlier.

photo
Differences between LEVs (such as e-bikes) and roadgoing EVs. Source: EVFireSafe

According to EV FireSafe, this difference in safety between e-bikes and electric cars is due to a range of factors, "but primarily the quality of the lithium-ion battery cells & battery management system; in EVs they're high quality and subject to stringent regulation, in PMDs, they're often very low quality and unregulated."

Key Points

• The batteries in e-bikes (and other Light Electric Vehicles such as e-scooters), can catch fire while charging, which can cause a particularly intense and dangerous fire especially if charged indoors.
• Such fires are getting more common and have caused fatalities, but they remain very rare compared to the number of e-bikes and other LEVs in existence. Car accidents and air pollution cause hundreds of times more deaths on a per-vehicle basis, so fire risk shouldn't put you off getting an e-bike, especially if you plan to use it instead of a car.
• The e-bikes most at risk of catching fire are those that have been modified or charged incorrectly, or those from third-party online sellers which do not meet safety regulations.
• If charging an e-bike inside the home, it's best practice to avoid charging overnight and keep it away from the exit.
• For well-made and properly used e-bikes, the fire risk is extremely low.



Acknowledgements
I'd like to thank Sara Mills of EV FireSafe for her feedback on this article.


Author Info:
seb-stott avatar

Member since Dec 29, 2014
298 articles

208 Comments
  • 242 27
 30+ years of pushing on pedals and I've never caught on fire, although feels like I've come close.

Serious side note, imagine taking a tumble, you bike stars a fire and you burn down your local riding area. Won't be very popular with your biking buddies.
  • 431 33
 Counterpoint: you're an ebiker. You don't have riding buddies.
  • 113 29
 This is strange. I thought Pinkbike would be more interested in the rare earth minerals sourced from adult and child slave labor used in manufacturing these batteries....
  • 53 5
 @scott-townes: shhhhhh..... that is the part we aren't supposed to hear outloud. lol
  • 90 10
 @scott-townes: kinda like your phone, computer that you’re typing on?
  • 5 0
 @sspiff: this hurts me.
  • 17 3
 Have seen a bike laying in tallish dry grass after a long descent with hot rotors starting the grass to smoke. If we hadn't noticed it easily could have started an incident.
  • 43 0
 I've had a few fires from riding without a chamois pad on long rides.
  • 29 3
 @scott-townes: Not every article has to be about every topic.
  • 10 6
 There are more mobile phones in pockets of riders that carry that risk too! We just think about it !
  • 9 1
 For some context:According to statistics by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are on average approximately 170,000 vehicle fires each year in the U.S.
They account for 1:8 fires attended to by the fire department and over 10% of fire related deaths.
  • 20 13
 @scott-townes: what's a little slavery and child abuse if we're reducing our need for barrels of oil by a whopp'n 100,000 (100,000/100,000,000 = 0.001%) per day?
  • 7 2
 For those that care - LifePO4 and Lithium Ion batteries are completely different things - lithium batteries are the bad ones that catch fire and explode and put children to work. LifePO4 on the other hand are safe, stable, no runaway temps, you can puncture them with no consequences... AND no children were harmed in the making of them.

TLDR: Always buy LifePO4
  • 12 2
 @BermJunky: yep! but the amount of damage caused is linear with the size of the battery...

