E-bike battery fire destroys bicycle shop

Andate's owner and staff are determined to revive the bike shop, after a devastating fire. (Photo: GoFundMe)
  • 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.

The lithium-ion battery pack has transformed cycling. From eMTBs to e-bike cargo solutions, more riders are using pedal-assistance than ever before – thanks to compact lithium-ion batteries.

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.

A selection of carbon-fibre wheels, ruined by the fire. (Photo: Facebook/Andate)
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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. 

This triathlon bike was in a work stand, and most of it melted. (Photo: Facebook/Andate)
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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.