E-bike battery fire destroys bicycle shop

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

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

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. 

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

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.

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