no one on the planet is 100% clear in this regard, but not driving a Tesla is the first thing you can do to mitigate your involvment....
  • 6 9
 @sspiff: you do, they are all people who’ve realised how much more fun it is
  • 7 0
 @scott-townes: It's fine if it's called "artisanal mining".
  • 11 3
 @Mtbdialed: I don't think it's that simple. If the mining industries collapse, the workers aren't suddenly going to become teachers and doctors. They will starve. The solution is to improve their conditions not remove their only source of income.
  • 5 0
 @catweasel: and the majority of those are gas powered cars...
  • 6 32
flag scott-townes (Mar 29, 2024 at 13:22) (Below Threshold)
 @BermJunky: I only use ethically sourced products and don't own a smartphone. What's your or Pinkbike's excuse? Do you feel good knowing you're using products manufactured by slave labor or do you not care?
  • 1 1
 @Mtbdialed: haha agreed
  • 10 2
 @scott-townes: hahaha seriously? How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? Get real.
  • 9 0
 @scott-townes: go audit yourself.
  • 10 1
 "30+ years of pushing on pedals and I've never caught on fire" ~ you're sand bagging ... try harder!!! I caught fire myself three times last week on climbs, thank god I had an IPA at the ready to put myself out.
  • 2 4
 @tipsword: you try harder not to be a dick and I will
  • 3 13
flag scott-townes (Mar 29, 2024 at 15:34) (Below Threshold)
 @psullivan65: Already did. My carbon footprint is the size of a US male 6 shoesize.
  • 4 0
 @scott-townes: don't you think you're special
  • 4 0
 @bikehoarder23: mine are mainly chili related
  • 4 8
flag corerider (Mar 29, 2024 at 16:25) (Below Threshold)
 I have been warning about this for years. If the DNV fire department are visiting bike shops on ebike fire threat then you know it is more serious than being let on. All it will take is one fire and we will find out the hard way. The fact this is an issue at all should be a real wake up call that ebikes are bad news long term.
  • 8 1
 @corerider: or just we could stop allowing crap/dangerous Class 2 batteries from Asia into NA. Mandate UL compliance. Have delivery services only use safe batteries and charging practices. We need to learn how to live with batteries safely.
  • 8 5
 @Mtbdialed: Driving an electric car is only shifting the problems from your backyard to someone else’s.
  • 1 5
flag likeittacky (Mar 29, 2024 at 18:34) (Below Threshold)
 @tipsword:IPA's are nasty AF...chamois juice after ride drink!
  • 29 3
 @scott-townes: the mining conditions especially in Congo are a tragic crisis and desperately need to be addressed. However, it is a problem often used to advocate against EVs... which in most places is a default argument for ICE. Let's not forget that the oil companies have created equally brutal conditions and crises on a larger scale, have razed villages, have poisoned oceans and the Amazon and the indigenous within, have started wars and toppled democracies. EV is still a much batter long term solution for the planet. And electrically-powered public transportation and intelligently designed cities are even better.
We are all consumers and the best thing we can do is vote with our dollars, voices, and votes - and demand adherence to environmental, social, and humanitarian standards from the companies we buy from, and the governments we elect.
  • 1 0
 @scott-townes: Noooo!
Only if their shovels and pick axes are carbon neutral
  • 4 1
 @Mtbdialed: yes, because oil/gas companies have never destroyed or taken advantage of poor communities, and devastated environments.
  • 1 4
 @sspiff: it’s ok pal I’d be angry if I couldn’t afford one too
  • 2 0
 @BermJunky: exactly, except times a hundred!
  • 1 0
 @ohio: LiFePo4 batteries are already here..
  • 7 0
 @lenniDK: lifepo4 doesn’t offer anywhere near the energy density of NCM chemistries so isn’t a viable option for any weight and volume sensitive use case. It’s great for your solar backup, RV, or job site power but it’s not useful for vehicles at present.
  • 1 0
 @scott-townes: isn't including "adult and child" redundant?
  • 3 0
 @bikehoarder23: Proper forest management is important, so ride chamois-less more often and you'll eradicate that flammable underbrush.
  • 2 1
 @scott-townes: or maybe more interested in the environment? Here they are pushing motored-bicycles as much as they can with no regards with the environmental damage caused by batteries and engines.
  • 1 0
 @sspiff:

Uhh...burn???
  • 1 2
 @SQbiker: Or a shuttle truck parked in tall grass getting all toasty on the exhaust.
  • 1 1
 @scott-townes: ...as well as the absolute raping and pillaging of the earth, regardless of who's doing the mining. Coupled with it being children and vulnerable people, the math on oil vs electric is horrifying.
  • 4 0
 @scott-townes: The biggest EV battery mine in the world is being built in the U.S. Most of what you’ve said about EVs is false.
  • 6 3
 @burt-reynolds: LOL "EV battery mine"

So they just pulling entire batteries outta this mine that doesn't exist yet?
  • 5 0
 @scott-townes: reality is burning oil in vehicles is a big problem. EVs are a poor solution to the problem. However given that the solution has to mostly come from privately owned companies in a free market its the best we are going to get in the short term unfortunately.
  • 8 0
 @BermJunky: Your phone and computer don't have alternatives to not using a battery besides not buying the latest and greatest. However, there are alternatives on a bike.
  • 2 0
 @ohio: heavyweight facts
  • 2 2
 @scott-townes: not to forget the fact that the battery is likely charged by burning coal, giving the whole ESG approach another kick
  • 5 0
 @saladdodger: even in the us, coal is less than 20% of power generation. In Switzerland it is 0%.
  • 73 5
 I drive in London almost ever day for a living and can say with 99% certainty the e-bikes batteries that are catching fire are NOT the standard batteries that come with emtb or tour e-bikes , they are homemade modified gastly looking things that are bolted on to normal cheap bicycles used to deliver fast food !
  • 12 0
 Absolutely this. I've seen some frankly terrifying "conversions" (battery mounted to a regular bike by drilling *through* the battery and putting a bolt through, fffffuuuuu-) and I'm not even remotely surprised these things catch fire.
That's not to say that legit batteries don't have their issues, I've had a MacBook battery swell and get very hot. But it's rare.
  • 9 0
 If you walk through NYC from 30th up to 80th or so, the number of delivery bikes with jury rigged batteries is staggering. The repair centers with 50+ bikes in them have caught on fire.
  • 1 0
 @Snowytrail: ah the illusive Arrow 9/10
  • 2 0
 Or those $1000 ebike/scooter things you see around here.
  • 19 0
 @Snowytrail: I always thought it was "jerry rigged"
  • 8 1
 @boopiejones: a quick browse of the entomology suggests Jerry rigged as cheap or unsubstantial construction and jury as temporary construction.
Jerry rigged wins for me
  • 4 0
 @catweasel: It's actually excellent that they are both valid but have different meanings. Jury rigged is for situations Shackleton's boat journey where they crossed like 2000 nautical miles of the southern ocean in a jury-rigged lifeboat. With these modified e-bike batteries, jerry-rigged definitely applies.
  • 2 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist & @catweasel: You forgot "jimmy"...and I think diy e-bikes are toeing the line of jimmy-rigged.

