E-bike battery safety – all you need to know

In Australia, short car trips are our way of life. Off to the supermarket, jump in the car. School drop off – car. In fact, almost half of our daily trips by car are under 10kms. Seriously bad news for our greenhouse gas emissions. 

Micromobility – the use of lightweight vehicles like e-bikes and scooters to move around cities – has the potential to turn this on its head. But, with news of e-Bike battery fires spreading in the mainstream media, people have become worried about the dangers involved with e-bikes and scooters. Some of Australia’s environmental factors that make electric bikes so appealing, like the heat and the salty air, can also pose the highest risks for electrical equipment not designed to withstand the elements here. 

At Lug+Carrie we want your e-bike experience to be fun and worry free. That means being VERY confident that your e-bike is not going to burst into flames. So, let’s talk a little bit about battery safety and what you should look out for. 

First thing’s first, what is a Lithium-ion battery?

Lithium-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable battery used in most laptops, phones, e-bikes, scooters and power tools. If not manufactured and managed correctly, they can be more dangerous than traditional batteries because of their chemicals and internal processes. In Australia, the regulations surrounding Lithium-ion batteries vary state to state which leaves loopholes, allowing poorly manufactured batteries through the cracks and creating uncertainty amongst consumers. The ACCC advocates for standardised national regulation managed at a State level, so hopefully we’ll see that soon. 

Not all e-bike batteries were created equal

Most e-bikes use Lithium-ion batteries because they are efficient, compact and reliable, but many of them are not tested. The things that make them incredibly efficient, also make them highly flammable under the wrong conditions. Many of the stories about lithium-ion battery fires that we’ve seen in the press involve cheap bikes with cheap batteries. 

Before we started Lug+Carrie, we rigorously tested countless e-bikes. One of the many factors the Tern excelled in was manufacturing quality and safety. Their bikes are certified to the gold standard of e-bikes and batteries – UL2849. It’s a voluntary standard, and is expensive to test. But, when it comes to safety, Tern leave no stone…un-Terned.

Not only has the bike and battery been rigorously tested by us and Tern, the battery itself is manufactured by Bosch. That’s a brand synonymous with high quality manufacturing, safety and reliability. Bosch voluntarily complies with UL2849. This involves regular, unannounced safety and compliance checks by a third party at their manufacturing facilities around the world. 

E-bike tip: Only consider an e-bike that is certified to the UL2849 standard

Charging your e-bike battery safely

As well as unsafe, uncertified batteries, many fires have been caused by unsafe charging practices. Users should always follow the manufacturers guidelines. The ACC sets out some generic safety guidelines for charging Lithium-ion batteries, you can take a look at them here

With their high compliance standards, the Bosch batteries that power Lug+Carrie’s fleet are much safer to charge than a regular Lithium-ion battery.

Cam Pelman our Melbourne Workshop Lead, offers a few tips for charging your Bosch battery safely. 

  1. The batteries should be charged at room temperature in a dry location where a smoke detector is installed. The inbuilt Bosch battery management system won’t allow it to be charged below 0°c or above 40°c
  2. You can charge your battery on or off your bike. If you remove it, when you reinstalling it remember to push and listen for the click. 
  3. The general recommendation for Lithium-ion batteries is to unplug it when it’s fully charged. However, Lug+Carrie’s Bosch batteries have a battery management system to prevent overheating and overcharging.
  4. While it won’t start a fire, we do recommend unplugging as soon as is practicable once its full. This will extend the life of the battery. 
  5. Only use the battery and charger provided with your e-bike.
  6. Don’t tamper with or try and modify your battery or charger.
Ebike tip: always follow the manufacturers guidelines when it comes to looking after and charging your battery 

Peace of mind with an e-bike subscription

Just like with a car, it’s important to carry out regular maintenance and servicing on your bike and battery to ensure things are safe and working well. Unless you’re a bike mechanic this can be confusing or costly.

Lug+Carrie offers an all-inclusive, flexible e-bike subscription. The bike, accessories, maintenance, servicing, insurance and rider rescue are all included in your weekly payment. One of our bike professionals will regularly inspect the safety of your bike and battery and fix or replace anything with safe and certified products. We’ll also regularly check in with you to share tips and so you can share any concerns or questions you have.

To buy a high quality, safe e-bike outright can be very expensive. So, an added bonus of subscribing is it’s a much more cost effective way to safely get started. Lug+Carrie have options to buy your bike outright after 6 months with a balloon payment. 

Ebike tip: ensure your bike and battery are regularly maintained and serviced by a professional

Safely changing the way we move around

E-bikes have the potential to change the way we live and move around. But, before anything else, they need to be safe. While the media continues to raise the alarm about battery fires, we know that these are occurring with cheap, poorly manufactured and uncertified batteries. So, always make sure you look for bikes and batteries that are certified to the highest standards – UL2849 – and always follow safety guidelines when it comes to charging and maintenance. 

If you’re worried about safety, or have any questions about making the move to an e-bike, our team is here to help. Get in contact with your local Lug+Carrie shop. 

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