- E-bikes remain a growing product segment in cycling. Enabling riders to go further and faster.
- But the risk of e-bike batteries catching fire, and being difficult to contain, is genuine.
- A bike shop experienced this nightmare when one e-bike battery failed under load – engulfing its entire premises in flames.
Overall, it has been a beneficial technological journey for
all of cycling. Lithium-ion batteries have allowed eMTB riders to compact an
entire day’s trail riding into a few hours – leaving more time available for socializing
with family and friends.
The e-bike has also empowered more riders to embrace active commuting, especially those of modest fitness levels. But for all the benefits of e-bikes, the battery technology remains a risk, especially if there is a manufacturing fault or system error.
Battery fires can be difficult to stop
Lithium-ion battery packs can experience thermal runaway, if there is short-circuit or cell integrity fails – usually during a recharge. Once a battery pack starts burning, it’s not easy to extinguish – especially if you don’t have the correct chemical firefighting equipment close by.
A Floridian bike shop experienced the destructive nature of e-bike battery failure on 9 April. Andante Bikes has been in business for three decades and primarily serves Cutler Bay riders, south of Miami. Now, the popular shop is fighting for survival.
A charging incident
According to Andante owner, Mauricio Orozco, the shop had received an e-bike requiring its faulty battery to be checked and reinstalled. After the battery was sent to a repair specialist in Nevada and returned, it was left overnight to recharge.
While charging, the battery pack caught fire, ruining Andante’s premises and a range of bikes, wheels and components inside the shop.
Andante’s existing fire insurance does not cover an incident of this nature, and there is a GoFundMe campaign to help the shop remain in business. A goal of R1.1m is required, and thus far R190 000 has been pledged.