"Have you been in a conversation lately and heard any rendition of jury-rigged? I was in a conversation the other day when I heard “jimmy rigged” for the first time, so I decided to figure out which one is right …
and discovered the saying has quite the storied history. Turns out “jury rigged” was a sailing term that most likely originated near or before the 17th century. When a mast was damaged, due to a storm, battle, or wear-and-tear, it would need to be “jury-rigged” back into working condition. The connection between the word and sailing itself is unclear, but perhaps “injury” combined with “rigged” has some credence. Hmmm, I always thought it derived from a rigged jury. “The jury was rigged and so is this contraption.”

The alternative term “jerry rigged” found its footing in World War II. To keep equipment functional toward the end of the war, the axis would oftentimes resort to scavenging for parts. British troops referred to a German as a Jerry. Thus, the term “jerry rigged” was embraced to refer to patchwork jobs.

The new-age version of this reference would be “jimmy rigged.” This term, according to Urban Dictionary, is a cast off of “jury rigged” and denotes that the fixed-up contraption will most likely not work."

(www.raisingjane.org/journal/17945)
  • 46 3
 I never thought I'd see the day when we would be having a discussion about mountain bikes catching on fire.
  • 73 18
 *E-Bikes

Not mountain bikes.
  • 15 18
 @just-a-lorax: big brain guy over here
  • 6 4
 Mopeds - not mnt bikes….
  • 5 5
 @NWintheUSA: where do u see mopeds. I see ebikes. Not the same thing. Tons more fun.
  • 36 2
 As co-founder of one of the pioneers in the EV space, Alta Motors, I want to thank @seb-stott for an extremely well written and sourced article. This is a topic rife with sensationalism from skeptics and wishful thinking from advocates.

There is a dramatic range of risks depending on the design and execution of a vehicle battery pack. At Alta, despite having the highest energy densities (at the time) of any vehicle pack ever commercialized, our packs were inherently propagation resistant - tested to a P5 standard (5 simultaneous cell failures), which is a statistical impossibility outside of something like being crushed under a car or run through by a street post. It was an explicit conversation with everyone who joined our company that we held ourselves to that safety standard and would never except a customer death that was due to choices we made. However, I can say from conversations with engineers and executives at other manufacturers during our operating period (2010-2018 ), even large and "credible" ones that many did not even have the understanding of functional safety necessary to hold themselves to a meaningful standard. As noted in Seb's article, unlike combustion engines, charging is an activity that creates increased risk of a thermal event - this happens in people's homes, often at night while sleeping, so such ignorance was an unforgiveable sin in my opinion.

In the e-bike space, UL 2271 was created in 2018, and you should not buy a battery or bike that does not meet this standard. However, even this standard still doesn't cover thermal propagation. I hope someday that UL includes propagation testing in e-bike scale battery as they do in large format packs. Until then, I would only buy batteries from the largest manufacturers, no matter how tempting the value or claimed performance is from smaller or garage suppliers. The risk factors are 3-fold:
1) the quality of the cells - cheap (typically chinese) cells can have failure rates that are a multiple of those from MFGs like Panasonic, LG, Molicell. A multiple failure rate means a multiple fire risk.
2) the design of the pack - as noted above, our pack design was inherently propagation resistant, which meant even with shit cells a fire was nearly impossible (*the be clear, we used panasonic and sony/murata cells... not shit)
3) the manufacturing control, quality, and traceability - our packs were assembled with electric torque guns and we recorded the final torques of every fastener in the pack. many manufacturers still use calibrated pneumatic tools which are not as precise and cannot record final torques, and small shops may not use torque wrenches/guns at all. A loose fastener can increase the shocks experienced by a cell 10X, and a free floating fastener is an instant short path.

In short, do not buy any pack that doesn't meet UL 2271 (and can provide the paperwork, not just a fake sticker), and you probably shouldn't buy a pack from a manufacturer that hasn't been doing this for a long time, at a large scale OR provides receipts (transparent published approach or test results) on the above 3 factors.
  • 30 7
 Two things:

1. Statistics are scarce, so actual fire rates per 100,000 eBikes, not just raw numbers, are not available, which makes a lot of comparisons to other battery-powered vehicles moot, or misleading at best.

2. Tucked in at the end is "For well-made and properly used e-bikes, the fire risk is extremely low." Cheap eBikes are being sold in insane volumes, because they're less expensive. How many cheap EVs do you see catching fire? You don't, because there are so many safety hoops and regulations around selling a motor vehicle that cheap shit can't pass. I don't want regulaton on bikes more than anyone else, but in the world of "you get what you pay for" I'm not all that surprised to see fires on cheap eBikes. Show me how many Pivots, Ibis, Specialized, etc have caught fire and then we'll talk.
  • 4 0
 @hohmskullkrishten: thanks for that. It would be useful to know what caused this bike battery to burn. Do you have any insight?
  • 14 1
 @hohmskullkrishten: @HuckGnarris It appears that your photo is from a first gen 2017-2019 Levo/Kenvo with Ohlins suspension. Those models, along with a few others which used the same batteries, were subject to a manufacturer recall a few years ago: bikerumor.com/specialized-levo-kenevo-recall-expanded
  • 8 2
 @HuckGnarris: "Statistics are scarce"

@hohmskullkrishten: "Here, take my n=1"
  • 1 0
 @dhfox322: thank you.
  • 22 2
 Local riding spot has a significant area of scorched earth in the woods. They said it was arson. Well, I have an alternative theory now that perfectly aligns with my bias. Thank you pinkbike!
  • 20 0
 Lord Jesus it's a fire! Ain't nobody got time for that!
  • 5 0
 how's your bronchitis treating you lately?
  • 6 0
 MF Bootleg China Bikes
  • 15 0
 FYI, it you ride your ebike in Whistler bike park you can’t ride in the same cabin as your bike incase in catches fire. Making the line ride that little bit slower, yeah!
  • 7 2
 Do people take e-bikes up lifts? What’s the point? Uplifting your uplift
  • 2 1
 @Peskycoots: I agree with you, seeing people waiting in line to shuttle their e-bike is always a bit weird. In the case of Whistler or other bike parks, you're usually not allowed to pedal up to the trails within the park and are only accessible with a lift, technically.
  • 19 5
 @Peskycoots: Even worse: seen this summer while I was pedaling up in Spain and France: I was sometimes overtaken by some shuttles pulling trailers full of e-bikes on average 600-800 meters "easy" ascents.
Why those wankers buy e-bikes if it's to do this?
  • 23 7
 @danstonQ: There is no limit to their laziness, that's why.
  • 1 1
 @Peskycoots: I've seen camera crews taking ebikes up the lift at whistler. Nothing like cramming 5 ebikes in a gondola.
  • 10 27
flag Schbeemb (Mar 29, 2024 at 23:56) (Below Threshold)
 @danstonQ: why not? Personally I've not yet taken mine on an uplift or chair, but since I chose an e-mtb as my only bike, having sold my downhill and enduro bike, I will utilise a chair/uplift if, and when, I want to. Otherwise, I'll continue to enjoy many more laps than you, everywhere else I ride.

More importantly, whilst you're riding fewer laps, you're also upset and angered by us on our e-mtbs. On the rare occasion I come across "wankers" like you, it simply increases my satisfaction. Win for me. Lose for you.
  • 18 7
 @Schbeemb: Good for you far ass. Laziness and mediocrity suit you well apparently Smile
  • 8 13
flag Schbeemb (Mar 30, 2024 at 0:16) (Below Threshold)
 @danstonQ: I'm not sure what your first sentence means. But, two/three times more fun than you, certainly suits me.
  • 12 0
 Can we stop calling surrons ebikes please......they are an electric motor bike.
  • 9 0
 From wikipedia: Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no."
  • 7 1
 The problem is not that ebike or ev fires are common, they probably aren't, it's that your ebike is probably stored and charging inside your garage or living area so that if there is a fire it's very dangerous and can do a lot of damage.
  • 5 0
 Any lithium battery will catch fire if overcharged or damaged.
The problem mostly comes from cheap battery with inconsistent cells and cheap controlers that allow the unconsistent cells to overcharge.
For model cars/planes batteries, we use chargers that equalize the charge of each cell and the packs are fitted inside a fire resistant bag during charge. But its not usable for a bike or a car.

Other causes of cells deterioration to avoid are overdischarge and storing at full charge.
To avoid these problems, batteries should be charged between around 30 to 70% if left unused for a week or more. This applies to any Lithium batteries including lights.
  • 2 0
 There was an article on the UK Guardian newspaper website recently about that - horrific reading - most deaths in London occurred because the bike was being stored/charged in the narrow hallway from the front door, so obstructing the escape route.
  • 2 0
 @xalt: Also riding wet roads where they use salt to melt snow and ice. It creates a saline vapor on the roads and makes the batteries susceptible to shorts and fires. They do this in NYC and Chicago. It can very easily ingress a cheap battery.
  • 2 1
 Have a look in an average garage these days - most small engines have been replaced with battery powered tools, every one of which can potentially burn the house down. For example; I'd say dropping an impact driver is more likely to damage the battery pack than crashing a Trek Rail
  • 3 0
 @Otago: Hold up, there are internal combustion engine-powered impact drivers?
  • 1 0
 @BenPea: Haha of course somebody built one for the clicks.
  • 1 0
 @barp: for the clicks and the bricks. People are amazing.
  • 6 0
 I have no idea on the brands of bikes nor circumstances, but in my small beach town in southern Cali, I know of 4 homes that had garage fires started by ebikes, 1 of them resulted in a fatality unfortunately. Non-MTB ebikes has exploded in my local area, kids use them to get around town, along with commuting to school. Many seniors also has them for running errands and general exercise. Most of the brands I see are either Super73 or Rad Power Bikes, but plenty of no-name ones. I suspect the fires may have started from no-name brands who may not have the proper safe guards for Lipo battery charging.
  • 12 0
 My experience with Rad Power as a shop mechanic is that it's also a "no-name brand".
  • 7 0
 Rad Power level of "no name brand" e bikes are bad enough, then there's another whole level of no name. Informed bike shops won't work on brands that don't have product liability insurance because if they do any service and the bike happens to burn someone's house down later good luck holding some overseas company accountable. Oh, you're a friend of the shop and you promise not to sue? Well, your insurance company dgaf and will litigate us into oblivion.
  • 3 0
 @Portland-maine: It's all true! As bad as Rad is, at least they're having to answer in a U.S. court for their alleged liability in the death of a child (Steinsapir et al. v Rad Power et al.). No fire in this tragic incident, to be clear.
  • 7 1
 Had a customer with 2 e bikes (Specialized turbo levos) that were in a garage fire, started by a bettery tender failure on a ICE truck. Inspections of the bikes revealed lots of heat damage to tires, grips, saddle and carbon bar. The actual motor system, display and battery survived. The battery was recycled in an abundance of caution, we have no way of testing or repairing and it was not worth the liability.

The UL label on your electronics unbelievably important, it means having an independent lab testing to to high standards. Cheap Chinese e bikes scare the sh!t out of me as a mechanic where they could cause a runaway fire from poorly or untested safety standards could destroy the whole shop and my means of making a living. Every e bike from a non supported motor brand in our shop has the battery removed before being left for repairs. Also we will only service motor systems we are trained and certified for.

Properly teaching our customers about charging and storage of e bikes is something we practice as well.

Life is not without risk, something the mtb community should know well. The level of risk with a well known and supported brand ( Shimano, brose, Bosch, Fazua, TQ) is very low if stored, charged and used properly. The cheaper bikes/systems are the ones I've seen in the media causing fires and such.
  • 13 4
 Pinkbike is very quickly turning into clickbait garbage. Thanks Outside.
  • 9 1
 I do miss Levy.......I visit Nsmb a lot more lately.
  • 7 0
 Should I be worried? No because I don’t have an e-bike.

But I do have battery operated phones, computers, yard equipment and snow blower. So maybe???
  • 7 0
 I can't wait to check back in a few hours to read the comments section. Get your popcorn ready!
  • 24 0
 I'm waiting for the fire to make my popcorn.
  • 1 0
 @fumando: Ain't nobody got time for that
  • 4 0
 The key word here is: Reported
The amount of unreported EV fires in places like Russia or China, Etc, is bound to be higher ....
Infact most studies on various subjects are based on what's reported, but are often NOT based on the real number because it's hard to get the true reported figured on anything in today's modern world of inaccuracies. Also places like China are not in the business of reporting on battery fires when they aiming to be a battery superpower.
  • 1 0
 The fires in Russia are from the Sovtek vacuum tubes coming into contact with flammable objects post ride.
  • 4 0
 If you’re interested in this battery fire topic, especially for aftermarket e-bike conversions (cargo, transportation, light evs), I would recommend watching this video, based on almost 20 years of experience with EV conversions and battery systems. Justin Lemire-Elmore of Ebikes.ca / Grin Technologies is an absolute well of knowledge on Ebikes and battery systems.

youtu.be/j92Gt4VviSQ?si=EMGqgV42gi8xT9Ty
  • 4 0
 when we built ebike beach cruisers in 2009 the fires from the 72v or 48v ping battery packs were results from poor BMS boards or Morons plugging in a 72volt charger to a 48v pack. having a heat sensor on the BMS board has reduced fires but not the morons.
  • 4 0
 Can anybody identify what kind of electric bike is in the headline photo? I don't see any cranks, and it doesn't appear to be a "modified e-bike or DIY conversion" as the caption suggests.
  • 17 0
 Looks like a Sur-Ron, there are road legal and illegal versions, the not road legal version is popular in the UK with lowlifes and drug dealers who can't handle them and get kill themselves when the police give chase. Their fellow low lifes then come out to protest about police brutality. They are then then erroneously reported by the media as having been children riding e-bikes as though they are on the 25km/hour limited things that are legal on UK roads
  • 7 4
 @rambotion2: sounds like the right people are being eliminated.
  • 1 0
 @rambotion2: there are so many idiots that tinker with their Surrons battery, or other electric parts on them.
Haven't seen a single original Surron catch fire.
  • 3 0
 I think that for a bit more relevancy Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 ebikes should be brought into these numbers. Class 1 and class 3 bikes have consumer protection protocols that make ebikes that fall into this class be tested for safety and performance. Class 2 ebikes are for the most part all manufactured in china with no consumer protection or testing with proprietary and non serviceable parts. I would assume that almost all of these fires are coming from class 2 ebikes and maybe 1 in every 100 come from a class 1 or class 2 ebike.
  • 2 0
 The Class designations are becoming meaningless, with plenty of manufacturers offering "Class 3" models with a throttle. (Only Class 2 is allowed to have a throttle, and it has a lower speed limit than 3)
  • 1 2
 The public doesn’t give a rats a$$ about e-bike classes. Turns out neither do insurance companies: cancelling bike shops left and right no matter what exact product they do. “Getting out of e-bike” u mean getting out of bike…. Finally what you all wanted, no more bike shops!
  • 8 1
 I'm not worried because my bikes don't take batteries
  • 5 0
 Why use a picture of an e motto E-bikes is one thing but to class that Surron as an e bike. Pinkbike has lost its way. Wtf
  • 3 0
 Have you ever tried to buy Li battery cells? It's nearly impossible to find genuine ones, it seems like 99% of the market is counterfeit "name brand" cells. Combine that with similarly low-quality chargers and yeah, you have a massive fire risk. There's TONS of small volume shady ebike companies that may be using below-spec cells and chargers.
  • 7 3
 "Lithuim Ion Batteries Can Never Be Made Safe!!!!!!! Why Do yOu NeEd eVeRyThInG tO Be ElEcTriC?!?!?"
(Clicks send on a spartphone that lives in my pocket all day.)
  • 8 2
 Just don't ride an ebike problem solved
  • 8 4
 Why don't you call this Web site PinkMotor and get done with it? Enough about motored-cycles, we are cyclists and our bicycles do not blow up!
  • 4 5
 Why do you even come here. Might want to start your own website. This content isn't leaving.
  • 3 2
 @psullivan65: Right! go to a motor-cycling web site!
  • 4 3
 @dododuzzi: no thanks, all good here with great ebikes content
  • 4 0
 @psullivan65: don't you think that maybe the public can have a say on what this website might post next? Aren't they there to somehow cater for what we came here since it's beginnings?
  • 3 5
 @downhiller900sl: media changes. Mountain biking has changed. Until the advertisers decide different. This is free content brought to you by Cycling industry. A lot of us were on here for years before we had emtb's. A lot of us have multiple bikes with only 1 being an emtb.
  • 5 2
 @psullivan65: nothing has changed for me. I still have 2 bikes, 1 dh, 1 enduro. No batteries on any of them. The ebike thing is being force fed to us through a freaking funnel
  • 2 5
 retrobike.com is that way >>>
  • 3 5
 @downhiller900sl: you come to website that you know has ebike content, you click on an ebike article, you engage in the comments and it's being forced fed. Then whine about ebikes. No one is force feeding you this but you princess.
  • 4 2
 @psullivan65: If you want to ride a motorcycle, please go ahead. Just keep the two, bicycling and motorcycling, separate. Other Web publications have split content, why doesn't Pinkbike? It is more than annoying to have to read article about polluting crap.
  • 3 3
 @dododuzzi: nobody is making you read this, just you. I've ridden motos, not the same sport. PB is not a non-profit built for you and your feelings. It's a media for profit business whose revenue is generated by advertising. You come off like an entitled child. I ride an emtb on bike trails, get over it.
  • 5 2
 @dododuzzi: I don't want to see XC content on Pinkbike, but them's the breaks. The thing about e-bikes is that to get to the top you still have to pedal and deploy the same skills as a normal bike. It's just less taxing on the muscles and lungs. Downhill there's no difference, it's a mountain bike. Calling them motorcycles is lazy and knee jerky AF. I used to hate them too. But then age and injury knocked on the door. So I got an ebike. The experience is so much closer to cycling than motorcycling. Anyone who says it isn't is full of shit and resistant to thinking.
  • 4 2
 @BenPea: I don’t want to split hairs here but it is a bicycle with a motor. No matter how you justify it. If I take it apart one of those parts is a motor.
  • 4 1
 @psullivan65: I do read emtb content here in pinkbike because it's somehow interesting. That does not change the fact that the industry is forcing people to buy the emtbs instead of the normal ones. That does not stop the pollution the batteries and motors include. Carbon frame making and aluminum frame making also pollute (the only ones that can be recycled), but that was already there. Instead of trying to reduce this, they put the battery and the motor in, so now people that buy ebikes pollute more than before they existed
  • 3 3
 @downhiller900sl: no one is forcing you to buy an emtb. I'm pretty sure they're going to continue to make regular mountain bikes for the rest of our lifetimes. That's just you. If you can't get by the marketing that's 100% on you, stop playing a childish blame game. You are not a victim unless you choose to be. The pollution thing doesn't bother me in the least, I'll ponder it while I pedal to the trails or on the chairlift.
  • 2 0
 @blueH2Oj: Absolutely it is. A motor that is activated by pedaling (reasonably hard if you choose to), just like a normal bike, but which only adds the power of a doped up Tour de France rider, rather than that of a 450 dirt bike, which is what the naysayers equate ebikes to. Gross hyperbole never helps an argument, but then again nuance is boring. It just boils down to simple prejudice. I know the USA has trail access issues (which looks to me like a problem with the country's systems of administration more than anything) and I know the arguments about the origin of battery materials and pollution, but we're essentially talking about sporting ethics/philosophy here. Ebikes just aren't dissimilar enough to normal bikes to justify the vitriol from a purely technical perspective.
  • 2 1
 @BenPea: I personally do not care what people ride. I will however share a personal experience in the against column. My neighbor a life long mountain biker former racer now in his 60’s was riding a very well know and well marked trail system in Southern California. He was on a climb grinding when suddenly a large man on an e-bike came around a blind corner and hit him he was life’s flighted out with life changing injuries and has had riding taken from him. This occurred near the upper part of the trails. The dude obviously either didn’t know or didn’t care about the directional trail, which leads me to believe he was new to the area or new to the sport from the description of him he wouldn’t have been up there if it weren’t for the e-bike he had purchased. So lots of the complaints against I believe stem from being able to buy access to places you couldn’t or wouldn’t go before either due to inability or laziness. Now I again do not care e-bikes don’t bother me. But the argument about time is simply a reference to the inability I mentioned before. If you can’t get to a trail in your time frame I suggest you get faster. And like you mentioned doped athletes (you gotta line on EPO) asking for a friend.
  • 1 1
 @blueH2Oj: That's horrible for your friend and I sympathise and get the argument completely. I nearly mentioned the ability of many more people to access trails they wouldn't normally be able to and was about to argue that this might not be as significant a problem as one might imagine. But it is clearly something to think about on the negative side and would have been front and centre of my arguments during my hater days. I remember a discussion with Matt Wragg a few years ago, during which it probably was. It's tricky. Do the benefits to people like me, who have normal mountain biking in their blood - but are physically too far gone to enjoy it like we used to or just want to ride "moar laps" or whatever the reason - outweigh the negatives in locations and in contexts where they are most apparent (e.g., where your neighbour came a cropper)? Who knows? It's hard (or impossible) to isolate all the different issues. Like with guns, fast cars, drugs, booze, etc., people are the problem!
  • 1 0
 @blueH2Oj: I feel very sorry for your friend. But, the vast majority of individuals I come across on e-mtbs, are mountain bikers. Those of us who have ridden for many years, would not be riding in areas they shouldn't, in such an uncontrolled manner. The blame here is squarely on the reckless individual, not the bike. I mean, look at how many idiotic car drivers there are.
  • 1 1
 @Schbeemb: it is of course on the reckless individual. And I don’t care what people ride. However his fat ass wouldn’t have ridden a mountain bike up there. The e-bike offered him the chance to be dumb. Do in this case I blame the bike a little too.
  • 2 0
 There are two main things that make batteries like this catch on fire.... Over charging and over discharging. The amp draw on a sur ron type bike and the potential for a rider to keep riding it when the battery is too low are high which can result in the smoke coming out. You simply don't have this scenario with a pedal assisted e bike. I'm not saying they won't ever catch fire.... as anything is capable of malfunctioning for any reason. But IMO, its zero to worry about. I've been racing RC cars, nitro and electric for the last 12 years and have never had a lipo or li ion battery catch on fire.
  • 2 1
 To a certain extent yes BUT If its made by a recognized manufacturer on mass produced bikes that are in various countries meaning the meet many different regulations then i would not be worried at all. If its some hack job put together by some dude named Kyle in his back yard shed ....then yes worry
  • 5 2
 I’m guessing that if the fire risk was much higher than it is you still couldn’t pry e-bikes out of the people who ride them crispy little fingers.
  • 3 0
 Honestly don't charge anything when you're not home. Even charging a bike headlight could start a fire that burns the house down.
  • 10 5
 Ebikes are dumpster fires
  • 5 3
 Dumpsters look better tbh....on fire or not.
  • 3 1
 I don t have this kind of worries with my muscular mtb... Derailleur with cable, dropper post with cable, nothing with battery and you ll be ready to rock and roll as much as you want
  • 2 1
 It does seem like the picture was chosen to throw shade on SurRons and maybe other E-motos
I understand eMTBs and eMotos are not for everyone but my guess is the top e-Moto platforms SurRon, Talaria, E-ride Pro, Stark Varg are just as safe and well made as the best eMTBs - My best guess is the fire danger comes from low quality mass produced bikes out of China and the people trying to modify the batteries and controllers for more power
\m/
  • 1 0
 The common cause of lithium battery fires is not fully covered here. It's my understanding that a lot of battery fires are initiated by the chargers. Chargers need to monitor the current state of battery during charging and obviously should turn off when the maximum capacity volts is reached. Well you guessed it, they often don't do this properly, resulting in the battery being overloaded, which causes a fire
  • 5 3
 Besides the fires, think about the pollution that comes with batteries. Mountain bicycling went from being part of the solution to be part of the problem thanks to an irresponsible industry and press.
  • 4 0
 Pinkbike : don't use aliexpress knockoffs
Also Pinkbike : tests Aliexpress knockoff brakes
  • 3 2
 "• Such fires are getting more common and have caused fatalities, but they remain very rare compared to the number of e-bikes and other LEVs in existence. Car accidents and air pollution cause hundreds of times more deaths on a per-vehicle basis, so fire risk shouldn't put you off getting an e-bike, especially if you plan to use it instead of a car."

This is a ridiculous statement.

Batteries have no place in things meant to be thrown around. Period.yoy crash your Tesla you get it checked out you crash your kenevo? You ride it home put it in your garage to charge... Comparing the two, like the author did above, is absurd and shortsighted.

Don't want to piss off those advertisers though right? And you will definitely keep advertising the shit out of these death traps
  • 5 0
 Even one more reason not to own a e-bike.
  • 1 0
 I say we can use these battery fires to figure out who's a witch:

Put the suspect on an eBike: if they live, they are a witch. Burn them. Problem solved.
Put the suspect on an eBike: if they burn to death in a battery fire, they are a witch. Problem solved.

What say we start with Elon?
  • 6 3
 That article pic is of a Surron....I'd be fine if every Surron ever made spontaneously combusted
  • 3 0
 I’m much more worried about my high energy Lipo batteries for my RC trucks
  • 2 0
 Kryten! "No officer with false teeth should attempt oral sex in zero gravity!" wise words, never forgotten! Good to see you on the EV podcast :-)
  • 2 1
 Meh, yes cheap PEV's catch fire more than better engineered ones... Electric RC's were driving this stat for decades and no one cared. PEV's are a net good and thats coming from a car driving gasoline loving american.
  • 7 4
 My standard bike doesn't catch on fire
  • 5 3
 But yer phone might
  • 3 0
 @sspiff: you aren't riding fast enough then.
  • 2 0
 Key takeaway: monitor the charge while at home and set a timer to remember to unplug charger before going to bed.
  • 3 0
 Nothing like a good pocket fire from your vape pen exploding
  • 3 0
 Is this the friday fails?
  • 2 0
 I charge my lithium bike lights in my fireplace after the Magicshine episode.
  • 1 0
 Water is conductive of electricity, and can cause short circuits between + and - of the battery cells. That's why it is important to seal them properly.
  • 3 1
 If ice motors were silent. Would Ice bikes with assist be allowed on trail. No. So in my mind e-bikes shouldn’t.
  • 3 0
 I am not worried at all, but it is surely because I ride a real bike
  • 1 0
 Here's some food for thought, just in case you haven't already seen it: youtu.be/t1j9TUV5coc and youtu.be/dEMKVFbO5V0
  • 3 0
 crotch on fire
  • 2 0
 Guess this is a Good Friday Fail?
  • 2 0
 Great article. Thanks for the perspective.
  • 7 5
 Batteries on bikes..hahaha
  • 2 0
 There is a reason NYC banned anything that isnt UL rated
  • 1 0
 Why can’t the casing that protects the battery itself be fireproof? Is it because of weight?
  • 4 0
 I think if you contain something that is burning such as lithium which will release gas and heat you make a bomb.
  • 1 0
 @blueH2Oj: I’m no engineer but I believe you
  • 2 0
 @Saucycheese: Yep, the thermal runaway, once started, will continue until one of the sides of the fire triangle (fuel, oxidizer, and heat) is gone. The battery contains its own fuel and oxidizer, the reaction of which generates heat.
  • 1 0
 You’d just be turning it into a bomb basically
  • 2 2
 So with the current government demands. Especially in California. We should expect to see more homes burning due to cars spontaneously combusting. Have fun with that.
  • 2 0
 Ask your insurance company
  • 3 2
 I'm fine with ebikes and EVs, but neither should be mandated to buy. Pro-choice and free markets.
  • 1 0
 My concern is on the impact it all has on my insurance premiums both for the home and car
  • 2 0
 That's one hot bike...
  • 4 5
 Ecological fire for greenwashers...

When they burn doesn't send CO2 to the atmosphère but rainbows and strawberry smoothies..
  • 2 1
 This comment section will be lit
  • 3 3
 E Bikers get your down vote fingers ready. Can feel them twitching from here.
  • 4 3
 I d like to see em all BURN
  • 4 7
 Yeah let's not talk about how many ICE cars catch fire. Probably half of the wildfires in my area are from ICE cars overheating and catching fire. One of my family's cars caught fire when I was a kid (a suburban, overheated transmission, leaked oil on a red hot exhaust part IIRC).

Batteries catching fire typically belong in Fox News anti-electric hitjob articles.
  • 1 0
 Any know cases of AXS batteries catching fire?
  • 4 2
 F ebikes
  • 1 0
 F bill-Curran you small minded F
  • 1 0
 Great thing to have in the forest.
  • 1 1
 Looking at you Matt Jones!!
  • 1 1
 This has the beginnings of an e-bike fire sale!
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